Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Its Bluebell time again

Two posts that compliment each other today.
We have just visited our local bluebell woods, and although the flowers are beginning to open, they have not yet reached their peak.
Half of the world's bluebell woods are found in the UK making our woods a beautiful and magical place to explore and visit in the spring time.
Our native Hyacinthoides non-scripta is a deep blue. The dark blue flower stem droops or nods distinctly to one side. The flowers are a narrow straight-sided bell, and the petal tips curl back. The flowers have a strong, sweet scent.
British Bluebell
The Spanish Hyacinthoides hispanica is pale to mid-blue with a flower stem that is stiff and upright. The flowers are usually all the way round the stem, with the flowers sticking out. They are wide open, a fuller shaped bell. Petal tips flare slightly outwards, and the flowers have little or no scent at all. These are sold in Garden Centres as bluebells for our gardens, but are quite different. Our own bluebell is a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside act 1981. 
Spanish Bluebell
The British bluebells are found in ancient woodland where the rich habitat supports a whole host of species. Ancient woodland includes woods from the 17th century and some even may be remnants of the original wildwood that covered Britain after the last Ice Age. They can also be found on some of the cliff tops. We saw them growing in Devon, on Bolt Head near Salcombe, where they looked spectacular growing amongst the yellow gorse with the sea beyond.
In the Bronze Age, people used bluebell glue to attach feathers to their arrows. The Victorians used the starch from crushed bluebells to stiffen the ruffs of their collars and sleeves. Bluebell sap was used to bind pages to the spines of books. According to folklore, hearing a bluebell ring is a sign of impending death! Legend also says that a field of bluebells is intricately woven with fairy enchantments. Bees can 'steal' nectar from bluebells by biting a hole in the bottom of the bell, reaching the nectar without pollinating the flower.
When I see bluebells, I associate them with the arrival of my first grandchild. She was born just before April turns to May. Following the exciting news of a new granddaughter we decided to visit our local bluebell wood where we wandered amongst the blue flowers under a canopy of fresh bright green leaves. Our other son and his then new fiancee were with us, and we talked with anticipation about our trip to London that afternoon when we would all meet her for the first time. 
Photos taken today
There were hundreds of wood anemones amongst the bluebells.

24 comments:

  1. Spectacular blue flowers.

    Greetings,
    Filip

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you - they are such an intense blue, and rather lovely.

      Delete
  2. Lovely post, Rosemary. I grew up very close to a glorious bluebell wood and the memories are still vivid. The sad thing is that the Spanish bluebell is interbreeding with our native bluebell, to the latter's detriment. Sigh....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Perpetua - I presume that is why the flower is now classified and protected. The problem, apparently, is to do with people fly tipping their garden waste in the countryside which allows thrown away Spanish bells to interbreed.

      Delete
  3. It lookes like a field in a fairytail. Beautiful post and the background story is so welcome. I always read your posts with most interest. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Marijke - I am so pleased that you enjoyed the post. Nature is so wonderful the way she keeps bringing us her bounty all spring, summer and autumn, and then has a little rest during the winter, before starting all over again.

      Delete
  4. Beautiful post, Rosemary: I adore the English bluebell. When we were little, people used to pick them, near us, and just drop them on the floor. My father and I formed a Bluebell Rescue Service, picking up the discarded bluebells and putting them in vases of water until they seeded. We would take the seed and cast them in their home woodland.

    Bluebells are such a stunning part of this time of year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can remember when people used to do that Kate. You would see them walking along with their arms full of them. You do not see that now, people are more conservation aware.
      How lovely that you used to return the seeds to the woodland with your father, and called yourselves Bluebell Rescue Service.

      Delete
  5. Your woods are magical. I especially like blue flowers and these are lovely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Olive - I think that blue flowers are rather lovely as well. Yes, our woods are very special at bluebell time when all the trees are also wearing their new green spring leaves too.

      Delete
  6. Fabulous photos, beautiful flowers. J.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Janice - they are such a wonderful colour. Are you in France?

      Delete
  7. Rosemary, there is a very good article on the BBC website about bluebells today: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17597489

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much. I have just read the article, and the sentence that stands out for me is - our native bluebell is now under threat from an aggressive hybrid, and with the UK being home to such a large chunk of the world's population, it means this bluebell is threatened on a global scale. It's ringing alarm bells for conservationists.

      Delete
  8. Your native bluebells are so perfectly beautiful! Their color and the way they arch over. Thank you for introducing me to them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The way they arch and their colour is what makes them so distinctive. I look forward to their appearance every year at this time. Pleased that you enjoyed seeing them.

      Delete
  9. Such a lovely place Rosemary... we are having lots of "hvitveis" or wood anemones here too now. But no bluebells yet ( those ones we have to plant selv!) It is rainning a lot but surely, Mai, with it's green colours is not that far away : )

    Lots of love from Norway

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Demie - how nice to see you are back again. I do hope you have returned refreshed and had a lovely time.
      That is the sort of weather we would expect here in April, rain, but for some reason we are having wonderful sunshine and cloudless blue skies!

      Delete
  10. Dear Rosemary,
    How lovely that you can associate the bluebells with the birth of your first grandchild..
    Their colour is magnificent.
    I have seen photos of the forests and the bluebells of england before.. they are beautiful.
    If you had asked me about the spanish bluebell! I would have said, that it was an agapantha..!
    I think you get my drift.. know nothing about the names of all the beautiful flowers.. and your garden has many. I am glad the blue bell is protected.
    lovely second post and excellent photos.
    happy Thursday
    val

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Val - the forests are a wonderful sight, especially under the canopy of new green leaves. Now I really do understand what you mean about flower names!!! I have some agapanthus in the garden and will show them to you when it flowers in the summer. You will of course know the agapanthus from the time you were living in S. Africa, they are an exquisite flower and a beautiful blue too.

      Delete
  11. Wonderful bluebell symposium, Rosemary. I so enjoyed looking at the photos and reading about these little known flowers. Little known to me, that is. I adore blue flowers. The closest I come in my area is the occasional blue hydrangea and of course, the adorable little cornflowers that grow at random.

    P.S. My granddaughter was born in May as well. We're celebrating her second birthday this year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Yvette - so pleased that you enjoyed seeing the lovely bluebells. When the bluebells reach their peak in a couple of weeks, they are a shimmering blue carpet. How lovely that your little granddaughter is coming up for her 2nd birthday. My granddaughter will be 19 years, and it doesn't seem any time at all since she was a toddler too.

      Delete
  12. Each one is so beautiful! It's too warm to grow bluebells here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A bluebell wood at this time of the year is a joy to behold.

      Delete

❖PLEASE NOTE❖ Comments made by those who hide their identity will be deleted

“You can't stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you - you have to go to them sometimes”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh