Brightening a rainy day

There is something nice about returning home after a long day at the work. Particularly at this time of year, when you can look forward to being greeted by your garden, which is full of growth, colour and scents. 

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.