Genista in the Garden
April 9, 2017
Our Noble Interest this week is from a family surrounded by controversy and confusion. “Broom” is the common name. There is Common broom, French Broom, and Scotch Broom. There is Spanish Broom, Dyer's Broom and Sweet Broom. The plant I had in mind is Planta Genista, the badge of the royal Plantagenet family.
Genista is a lovely shrub and has admirers in the ornamental trade. This site talks about its virtues and some of the varieties available. It's a member of the Legume family, which means that it fixes nitrogen in the soil. It prefers full sun on a well-drained ground. It thrives on poor soil. Most Genista species are hardy in zones 5-8. The flowers are a beautiful bright yellow and resemble sweet peas.
However, there is a dark side here. French Broom (G. monspessulana) is very invasive and very difficult to eradicate.
All of these plants spread by seed, which means there's no effective way to keep them from spreading themselves if you plant them in your garden.
Sweet Broom is hardy only in more southern latitudes which means it's unlikely to become widely invasive and, as far as I have been able to figure out, is the only member of the family that is fragrant. Here's detailed information on growing this cousin of our Noble Interest.
I'm afraid that I can't recommend our Noble Interest for planting in the garden. G. tinctorum is the only one I would suggest and even so I would make an effort toward keeping it from self-seeding. So which one is our Noble Interest?
The Planta Genista that Geoffrey d'Anjou stuck in his cap in the 12th century is known today as C. scoparia, the common broom.
I'd love to hear about your experiences with G.tinctorum in particular. I'm considering adding it to my dyer's garden and would like to hear the pros and cons of doing so. Please remember to like and share this post. Thanks for stopping by!
Tomorrow's trencher is looking a bit bare. I'll see what I can come up with.