A lovely photo in The Guardian of an all-heather award-winning small garden from the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show appealed to me because it’s on different levels. With our mountainside slopes I have vague plans and dreams of some day building low walls to make terraced slopes, but these are projects for someone with more time and money.
The photo suddenly made me wonder, however, if Switzerland has heather and I realized I couldn’t think of the French for heather, since when I have seen it, mainly in Ireland and Scotland, I didn’t need my French.
Bruyère came up when I googled it and I had to laugh because of course my garden has it in several corners, and it’s famous in this part of the world as a plant you put in cemeteries. I was once told to be careful never to offer it as a gift, in Paris, for that reason. Meanwhile, chez moi, we could bury a lot of people, if heather is what is needed.
The laugh is on me because I’ve just cleaned out and redone our rock garden, and cutting back the ambitious heather was part of the job. I’ve been rooting out gangly plants I never liked, planting more flowers and a greater variety of colours. Now it needs two weeks for the plants to start producing more foliage and flowers, and this evening I will scatter nasturtium seeds, in shades of bright red and orange, around the bare edge of our bisse-fed pond, where the last of the tadpoles are quickly growing into miniature frogs.
Heather is used as a medicinal plant in homeopathic remedies, mainly for cystitis and urinary infections, according to Creapharma in Switzerland.
What I really had in mind was wild, blooming heather (which has sparked more than one song), Calluna vulgaris, and I found a lovely photo of it on a blog I’ve just tripped over, about Swiss wild flowers, flores et fleurs suisses. I’d like to thank the authors for their link to another interesting flowers site, new to me, Swiss Web Flora.
Heather does many nice things for a garden, and attracting bees is one of them in this age where we worry about disappearing bee populations. In Scotland it is reputed to bring happiness; there is surely a link.
For now it’s adding soft green but within weeks we’ll start to see pink and purple bushes there, a nice soft brush stroke of colour as the season evolves.