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When God first made the He looked at the bare and barren and thought how nice it would be to them with some of beautiful tree or flower. So he to the Giant Oak, the biggest and of all of the trees he had made, and asked him if he be willing to go up to the bare hills to make them look attractive. But the oak explained that he a good depth of soil in to grow and that the hillsides be far too rocky for him to take root.

So God the oak tree and turned to the honeysuckle its lovely yellow flower and sweet fragrance. He asked the if she would care to grow on the and spread her beauty and fragrance the barren slopes. But the honeysuckle that she needed a wall or a or even another plant to against, and for that reason, it be quite impossible for her to grow in the

So God then turned to one of the sweetest and beautiful of all the flowers — the God asked the rose if she would to grace the rugged highlands her splendour. But the rose explained the wind and the rain and the cold on the would destroy her, and so she not be able to grow on the hills.

with the oak, the honeysuckle and the God turned away. At length, he across a small, low lying, shrub with a flower of petals -some purple and white. It was a heather.

God asked the the same question that he d the others. Will you go and grow the hillsides to make them beautiful?

The heather thought the poor soil, the wind and the — and wasn t very that she could do a good But turning to God she replied that if he her to do it, she would certainly give it a

God was very pleased.

He was so pleased in that he decided to give the some gifts as a reward for her to do as he had asked.

Firstly he gave her the of the oak tree — the bark of the is the strongest of any tree or shrub in the world.

Next he gave her the of the honeysuckle — a fragrance is frequently used to gently soaps and potpouris.

Finally he her the sweetness of the rose — so so that heather is one of the bees flowers. And to this day, is renowned especially for these God given gifts.


the name most commonly for this plant, is of Scottish presumably derived from the word HAEDDRE. Haeddre has recorded as far back as the fourteenth and it is this word which always to have been with ericaceous plants.

The however is obscure, and the variations are Hader is found in Old Scottish 1399, heddir from hathar from 1597 this form of the word may be seen in place names back to 1094) and finally from 1584.

The botanical for the Heath family is Ericaceae, is derived from the Greek , meaning heather or heath. The is generally, and more properly for the most widespread of the Heath Calluna vulgaris, (Calluna the Greek Kallune — to or brush as the twigs were for making brooms and vulgaris Latin, meaning common.)

the plant is sometimes also to as Ling — derived from the old Norse Lyng or the Anglo Saxon Lig meaning and referring to use as a fuel.

Whatever the origin, one thing is certain. moors cover a vast of Scottish countryside. With 2 to 3 million acres of Heather in the East and only slightly in the South and West, Heather is doubt one of Scotland s most and abundant plants.

A Plant in

There are a number of reasons why are so abundant with such a distribution. Firstly, the plant s capacity is high with produced in very large

Each tiny heather has 30 seeds, so it is quite possible for one plant to produce up to 150,000 per season. Small and light, the are readily dispersed by wind and with the germination period up to six months. This long is advantageous to the heather as it means will be reserve seedlings to over if the first seedlings fail.


Most seeds are normally shed November and December, with proving most successful on with a pH of between 4.5 and 7.5 (although it is on soils tending to the lower end of scale). But Heather is a very plant. It readily adapts and in soils which are not only but also those which are supplied with the mineral normally essential to plant

Heather can survive in many types, from those are peaty with a high content to those which are draining and relatively dry.

Despite repeated grazing, is relatively resistant to feeding and sheep. With reserve readily replacing those have been cut back by the this hardy plant is only damaged and destroyed grazing becomes excessive.

The of heather is demonstrated by its ability to despite recorded temperature At ground level, temperatures been recorded in Strathspey as low as -32 C F) in winter and as high as 38 C (100 F) in

Life expectancy of heather is 40-50 years.

Heather Regeneration

One of the most common and ways of managing heather land is the age old method of burning. burning or Muirburn , as it is called in was, and indeed still is, for a variety of different reasons.

the process was used not only to tall shrubs and trees over the moor — the number of older Heather which were tall and with few young shoots. But it was used to create open of land which made it for preying wolves and foxes to domestic herds unseen.

