On Ilkley Moor the heather is blooming and smelling a treat. Certainly the horseflies seemed to think so until we got to the top of the moor where the heather really made a statement.
In your garden heaths and heathers can be very useful perennial plants. They have all year round interest and are generally low maintenance plants (and being hardy they take a bit of killing).
There is a Heather Society for the enthusiast which can be found on this link
Many thanks to Speyside Heather and Electric Scotland for this ‘History of Heather’.
When God first made the world, He looked at the bare and barren hillsides and thought how nice it would be to cover them with some kind of beautiful tree or flower. So he turned to the Giant Oak, the biggest and strongest of all of the trees he had made, and asked him if he would be willing to go up to the bare hills to help make them look more attractive. But the oak explained that he needed a good depth of soil in order to grow and that the hillsides would be far too rocky for him to take root.
So God left the oak tree and turned to the honeysuckle with its lovely yellow flower and beautiful sweet fragrance. He asked the honeysuckle if she would care to grow on the hillsides and spread her beauty and fragrance amongst the barren slopes. But the honeysuckle explained that she needed a wall or a fence or even another plant to grow against, and for that reason, it would be quite impossible for her to grow in the hills.
So God then turned to one of the sweetest and most beautiful of all the flowers – the rose. God asked the rose if she would care to grace the rugged highlands with her splendour. But the rose explained that the wind and the rain and the cold on the hills would destroy her, and so she would not be able to grow on the hills.
Disappointed with the oak, the honeysuckle and the rose, God turned away. At length, he came across a small, low lying, green shrub with a flower of tiny petals -some purple and some white. It was a heather.
God asked the heather the same question that he’d asked the others. “Will you go and grow upon the hillsides to make them more beautiful?”
The heather thought about the poor soil, the wind and the rain – and wasn’t very sure that she could do a good job. But turning to God she replied that if he wanted her to do it, she would certainly give it a try.
God was very pleased.
He was so pleased in fact that he decided to give the heather some gifts as a reward for her willingness to do as he had asked.
Firstly he gave her the strength of the oak tree – the bark of the heather is the strongest of any tree or shrub in the whole world.
Next he gave her the fragrance of the honeysuckle – a fragrance which is frequently used to gently perfume soaps and potpouris.
Finally he gave her the sweetness of the rose – so much so that heather is one of the bees favourite flowers. And to this day, heather is renowned especially for these three God given gifts.
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