I have a field full of goldenrod. Mowing and discing it a couple years ago benefited the goldenrod more than anything else, and now there is less grass, clover and diversity than before.
I’m ok with that, for now. I have a bee forage field now, and it seems like the bees are coming from miles around for it.
I barely saw any bumblebees all spring and summer; I was worried. It was notable when I did see one. But when the goldenrod started, the bees were back in bigger numbers than ever. Now I’m finding them in water buckets, in my hair, in the house – getting into their usual trouble. Just about every flower head has a half dozen bees bumbling around in it, and looking over the top of the field, it’s just dotted with bees dangling in the flowers and their hum is a quiet roar. They sleep in the goldenrod, too. In the morning they are all stock still (it’s cold), just paused in their work. Some of my honeybees are among them but most are bumbles, and the goldenrod has a long season, with flowers ripening in stages, and even parts of the same plant blooming in succession. It’s a big bee party.
The hillside behind the house is infested with Scotch Broom, an invasive introduced species that has spread all over BC, by the looks of it. We’re determined it’s not going to have this hillside, and we are waging war. Every week or so, one of us spends a few hours yanking shoots and snipping the fibrous thick stalks. This is nasty bent-back Sisyphean work, that ends when you stop, scratched, bitten, dirty, aching and itching, rather than when the job is done, because this job cannot be finished. Even after a systematic back and forth scouring, invariably you look back and there’s a few bright yellow flowers mocking you.
Our idea is that if the broom is never allowed to go to seed from flower, then it will lose one mechanism of reproducing itself, and perhaps other plants will gain dominance, and after a few years, optimistically, there will be no more broom. Too bad the stalks sprout like Medusa’s head when cut off, and the thready white roots are knotted like bathtub plug chains with rhizomes. I assume it reproduces like grass from the root, and divides like a tree from pruning, in addition to the explosive seedpods, that twist and spray out their evil spawn. Acres of broom in the hot fall absolutely rustle with the snapping of seedpods.
Even the shortest of sprigs can produce flowers, and they seem to do so a day or two after an attack. I suspect rather like dandelions, they flower prematurely when stressed or aware of stress in their fellows via root system connection, determined as they are to conquer all. So we work along, ripping out anything yellow, chopping down anything so big it can’t be uprooted. Always more, the most endless task.
And what a workout. I always end up with my hair and shirt drenched with sweat, all exposed skin red and stinging from allergenic plants. Temporarily satisfying.