The Gorse is coming out everywhere up here now, looking really beautiful, the yellow is so vibrant. I have just returned from a week in Wiltshire where the fields are covered with oil seed rape a different kind of yellow compared to up here, but both looking and smelling good. I love the smell of the gorse, it has a slight coconut aroma.
I use gorse in our Prehistoric cookery workshops as well as our Natural dyeing courses, it is such a useful plant. It takes quite a time to pick it though, as it is so prickly, I started off with gloves on this year but gave up as it is tricky to pinch the petals off with a glove on. It is in such plentiful supply up here, I don’t even seems to dent individual bushes!
I also use Gorse flowers in wild outdoor cookery, cooking them in drop scones over the fire, putting them in wild salads, (which adds a lovely splash of bright yellow) and I have also made Gorse flower and honey ice cream (not outdoors!)
As a natural dye, gorse produces a lovely lemony yellow. I use quite a lot of flowers compared to the weight of wool, about 4:1 ratio, to get a really good colour. I bring the flowers to the boil and make a solution from the flower mix, adding my mordanted wool and let it slowly simmer.
If you are interested in working more with Gorse come and join us on one of our spring or summer courses:
Natural Dyeing in the Highlands: May 17th-18th, June 14th-15th, August 2nd-3rd
Prehistoric Cookery: May 31st-June 1st, July 26th-27th, August 23rd-24th