It is a dull January day and I have to take the dogs for a walk. Thank goodness for my loyal companions because without them I would really not want to leave the house. Somehow, once I am outside, I wonder why I didn’t venture forth before. Remarkably I find that within ten minutes I am walking more purposefully, my shoulders relax, I feel warmer and invigorated. I start to look up and see gaps of blue sky in the murky clouds and find that those out-of-practice muscles either side of my mouth are working as I smile at the sight of a host of noisy sparrows in the hedgerow.
Gorse to lift the spirits in winter
Gorse has the same effect on me. If gives me an automatic lift. So I was delighted to see it on my walk. The sun had well and truly come out by then and so I found myself attracted to the bright yellow, pea flowers. I feel it is a rather maligned plant. As a child I barely noticed it. It was just that scrubby, scruffy plant that grew everywhere on our light sandy soil. When I take the trouble to look I find myself rejuvenated by those bright yellow petals but rather perturbed by the lethal spikes. Those of us who are Winnie-the-Pooh fans will recall his painful fall from the tree into gorse bushes and the delightful picture by E. H. Shepherd of Pooh picking himself up complete with prickles in his nose.
Gorse is one of the ‘Seven Helpers’ in Bach’s Flower Remedies
Gorse is one of the ‘Seven Helpers’ in Bach’s Flower Remedies. He was a doctor working in 1930s who believed that the essences of flowers could heal illness. His theory states that gorse flower essence was beneficial to people who were struggling with long term health issues and who had lost the belief that they could ever get better again. It would be like a shocking shot of adrenalin from those thorns and an injection of the clear, bright, vibrant yellow petal colour to lift spirits and self-belief. I am busy taking Vitamin C tablets to ward off these horrible, seasonal viruses, aches and pains and depression and just the sight of gorse seems to have the same therapeutic effect on me.
Gorse for Bees and Livestock
It is not just us humans who can appreciate it. Bees and insects are grateful for the pollen and sweet, coconut scent all year round. It gives them the food, hence energy to survive. Despite the spines, horses love to eat the tender tips and it is good for cattle too. Rather a good thing that it is often found on common land so that it could be grazed. It also has alkali rich ashes which can be used as fertiliser. In our area, in the height of summer, heath fires are prevalent and these sturdy plants soon recover and re-shoot. This fire, resilience and drive is what the quality of gorse is all about.
“When gorse is not in bloom, kissing is out of season.”
A friend recently sent me the saying “when gorse is not in bloom, kissing is out of season” and I have to admit that I wouldn’t want to do without either whatever the time of year, but I especially welcome gorse in these short, dark days of winter. Here we are with so little colour on which to feast our eyes and the gorse is really making up for it. The yellow is such a reminder of sunshine, vitality and confidence. Wishing you a happy new year and plenty of gorse energy to keep you positive.