Saturday, 18 May 2013

Blue Magic

Nature creates blue magic around this time of year in British forests and cliff tops stretching from Scotland in the north to Cornwall in the far south -  it's bluebell time.
British bluebells, Hyacinthoides non-scripta, are a protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside act. You cannot pick them or dig them up. If you have bluebells in your garden then most likely they have been bought at a garden centre and will be Spanish bluebells, Hyacinthoides hispanica. Unfortunately the Spanish bluebell is more vigorous and can crossbreed with the native bluebell creating a fertile hybrid. This is threatening them as it dilutes their unique characteristics. 
British Bluebells
The British bluebell has varying shades of blue (sometimes white, rarely pink) tube-like bells with the petal tips curled right back.  They hang mostly to one side of a nodding stem. The stem nods more as the flower matures, flowers smell sweetly - the pollen on the anthers is cream coloured. The anther is the disc at the tip of the stamen where the pollen collects.
Spanish bluebells are pale blue, sometimes pink or white. The stems have flowers all around them and are upright. They have almost no scent and the bells are a true bell shape with the petals flaring out - it has blue pollen on its anthers.  Seeing them together it is much easier to spot the differences.

94 comments:

  1. So magical Rosemary. If you hit a visit to a bluebell wood on the right warm day, the scent is just wonderful, isn't it!

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    1. Definitely need a warm day for the overpowering scent Paul - I took these last night - it was dull, getting late and I was on my way home from Hertfordshire when the driver 'H' pulled the limo over for me. However, the overall effect is there. I don't think that they will be around for much longer - they are at their peak.

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  2. Dear Rosemary,

    I have been gazing, quite enchanted, at your stunning pictures. There is magic indeed in the British woodlands which does not exist, to my knowledge, here in France. Thanks to you I have learned of the existence of Spanish bluebells but mostly my eye is pretty much addicted to the marriage of green and blue which your photographs portray beautifully.

    Simply wonderful.

    Stephanie

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    1. Glad that you enjoyed seeing them Stephanie - it is something that catches my breath every April/May. Apparently over half the population of bluebells, Hyacinthoides non-scripta, live here - not sure of the details but something to do with the ice age bringing them.

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  3. This is soooo beautiful! I'd love to see and scent that once for real. Must be heavenly.
    Thank you for the explanation about the difference between British and Spanish Bluebells.
    It was only when I took a close-up picture of the Bluebells in our garden that I noticed they weren't just blue but they had a purplish strip to every petal. Love them even more now. They don't have a scent though. I wonder what kind it is I have here. They come from my parents' garden. They probably bought them in the garden center or got them from someone else's garden as well. No idea.
    Have a great weekend,
    Marian

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    1. Dear Marian - I have just seen the photo of your bluebell and it clearly shows blue anthers which means that it is a Spanish bluebell or a hybrid which barely have any scent. Do you have the Hyacinthoides non-scripta growing wild in your woods. I know that there are some in parts of northern Europe as we only have just over half the population growing here?

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  4. Enchanting photos, Rosemary. There is something so special about bluebells, which brings memories of fairytales and childhood picture books. I have never had the pleasure of seeing a large field of them, and I can only imagine how sweet the scent. Thank you for explaining the different varieties.

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    1. Dear Partricia - the bluebell woods are something rather special that happens here each spring - 2 - 3 weeks late this year, but they seem to be more robust, taller, and even brighter than I have ever seen them before - perhaps it is just my imagination playing tricks.

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  5. Truly magical Rosemary. It must smell so good. It's good that the flowers are protected by law but too bad they cannot be pick up or dug up. I love the blue colour in the flowers. Have a wonderful weekend.

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    1. Perhaps if they had allowed them to be dug up in limited amounts we would not have the problems of the Spanish bluebells crossbreeding with our native ones. There would have been no need to import the Spanish ones to satisfy peoples desire to have them in their gardens. When I was a child people did used to pick great big bunches of them, but they are not a picking flower, they wilt and die quickly, much better left to grow and flourish for 4 or 5 weeks in the ground.

