It is always lovely to find something you had more or less given up hope of ever finding - we found these Pyramidal Bugloss plants growing in the Pirin Mountains National Park in Bulgaria. They also occur in the north of Scotland and in The Burren in County Clare in Ireland but we have never found them in either location.
This member of the Lamiaceae family doesn't flower every year but, when it does, the flowers are darker than Ajuga reptans with which we are much more familiar. Its preferred habitat is calcareous rocks, which is why this rare wildflower can be found in The Burren and why it is that we were able to find it among limestone rocks in Bulgaria. The ground was also very wet and marshy.
We also found and photographed this plant in the Julian Alps, which are also predominantly limestone, in Slovenia on a trip there in June 2011.
The specimen above was photographed in Bulgaria in the Pirin Mountains National Park in mid June 2009.