by James Alexander-Sinclair

The entire woodland floor is pretty much carpeted with the things and the air filled with the faint scent of their flowers [...]

Bluebell flower, Hyacinthoides non-scriptaEvery morning before breakfast we go for a walk through the surrounding fields. We miss out on Sundays but are pretty conscientious every other day of the year. Except when it is absolutely tipping it down with rain - which, and this is a slight diversion from the point of this blog, happens very seldom. Often it rains earlier and later but only on a few days every year are we forced to stay in bed. Meteorology, eh?

Anyway, my point is that part of our route goes through the nearby woods. Most of the year this is perfectly delightful (except in February when it is gloomy and drippy) but right now it has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. There is a very simple explanation for this: bluebells.

The entire woodland floor is pretty much carpeted with the things and the air filled with the faint scent of their flowers. That, combined with low rising sunbeams and the lettuce-coloured young leaves, is one of the most spectacular sights you could ever wish to witness.

I have been unable to resist taking far too many pictures: they are here, here, here, here, and here. And here.

These are all proper English bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) which are not to be confused with the much larger and coarser Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica): a plant that has been muscling its way into our gardens and woodlands. Bluebells are protected and it is illegal to dig them up from the wild although there are various nurseries who grow them for sale. They are best planted around this time of year “in the green”. This means that they appear with leaves rather than as dried bulbs. You do not have to have a huge woodland in order to grow bluebells as they will grow happily under deciduous shrubs or along hedgelines.

Like all the best things bluebell time is a fleeting moment. You need to get out and see them very soon or else the moment will be lost for another year. If you are not lucky enough to have a bit of accessible woodland near where you live then many bluebell woods are open to the public. In particular Coton Manor in Northamptonshire, Arlington in East Sussex, Yoxall Lodge in Staffordshire. Also the National Trust is pretty hot on bluebell woods.

Wherever you decide to go: go soon as this hot weather is making things grow much faster than on other years.

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Talkback: Bluebells
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Gardeners' World Web User 26/04/2011 at 10:09

Don't you just love the spring, Daffs, Tulips, Crocus,Bluebells. When Christmas and new year is over and the gardening season is approaching I just get this feeling of excitement, looking for the first signs of spring, the first bulb popping its up. Bluebells are just so perfect, wish I had some in my garden. Being in my garden is my idea of heaven.

Gardeners' World Web User 26/04/2011 at 11:03

My bluebells are getting me up at 6.30 every morning just to drink in the sight. The sun has just come out and the orange tip butterflies are feasting on their nectar. That orange and that purply blue together are artistic heaven.

Gardeners' World Web User 26/04/2011 at 16:39

It is quite a wonderful sight to behold to see a wood full of Bluebells. I saw Bluebells flowering two years ago, of course i couldn't resist taking lots of photos.

Gardeners' World Web User 26/04/2011 at 17:42

We went to Coton Manor yesterday for the first time, the garden was wonderful. But best of all, the bluebells, what a fantastic sight , their perfume filled the air. Needless to say I took loads of photos which never seem to do justice to the real thing.Do visit if you can,soon!

Gardeners' World Web User 27/04/2011 at 18:25

This isn't probably the year for it as they are quite early, but in a year with a cool summer, take 10 minutes whilst you're at the Malvern Spring show to visit the bluebells in the open fields (and in the woods) at West Malvern. Breathtaking.

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