Now heather burning is primarily to create the conditions necessary for regeneration of young heather — encouraging high of edible new shoots which are to animals and birds dependant heather for survival. Grouse employs many people and in valuable revenue in sparsely areas of Scotland.

Burning, as you expect, is restricted by law.

In to cause as little disruption and as possible to both nests and the period for burning in Scotland begins in October and lasts 15th April. Traditionally most burning is carried out in although some estates that regeneration is better burning in the autumn. A saying North Uist, which has passed down through refers to the heather burning had to be done in a bad season;

Is fearr deathach a fhraoich, na a reodhaidh

(Better is the smoke of the than the wind of the frost.)

burning almost all of the above parts are destroyed. But reserve at the base of the stems, which been shielded by earth and are protected from the heat and rise to new growth the following This is known as vegetative with the new growth, referred to in as Mionaa (Meanbh) Fhraoch.

this is not the only regenerative Another, although somewhat way, is by seed. Germination of seed occurs in the gaps the burnt plants — where there is a moist bed and fluctuating temperatures.

Heather in the Chain

Domestic and Wild

Although few animals rely on one food source, many significantly on heather for survival. Red Deer, Rabbits and Hares, to but a few. And it is the heather s young with which most of animals supplement their

One look at a typical example of a chain shows just how heather is in the cycle of moorland

Heather shoots. eaten by in turn eaten by Meadow preyed upon by Hen Harrier.

At best, the shoots provide minerals such as calcium, nitrogen, magnesium and potassium, their nutritional quality by the particular soil quality in area.

The shoots may be grazed the year. In winter, the green are eaten followed by the new green in May. In summer the flowers are in bud and bloom, along with the heads.

And in autumn, even the capsules help to sustain on the moor.

The Red Deer browse on the heather, particularly in the winter when other food is to find. The Roe Deer also on the plant, preferring to stay in the heather. Even the Reindeer were introduced into the area in the 1950 s, have come to rely on this food source.

Other include Mountain and Brown who require the young heather for and rank heather for cover. living on moorland also young shoots.

According to the National Dictionary the Wild Cat was referred to as the Heather Cat.

Of domestic animals too, as cattle and sheep, also from grazing on heather in areas which have specially designated and managed for this purpose.

Cattle use the to supplement their winter of hay, turnips and manufactured Teck’ is the name used in to describe the long heather was used as fodder. However it is the hardiest of domestic breeds is the main beneficiary — the sheep.

For many years to the day, sheep farmers taken their sheep to the to give the resultant lamb special flavour . Indeed the Sheep Breeders Association is hard to have the pure-bred Lamb from the Heather’, recognised as one of Scotland s gourmet comparable with grouse, whisky and salmon.

There however, drawbacks as the following from The Scots National outline: Heather Blindness a of sheep.

Contagious opthalmia is a disease of sheep that is to most sheep-raising countries, Scotland, where it is often to as heather blindness.

Heather — a disease prevalent sheep that have grazing too long on heather.

Claw — A dog s dew claw, is apt to catch in heather with pain, and is therefore often cut

Heather Clout — in reduced form Clu.

The joint or ankle, the external and part of which is protected by two substances, which we call

A Natural Habitat for Birds

The most associated with is the Red Grouse, sometimes referred to as The Bird . The Gaelic term for the bird is Coilech-Fraoch, the Heather with the female equivalent Cearc-Fraoch, Heather Hen.

from nesting time the bird feeds primarily on and grubs, the Grouse will on young heather shoots. grit to grind up the hard heather in it s gizzards, the bird is to turn much of the lignin and (the woody part of the into usable energy. So in heavy snows when the can still be seen sticking up the icy cover, there will be no of energy to maintain life.

this is why grouse are seldom starving during deep

Breeding tends to be more on more nutritious heather.

Of Heather is more than a food source. Heather is a natural habitat for the hundreds of insects, animals and birds all of are inter-dependent on one another.

Providing sites, shelter and protective from predators there are different types of bird to be thriving on the moor.

Red Grouse: on heather not just for food but as a protective cover from such as the Golden Eagle and Falcon. In Caithness, it is common to see of heather tied to the top of deer which warn these and low-flying birds, to take action!

