29 May 2012

The flowering of the broom

Broom (Cytisus scoparius) has become a landscape feature in Brede High Woods following the opening up of more acid areas and is currently in full bloom.


It is a beautiful shrub that has featured much in poetry and folklore as described by Geoffrey Grigson in his 'Englishman's Flora'.  One ballad says:

There was a lady of the North country

Lay the bent to the bonny broom.

According to Grigson this means that twigs of broom were plaited with 'bent' or heath rush (Juncus squarrosus) to avert the evil eye and discourage the elfin lover.

In Brede High Woods heath rush grows along many of the rides that are bordered with broom, so it is easy to see how the two came together.  Yesterday I plaited two rush & broom amulets just in case the elfin lover is lurking about:

20120528 (24)

The top one is 2 rush, 1 broom and the lower 2 broom and 1 rush.  I will see which is the most efficacious.

As well as being beautiful and useful, broom attracts a great number of insects including, in the High Woods, the green hairstreak butterfly whose larvae feed on this and other plants.

Green hairstreak, Sedlescombe Heath

Broom flowers are also sought after by bees.  As Thomas Hood said "the broom's betrothed to the bee."