Go for a walk in the woods in late April when they’re carpeted with Bluebells and you’ll see one of Britain’s greatest natural spectacles and one of the best displays in Europe.
Bluebells are a sign that you’re in ancient woodland, and these woods do have a special feel about them – as a child I was told that the Bluebell’s rang to summon fairies, which added to the effect, but even as an adult, the sight of all those flowers is pretty magical. What you might not expect is the amazing scent. It’s worth coming back for each spring.
We have over half the world’s population of Bluebells in the UK but they’re on the decline due to the invasion of the Spanish Bluebell (often grown in our gardens). Both Bluebells are pollinated by bees and other insects and so easily hybridise, resulting in the more robust Spanish Bluebell gradually taking over.
How do you tell the difference between a Spanish Bluebell and our native Bluebell?
You can help to keep our woodlands special. If you have a Spanish impostor in your garden, why not dig it up and replace with our home-grown variety? You can tell them apart as the Spanish Bluebell is paler lilac with flowers all around the stem (rather than drooping flowers down one side of the stem). It also has thicker leaves than our native Bluebell. They often have creamy green rather than white anthers inside the flowers and crucially, they don’t have the same heady scent as the wild, darker Bluebells. You can get UK Bluebell seeds or plants online or from good garden centres (it’s illegal to dig them up in the wild).
This year I’m sad that Yoxall Lodge in Staffordshire is not open to the public, so I’m going to check out Bunny Old Wood in Nottinghamshire or Staunton Harold in Derbyshire for my Bluebell fix. But you can find your nearest Bluebell wood at (filter results to just show Bluebell woods): woodlandtrust.org.uk
Purple Haze all in my brain,
lately things don’t seem the same,
actin’ funny but I don’t know why
‘scuse me while I kiss the sky.