Furze – Ulex Europaeus, Ulex Galli, Ulex Minor
Already in flower now, ablaze upon the moorland.
One of my favourite wild reminders the season has begun.
Folklore reminds us that you should only kiss your loved one when Gorse is in bloom. Luckily for any would-be suiter, different species of gorse bloom throughout the year.
An old country saying
‘When Gorse is out of bloom,
Kissing’s out of season,
To keep kissing in season in your garden why not plant a hedge of Gorse, it’s a versatile plant but loves light soils, although I have seen it do well in many situations.
Gorse would be an unusual addition to your large shrub border. The seed which heard popping on a hot summers day can easily be collected and sown into a sandy mix if you want to bring in the smell of the heath to your garden for free, often found on upland or roadside embankments.
Prune most evergreen shrubs just before growth starts in mid-spring, Thin out old wood approximately ever 2 to 3 years. Gorse is generally trouble-free, I would trim lightly to keep a compact shape if you require a neater looking hedge.
Evergreens that are still flowering or about to bloom in mid-spring can be left until flowering has finished.
Gorse flowers are a splendid addition to salads or fruit tea.
Benefits for wildlife
Dense gorse is ideal for a range of nesting heathland, downland and farmland birds, including the Dartford warbler, stonechat, linnet and yellowhammer. The compact structure also provides essential refuge for these birds in harsh weather and is critical for the survival of Dartford warblers in winter.
Gorse is essential for invertebrates. It is in flower for long periods, so is an important nectar source in early spring and early winter, when little else is in flower. Several scarce invertebrates are dependent on it.
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