Wednesday, 14 May 2014

The goldfinch of the meadow

Whenever we drove to the sea on the South coast it was always a thrill going through Hampshire to see the gorse or broom growing at the side of the road and in the New Forest. My mum loved these plants with their bright yellow flowers that were happy to grow in wild open spaces and wind swept meadows.She 'd point them out and say that it was a sign that we were nearing the sea. I can never tell which is broom and which is gorse but they are both called ginestre in Italian so they are from the same famil, they are both evergreens with bright yellow flowers in the summer months. From my Medieval History lessons at school I remember broom as being on the badge of the Plantaganets. These kings that ruled from abot 1154 to 1485 might have chosen this plant to represent them because of these qualities, golden bright flowers, hardy and strong, fearless in the face of the elements. This lovely poem in praise of broom is by the Welsh poet from the Middle ages called Dafydd ap Gwilym, he lived from about 1315 till 1350 ish. The Welsh call Broom the goldfinch of the meadow.

It's branches are arrayed in gold
It's boughs the sight in winter greet
With hues as bright; with leaves as green
As summer scatters o'er the scene

An angel mid the woods of May
Embroidered it with radiance gay,
That gossamer with gold bedight
These fires of God - these gems of light.
Broom

Gorse

Common Broom or goldfinch of the meadow

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