This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V24", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Rushes are found in almost every place in the British Islands, and in both cold and temperate quarters at home and abroad they are plentiful. Before the introduction of tallow candles in this country, rushes were used by those both in high and low stations. Rushlights are still sold by our chandlers, and are used by the very poor, or for night-lights in sick-rooms. Among the peasantry in the country districts we have often met with rushlights in numbers. The poor dip the rushes in any kind of grease or melted fat they can procure. Formerly in farmers' or gentleman-farmers' houses they twisted great numbers of rushes together in Ireland, sometimes to the bulk of a man'sarm, for house-lights or torches. The common hard rush is used still in country places for tying up bundles of flowers, being previously bleached a little. The bulrush and the lesser bulrush are used for mats, foot-stools, seats for chairs, for baskets and horse-collars, in Ireland ; and in some of the midland districts of England they make ropes of the peel. The pith of bulrushes is used for candles. We have seen ropes and plaited whips, boys' whips, and horsewhips made from bulrushes, some being ingenious plaiting and matting for ornamental purposes.
We have known it to be used (the soft rush) for thatching cottages or corn-stacks and some of the very poor have used it for stuffing beds. Rushes of all species are a very useful order of plants, and may be utilized in a variety of ways, many still unthought of. It is quite possible that a very useful paper might be made from rushes as well as from Esparto grass or wood. We hope the humble and despised rush or bulrush, which has a history as old as Moses, will soon receive more attention than it has hitherto obtained. This very useful plant has passed into a proverb, and is used in derision to express contempt, as, "I dont care a rush about you". - The Builder.