Since our arrival on the island (towards the end of the summer of 2013), we have been waiting eagerly for the Machair to burst into bloom. It is safe to say we are not disaapointed. Tiree is a riot of colour.
The word ‘machair’ is Gaelic, meaning an extensive, low-lying fertile plain and itis one of the rarest habitats in Europe, found only in the north and west of Britain and Ireland. Almost half of the Scottish machair occurs in the Outer Hebrides, with the best and most extensive in the Uists, Barra and Tiree. (Machair sand has a high shell content, sometimes 80 or 90% and this helps distinguish it from the ‘links’ of eastern coasts, which are formed from more mineral-based sand.)
While May is often the sunniest month in the north and west, it can be dominated by cold easterly winds, so spring comes late to the machair. Once the pasture blooms, it presents an astonishing riot of colour for which the machair is justly famous. It is this beauty that has inspired generations of Gaelic bards and draws many tourists to the Northern and Western Isles each summer. A month ago the first daises began to appear and the Machair was white, now it is a sea of yellow.
On Tiree the Machair is extensive, flanking the beaches and extending across ‘the Reef’, the latter being about 4 to 5 miles wide. Whenever you walk or drive there is a riot of colour, especially a golden yellow. Even off the Machair, by burns and in damp spots there are yellow iris, and on the moors there is bog cotton.
With the sun warming everything up and encouraging the flowers to open up and offer a smile, you feel that you must get out with your camera. Yet, no matter how many photographs you take, or videos you take, somehow you just cannot capture that riot of colour.
To view a slideshow click on the gallery
All too soon the flowers will wither.
However the Psalmist reminds us:
As for man, his days are like grass,
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him.
Psalm 103 in the Bible