Black Grouse: The stocks of this bird are to be on a moor with a mixture of tall heather, bogs, vegetation and farmland. The hen chooses heather for her nest and then her chicks to damp ground rushes, tall heather, bog and scrub. Known as the Heather this bird consumes the Beetle in great quantity.

This bird is normally on higher slopes, but in severe it will come downhill in of the young shoots.

Capercaillie: The Sized Capercaillie uses of heather or pine needles to its eggs until its clutch is

Golden Plover: This with its beautiful, plaintive cry in the short heather.

Dotterel: the Golden Plover and a member of the family, this bird its nest on a carpet of prostrate high in the Cairngorms.

Lapwing: referred to as Peewit or Green this bird can be found in heather close to the grassland of crofts and farms.

Curlew: For me, has arrived when the beautiful calls of this bird can be as it glides back from at the coast to its nesting site in the heather.

The Common Snipe: referred to as the Heather Bleat(er), its name from the sound by the male with its tail in flight — mainly courtship.

Ring Ouzel: as the Heather Blackie , this is very much the Mountain and makes its nest from grasses, heather and mud.

The Meadow Pipit: Also as the Heather-Cheeper.

The Heather Lintie: referred to as the Twite or Mountain breeds on the moors and open

The Heather Peeper: Another for the Common Sandpiper.

The Heather-Cun-Dunk: A sea either the Goosander or the Northern

Golden Eagle: this bird constructs its nest, or from twigs of heather and on moorland creatures such as Red and Mountain Hares.

Other of prey which are associated the heath include the Buzzard, Falcon, the Merlin, Hen Harrier and Eared Owl.


are affected relatively little by However there are certain of insects which can be found on the plant. These include the Gall Midge (Wachtiella and the Heather Beetle (Lochmaea

Other types of insect to on the heather are the Sap Suckers. One such is the Froghopper, sometimes referred to as the because of the froth of bubbles which it surrounds itself. bubbles are created from the sap of the plant and are a familiar sight to people.

The Emperor Moth is a which feeds on the young It is camouflaged magnificently with its body taking on the exact of the heather, whilst the pimples on its resemble the colour of the heather

The adult moth has tremendous which help to ward off as it flies over the heather April and May. After the female flies by night to lay eggs on the heather.

The Northern Moth is another caterpillar is also common on heather feeding, once again, on the shoots.

In Banffshire, the Dragon-Fly is known as the Heather Bill.

There are a few reptiles to be found amongst the heather It is not unusual to see basking in the sun on hummocks before off to hunt for toads and frogs in pools. In Caithness, frog are called Heather-fish.


On well drained areas is generally accompanied by Erica (Bell Heather), Tormentil and Milkwort. While on wetter Bell Heather is replaced by tetralix (Cross-leaved Heath) by other plants such as Bog and Sundew.

In open pine where the ground vegetation is in nature with plants as bilberry, cowberry and crowberry, and like wavy haired and soft grass, heather is again a prominent member of the community. Even in the Birch where the canopy is light, versatile plant is not hindered in its and is surrounded with bracken and

Carline Heather: The bell of Erica tetralix and Erica Used also to describe Heather, Fraoch Frangach, by old hill-folk.

Cat Heather: This is a used to describe various of heather including Erica Erica tetralix, or Calluna

Dog Heather: This is the Aberdeenshire given to the ling heather.

in the Construction of and Thatching of the Dwelling

Heather thatch on house in North Uist.

As one of the most and readily available resources in the Heather has always played an role in the traditional construction of particularly in areas such as the Islands where construction was determined by the availability of natural and their proximity to the proposed As a result, heather was used to many dwelling houses, and farmhouses. From walls and to the ropes and pegs which held the building together, proves its versatility once

Thatching with Heather was out in areas as far apart as Shetland in the and the Island of Arran in the South Buildings which were Theekit — (thatched Heather), were generally a class than those were thatched with The old Blackhouses of Lewis for instance were thatched with and constructed without a chimney or hole, so as to impregnate the straw soot for future use as a fertilizer in the were, despite being the forerunners of our present day recycling unpopular as they had to be replaced

A Heather roof however, to J. Smith in the General View of of Argyll (1798), will 100 years. He tells us that, roofs are more suited to as they, along with our timber, can be had for a trifle, last as long as slates and give trouble in repairs. It is astonishing in a country in which Heather these roofs are not more They are indeed heavier straw roofs; but by making a little steeper, and placing the a little nearer than roofs, most of the weight be thrown on the walls, which, if as they ought to be, of stone and will not feel the burden.