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  6. Dear Rosemary, Patricia's comment made me think again of my mother's book of flower children — I'll bet the British Bluebell was in it. I'm sorry not to be in your countryside to experience the sights and scents, but this posting allows me to imagine how lovely they are together.

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    1. The bluebell woods represent an image many associate with chocolate box and biscuit tin lids of yesteryear along with thatched cottages. However, they are real and very much a part of the British countryside at this time of year, and always a welcome sight.

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  7. Truly magic, fairytale-like!
    Thank you so much for sharing bluebell season with us. It is one of my dreams to one day see it for myself.

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    1. Thank you Merisi - I do hope that you manage to come some time and see them for yourself.

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  8. This is really magic! I think this is a part of a painting or something... Here, the bluebells were in bloom in february and mars ...you took me back in time, it's so strange... It's already summer here. But I have to say once again that you enchant us Rosemary with these amazing photos!

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    1. Dear Olympia - the bluebells are late this year, but only by about 3 weeks. However, they do seem to be lasting longer this year because we have not had any really hot weather, it is the same with the fruit blossom that is also hanging around much longer than normal. Glad you enjoyed the photos.

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  9. When I read you were planning a trip to a bluebell wood I couldn't wait to see your images they are stunning and I love the mosaic one too!
    Sarah x

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    1. Dear Sarah - that is very kind of your to say - I took these last night at around 7.00 pm so not really the best time of day. This is a particularly fine wood in Hertfordshire near to where my youngest son and family live and we were on our journey back home.

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  10. So, so beautiful! Unfortunately, I have never come across these fields of bluebells during my many visits to the UK. Thanks for sharing your photographs for us to enjoy!! Take care, Loi

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    1. Dear Loi - every area has its bluebell wood but quite often they are off the beaten track. The bluebells this year are late, they normally peak at the end of April beginning May. If you are ever here at that time you need to question the locals to find out the best place to see them.

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  11. Hello Rosemary, These photographs are so beautiful they don't even look like they can be real. The light blue of the flowers really complements the light green of the trees. What a sad commentary when a national symbol has to go on the protected or endangered list.

    I don't think I've ever seen a carpet of wildflowers like that with so much color, and that extends such a distance through the woods. Violets sometimes cover large areas, but they are much smaller and lower, and so give a different effect.
    --Road to Parnassus

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    1. Each year when I see a bluebell wood I find it mesmerising even though I have seen it so many time in my life. It is very difficult to actually capture the extent and quantity of them. You walk through the woods and just keep looking at them as they seem go on forever into the distance. They really are a special sight and are uniquely a British thing as over half the world's population of bluebells, Hyacinthoides non-scripta live here.

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  12. Pretty sensational Rosemary. What a color combination! Would love to set up a picnic somewhere near photo No. 5. Enjoy your weekend. ox, Gina

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    1. Dear Gina - this forest is near to where my youngest son lives. We were visiting him yesterday for his birthday, and stopped briefly on our way back home. The evening was drawing in and we had the wood to ourselves. It was lovely to wander and just enjoy the vast extent of the bluebells, which is always a thrill to see each year.

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  13. ROSEMARY! How lovely to meet you; thank you so much for coming to visit my blog AND for leaving a comment! MERCI!

    I HAVE GOT to get to the UK one day to see so many things. But the bluebells are definitely HIGH on my priority list of wonders to behold in the English countryside. Next year for my link party, I am going to do England! Bluebells have to be part of the landscape. Good to hear you are going to France! Enjoy your time and yes, soak in all the JOIE DE VIVRE you can! Anita

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    1. Thanks for your visit Anita - hope you manage to get here at some time in the future.

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  14. You are so lucky to have beautiful woods around your place! And it is good that the bluebells are protected. You will always enjoy this magic! Thank you for sharing these stunning photos! I wish you a nice Sunday!

