As part of both the Google Classroom and in-person Wildflower Schools Project delivered by the High Life Highland Countryside Rangers team, Primary School pupils from across the Highlands were invited to create a poem about wildflowers in English or Gaelic.
The competition opened for entries in April this year and encouraged Young Writers to submit their poems about any element of wildflowers as taught by local Rangers, from the Google Classroom, or from their own research and experiences.
An impressive volume, breadth, and calibre of entries were received by the judging panel, which consisted of: Rona Macfarlane (Horticultural Trainer) and Pamela Sutherland (Head Gardener) for English entries, and Anna Stewart (Horticultural Trainer) for Gaelic entries, all staff members at Inverness Botanic Gardens.
Commendations for English entries included:
‘Bluebells’ by George Appleby (Lochinver)
‘Buttercups’ by Niall Macleod (Ullapool)
‘The Field of Flowers’ by Ruby Everett (Halkirk)
‘Starry Stone Crop’ by Tara McEwan (Isle of Muck)
‘Dusky Meadow’ by Addie Simpkinson (Strontian)
The Foxglove by Mary Binnie (Acharacle)
Entries closed at the end of June, and after much discussion over the sunny summer season, Rona and Pamela selected Jasmine King’s entry ‘Song of the Wildflowers’ (Morar) as the English-language poem winner.
Pamela said: “Jasmine’s poem was so evocative of the Scottish Highland’s beautiful landscapes and native flowers. The writing flowed easily, naturally, and painted a wonderfully sensory image using simple but effective language. Well done!”
Rona added: “Jasmine’s evocative poem stirs memories of the beauty and peace of the North West Highlands, giving voice to the native flora and fauna we can be guilty of taking for granted. All of the judges were very impressed by Jasmine’s ability to paint a landscape with her words.”
Commendations for The Gaelic entries:
‘Dithien’ by Angus Urqhart (Gairloch)
‘Fuath-mhuc’ by Tamsin Patterson (Lochaber)
Anna selected Eilidh MacKay’s impactful entry ‘Flùraichean’ (Acharacle).
Anna shared: “It is a gift to be able to put into words what we see in nature. Gardeners and poets have this in common;
“They tap into the hearts and minds of their audience and this poem resonated because it had depth and observation, keep writing, keep observing and protecting what is beneath our feet.”
The first-place prize that both Eilidh and Jasmine have won for their poetry competition entries are certificates presented by the Countryside Rangers and a guided ‘behind the scenes’ tour of either the Inverness Botanic Gardens or the Highland Folk Museum. They will get the option to bring along their friends, family, or classmates on these bespoke tours.
Imogen Furlong, High Life Highland’s Countryside Ranger Service Manager, added: “The Highlands is host to a number of iconic wildflowers which provide forage to ever dwindling numbers of pollinating insects.
“The winning poems serve to celebrate the importance of flowers to biodiversity and lift our hearts in praise, and it has been a pleasure to read these entries. Many of these poems will be available to access on High Life Highland’s webpage for those who would like to read them.”
Steve Walsh, High Life Highland’s Chief Executive, concluded: “High Life Highland is keen to promote literature and celebrate creativity in the Highlands and Islands, especially following 2022’s ‘Year of Stories’ and the exciting Spirit of the Highlands and Islands ‘Spirit:360’ story archive set to be featured in the upcoming Inverness Castle Experience.
“High Life Highland is excited to see this competition take place as an extension of the Countryside Rangers’ ‘Highland Wildflower Meadow Mosaic Project’ and continue to celebrate the nature and culture within Highland and Island communities.
“Eilidh and Jasmine are fantastic Young Writers and deserve to have their poems recognised through Countryside Rangers ‘Wildlife Poetry Competition’. I hope they both enjoy their tours of Inverness Botanic Gardens and the Highland Folk Museum!”
‘Song of the wildflowers’
by Jasmine King
by Eilidh MacKay
The pink in the grey
The pink sun sets over the sea
over the islands to the pink bay
where the pink sea pinks lie.
Don’t forget me.
I am still there
hidden behind the flowers
my tiny petals in the breeze
don’t forget me, forget me not.
My spiky bush in winter
purple hats for fairies,
landscape covered in me
purple sun sets on the hills.
Scotland home to the heather hills.
Tha iad cho àlainn
A’ gluasad gu socair leis a ghaoth
Sònraichte, sociar, snasair
Cho mìn agus cho bòidheach
A’ coltach mar lollipop blasta
Na peatalan a’ flodraideadh air falbh le fuaim
na h-eòin suas, suas dhan adhar ghorm
Bròg na cuthaige
Gorm agus grinn
Na cinn mar trumpaid mòr trom
Na dealan-dè eireachdair a’ crothadh aig fois
Bròg na cuthaige
Cho beag ri luchag
Geal, buidhe agus uaine
Peatalan tana, caol
A’ comhdach na cnuic mar plaide geal
Ach nuair a thig a’ gheamhraidh
Theid iad falach
Ach a-mach thig na snowdrops brèagha
Geal, cùbraidh, grasmhòr
They are so beautiful,
Moving gently with the wind,
Special, calm, elegant.
So sweet and so beautiful,
Like a delicious lollipop,
The petals drifting away like the sound of the birds,
Up, up into the blue sky.
Blue and graceful,
Heads like big heavy trumpets,
A beautiful butterfly, hanging at rest,
As small as a mouse,
White, yellow and green,
Petals thin and slender,
Covering the hills with a blanket of white,
But when winter comes,
They are hiding,
But out come the beautiful snowdrops,
White, fragrant, gracious.
To read the other poetry competition entries, please head to the High Life Highland’s Countryside Rangers blog: https://www.highlifehighland.com/rangers/2023wildflowerpoetry/