It a neat warm and durable

The thatching of these roofs was by a heatherer and various methods of have been recorded. One however, which was perhaps in common use was to make a covering of (thin sods pared off by a made specifically for that above the wooden framework. that was then spread a coat of thatch which was fastened down by straw or ropes, crossed through other in a net-like fashion, and stones suspended.

Heather would frequently be used to the crofters byre and stable and quite often the crofter’s own too. But most often, were used for covering and turnip pits in winter. The were clean and warm, and at the time, provided better than grass sods.

the heather divots in this laid on like slates, side down, there was no of the crops sweating and rotting.

The shielings of Glen Lyon 1837 and 1841, were by Duncan Campbell in his book, of an Octogenarian Highlander’, as not much to at on the outside, but rather substantial and on the inside. Built of stone, with heather and well for dairy purposes, recesses, or cupboards, were built the thick walls with for shelves on which milk were placed. Planks placed at intervals across the from one top of the side wall to the

And it was here that the cheeses, taken out of their presses, placed to harden and become smoked with the reek of the and the remains of the heather stalks had been burnt to the ground the before.

In ancient times, too were generally thatched heather.

The roots of heather as effective nails and pegs used especially for hanging But it was the small twigs of heather, and shaped with a knife were used to peg down the divots in the thatch. Once down, a thick fringe of was arranged to project under the layer of divots in order to rainwater drips away the roof, clear of the walls. If the house did let in water, fesgar, a of straw or heather, would be with boards around the of the house. (Fesgar is also to as a strengthening rim for straw or heather

Walls were constructed of (Heather and daub, sometimes dab) which was a combination of with mud or clay. Built an inner and outer skin of the walls had a central core of divots. There were types of resulting buildings. Houses for instance on the island of were constructed by wattling heather and branches of wood. And in it has been recorded that brushwood was used (in conjunction wild juniper) in cavity of houses to act as insulation and soundproofing.

And of insulation, it has also been by hill people as insulation the cold by packing it down and inside jumpers.

ROPES AND The Skara Brae excavation in revealed a prehistoric village back to around 2000BC. primitive tools and animal they discovered Seomain — Heather rope.

fraoich was made from stems of the Heather plant, and woven by hand, and used for a of purposes — from down thatch to securing boats. It was even used in to gather in the seaweed for the production of which, in turn, yielded essential to the manufacture of glass.

In the area ladders made heather ropes, bound and swung over the cliffs, used to give direct to the shore.

Inside The Home

to the present day, crofters and rely upon heather as an and efficient fuel for their — with the part is most generally burnt from the top layer of the peat Once cut, stacked and it was used for heating the dwelling cooking, drying (especially for corn before it went to the brewing and baking. The small stems were also as they were found to excellent kindlers for starting the

The crofters even found a use for Birns burnt heather using the short, charred of the plant as writing instruments!

The Brae excavation in Orkney evidence of beds in the form of boxes, lined with heather or straw and dating as far as 2000 BC. The original heather

Obviously these beds developed over the years crofters gradually perfecting construction techniques using the longest, straightest and finest of the young heath. These would be pulled at their in bloom and fragrance, with as root as possible. Once had been left to dry for a few hours to any dew or accidental moisture, they be placed together as thickly and as possible, with their arranged uppermost.

Inclining a towards the head of the bed — was generally against a wall, the would be held together at the and foot of the bed by logs of wood had been cut to appropriate lengths.

an outdoor heather bed has its merits!

And in case you were wondering the support afforded by a heather you might be interested to note according to Mr R. Oldale, Kilchrenan, the anvils below the huge hammers in the Sheffield Steel were sited on beds of These heather beds apparently sufficiently well so as to absorb the tremendous impact by the hammers and thus prevented the from fracturing!

