The war against Scotch broom

About 30 volunteers joined Greenways Land Trust organizers for their annual Broom Bash along the Myrt Thompson Trail on Saturday as they continued their fight against the invasive yellow-flowered plant that has been taking over the area for decades.

Sandra Milligan of Greenways says it’s important that they keep at it, even though sometimes it can be a bit frustrating for volunteers to come back and see little change after all their effort the previous year.

It’s a long-game kind of project, she says.

Every year they do make some headway, even if it’s not obvious at first glance.

“You can see a huge improvement if you look at this area, which used to be covered in it,” she says, pointing to the area immediately beside the trail, which is broom-free now, “versus this area,” she says, looking down at the plants she’s just been hacking away at with her shears on the ridge above the trail. “It’s just hard to see from one year to the next, sometimes, because after you’ve chopped it back, you need to come in and plant native plants that have to take over and replace the broom before it looks very different.”

That’s the important part, she says.

“You can’t just remove,” she says. “You have to remove, then replant and nourish the native plants you’re replanting. Otherwise the broom will just choke them back out and take over again.”

It’s also important that they time the process properly.

“We do it in May every year,” Milligan says, “because it’s important that we get to them when they’re flowering, but before they go to seed.”

“It’s also harder on them, which is good,” says volunteer Chuck Desorcy, who is chopping away with his shears about 15 yards down the ridge line from Milligan. “It kind of shocks them when we do it now and makes it harder for them to come back as strongly.”

That’s why the annual Broom Bash only happens once a year, but volunteers for the group are down there periodically doing maintenance, as well according to Greenways volunteer coordinator Libby King.

“We’re down here all the time, just doing what we can to help the native plants push back a little,” she says.

For more information on their efforts, check them out on Facebook or online at greenwaystrust.ca