"To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
To throw a perfume on the violet,
To smooth the ice, or add another hue
Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light
To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish,
Is wasteful and ridiculous excess."
These lines, from Shakespeare's 1595 play King John, have a simple meaning: when something is beautiful enough, why seek to make it more so through artificial means? It is "wasteful and ridiculous" to paint a lily, when lilies are already wonderful as it is.
But what do you do when the lily is wilting, and looks like it could use a lick of paint?
This basic idea, but with heather instead of lilies, has inspired one French florist to some wonderful colourful experiments. When the blooming heather sold by this Alsace florist started to lose its natural pink colour, the company tried to boost the heather's natural colour by adding dye -- and the results were so successful that now they've added an entire rainbow of other colours too.
Florist David Freimann explained: 'The plants are usually pink, but we got the idea to dye them after they dried and turned brown too quickly.
'We wanted to copy the natural colour, which is pink, so they would stay pink longer. Then we tried and tested with other colours and they have now become the most well-known products we have.'
Apparently Germany and Scandinavia are the most successful export markets for these brightly coloured heathers, which have become a huge success for the little Alsatian florist.
Which just goes to show; sometimes gilding the lily isn't such a bad idea after all.