Tuesday, 17 April 2012
Brightening a rainy day
One plant that has been doing it's duty over the past eight weeks or so is a shrub called Ulex europaeus 'flore pleno'. Even on a rainy evening (like today), the plant is so bright and colourful.
In Ireland it is commonly known as 'gorse' or 'furze' and has a mass of highly scented yellow pea-shaped double flowers. The sweet coconut smell is a delight and there is temptation to press your nose into the flowers, but be careful! Ulex has long prickly spines that are not pleasant to encounter.
The type I have is very much a garden variety, which grows about 5ft x 6ft if left unpruned, eventually becoming woody in the centre. I think this plant has a life span of about 8-10 years before needing replacing.
There is a native gorse variety to Ireland and Western Europe, which is called Ulex europeaus. Although it looks lovely too, the flowers are not double nor quite as profuse and once a plant has established it will send up young plants all over the place, which can become quite a problem.
So go for the garden varieties, neater and less invasive.
The plant I have is three years old and looking great. When it finishes flowering I will prune it back (wearing a good pair of gloves) and leave it to rest. It will produce a fresh flush of growth through the summer, which will bear the flowers next year.
All in all, a lovely plant for a medium to large size garden, which has been in flower here over the past eight weeks.