Broom Busters

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?

002However 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.

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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.

32 thoughts on “Broom Busters

  1. Goodness, that was a bit cheeky of her to start cutting without checking with you first. I believe that’s called trespassing. Are the seeds easily spread? I’d never seen these in flower. They are quite beautiful.

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    • Well, she was just outside of our fenceline, but most people do what they feel they want to do with their road frontage and this woman thought she would decide for me. The seeds grow in pods like sweet peas and when it gets hot and dry, they burst and pop out, spreading nearby and so the broom gradually creeps farther and farther if it isn’t controlled. But near my property I’d like to be the one to do that. The seeds would not fly over to her place (wherever that may be – she didn’t live nearby) and do any harm to her concept of landscaping should be.

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  2. I too love the bold, gorgeous, blooms and also recognize that these plants do crowd out the natives that keep the forest healthy. When these plants grow along the streams they crowd out other species. They block the light differently so they change the temperature of the stream enough so salmon can’t spawn…All the little things eventually make a difference. Your neighbor had no right to cut down your plants, that isn’t the way community works.

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    • Thanks for your insight into the broom situation, Charlie. Sorry I didn’t answer your comment sooner, but it went into my spam file. I’m hoping that from now on the filter will recognize you and this won’t happen again. Your comment on Square Peg, Round Hole was also in the spam file. Glad I found them.

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  3. Actually I have developed an allergy to the Broom this year. It’s quite pretty ,certainly, but a real nuisance if you are allergic. HEPA filter going at the moment.

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    • Allergies! There are all kinds of things that sniffle me up these days but it’s just something we have to go through. Fortunately, nothing blooms forever. But the cover is still good for the birds long after the blooms are gone.

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  4. I have “Goldregen”(cytisus laburnum) in my garden. It doesn´t spread around but it grows in each directions and looks wild if you don´t cut it. I missed out on that job for many years and now I almost need help for this job. On the hill behind the garden grows a small broom and there are aleady several of them. They bloom at the same time like the garden type. But for my taste the broom has much prettier flowers. The woman should go and cut her own stuff. But maybe she has nothing else to do than go on other peoples nerves.

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  5. Aye, we Scots have colonised just about every spot on the planet and taken our plants with us to make us feel at home. There are worse species than broom… how about thistles? Do you have them too? Rhododendrons are the enemy here at the moment but it will switch to something else soon. Live and let live.

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  6. The blooms do look really pretty. If it, as you say, kind of controls itself because it doesn’t tolerate shade, I don’t think its too bad then. I’d hate it, btw, if any acitivist came here and – even just outside of my property – would “help” me shape my fence.

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      • That’s the problem with many activists: they’re so righteous that they assume they can just go ahead with what they want to. I’d really like to know how they would react if the same was done to them.

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        • They are convinced they are right about whatever the issue is and if anyone opposes them, they must be on the side of evil and wrong, They turn into protesters if anyone tries to stop them..Any violence that results is never their fault; it’s the fault of a few anarchists who hijacked their cause. Many times I think they have a good idea at the core, but how dare they try to make change by group force in a democracy?! I am not a fan of civil disobedience.

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  7. I cannot imagine the ‘gall’ this woman had to be trimming plants on your property, Anneli! I like the look of the broom and how you explained it may have come about to be in your ‘neck of the woods,’ too. If it is only able to survive in the sun,it makes a nice ‘hedge’ as you mentioned and the pretty purplish pink azaleas (?) are so lovely in compliment to the yellow Scotch broom. I am so glad you have this lovely view of the water through the trees. This looks like a misty morning!

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    • She wasn’t technically on my property, but two feet outside it, changing the status of my privacy and frontage is close enough. What you see in front of the broom are rhododendrons. You were almost right. I think azaleas must be a cousin of the rhodo. And you’re right. That is an early morning haze on the water.

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  8. That is a beautiful photo of the broom around your trees, Anneli. What a peaceful view and the yellow of the broom gives it a special glow.
    I once knew a woman who cut down her neighbor’s hedge because she was selling her property and had stated on her listing that she had a view of the river. Some people are so selfish and have no respect. Hint. Hint.

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    • Wow! That would have had me furious if it was my hedge. Grounds for a lawsuit there, but who wants to go through that. I think I would plant leylandii cypress after that and block out the sun, never mind the river.

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  9. There seems to be a fine line between invasive and introduced… but then invasive are introduced so are they not the same? We have major problems in this country with certain plants i.e. the bugweed which was brought to the country with the settlers to feed their pigeons, which now can be seen everywhere in the country… birds eat the seed and spread it, much the same as syringa… I was involved in a field study where we monitored growth of the invasive plants compared to the local … the invasive within 3 years had over taken the local and were busy killing them off… also an area where all the invasive plants were removed, a water flow monitoring project discovered an increase of 45% water flow…. yet some of the introduced have brought so much beauty to gardens and have proven not to spread seem welcome, but where does one draw the line on introduced specie.??

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