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    1. I am happy that you enjoyed seeing the photos of the bluebells flowering in our woods at the moment. They are at their very best at the moment, but I fear that soon they will be all over until next year.

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  15. I love bluebells. The biggest patch I ever saw was at the edge of the Kew Gardens. That was stunning but I like yours better!

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    1. In the woods all around Britain go on and on for miles - they really are a sight to behold.

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  16. Yes, used to pick bunches as a child in Devon.....then hurry home on my bicycle to get them in water before they wilted! We also used to stretch out in a bluebell wood for the whole afternoon - sometimes with a picnic - that was awesome! Didn't know about the Spanish species crossbreeding and causing problems. I have both in my garden but find the English ones don't do well at all - just lie flat on the ground with very thin stems, whereas the Spanish ones stand tall and strong on thicker stems with beautiful leaves.

    Thanks for sharing your woods - lovely pics and many happy memories.

    Hugs - Mary

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    1. Dear Mary - I remember seeing people do that too, but not since the legislation came into force. This year, perhaps because of the long winter, I was struck by the fact that the bluebells are standing very tall and have robust stems this year, and they are lasting much longer.
      Looking forward to seeing your posts on your return - happy travelling.

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  17. Thank you I have always enjoyed bluebells.

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    1. En masse they are a glorious and memorable blue feast.

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  18. What a gorgeous sight, and thank you for the botanical insight . I would LOVE to see this in real life !

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    1. Dear Jane - it is wonderful to see them in the woods and on the cliff tops each April/May, but they always take your breath away.

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  19. Breathtaking! This is a blue galaxy of Bluebells, rosemary! As you might know, blue is my favorite color. I don’t know if they are British Bluebells, but I have blue ones in my garden. They are going to be over. Not only the Blue Bells but also the foliage of the forest is magical, too. When caught in the light, they shine translucent.

    Yoko

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    1. Dear Yoko - I love the fact that you have bluebells in your garden too - the main indicator as to the type of bluebell you have is the colour of the stamens and their pollen - blue for Spanish - cream for British.

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  20. HI Rosemary! Thank you so much for stopping by and your very lovely comment. I do appreciate it so much.

    And thank you for this great post on the bluebells. There is a lot of confusion regarding them which is totally answered here. I must admit that I have a lot of bluebells (Spanish) in my garden and I really do love them, even if they aren't proper English bluebells. I have a lot of white, too, and some pink. I find they have a lovely sweet scent. I also love the Scottish Harebell which I used to see in the wilds of Scotland.

    I hope you are very well!

    G

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    1. Dear Georgianna - harebells are another little bit of magic and especially when seen in Scotland where they are very much at home. A clutch of harebells with a heather mountain view behind is a perfect composition. I am off to Scotland soon so will hope for an opportunity to photograph some.

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  21. Gorgeous! I was intending to go and find bluebells today, sadly our good weather forecast has turned to more rain. Later...

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    1. I hope that the weather does clear up for you - it is a sunny day here and I think that it is supposed to be travelling up to you later. I would like to see your photos as you always take lovely ones. The bluebells should be around for about another week, I believe, much later than usual and may be a little longer with you.

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  22. I don't think I have ever even seen flowers like this before. They are beautiful ! Your pictures capture the colour beautifully. Looks stunning!

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    1. It is a wonderful sight to see wild flowers growing as nature intended and that is why they are protected. Glad that you enjoyed seeing them.

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  23. Beautiful and magical as you say Rosemary. There's a few along the lanes here in Berkeley but not many you really have to look for them amongst the wild garlic.

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    1. Dear Paula - I actually took these photos the other evening in Hertfordshire. There is a good bluebell wood in Randwick near Stroud which isn't too far from you. If you wanted to visit and had difficulty finding it someone local would be able to point you in the right direction.

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  24. Very informative. How pretty, and I bet it really looks a treat in reality.

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    1. It is very difficult to capture on camera the large swathes of the flowers which spread throughout the whole of the forests.

