Weeks ago I started to volunteer to try and help in cutting the huge infestation of Scottish Broom that has infested Vancouver Island.  I wrote a blog a couple of weeks ago about how physically exhausting it is to clear these bushes.

I will not go into detail about why I do this, as it is considered hopeless by most people in our community to try to solve this weed that will eventually grow over us all.

My first day cutting broom I came home physically wiped.  You spend your time on your knees using lopers to cut the plants at the base after digging out the scrub around to get to the base.  Good forearm exercise all the time surrounded by vines and weeds.  Then you drag the bush to a central pile and go back and do it again.  I sweated through 3 pairs of gloves and my shirt was a sopping mess.

This is far beyond the exercise program that I pay for at the gym.

Why do I do this… well I made the mistake of introducing myself the first time to the organizer Bev (who happens to know Pat) and she says, “Oh thank you Bruce for coming again”  Now I am trapped in this feeling of being appreciated and yet exhausted at the end of every event.

Fortunately the season for cutting Broom is at an end.  You can only kill these plants by cutting them at the ground when they are in bloom.  Any other time they just grow up from the base as if you pruned them.

Next week they go into pods and in a few weeks they send off thousands of seeds.

I wish plants that we grow in the garden would be as hardy.  Think of cutting off any plant you wanted in the garden at just above the ground. They would die but not Broom, it just splits and grows even faster.

Today was the last day of cutting and, for me the most satisfying.  Our group joined volunteers in Cumberland to clear the No 1 Japanese Townsite.

A bit of background.  In 1893 they opened coal mines in Cumberland (in the area west of Courtenay closer to the mountains)  The mines needed workers and they imported Chinese, Japanese, Negro and White workers.  As was the practice at the time the racial groups developed separate communities near the coal mines.  The Chinese and Japanese communities were in the lower area near the river.

The Japanese were taken away in 1942 to internment camps but their townsite remained in the woods.  The mine closed in the sixties and the townsites were abandoned.  Years ago there came an effort to remember the Chinese and Japanese areas with parks.  Popular areas for people to come and have picnics.  Japanese citizens donated money to plant Japanese Cherry trees through their part of the park to commemorate the workers.

Then along came Broom.  Seeds blowing in from the road.    Within 2 years the parks became uninhabitable.

So today we went in to try and push back the tide.  The first picture was first thing in the morning and the second is by 1 pm.  (taken from a cel phone so not that great)

I felt great about the accomplishment although I am realistic that this plague will come back.

Still if I only think of this as an exercise program it is very effective.  A month ago when I first went to cut Broom, I came back whipped.  Today I was tired but OK physically and very satisfied on the day.

Not sure If I had that many single days in my working life where I was that pleased about a day’s effort.

Japanese Townsite BeforeJapanese Townsite After