Inside the heather had many practical — from baskets and to pot scrubbers and doormats.

Thanks to Bob at Brushes and Sundries at www.besombinder.com for the old picture of a Scotsman selling Brooms.

Heather brooms made from the long stems which were in spring when they at their most pliable. would then be bunched and guilloteened to form a trim

Many types of besoms and were made in this and the art of brush making became a rural craft industry. of brushes and besoms varied, on locality, and were sold by Heather Jennys and Heather (the nicknames for the men and women who heather goods). Indeed a trade was long practised in the of heather goods as, until 1860, there were few brushes to be found on an ordinary

A Curing Heather Cow was the term to descibe a broom made of twigs whilst a Heather Reenge — sometimes to in Orkney as a Heather Scratter the name given to a bunch of heather stems cut to equal and bound firmly together for use as a pot or for brushing the flue of a chimney. to this day, Chimney in Lewis still use bunches of tied to to the end of ropes as they that it is the only way to get the job done

Heather doormats were common in the croft. Mats be specially made for the kitchen long, thin heather They would be woven in different patterns with the side rough where the ends were concealed and the side smooth. In Islay, mats which were from young heather known as peallagan .

Baskets made all over the highlands and had uses round the croft. long heather stems, were made either to be on the human back or as pack which were carried by They were also on walls for storage.

The Saalt cuddle from Shetland, is one example of such a basket was hung beside the fire and to keep salt dry.

Of there were many different types of basket with a specific role. The (Wool Basket) for instance, was made to hold wool carding, and the Maisie — a meshed panier of bent or heather, was used for carrying and peats.

In Orkney, one particular of basket was called a Heather These baskets were in various forms but the most one was woven from long, straight heather stalks, not or crinkly, and was used for carrying from the shed to the byre for the Carried on the back, they also used to bring inside from the stack. type of basket was the Sea Cubby so called because it was specially to carry home fish.

baskets including the Heather (from Orkney) and the Heather were made to hold fishing line and bait. the lobsters of the Hebrides which sent to London where were in great demand, packed in heather.

Examples of and other utensils can all be seen at the Folk Museum at Kingussie.

of Heather Outdoors

Abundant and available, heather, with its nature and durable characteristics even in bog conditions, was often in the making of roads, tracks and It was mainly laid as an intermediate between a base of brushwood and a of gravel. And it was this method, was reportedly used, in laying across Rannoch moor.

In Mediaeval times, the otherwise parts of a sheep s fleece, as daggings , were laid and with heather to form across the heath. This practice is currently experiencing a with daggings by the hundred-weight airlifted by the RAF to reinforce foundations the popular walkways of the Cairngorms.

on the drainage, lighter soils can be to silt up . To avoid this the tops of old heather would be in the bottom of a trench to act as a field Another way in which heather was as a conservation method was in the production of banks. These banks, in with planting marram would be made from heather twigs and used to dunes — a method particularly in Holland.

Used for sheep and other animals in the months, sectioning them off particular areas, fences be made from the longest, supple stems of rank intertwined between stakes and

Heather branches were often used to make sticks, particularly in Colonsay the rich peaty soil on the of the island made ideal conditions. Two such specimens sent to Edinburgh University. One was measured at 6ft. whilst the was a mere 4ft. in height!


Heather was often as a fuel for cooking and heating. But it was used for lighting — Lighting that is. The following from Days and Nights of Fishing in the Tweed by William descibes how heather was used in an age old for catching salmon.

We went to the and tied up twae heather frae a bunch or twae I had gead the miller lad to dry in the kiln ten before. They may talk o and birk bark baith, but gie me a heather light, weel on the kiln for a throat o the Queed.

of heather which had been dried were placed a special basket-like carrying Once set alight, this torch would be held at the s edge where the flickering and lights would attract the from the low water, (known as the water ). The salmon would the lights, whereupon they be speared by a five barbed, handled fork, called a This method of fishing was at the time.

