Scilly wild flowers.

As you can imagine, wild flowers are everywhere on all the Scilly islands, no matter which one we visited, they were everywhere. Some are garden escapees that are now spreading wherever they can get a foothold and are now considered as local wild flowers. The first flower that we saw everywhere were bluebells, but not English bluebells and far bigger than Spanish bluebells, these were on steroides, they were huge!


Bermuda buttercup

A plant that we often saw at the base of hedges is this Bermuda buttercup, Oxalis pes-capre. The wild flower book that I bought says that it is an invasive weed to the flower farmers, carpeting the rows between the narcissus bulbs. It isn’t a buttercup nor from Bermuda. it is an introduction from South Africa.

Agapanthus seed heads

Agapanthus are everywhere, not flowering at this time of year of course, but their seedheads are still hanging on through all the gales that they have over the winter. Enterprising folk pick the flowerheads when still in tight bloom and they are shipped to London for the florist trade, says the florist in Deer Park.


Aeonium decorate every bit of wall they can find, definitely escaped from gardens. I have never seen one flowering before, mine at home here never do, the flowers are beautiful, almost like a bright yellow cauliflower!

Wild garlic

The white flower at the edge of the path is wild garlic or three cornered leek, allium triquetrum. We found it growing here in almost sand and rubble…….

Bluebells,alexanders and allium

………..and a  lot of the time they were colonising the hedge bottoms along with bluebells and alexanders, Smyrnium olusatrum. According to the little book I bought, the alexanders were introduced as a pot herb, hundreds of years ago and horses and donkeys prefer to eat this than grass or better food.

Alliums in the graveyard

The alliums and primroses are taking over the churchyard attached to the little medieval church at Hugh Town on St. Mary’s. This is where Harold Wilson, one of our Prime Ministers in the 1970’s is buried. He came here every year  for his holidays and his wife still comes to spend every summer here. I thought the churchyard looked very pretty with white and yellow flowers everywhere, Harold Wilson’s grave is pristine, not a wild flower to be seen.

Nature reserve

More alliums, this time in a little woodland which is part of a nature reserve towards the centre of St. Mary’s. This is the habitat that I always associate with the wild garlic, in woodland, but obviously it grows everywhere it can, so be warned never, ever let it into your garden or you will never be rid of it.


Some days when we were walking round various islands, the wind was so strong, we were ever so thankful to have a rest in the shelter of Pittosporum crassifolium. A leaf more like Pittosporum tobira from Japan but the flower is completely different and my book says that it comes from New Zealand. This has now made itself completely at home and there were shelter belts and hedges of it everywhere.


The last of the daffodil crop, these will be left here, too late to cut them now and what’s this in with them, more alliums!


The day we walked round St Agnes was cool, windy and sea mist kept rolling in, one minute you could see the rocks, the next they were gone, no wonder there used to be so many shipwrecks in years gone by. Osteospermums have colonised the sea shore here but I think they would have liked a bit more sun the day we saw them!


Oops – no flowers on this one, just thought I’d slip it in, everyone seems to leave a cairn behind when walking among the rocks.

Garden on St. Agnes

While walking round St. Agnes we came across this lovely front garden, lots of the prettiness comes from the bluebells we were seeing everywhere. Everything is colour co-ordinated, the house, the pots and the bluebells – lovely.

St. Martins geranium maderense

Another day we walked on St. Martins and once more the flowers delighted us, well me anyway! We had seen Geranium Maderense on a few islands and of course Tresco, but here on St. Martins it was round every corner. Can you see the stalks of the leaves are bending down to act as butresses to support the great heavy head of flowers.

Geranium Maderense

The flower head is quite amazing and the flowers really beautiful. I bought some seed, but it takes four years for the plant to build up the strength to form a flower head and then they die leaving thousands of seed behind. Will I have the patience -who knows -come back in four years to see if I succeeded!


A pretty bank of wild flowers on St. Martins, behind are old seed heads of Echium, in front amongst everything else, more allium!

St. Martins

Almost a deserted beach, the scenery here is gorgeous but unfortunately we had another day of mist, even so this is where I sat and did some sketching, maybe one day in the winter I will turn my sketches into paintings. The ubiquitous gorse is in the foreground.

