Otter Lodge Blog: Flowers of Scotland

Otter Lodge isn’t a croft, but we have a substantial bit of land around us. Some bits are almost a lawn, other parts are more wild. We left the area at the back of our house unmown over our first summer here and realised that what we actually had was a meadow. Now we leave it to do its stuff every year, with a bit of mowing in the spring and autumn. 

There are at least forty-one species of plant that grow in our meadow – we know this because some nice people from the Inverness Botany Group stayed with us a little while back and did an informal survey. The plants include four kinds of orchid, twenty-five other wildflower species and and amazing number of different kinds of grass and rush. Oh, and lots of sorrel; which is great for soups and makes up for our lack of vegetable patch.

Part of our meadow is a grassy hill; previously a raised beach that was deposited many thousands of years ago. The other part is a semi-bog that we like to think acts as a carbon sink to hold off global warming. It’s pretty soggy here, but obviously some plants love it.

Wild flowers on Skye

Ragged robin growing on the small island opposite Otter Lodge

The most well-known environment for wild flowers in the Scottish Highlands is known as machair; a special kind of coastal meadow where plants grow on sandy ground grazed by animals. However, there are surprisingly few meadows like this on Skye; mostly due to the lack of sandy beaches.

That’s not to say we don’t have our fair share of bonnie flowers in the summer. We were amazed when we came to Skye at the number of wild plants that grow here. Some species, such as mountain avens, are specialists that will only grow on certain parts of the island; while others are more prolific. Orchids seem to thrive all over place. Some are intensely purple, while others are very delicate shades of pink and white; the rarest is one called the lesser butterfly orchid. Vanessa’s mum, who is a keen gardener, keeps telling us that native bluebells are a woodland plant. Here, they grow in the open where there are no trees and salty sea winds! Other coastal flowers include thrift, which seems to love the sea lapping at it’s feet. 

Early spring brings the yellow blooms: gorse, lesser celandine, cowslips and lots of primroses. Later in the summer the most noticeable flower on Skye is the ling heather, which blooms everywhere, including our back garden. Further up in the meadow, the scabious grows up through the long grass.

Scroll through our meadows and discover the flowers of Skye…

Wild flower meadow, Skye

Devil’s Bit Scabious growing in our back meadow

Orchid growing on Skye

A Hebridean Spotted Orchid

A rare Butterfly Orchid

Orchid growing on Skye

An orchid growing high on a rocky cliff

Spring flower

A bright Lesser Celandine growing on a bank in early spring

Heather growing the Scottish Highlands

Ling heather is prolific during the summer months and has a lovely scent


Many primroses appear in early spring on Skye

Scottish foxgloves

Floxgloves grow in areas of woodland

Gorse flowers

Gorse flowers in the highlands when everything is still brown and bare

Scottish orchid

Another species of orchid growing on Skye

Scottish thistle

This Scottish plant needs no introduction!