Monday, September 19, 2011

Gorse Language

Gorse is an unfriendly bush with prickles instead of leaves. It has long been used as a hedging shrub in England and was brought to New Zealand in the mid 1800’s for this purpose. However, farmers quickly learnt that, when grown in New Zealand, gorse wouldn’t confine itself to neat rows. Gorse became a major weed which now covers almost 5% of New Zealand’s usable land.

My childhood home was on one side of a steep valley, a valley whose slopes were almost completely covered in gorse. In spring the gorse would array itself in an abundance of delicate flowers and the valley outside our windows would turn from dark green to bright sunny-yellow.

Many years later I noticed that gorse, the enemy of many New Zealand farmers, was the friend of young native trees. The young trees would grow beneath the protective branches of the gorse bush. They would grow up through the gorse, and the gorse around the mature trees would diminish beneath their new masters.

More recently I have learnt that gorse is a legume, and, like many legumes, it is nitrogen fixing. Gorse not only protects young native trees, it prepares the soil for them as well.

Gorse is a complex character: a weed that heals the land.

There may be times when you feel that your writing is nothing but word weeds. Perhaps, from another angle, your words are a sunny-yellow valley. Or perhaps the word weeds are just the first step, they are the nursery from which giants will arise.

No comments:

Post a Comment