This is, quite possibly, my favourite time of year. If you have never seen an English bluebell wood, hasten to the countryside this weekend.
Bluebells flower for a week or two in late April or early May. It really is magic – nothing but blue for acres and acres. The tiny white flowers are wood anemones. They’re studded amongst the bluebells like little white stars. This morning, I felt like I’d gone for a walk in a fairy tale.
Bluebells are the quintessential English flower. They flower when the tree canopy is just beginning to unfurl, so they have the perfect amount of shade. They don’t like coniferous or evergreen forests, nor too much bramble or gorse. For a bluebell, the ideal home is ancient woodland consisting of beech, oaks and birch. Yet, if a wood is cut down, or the undergrowth takes hold, the bluebell bulb can lurk beneath the soil for a thousand years. It waits. When the forest is regrown after hundreds of years, and the brambles cleared, it flowers again.
Here are some pictures of Duncliffe wood in Dorset. The woodland is managed by the Woodland Trust, who keep a blog of the best bluebell sites in the UK. Check it out so you can go and visit some bluebells near you:
In sloping woodland, they are a blue river, and where the light hits they appear to be ripples on the surface.
And finally, a close-up so that you can see their little nodding heads.