It’s that time of year when the first colours brighten up the neighbourhood. To me, colour means spring, even if it is only from that prolific weed, Scotch broom. Locally, broom has fallen into disfavour because, like the introduced rabbits of Australia, it is trying to take over, crowding out the indigenous plants such as the Garry oak. There is a case to be made about what is indigenous. How far back do we go? Do we call it an introduced species if “man” brought it from somewhere else? What about the seeds that are spread by sticking to a dog’s fur, or a wild animal’s fur, for that matter? Are those plants then called introduced species?
However you may want to rationalize it, the broom was not here on Vancouver Island until Captain Walter Grant brought it to his garden in 1850. “Bad move, Walter,” say the Broom Busters who are now almost as annoying as the invasive plant they are trying to eradicate.
I don’t mind if the Broom Busters want to cut down broom that is growing rampantly in open fields, but most people take care of their own yards and the broom doesn’t go crazy there. I happen to live in a rural area just outside of town, and this is where the birds come. They find the broom a good place to hide and many a young quail has found protection under the thick broom growth that borders my property on two sides.
I like the fact that the thick bushes give me a bit more privacy from the hordes that walk past here, usually lagging behind dogs that have been let loose to do their business on the properties that have grass that is longer than one inch. I like that extra hedge beyond my own cedar hedge.
One evening I heard the snipping of pruners just in front of my hedge. A woman had chosen to show me how my yard frontage should look. She snipped off the blooming broom and left the ugly stalks looking like empty tenement housing. I told her I would look after my own yard, thank you. She was convinced that she was doing a good deed and I should want to be rid of this ugly plant. It was invasive. And so are you, I thought.
I wondered if she would also cut down the big blackberry patch that is growing next to the broom. Blackberry is officially considered an invasive plant, yet everyone loves to come to pick the berries.
I agree that broom is invasive and I do keep it under control on my own property. But broom is not shade tolerant so since much of our natural land is fir forest, I don’t believe the broom is that much of a threat there. This hedge of broom in the photo above is only growing at the sunny edge of the trees.
Meanwhile, I happen to like it in small amounts.
Watch out, people. The Broom Busters don’t like broom and will cut it down whether you like it or not. I shudder to think what my vegetable garden would look like if some of the Broom Busters decided that they didn’t like broccoli.