A Sense of Place: Wooden Beehives In Heather

Little Sparta

The heather is flowering at the moment, turning green hillsides purple. While we have lots of heather on Darwen Moor, I haven’t seen it looking as pretty as in these two pictures, both taken in Scotland during a recent trip. The first shows the view looking outwards from Little Sparta, home of the late poet Ian Hamilton Finlay and his wife, Sue. I highly recommend a visit.

Taking a long, but scenic detour on our way home, we happened upon these wooden beehives next to a stream in a Scottish valley. If it is true that the highest quality of honey comes from bees able to forage in unspoiled, natural surroundings, I would love to sample a jar from these hives.

Wooden beehives in Scottish heather with a stream running by

This bucolic sight helped ground our visit to Little Sparta by echoing its elements. Ian Hamilton Finlay’s beehives may have been white rather than patchwork colours, and poetic rather than functional, but it’s easy to see the commercial hives and the artwork are rooted in one beautiful place. And, believe me, one or two of the bees on the hillside, in protecting their territory, were as bold as anything commemorated or foreshadowed by the complex works of Little Sparta.

Ian Hamilton Finlay Beehives


39 Replies to “A Sense of Place: Wooden Beehives In Heather”

    1. I usually buy English set honey because I like its creaminess, but I might rethink now I’ve seen how the Scottish heather honey is produced.

  1. How beautiful! I haven’t been to Scotland in a few years, but on one visit 25 years ago, my husband and I were there when some heather had started to bloom — wonderful to see in real life. I live in the Southeastern US, so the Scottish landscape and plants are very exotic!

  2. “A Sense of Place.” That really pulled me in. To hover, then, with the bees, over that landscape, was a lovely escape from the here and now. That sense of place is not so easily captured, I think. An elusive thing, like the essence of honey. This was a wonderful start to my day — thank you.

    1. It might be prudent to hover from a distance of a few thousand miles from these particular bees. One of them gave me a dive bombing in return for approaching too closely.

      1. Ah, yes, discretion ever the better part of valor. Your point is taken (better from you than from the bee), and I will hover at safe distance.

    1. That’s the best part of blogging for me – the chance to share what we see and to explore other parts of the world we might never have thought of visiting through other people’s eyes.

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