Raising the Sails

A taken from a book by Mowat, tells of another ingenious way in which heather was by James Bremmner — a ship builder and harbour who was born in the Parish of Wick in

The brig Isabella of Sunderland was on the sands of Dunnet in a storm, and was fast in the quick sand. were dug with a view to her, but every becoming refilled them. Mr Bremmner was a puzzled and, turning to his said, John have ye no

On receiving an answer to the negative, he replied, Then awa to the hill and poo Not knowing to what purpose was meant, the man quietly submitted and was reinforced by a number of women and from the neighbourhood, organised for the purpose. On the tide receding, he up the sides of the trenches with the a plan which effectually them from filling in

Anchors were put out astern and as the flowed, he summoned the whole to pull the vessel off with The Isabella soon slipped the water

From Floor to Jewellery

Shortly after the World War, a restriction on the use of was initiated. Ground level were unable to have the timber floor boards and mainly constructed of concrete or But these floors were and cold underfoot, and they had no . So, in answer to this problem, a factory employing three to people, was set up at the side of Loch in Dumbartonshire. The factory then set the production of floor tiles from the woody heather

The resultant tiles were hard wearing and lasted a length of time.

The tiles made by compressing the heather together into blocks a special bonding agent. they were cut transversely, the resultant floor tile.

eventually restrictions on the use of timber relaxed, and normal building resumed, production of the heather began to dwindle as it proved too to produce.

However the basic which had been developed by small factory of compressing the stems was essentially a good and was put to a more cost effective use by the industry.

Initially small were recessed into and staghorn to form brooches and Then a method of dying the was developed which resulted in colourful and interesting jewellery. In the small craft workshop more and more sophisticated in design, production and marketing.

Colourings and Dyes

Born in Dugald Carmichael, a little-known returned to his native Scotland a lifetime of exploring the world in of new plants. Dugald s other love, besides botany, was But he had great difficulty finding the colours he required, so he started to use the pigments from plants to his paints.

And it was to the tops of the heath he turned to for the colour yellow.

Of the art of using natural pigments for has been around for centuries crofters relying on the heather to dye wool and cloth.

A Traditional for the Dying of Wool

Gather the of the (Barr An Fhraoich) Heather. when they are young and and growing in a shady place. a layer of wool and heather on the bottom of the pot until the pot is filled. add as much water as the pot will

Put on the fire to boil, but do not allow to dry. The wool will dye a yellow colour which is a basis for green when is added. If a moss green is add gall apples and iron towards the end of dying.

Purple and tints can be obtained by using old tops.

If wanted for winter the tips of the heather plant be picked just before come into flower. If it is to be fresh, it can be gathered as long as the is in bloom.

The resultant dye is a mordant dye means the fibre requires preparation before it can absorb the The treatment is 4oz alum and 2oz cream of to every 1 lb of wool.

A Taste of

Interesting » Electric Cars

HEATHER ALE — A Galloway

From the bonny bells of

They brewed a drink Syne

Was sweeter far than

Was stronger far than wine.


Heather has been used the years to flavour many foods and drinks. Little is known about the early of Scotland. However, many are told of brewing ales and from heather flowers.

One brew was known as Heather Ale.


As recently as 1993, an AlIoa went into production of Ale using an ancient recipe.


1 Heather Tips (in full

1 Gallon water

3-4 lbs. (according to sweetness desired)


2 Oranges

1 teasp. dried

1 teasp. yeast nutrient.

heather with the water and for one hour. Strain off liquid and Restore to one gallon, and add sugar. until completely dissolved.

the temperature drops to 70F, add and nutrient. Leave for 14 days. strain into fermentation and when fermentation ceases, and bottle. Keep for at least six


Gather the flowering and after breaking off the hard pieces, spread it in a cool space and leave for approximately 12 16 hours. This should, in allow a slight wither to place — but with having a hard leaf, is not too noticeable.

Put the heather into a and bruise and break-up the heather as as possible. After this thinly in a cool place and for a minimum of 3 hours to allow a to take place. This be apparent from a darkening of the

After this, put into an temperature 200-250F until the is dry and crisp. The tea retains its misty colour and looks attractive. on its own, the product gives a liquor. Mixed in equal with ordinary tea however, it a much stronger flavoursome

This is a proper tea — not masquerading as tea.

