Tuesday, 29 April 2008


We are planning to view bluebell wood in Ashridge Estate this bank holiday Monday. And I am excited to see what laid ahead. This is one of the view exclusive to Britain. I always thought that Switzerland own beautiful flower meadow. But now I think Brits own a MUCH better meadow!

The Common Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta, syn. Endymion non-scriptus, Scilla non-scripta) is a spring-flowering bulbous perennial plant. It is native to the British Isles, the Netherlands, Belgium, and northern and western France, being replaced in Iberia by the similar Spanish Bluebell H. hispanica and in the central Mediterranean region by the Italian Bluebell H. italica. (The spanish bluebell is larger and paler than british bluebell!)

Bluebell at Ashridge Estate, click to enlarge.

A bluebell wood
The Common Bluebell flowers in April and May. The stems are 10-30 cm long and bend over at the top. The lavender-blue flowers are pendulous, bell-shaped and slightly fragrant. The anthers are yellowish-white.
In spring, many British woods are covered by dense carpets of this flower; these are commonly referred to as "bluebell woods". Bluebell woods may be found in all parts of Great Britain and Ireland. Bluebells are a common indicator species for ancient woodland, so bluebell woods are likely to date back to at least 1600.

Gerard Manley Hopkins, one of the romantic poets, was very keen on the plant as revealed by these lines of his poem "May Magnificat":

And azuring-over greybell makes
Wood banks and brakes wash wet like lakes

Bluebells under young beeches in Micheldever Woods, Hampshire
In his journal entry for May 9, 1871 Hopkins says:

In the little wood opposite the light they stood in blackish spreads or sheddings like spots on a snake. The heads are then like thongs and solemn in grain and grape-colour. But in the clough through the light they come in falls of sky-colour washing the brows and slacks of the ground with vein-blue, thickening at the double, vertical themselves and the young grass and brake-fern combed vertical, but the brake struck the upright of all this with winged transomes. It was a lovely sight. - The bluebells in your hand baffle you with their inscape, made to every sense. If you draw your fingers through them they are lodged and struggle with a shock of wet heads; the long stalks rub and click and flatten to a fan on one another like your fingers themselves would when you passed the palms hard across one another, making a brittle rub and jostle like the noise of a hurdle strained by leaning against; then there is the faint honey smell and in the mouth the sweet gum when you bite them.

No comments: