Wild Flowers of the North Highlands of Scotland

by Ken Butler and Ken Crossan

A beautiful book containing a feast of familiar flowers and views for those who love this area or wish to know it more intimately. It intelligently takes you on a journey through five distinct habitats from the sea to the mountains via peatlands, woodlands and grasslands, with a short introduction on each covering relevant subjects such as topography and ecology.

In each case this is followed by a rather more in-depth look at the common plants and specialities and how to identify them. With a quick flick through the pages, most plants are instantly recognisable yet a closer look reveals subspecies and varieties which have adapted to survive in this northerly part of the British Isles which sees frosty winters and substantial rainfall.

The accompanying photographs dominate the book, shifting between stunning, wide, landscape shots for perspective and sense of place to simple but effective close-ups. Those in-between show the plants within their niche habitat from beach shingle, peaty pool to craggy limestone ledge, not forgetting the evocative mountain burn.

The final chapter puts the entire book into context. It covers topography, geology, natural history, climate and climatic changes and the influence of man on the land: a fascinating book in itself.

As the author admits it’s “a fairly detailed but not comprehensive understanding of North Highland plants”; the habitat and plant descriptions are interesting rather than purely scientific making it accessible for the layman.

A ‘dip-in-and-out’ book, one which is equally at home residing in the car door, slipped into the rucksack pocket or lounging on the coffee table.

My mum loved it too!

Available from NHBS and Birlinn

Review by Jo Thomas, September 2009, author of "Gardening Terms Explained"

pages from wildflower book

pages from wildflower book