Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Any Spanish heath in your life?

My grandfather first rented and then brought a 20 acre former Rose Nursery at Watson’s creek just after the turn of the 20th Century. Over the years he both cleared and extended his property, handing over to his son 54 acres. In the early to mid 1960’s Dad added to the property by purchasing a 20 acre block next door. Unlike Grandpa’s purchases which were mainly covered with wattle and Gum trees that needed clearing, the new block had been cleared of all timber many years earlier but had been allowed to get run down and when dad bought it, it had very poor pasture and was over grown with Spanish Heath, ti-tree and in places Blackberries. Over the years dad both improved the pasture and removed all the ti-tree and Spanish Heath, and controlled the blackberries. He used chemical means to control the blackberries but for the ti-tree and heather he used physical labour. Whenever any grew he would chop it out immediately and thus stop it spreading.

Thus you would thing that despite Dad not having done anything to the property these last half dozen years or so, that there would be no Spanish Heath left on the property, some 40 years plus since he bought the property. Not so! Recently I went for a walk up in one of the gullies that I can still remember being literally covered with Spanish Heath back in the 60’s and was surprised to find half a dozen plants in full flower. Although a pest, I must admit that the plant in flower is an impressive sight.

I was simple amazed at the tenacity and ability of the plant to have such viable seed after all those years of aggressive eradication by dad.

This is very much like the scriptural description of Sin. Now I know a lot of people today don’t like the word sin and so prefer words like faults, bad habits or weaknesses. Call them what you like, they are still like the Spanish Heath. Although we know that they are bad for us we find them attractive and feel that one or two around the place will not harm us. We forget or willingly ignore the fact that they are aggressive spreaders and reproduce others very quickly. To deal with theses weaknesses, faults bad habits, these sins; we need to act aggressively with them. We need to chop them out immediately we find them. We need to be constantly on our watch for them. We can never ignore them; not even for a little while.

Do you have any “Spanish heath” in your life right now? Then deal with it right now. Eradicate the full grown, and the seedling plants, and stop all seeds from growing. Yes it will be an ongoing process but the longer you put it off, the harder it will be. Counter wise, the sooner you start and the harder you work at it, the easier it will become, with just “mop up” work to keep things under control.

I have since been informed that each Spanish Heath plant can produce 9 million seeds a year! I have no idea how they managed to count them all, but the volume does help explain how it spreads so rapidly and with such tenacity!

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