"When gorse is in flower kissing is in season!" There are not many months of the year when it seems gorse (Ulex europaeus) is not in flower but there is no doubt, here in Purbeck at least, that it is at its best in April and May. From the spring equinox (usualy the 21st March) onwards the heaths and downs are aglow with the vibrant yellow flowers of the furze, a local name for gorse. The other wonderful thing you notice as you walk amongst the yellow flowered bushes in the strong, unmistakable scent resembling coconut; lovely!
The common or European gorse does not actually flower all year as it may seem. It tends to take a rest from mid summer but by then, in July through to September, the dwarf gorse takes its place. Superficially they are very similar, you just tend to think that dwarf gorse is a young gorse bush but it is a different species. Then from August through until as late as November in some years western gorse flowers and by Christmas the common gorse can be showing some yellow again.
All three species of gorse are an important plant for insects, spiders and some species of birds, notably the Dartford Warbler. Too much, however, can dominate the heathers and so it has to be cleared from time to time. This used to done by controlled burning but now mechanical 'shredders' are used which is much less destructive on reptiles and other creatures.