All around the ?bloomin’ heather

The National Trust reports that 75% of the heather is brown and poorly this year. The image on the left is the heather in Shropshire last year, while the one on the right shows the same scene today.

This diary entry doesn’t work very well without a colour image. I’m not quite sure how it will work in the ‘book of the blog’ which is expected to be printed in monochrome; perhaps our imagination will have to be invoked. For today, colour is best.

I thought that the heather display was pretty poor, this year, as we drove through Co. Durham on our way to Yorkshire in mid-August, trying to show off the bloom to our friend visiting from Philadelphia. The lovely purples and mauves were there, to be sure, just not so much of them. According to the National Trust press release, the damage is not limited to the south, but rather the Heather Trust confirms that it encompasses Scotland and northern England as well.

Apparently the prolonged heat wave last summer, along with the paucity of rain during the winter, and the onslaught of heather beetle infestation because the winter wasn’t cold enough to kill the larvae, has just about finished off the heather bushes. National Trust rangers were, however, hopeful that the plants will prove to be resilient, as they often are. But the die back is possibly the worst in living memory.

Climate change seems to be eliciting more and more extreme weather conditions, and as we await the remains of Dorian here on our shores, the worst hurricane on record, ever, in the Caribbean basin, it’s all very cautionary indeed. Yet we’ve seemed to be living in an area relatively sheltered from the climate emergency; I’d not thought for a moment that we would see the effects first hand, so dramatically and so soon.

The soft swathes of gentle azure heather blossom on the left, last year, have been replaced by harsh and brittle browns of dying bushes on the right. Unfortunately, monochrome images of the effect are like hearing a description of a vibrant street market on Radio 4: unsatisfactory!

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