From early spring, Orkney's meadows, moorland and cliffs come alive and visitors are treated to a vibrant display of colour. It's the time of year when the islands' wild flowers begin to bloom and Orkney's landscape enjoys a remarkable transformation for six months.

A combination of the pollution-free air and diverse natural habitats account for around 500 native plants thriving on Orkney. And that's not to forget another 200 that have been introduced to the islands. Orkney is, without any doubt, a flower-lovers' paradise.

It is home to one of Britain's rarest and most treasured flowers - the tiny Primula scotica or Scottish primrose. This little purple gem is found only in Orkney, Sutherland, Caithness and Yesnaby and for many visitors the thrill of discovering this flower is the reason they visit our islands. Orkney's coastline and cliff tops on Westray, Papa Westray and Rousay offer the best chance to spot this reluctant flora in May and when it flowers again in July.

The flamboyant display of colour begins with the striking yellow coltsfoot, marsh marigolds, gorse and primroses, followed quickly by all the colours of the rainbow as sea pink, orchids, campion, thrift and wild roses grow naturally in beautiful summer meadows and roadside verges.

Orkney also boasts Britain's most northerly natural woodland at Berriedale Wood on the isle of Hoy, while on the island's nature reserve maritime heath and Arctic alpines flourish.

Wildlife & Nature - Listings