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Monday, January 30, 2012


I can’t decide whether the woman who sold me Spanish Broom (Spartium juncium) when I’d gone to buy a pale, English (Common) Broom was a bad salesperson or an exceptionally good one - after all, I came away with a plant!

I’d gone to the garden centre with Cytisus scoparius (Cornish Cream) in mind. Given that I haven’t found a useful link to include with this post - maybe I was being a bit hopeful expecting to find it ready-to-buy at the very first try. But this was pre-internet. (I’d found its picture in a book.)

She warned me she was a day-release student (or something along those lines) and I think she was having trouble imagining small spaces. When I said it was to be crammed between a shed, a fence, a wall and a couple of paths, she said a Spanish Broom would be fine. It has been fine.  But I suspect only she and I would think so.

The friend who helped me collect it was alarmed. “But it’s a tree!” she said. (I know.) “It’s not a bush!” (I know.) “It’s got vivid yellow flowers.” (I know.) “You said you wanted cream.” (I know.)

But brilliant yellow looks brilliant against brilliantly blue skies. (We get a lot of those.) (Usually.)

We lumbered it into the back of her car.
And it has been wonderful. It has been brilliant.
But, now, it has split.
I’m not sure why.

Maybe it’s because it was lopsided - lop-sided because it insisted on growing every way but North when every-way-but-North was in the way so I had to keep chopping bits off.

Not that I minded when it was. (In the way.) I was happy to push through wet branches when it was raining. I liked bursting through into the un-dripping open-ness of the rest of the garden. It was like being an explorer arriving in a glade. But friends didn’t. (Like it.) And Ming was especially put out on alternate Wednesdays when he had to wrench the wheelie bin under its drooping branches. He had to tug it hard with one hand while pushing up a flexi-trunk with the other and try not to loose his balance when it (the wheelie bin) pinged free and shot through the back gate.

Each year, I chopped (sawed) off another branch. Each winter, it was less of a tree. As it grew higher, so it grew narrower. And now it has split. It was already dying. Its leaves (which are not leaves but clusters of very long needle-like things) were brittle and dry. Spanish Broom is short lived compared with other trees - but this short has been too short. I don’t know how deep its roots go but I suspect it ran out of water, what with being between the paths and the slabs the shed stands on.

The extra annoying thing is that, seeing it was dying, I’d been planning a new role for it - as a support for a rose.
I’d thought about it.
Sought advice - and decided on ‘Malvern Hills’.

But I can’t have a rambler when there’s nothing for it to ramble on. So it’s goodbye to Broom.
Goodbye to not-yet-(fortunately)- purchased Malvern Hills rose.


HappyMouffetard said...

I was drawn to your post by reference to the Malvern Hills (I lived there for the first 20 years of my life).

I think one of the first posts of yours that I read referred to the Rambling Rector perfume permeating your bedroom, so sorry to hear that it has gone (though understandable, having seen how big they can grow).

I have a Malvern Hills rose and it doens't ramble very much, although to be fair to it, it is in a (large) container and perhaps (or rather definitely) doesn't received the food and water it deserves. I feel guilty now, for mistreating my poor rose, which you no longer have a place to grow. I will cherish it this year.

Esther Montgomery said...

Hello Happy Mouffetard.

Giving up on the Rambling Rector caused a lot of heart tearing. It's a wonderful rose - but it also ripped the felt from the roof of the shed so water got in so we had to have it re-roofed completely . . . which made it the most expensive plant in our garden! It had to be taken down in order for the work to be done and I've had to be very firm with myself about not replacing it with another the same, I liked it so much. I don't regret having had it.

One of the reasons I'd decided Malvern Hills would be its replacement is that it isn't very thorny. I was also hoping that, with it not being too rampant, the Broom would support it easily. (Ha!)

I'm wondering whether still to buy one and give it an arch to lean on. From your experience of it, do you think that would that work?

P.S. It must have been wonderful to grow up with the Malvern Hills - walking and music!

Victoria said...

I've found broom is amazingly short-lived - five or six years and that's it. And definitely not strong enough to support a rose - think how heavy one rose flower can be. Broom is hardly strong enough to support itself, as you've discovered!
I think an arch would be great - but have you considered any other roses? What about R 'Goldfinch'? That might give you the airy look I suspect you like, if you had 'Rambling Rector' (and wanted 'Cornish Cream' broom)

Esther Montgomery said...

Hello Victoria. I was hoping the Broom would last closer to fifteen years. If you'd suggest five, I suppose it has done quite well. I'm not sure when I bought it - trying to work out whether it was eight or ten years ago.

The Goldfinch looks delightful. I'd certainly be tempted! Looking at the description on the David Austin site, I have one hesitation . . . the description says 'bushy'. Because of its situation (by paths and gate)there's isn't room for it to get bushy until it's six or seven foot up - at which point it can explode! The Rambling Rector was good like that. No flowers low down, then, when it reached the top of the wall / roof of shed - it went everywhere . . . along our wall, along next door's wall . . down into our neighbour's garden, down the back of our wall and into the street, up the Broom and over the shed (which was alright until the wind caught it and it raked its way from one end to the other). The Broom, when healthy, happily supported it quite high up - maybe I was lucky in how sturdy it was as well as how long it lived! Indeed, one of my theories about why it has suddenly bitten the dust is that it might have been terminally damaged when the Rector was disentangled from it. I'd been cutting it away in pieces and gently but the man who came to do the shed offered to help - got hold of it and pulled at the long strands. That gave it quite a battering and one of the branches broke. After that the rest started dying too.

Pearl said...

Had to take down an apple tree last year after it was hit -- twice -- by lightning.

Now all I see is where it used to be...


Esther Montgomery said...

Hello Pearl. Twice! Assuming it was taller than other trees nearby - whatever kind of apple tree was it?! The absence of a tree does leave a horrid space. Fortunately, although I'm sad about my Broom, I'm not heart achedly so. The Rambling Rector is another matter.

Bridget said...

Always sad when you lose a plant, but remember, every cloud has a silver lining!

Donna said...

Too bad you did not get what you wanted in the first place. Poor plant. Poor Esther. Cute post.

Bom said...

Sorry to hear about your broom and your ex-future-roses. Well, you can still have the roses eventually. Plus, commenter Bridget was right about the silver lining. You might end up with something more wonderful and brilliant.

Karen - An Artist's Garden said...

Its sad when our vision is thwarted.

I rather like Victorias suggestion, both of rose and arch, it doesn't have to be an arch, it could be a "pillar" type arrangement.

Janet/Plantaliscious said...

Oh dear, though I suppose Ming will be happier on alternate Wednesdays. A rose pillar sounds like a good idea, though if it goes where Ming has to push past it on alternate Wednesdays, not a recipe for domestic bliss...

Beyond My Garden said...

Great story. It happens to the best of us.