Unlike many parts of the British Isles, one does not need to look far in summer in Shetland to see a wealth of wild flowers. This is because agriculture in the islands has never reached the level of intensity that it has elsewhere in Britain.
enlarge Large areas of habitat - such as heather moorland, blanket bog, freshwater lochs and coastal grassland - still exist in a largely natural state, while hundreds of years of crofting agriculture have created some superb semi-natural grasslands some of which survive until today.
Areas free of sheep provide the most spectacular floral displays. Roadside verges are a haven for many flowers and indicate what adjacent sheep pasture would once have looked like. Sheep-free islands in freshwater lochs illustrate what much of Shetland would have looked like prior to colonisation by man, while cliffs and crags can support superb 'hanging gardens' and some relicts of our once more widespread bushes and scrub. Shetland even has a suite of endemic plants - those found nowhere else in the world, the highlight of which - Edmondston's Chickweed - is found at the Keen of Hamar National Nature Reserve.
To see more photographs of Shetland's flora please visit:
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