With its hundreds of miles of coastal shores and its rugged shared border with England, Scotland is home to some of the most beautiful and resilient wildflowers in the world. Many of these have been hybridized and adapted for Scottish gardens, but they can all be found growing wild throughout the country.
There is no more recognizable symbol of Scotland than heather. In the early summer, the hills are painted purple with wide swaths of heather bobbing in the breeze. It provides food throughout the summer for butterflies and bees. Heather makes a sweet scented honey and is a popular addition to bridal bouquets in Scotland. Heather can be grown in wildflower gardens near the back of the bed to accommodate its unruly nature.
Thrift or Sea Pinks
Thrift, also known as sea pinks, is a common sight in gardens around the world, but it originates on craggy sea coasts, especially in Scotland. Thrift is a rugged plant that can survive in cracks in rocks and can tolerate high winds and salty rain. Thrift can be planted in mixed perennial gardens near the front to show off its delicate nodding pink or white heads.
Purple saxifrage is a creeping plant found in rocky areas of Scotland and into northern England. It is an Arctic flower, rugged and able to withstand winter freezes. Saxifrage is one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring in Scotland, and its lilac or purple blossoms can be seen in masses as soon as the snow melts. In the garden, purple saxifrage can be used as a border plant at the front of a bed or in a rock garden. It can also be used to fill in areas around flagstones on pathways.
Red campion is a perennial found throughout Scotland. It's name is a misnomer, as it is pink in its wild form and not red. The small flowers appear from May to October and are a favorite of bumblebees and butterflies. There are many hybrid red campions in varying shades that are available for planting in perennial beds. They are often planted in corners or other neglected areas of the garden so that they can naturalize and spread.
Native bluebells are found in Scottish fields and lightly wooded areas. These striking blue flowers go by many common names including wild hyacinth, campanula and English bluebell. They are produced from bulbs that naturalize and spread easily. They are not often found in formal perennial beds as they have a tendency to flop over mid-season, leaving an unsightly gap in the bed. Planting them beside another perennial such as day lilies allow the gap to be hidden when the day lilies are in bloom later in the season.