I have written in the past about my volunteering to try and cut and limit the spread of the infestation of Broom in our valley.

A little background.  This is Scottish Broom which was an evergreen plant that in olden times in Scotland they would cut the branches and use it for brooms.  Lovely yellow flowers in April May.  A hundred years ago a Scottish family brought them over to Victoria to plant in their garden as a memory.  Problem is that while the Broom was limited in Scotland due to weather, here on the Wet Coast it grew way beyond it ever did back there.  In the last 10 years it has spread all over the island and is now spreading on the coast.  Each plant produces thousands of seeds that blow with the wind.

Along highways and roads and the clear cut areas after forestation it produces millions of ugly plants that crowd out the natural plants and just take over.  There does not appear to be a herbicide that affects it (although here in BC the good that would never be tolerated anyway)  The plant is indestructible.  If you cut it down to the roots and leave even a bit of stem it just proliferates as if you had pruned it.  Broom has only one weakness.  When it blooms in May, with all the yellow flowers (that will turn into seed pods) and if you cut the plant at the ground level, it dies.  So the solution is to cut Broom in Bloom.

Issue is that this is very labour intensive.  It is up to the Broom Buster volunteer groups to try and clear public parks and pathways.  I joined the local group thinking it would be kind of rewarding but not realizing the physically exhausting work involved.  There are many times when I am out I wonder why I ever signed up for this hopeless task of stopping this scourge.  This last weekend is one of the reasons.

In 1893 a series of Coal mines opened in the Cumberland area west of us towards the mountains.  They brought in cheap workers from everywhere and of course there were racial issues.  The white workers were housed up the hill in what is now Cumberland.  The Japanese workers were in the valley next to the river and the Chinese were in the swamp.  Over the years the Japanese developed a Town site and built roads and drainage systems with houses to make a comfortable life.  In 1942 the Canadian government came in and took all the Japanese families away and moved them to concentration camps in the interior.  The townsite slowly disappeared as the houses were taken away for cottages or dismembered.  After the war no one came back.

In 2000 the province and the town and descendants of the families worked to develop the old town site as a historical area and a memorial park.  But with no funding the park became infested with Broom to the point where you could not walk around.  Cherry trees donated by the Japanese government for the park were choked off and died.  3 Years ago when I joined the Broom busters we took on the project of clearing this area.  Each year this has been one of the prime areas we work.  This last weekend 28 of us went back to the park to clear the edges and pick the little seedlings that continue to come up.  The town and Japanese families have replanted 31 cherry trees for each of the families displaced.  This is not a shaved park it is a wild park where you walk through knee high grass and find tiles and indications where houses stood, but it is now Broom free.

The picture shows the group from the weekend.  You will note that all of the group are older people.  Young people come out once, do not realize the work involved, and seldom come back.  Just in front of us is the end of a pile of Broom 50 feet long and 10 feet wide.  The tarps were used to drag the cuttings from the back areas to the road where the town will take it away for burning.  It goes back 200 yards beyond the back of the picture.  The park is lovely and a village Councillor and one of the descendants came out to thank us.

I was exhausted by noon but it was worth it.   A better workout than I ever have at the Gym.

2015 No 1 Town Broombust (12)