The trouble with squill…

‘The trouble with squill’, I said to Graham as we strolled alongside the Loch of Sotersta on our way to Culswick broch, ‘is it doesn’t grow densely enough to look really good in a photo.’

A haze of purple

A haze of purple

Five minutes later I was eating my words as we came to the hillside that gently slopes down from the ruined broch to the sea. It was a haze of bluey-purple, dotted here and there with a relief of pink from bunches of just-about-to-open thrift. We couldn’t stop commenting. ‘It’s just amazing,’ we kept repeating, over and over.

Tiptoe through the spring squill...

Tiptoe through the spring squill…

Bertie was soon despairing of getting any further on this walk, as I kept throwing myself down in among the flowers trying to get that perfect shot. ‘The trouble with squill’, I said to Graham, ‘is you can’t get a photo of it without crushing loads…’

Spring squill and sea pink

Spring squill and sea pink

It’s always this way though. It seems that the flowers burst out overnight. One day you’re lamenting their paucity, and the next you’re hardly daring to walk for fear of crushing them.

Common spotted orchid

Common spotted orchid

It’s not just the squill either – though that has to be my favourite flower at the moment; until and unless Shetland breaks out in sheep’s-bit scabious the way that Canna did last year. On the same walk we saw our first common spotted orchid – and then suddenly started seeing them everywhere.

Birdsfoot trefoil and spring squill

Birdsfoot trefoil and spring squill

The birdsfoot trefoil has suddenly burst out all over the high banks above the coast walk at Skeld, and down the cliffs Shetland bumblebees are buzzing all over the newly blooming horseshoe vetch.

A Shetland bumblebee on horseshoe vetch

A Shetland bumblebee on horseshoe vetch

The tiny flowers of blue and pink milkwort have also appeared next to the loch, and the marshy and muddy pools down in Culswick valley are full of bogbean with its strange, furry white flowers.

Blue and pink milkwort - and a sundew lurking in the corner

Blue and pink milkwort – and a sundew lurking in the corner

Even the grass is getting in on the act, with bright yellow sedges in the fields setting off the subtle pink of the suddenly profuse lady’s smock.

Yellow sedges

Yellow sedges

My favourite find, though, was a pure white spring squill flower. So delicate, so beautiful, so ephemeral. Like a bride in white surrounded by her purple-gowned bridesmaids.

A single white spring squill flower

A single white spring squill flower

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