Tinkers Tea

fishermen having a day on the loch use the method to make tea — fill the kettle with water and take it to the shore, a of heather and tea is then deposited in the Next, set old dry heather under and a mountain of heather over the and ignite. By the time it has burnt out the tea is and has a heathery flavour.

This was described to me by Mr George Sproat, 4 Road, Tobermory, Isle of

On the Isle of Skye they had a simple remedy for tea which had ruined by smoke from the The solution — a sprig of simply placed in the cup!


It is said that of the finest brands of whisky some of their most flavours from the heather.

At the Park Distillery, in Kirkwall, there was a peculiarly shaped building, referred to as the Heather . This was where heather, had been gathered in the month of when the plant was in full was stored. Carefully cut off near the and tied into small of about a dozen branches the heather was used on the peat to help dry the malt and impart a flavour which, was claimed, to Highland Park Distillery its taste.

It is interesting to note in former times the wooden for fermentation, known in whisky as washbacks , would be cleaned heather besoms. And when new were installed, bundles of would be placed in the water and in order to sweeten the still the first distillation took

In the nineteenth century and possibly earlier, illicit stills used to make whisky in broad daylight. The crofters able to do this because, by up and using old stumps of burnt they could make a without smoke, and so not raise

Heather Honey

There is no honey quite like honey.

Quite different physically from all other pure heather honey is after by the epicure and commands a price. Bright golden with a pronounced and characteristic the harvest of heather honey is the honey crop in this

In some respects, gathering the from heather is easier gathering honey from any flower source. There is likelihood of bees swarming taken to the heather, routine of the hives can be dispensed with and the of a good harvest is reasonably — dependent on good and no early frosts.

Transportation of the to the heather moors is generally between the end of July and the 12th of although this can vary to the season. However it is advisable to try to the best of the Bell Heather and Leaved Heath Crops they are in the first flush of Transportation of the bees is best out either in the cool of the evening or the hours of morning.

This losses by suffocation.

Due to the flowering of the heather plants, where are numerous flowers on spikes, to one another in vast expanses of a considerable amount of honey can be in a comparatively short time. bell-shaped, the flower is easily with the nectar readily to the visiting bee. The corolla of these small flowers are 2-3mm long with the being concealed at the flowers

This is easily sought out and by the honey bee s spoon-tipped tongue is approximately 6mm long. The nectar is to honey by the bees themselves.

Heather honey is a thinner with a port wine and a strong characteristic flavour, Cross Leaved Heath is much thinner and lighter in

Weather Predictions

Even in the weather have been with heather. It is said, in that an extremely rich on the heather during August and is followed by severe weather in Whilst another widely belief, particularly throughout the of the country and the Cheviot range, is the buming of the heather doth doon the rain !

Plant of the Clans

As already mentioned, can be used, in conjunction with silver and pewter, to make and effective jewellery. But another decorative use for heather was as a plant of the clans. This was used before the tradition of heraldic with the appropriate chiefs straps, buckles and mottos.

to as Heather Taps , these plant badges were by the Highlanders in the seventeenth century, if not and were placed behind the in the bonnet. Heather (Fraoch) was the of the clans MacAlister, MacDonell, Farquharson, Maclntyre and Mac Donald, white heather (Fraoch pertaining to MacPherson.

It is said the chiefs of the clan Donald into battle, as an emblem of race, a bunch of wild hung from the point of a spear.

Another way in which heather was decoratively was in the form of dirk Made from the stems and of the plant and carved deeply in designs these were on kilts around the sixteenth and centuries.

The Healing Properties of

The healing properties of heather been recorded as far back as the ages, with books on herbs and their uses even further back to the century.

A German book, in 1565, describes the famous Paulus Aegineta as using the leaves and stems to heal all of sores incuding ulcers both internally and externally.

wrote in 1543 that the effect of the plant could insect bites. Whilst who lived round about the time, used the plant in form to heal snake eye infections, infections of the spleen and in the formation of stones in internal

Nicolas Alexandre, a Benedictine wrote that boiling stems and drinking the liquid for consecutive days, morning and was sufficient to dissolve kidney He added, that the patient also bathe in the Heather

Heather has even been to help nursing mothers more milk. Schelenz in 1914 that Heather was a remedy for all sorts of illnesses and However by the turn of the century, in medical terms was generally with the prevention and treatment of in the bladder and kidney area.