St. Martins

Without my hiking boots and walking poles, walking on these islands would have been impossible, thanks to them I was able to walk far more than normal and therefore see more and do more. I do have two feet btw, not sure where the other one got to!

St Martins

Peering over someones garden wall just before leaving St. Martins, the view is magnificent. Palm trees here seem to be able to take any amount of wind. The smaller islands in the distance are all nature reserves with sea birds and seals making themselves at home.

Leucadendron argenteum

Leucadendron argenteum eventually forms quite a large tree. We saw this mainly in peoples gardens but also quite a few that had broken free and were now enjoying the freedom of the countryside. The leaves were so beautifully soft and silky to touch, I do wish it was hardy here!

Pink bells

Pinkbells among the bluebells on the way back to the boat.


Back on St. Mary’s we found a lot of fumitory, Fumaria officionalis, growing in walls and hedges at the side of the roads. There is a western fumitory which the book says is  “larger and more handsome and only found on St. Mary’s” I don’t know which one this is but it was on St.Mary’s!

That was all the wild flowers and garden escapees that I was able to photograph and identify. No matter which island we were on, there were wild flowers everywhere we looked, quite often you had to watch where you were putting your feet, there were so many of them.

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16 Responses to Scilly wild flowers.

  1. pbmgarden says:

    Another beautiful tour Pauline. You make a great garden guide.

  2. Thank you for sharing your walk about, it was great fun. I loved the plant life and the photos of the island…what a beautiful place.

    • Pauline says:

      It is a wonderful place Charlie, we are so lucky that it is so close to the mainland here, even so, not many people visit so you can always find a deserted island!

  3. Kate says:

    Sigh – that is beautiful… So lovely, and what a glorious variety – thanks for sharing them with us!

  4. Wendy says:

    Beautiful photos of the Scillies and their wild flowers. It is fascinating to see what grows there . And it is lovely appreciating these flowers where it’s so quiet and peaceful out on the islands.

    • Pauline says:

      There were so many flowers Wendy, growing in every possible situation, it was a lovely time to be there. They are a lovely group of islands, you soon feel that you have the place to yourself after a bit of walking.

  5. What absolutely beautiful photos, Pauline! There really are some beautiful wildflowers out there and they make such amazing combinations when left to their own devices.

    • Pauline says:

      Thank you Paula, all I did was point and press, nature did the rest! The wildflowers were beautiful and made our walks such a pleasure, never prettier than when they are all growing together like a tapestry.

  6. Cathy says:

    So lovely to have shared this with you, Pauline – you visited with knowledgable eyes! I have noted your warnings about wild garlic, perhaps too late, but I still hope to keep it under control!

    • Pauline says:

      Cathy, I thought about you such a lot, whenever I sniffed that familiar smell! All the wild flowers were a lovely sight, to see them everywhere, carpeting the beach or the roadside or little woodlands was wonderful, obviously no-one sprays over there!

  7. Anna says:

    It seems that there were floral riches everywhere you turned Pauline. What a beautiful churchyard – a perfect resting place. So glad to read that you were able to cope with all that walking as it sounds that you covered some considerable ground.

    • Pauline says:

      Yes, the flowers were everywhere Anna, it was beautiful, whichever way we turned. I thought the wild flowers everywhere in the churchyard looked so beautiful and peaceful, I would love to have that as my final resting place. I did manage to walk quite a distance each day on each island, so my muscles got a good work out and my doctor should be very happy!

  8. Christina says:

    I covert Leucadendron argenteum, it looks as if it would be perfect for my garden, but I doubt if I will find it anywhere to buy! Thank you for sharing your holiday, we had many holidays in Cornwall at this time of year when we lived in England and the wild flowers were always one of the joys of our time there. Christina

    • Pauline says:

      The Leucadendron was a really beautiful shrub Christina, you would love it! The leaves were so gorgeous and really shone in the sunshine. Wild flowers were everywhere as you can imagine and I remember holidays in Cornwall, especially the coastal path where you had to be careful where you put your feet, the flowers were everywhere, such a beautiful sight.
      I’ve just googled Leucadendron and found that it is from S.Africa and an endangered species ( it was everywhere in the Scillies) it is a member of the Protea family and if you go to and look under Protea, you can buy seeds for $2.90. Happy hunting!!

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