Monday, November 27, 2006

Yellow everywhere

It was back in Easter 1960 that I first saw Anglesey. This was the first of six consecutive Easter visits as I attended the Bangor Youth Conference organised by the Lancashire Congregational Union. Many teenagers over 16 years old used to come together and experience a great weekend based at St Mary's College in Bangor. There was free time in the afternoons and it was inevitable that we migrated over the Menai Suspension Bridge to Anglesey for a few hours. After all these brief visits to Anglesey I have one abiding memory. There was so much yellow gorse on the island.
Later, as an adult, I brought my family here on a number of holidays. Everywhere was the colour, yellow. Gorse is a prolific plant in Anglesey. You see it wherever you drive. Sometimes it lines the road and lanes and sometimes it just grows in massive clumps in the fields. When I see the gorse in bloom I think back all those years to a very happy time. But what I came to realise only two years ago when we settled in Anglesey was that the gorse flowers twice each year. It comes into bloom in early spring and remains so for months before the flowers die away. But it also starts flowering again in the autumn.
As I look out of my study window I can see thousands of yellow flowers hanging over my garden wall. This will remain a lovely view for a long time as the winter approaches. Mind you, I have also realised how difficult it is to handle gorse. From time to time I have to cut back the bushes that hang over my wall and threaten to put my garden entirely into the shade. After the gorse has been cut back there is then the problem of removing it from the garden. I challenge anyone to pick it all up without scratching themselves. Even gorse which is long dead has the ability to rip your hands to pieces if not handled with great care.
Each branch of gorse has many thousands of very sharp spikes which attack the unwary. It is the worst plant I have ever dealt with in a garden. The thought of being thrown into a gorse bush fills me with horror. A victim would be very badly scratched and would be in pain for a long time. The spikes which protect gorse are incredibly vicious and so are effective in the way they do their job. Compared to gorse, cutting back rose bushes is a pussy of a task.
Yet, as I look out of the window I see a lovely picture of thousands of tiny yellow flowers forming a border along the garden wall. It is strange how effectively nature gives protection to some of her most lovely flowers. Just now Anglesey has become a yellow island again. It tells me that even though the season of winter is approaching there is still sustainable life in the countryside. But there is another aspect to gorse which people may not realise. It can be burnt very easily and we get many gorse fires in Anglesey.
Recently we drove to Devon and returned on a lovely sunny day. The route took us through the Vale of Llangollen and we saw the changing autumnal colours of thousands of trees in nature's most wonderful setting. It is truly a beautiful sight around Llangollen and you can go there any weekend and take a train journey along the preserved railway line which runs through it.
Mind you, the end of the journey saw us travelling through the mountains of Snowdonia with heavy black clouds actually sitting on the summits of the mountains and turning the A5 route into darkness. Then, to cap it all, I experienced that "horizontal rain" as I drove across the island. As I stopped the car outside our house I suddenly realised that we were experiencing something worse than "horizontal rain." It was "horizontal hailstones!" Now that was an experience as we unloaded the car and dashed indoors.
But the gorse continues to brighten our days, regardless of the weather. Anglesey is a beautiful island.

2 Comments:

Blogger Stu said...

Gorse is a beautiful plant. When we do our May Bank Holiday every year on Anglesey it is a welcome sight and always reminds us that summer is just around the corner

Stuart
Sea Fishing and Walking in the UK

8:19 pm  
Blogger Keith Alexander said...

Thanks, Stu. I have placed a booking for some summer for 2007. The gorse in May will confirm the booking!!!

5:15 pm  

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