1930, Heather, referred to by the profession as Herba Callunae, has acknowledged by many doctors and as effective against arthritis, complaints, formation of stones, and back ache, even and tuberculosis. This remarkable which is quite safe for use by is also known to be good for throats, gout, catarrh and Some say it even cleanses the getting rid of exzema and fevers.

herbalists, to this day, use vulgaris in the treatment of certain Containing tannin and several components, it is used particularly in the of cystitis (bladder infection), as its is diuretic and antimicrobial.

In the mountain of Europe the plant is still to make a linement for arthritis and by softening the herb in alcohol.

for Hay Fever

Pure Heather is recommended for hay fever sufferers.

was not only associated with illnesses — it was, to the Scots National Dictionary, used figuratively, to describe and other peculiarities common to folk. HEATHER ILL This was the used to describe constipation of the HEATHER LAMP A springy common among people to walking over heathery The term heather lamping , to lifting feet high walking — sometimes a heather step . Walking a step high and wide was as walking with heather . HEATHER HEADED Sometimes to as heather heidit , this is the given to someone with a dishevelled head of hair and indicates a rustic or country HEATHER GOOSE This was the used to descibe a dolt or

HEATHER PIKER This was a contemptuous epithet for a person in a poverty stricken or miserly HEATHER WIGHT The name to a Highlander. HEATHER LOWPER A dweller, countryman known as a in Perth. HETHER MAN, A heather seller.

Also purporting to be a term in free

A Heather Garden

As a plant so many advantages for the present day it will come as no surprise to that Heathers are more than ever! Providing all year round with and flower, heathers are evergreen and thrive for many years. to purchase and relatively easy to heathers, once established, provide a weed free which requires the minimum of

Easy to propagate, heathers are relatively free from and pests. Small wonder that landscape projects and small, from industrial and motorways to housing developments and car make great use of this

Until recently little work has actually been out on the hybridisation of heathers, but yet, of different cultivars are now available specialist nurseries. Many of cultivars have been in the wild as chance seedlings, by vegetative propagation. Other arrive as chance seedlings in — as sports or mutations in

Each with their own qualities.

For instance, plants back from the remote group of St. Kilda, (approximately 50 west of the Outer Hebrides and 100 from the mainland), are extremely and spreading. They remain so in cultivation, their characteristics been developed to cope the extreme exposure experienced on the

Cultivars discovered quite by include one which was found as a sprig on Calluna County . County Wicklow has double flowers, but this cultivar had white flowers. The sprig, in a garden in Argyll, has since propagated successfully and is now catalogued the name Kinlochruel. (A selection of are listed towards the end of this

The heather gardener has many to choose from and one glance at the in this page should to convince even the most gardener that, together a few conifers and shrubs, an attractive and maintained garden can be easily

The Heather Society

Founded in to assist in the advancement of horticulture, and in the improvement of, and research into the of heaths, heathers and associated

It publishes a Year Book and Bulletins annually to keep up to date. It maintains a slide provides free technical and arranges local and an annual conference.

For details of membership Mrs A. Small, Administrator, Denbeigh, All Road, Creeting St. Mary, SUFFOLK 1P6 8PJ.


North American Heather Secretary: Walter H. Wornick, View, P0. Box 101, Aistead, New 03602, U.S.A.

Nederlandse Erlcultura . Secretary: Mr. J. Dahm, 54, 6681 ZM Bemmel, Netherlands.

der Heldefreunde. Chairman: Fritz Tangstedter Landstrasse 276, Hamburg 62, Germany.


Was originated in 1972 by David and Betty Lambie the intention of being Scotland s Specialists. Located appropriately in the of Speyside in the central Highlands of amidst glorious scenery the winning centre now attracts 85,000 visitors annually.

Any the reader may have should be to:

Speyside Heather Garden Centre

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