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  25. Oh, how glorious, rosemary. i love bluebells and still have very fond memories of a beautiful; bluebell wood near my childhood home. No bluebell woods here, but the hedgerows are full of them, often mingled with forget-me-nots and the primroses which are still flowering in profusion in mid-Wales.

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    1. This wood is actually near to my youngest son's home in Hertfordshire on the Bowes-Lyon estate where the late Queen Mother was born. She actually used to tell people that she was born in Scotland but local people of her parents generation remembered her birth arrival here!!!

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  26. Lovely photos of these beautiful flowers. They really have looked stunning this year, haven't they? I walked through my local bluebell wood this morning and they are starting to fade, now, but there was still the blue haze stretching out as far as the eye could see.

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    1. Dear Wendy - it is very difficult to photograph a bluebell wood and convey the extent of the flowers and that wonderful blue haze - it has to be seen to be believed and hits you anew each year.
      When I walked through the wood on Friday evening my impression was that they had reached their peak and the end was nigh.

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  27. What a wonderful place to be, surrounded by all these bluebells.
    Have a wonderful evening Rosemary.

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    1. The bluebell woods are a wonderful place to wander Marijke - a bit later than usual but they seem to be taller and stronger following the long winter.

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  28. I love bluebell woods - so enchanting and mesmerizing. Your photos are lovely - love the one with the path through the bluebells.
    June

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    1. The bluebell magic is nearly over for this year June, but I do think that they have been really good this year. I have found the same thing with many of the plants coming up in the garden. My aquilegias are much more robust, and taller than I have ever seen them before.

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  29. They are spectacular. I had never seen one until this March when I was at an old home site and came upon some. Then I started reading about them.

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    1. They are very special flowers Olive, they have now reached their peak and will all be gone, I am sure, by next weekend.

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  30. I have some British bluebells in my garden and next door have Spanish! Neither have crossed the border in 25 years!

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    1. Keep your shotgun at the ready Nilly - it is the Spanish ones that are promiscuous.

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  31. Hello Rosemary,
    wonderful blue flowers!
    A big hug

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    1. Hello Antonio - thank you - the flowers are very special.

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  32. So beautiful, Rosemary. I love their color. We have a little wild flower here in NJ which is blue with a touch of violet, we call these Cornflowers. (Don't know why since corn is yellow and has nothing to do with anything.)

    But yours are shaped like little bells. So adorable. It must be a good feeling to see these in such abundance and know that another year as passed and another summer is beginning.

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    1. Our first granddaughter was born at bluebell time and so I tend to associate the flowers with her. I remember on the day she was born we visited this bluebell wood before travelling down to London to see her for the first time.

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  33. How wonderful! We have bluebells at Blickling Hall, not too far from our home. I never get tired of looking at how the countryside quickly turns into a "sea" of blue!

    We are surrounded by so much beauty and Nature is the main source of it! You don't need money to enjoy it and you don't need to be priviledged... you just need eyes, to be able to see it all and the awareness of the fact that beauty, real beauty, is not man made. Often, it's just a gift, put there by nature.

    LOVELY PHOTOS, Rosemary! I love this post!

    BTW: Can't find my glasses again. Please disregard any mistakes due to momentary "blindness!"

    HAPPY WEEK!

    ANNA
    xx

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    1. Dear Anna - as you know the wonderful blue haze created by the bluebells en masse is difficult to describe, it is something that you need to see for yourself. Unfortunately photos really do not do justice to the overall effect that you see when you are in the woods.
      How right you are, if we just look around nature bestows so many free gifts for us all to enjoy.
      Lovely to hear from you Anna
      Ciao ♥

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  34. Dear Rosemary,
    I'm just catching up on my blog reading and love these photographs. I remember years ago coming across a secluded bluebell wood in Normandy. It really does make a landscape feel enchanted to see such beauty!
    Kirk

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    1. Dear Kirk - I think that a bluebell wood has to be experienced personally to fully appreciate the blue haze of the flowers, they are very difficult to photograph - it is impossible to capture the extent of the flowers. We are both fortunate to have done so.

