May 5, 2014

The Annual Bluebell Post

You thought I’d forgotten, didn’t you?  Anyone who lives in bluebell country, however, can tell you that it’s pretty difficult to miss bluebell season—if your bluebells are happy they spread enthusiastically.  The wood I took most of this year’s photos in was drastically cleared out at one end some few years ago—they were dorking around with pylons and super-cables and things.  The bluebells had only started colonising that area and that stopped them flat.  But except for a narrow chop-through most of the trees were left standing and the bluebells regrouped and made another sortie . . . and they are now dazzlingly winning. That bluebell wood is a good, I don’t know, my sense of size is about as reliable as my sense of direction, sixty or eighty foot longer than it was twenty years ago.

I know bluebells are generally endangered or at least under pressure by deer, hikers, global warming and the Spanish invader, but as I’ve said before (at least once a year), not around here.*  Around here they are ebullient and thriving—and may they remain that way—even if they are total thugs in your garden.  One of my rose-beds at the old house was taken over by bluebells.  It was a tending-to-be-dry border in strong sunlight, for pity’s sake, a few bluebells couldn’t possibly hurt, they’ll be too busy struggling to survive.  You’ll be sorry, said Peter.  He was right.  I went through and dug out buckets of the wretches** one year and I had bluebells in that bed the next year anyway.

I have bluebells in my garden(s) now.  But I guess I’d better be nice to them.  Just in case.

Mmmm.  Bluebells.

Mmmm. Bluebells.

 

Random hellhounds.

Random hellhounds.

 

More bluebells.  Fancy that.

More bluebells. Fancy that.

 

There must be bluebells in the Shire, right?  For some reason they just slipped Tolkien's mind, midlander that he was.

There must be bluebells in the Shire, right? For some reason they just slipped Tolkien’s mind, midlander that he was.

 

Breeeeeeeeathe.  I don't think they've ever made a bluebell perfume, have they?

Breeeeeeeeathe. I don’t think they’ve ever made a bluebell perfume, have they?

 

Hi guys.

Hi guys.

 

Those paler, appley-green, also bowing-over stems in the foreground are Solomon's Seal.  If you enlarge you can probably see the little white bells.  When not overwhelmed by bluebells they're a very nice plant.

Those paler, appley-green, also bowing-over stems in the foreground are Solomon’s Seal. If you enlarge you can probably see the little white bells. When not overwhelmed by bluebells they’re a very nice plant.

 

Paths through bluebell woods are magical by definition.

Paths through bluebell woods are magical by definition.

 

. . . Till next year.

. . . Till next year.

* With the possible exception of the Spanish bluebell.  But I’m not sure I can decisively tell the one from the other:  proper English bluebells bow over farther and farther as their flowers open.  A very rounded-over bluebell is definitively English, but a more sticky-up one may still be English if it’s early in its flowering.  The Spanish bluebell photos I’ve seen look more like Scilla than like bluebells:  proper bluebell flowers are graphically and unmistakably tubular.^  The bluebell woods around here are (a) fairly out in the sticks, to the extent that Hampshire is ever out in the sticks^^ and (b) old, so they have a good chance of being pure;  also Spanish bluebells apparently don’t have much smell, and our bluebell woods are nearly eye-wateringly fragrant.  Particularly strong this year too, I think, possibly because of all the winter rain.

^ How can I tell whether bluebells are native ones or Spanish ones?

^^  which to a Maine girl isn’t very

** I couldn’t face hauling the lot up to the ridge, but I couldn’t face putting them all on the compost heap^ or the bonfire either, so I took some away and threw them around in the wild where they had a chance to engulf more woodland.  I’ve told you this story, haven’t I?  This blog is too old.  I’ve told most of my stories at least once.^^  Since it’s illegal to pick wildflowers or dig up bluebells bulbs I was terrified I’d be discovered and someone would leap to the wrong conclusion.

^ Yep.  We had bluebells growing in the compost too.

^^ Except KES, of course.

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