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  35. oh dear Rosemary!
    They are so beautiful
    one feels like running with hands open and laughing eyes on those magic Bluebell fileds


    Have a wonderful week!

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    1. You are right Demie they do make you feel like singing and dancing and also to lie down in them and soak up the heavenly scent. However, I tried my best to step gingerly through the flowers as I didn't want to crush any of the plants.

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  36. What an amazing sight this must be Rosemary. I saw part of a bluebell wood when on holiday in England May last year. It was very impressive!

    Happy week!

    Madelief x

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    1. Dear Madelief - I am pleased that you have had the opportunity of seeing a bluebell wood - it really does need to be seen to be believed.

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  37. Gorgeous photos, Rosemary. I don't think I've ever seen anything like it. Your posts are always filled with such interesting information. Thanks for telling us about the different bluebells.

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    1. Dear Marie - thanks very much for your kind comment - the bluebell woods are a treat at this time of year.

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  38. W lesie jest niebieskie niebo na ziemi. Cudowne widoki. Pozdrawiam.
    The forest is blue heaven on earth. Wonderful views. Yours.

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    1. Szanowny Giga - lasy bluebell są naprawdę piękne tego roku po długiej zimie. Dziękuję za odwiedziny i komentarz rodzaju.

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  39. So beautiful! I'd love to be in Great Britain some day when bluebells are blooming. The blue color gives a nice contrast to the green trees.

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    1. The blue and the green harmonise together beautifully - sadly I should imagine that by this coming weekend they will be on the decline for this year.

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  40. Just one word: Breathtaking! Christa

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    1. Sadly they have reached their peak and will probably be here for a few more days only, until next year.

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  41. Dear Rosemary,gorgeous photos!!!You are so lucky seeing these wonderful images!!I do love those beautiful bluebells flowers!Thank you for sharing!!Have a lovely week!
    Dimi..

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    1. Bluebell time in the woods and on the cliffs is a special time each year, but this year, may be because of the long winter they seem to be better than ever.
      Thanks for your comment and visit Dimi.

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  42. Rosemary, It must be an amazing experience to be there in person. Your photography is beautiful!! Quite a reward for making it through the winter.

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    1. Dear Carol - I am sure that like me you cannot imagine living in a country that does not have four distinct seasons. Although the winter seemed to be so long this year, as you mention, the rewards are there for us at the end of it. This year all of the flowers and trees seem to be more floriferous and verdant than ever.

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  43. Long live the British bluebell, creator of your magical blue-hued forests! Fantastic photos Rosemary.

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    1. There is a little rhyme that goes "blue and green should never be seen" but this must surely disprove it.

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  44. What a breathtakingly beautiful time! Amazing pictures!

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    1. They are at least 3 weeks late this year, but better late than never.

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  45. Dear Rosemary ,these forests are magical and I am glad to be protected!
    I saw that there are paths and somebody could walk and enjoy this beauty! Do you know if at these beautiful forests they live elves and fairies ?
    Have a nice evening !

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    1. Dear Olympia - the secrets of the forest are not revealed until the middle of the night and who knows what might happen if you venture there in the dark!!!

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    2. You made me smiling !!! May be a nightly walk could solve the mystery! You are nearest than me ....Could you try it ???? No , I am afraid the dark ....
      I'll sleep by thinking that they live fairies !!!

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    3. There are fairies at the bottom of our garden!
      It’s not so very, very far away;
      You pass the gardner’s shed and you just keep straight ahead.
      I do so hope they’ve really come to stay.
      There’s a little wood, with moss in it and beetles,
      And a little stream that quietly runs through;
      You wouldn’t think they’d dare to come merrymaking there.
      Well, they do.

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  46. Thanks for visit my blog, and youre nice words.
    I go follow youre blog also, you have a verry beautiful blog.

    Greetings,
    Inge, my choice

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    1. Hello Inge - thank you for your visit and for becoming a follower. I look forward to our blog connections in the future.

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