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An escape into the bluebell woods

June 7, 2013

Are you in need of an escape today? I vividly remember how hard it was to get up on a perfect June morning in London, with the colours sparkling and the early sun already warm on my face and all the promise of a cloudless midsummer day ahead…and then to catch the crowded train to the office, to immure myself  in stale air and strip lights for the next ten hours, ‘from morn to noon, from noon to dewy eve’. If you are living that kind of life, I feel for you. This post is for you.

Here in the woods of Scotland, the bluebells have reached their climax. A violet haze of flowers washes the tree roots, easing the soul with peaceful beauty.

 

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There are several wonderful bluebell woods in our area. According to our local newspaper, ‘any woods with native bluebells are likely to be an ancient woodland, which covers just 1% of Scotland’s landmass and are some of the country’s most precious wildlife habitats.’ (The Courier, 5.6.13) This interests me as I had assumed that most of the estate’s bluebell woods were relatively recently planted, part of the landscaping of the castle’s policies which was carried out in the first half of the nineteenth century. In my favourite wood near the castle, for example, we can be fairly certain that the careful mixture of conifers and broadleaves, native and exotic species was planted by Sir William, the laird here in the 1830s to 1850s. As his plantings die off or are felled in winter storms, we are replacing them with oaks and beeches; so the character of the wood will subtly change over time. If a sea of native bluebells is indeed an indicator of ancient woodland, however, it suggests that there must have been beech and oak growing here long before Sir William’s day.

 

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And yes, the wood is a wonderfully rich habitat for wildlife, where we have heard tawny owls, foxes and cuckoos and seen, to name only some of the bigger creatures, tree creepers, red squirrels, hedgehogs, pine martens, a polecat, greater spotted woodpeckers and of course the ubiquitous rabbits and roe deer. At this time of year, however, I am scarcely interested in the wildlife. It is the bluebells that entrance the senses.

 

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Our Westie loves having a good rub in the cool bluebell leaves.

Picking wood sorrel to munch.

Picking wood sorrel to munch.

Near the edge of the wood, the bluebells are powdered with white stitchwort.

Near the edge of the wood, the bluebells are powdered with white stitchwort.

 

You might enjoy the flowers in Blooming June:  wild flower heaven

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26 Comments leave one →
  1. Toffeeapple permalink
    June 7, 2013 1:07 pm

    Thank you for posting the pictures of the Bluebells, they are what I shall recall most about my last visit to Argyll, they were everywhere! Even though the cottage we stayed in had feeders frequented by Red Squirrels, Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Coal Tits (and all the others) plus all the Finches and House Martins, together with Pine Martens and Deer my abiding memory will be that shade of blue.

  2. June 7, 2013 3:48 pm

    gorgeous!

  3. Margaret Lambert permalink
    June 7, 2013 3:57 pm

    It’s not always easy to live with the change from one forest of trees to a very different one, but in the case of the annual display of bluebells carpeting your woods it must be make the loss of your old trees more bearable. Love the photos, as always.

    • June 7, 2013 6:41 pm

      Thank you, Margaret. We have got used to the storm damage now, and it is exciting to see the little saplings growing.

  4. boyd hussey, (Douglas Ontario Canada) permalink
    June 7, 2013 5:19 pm

    How lovely! How good it is to be able to use that word. Thank you for the blue bells and all. We have just passed through the blooming of wild fruits and nut which are predominantly white and all the more striking against the dark green forest. I am turning my lawn (I hope) into a meadow and not just because I don’t want to cut it. The naturalness of it all is great for the spirit as your pictures show

    • June 7, 2013 6:42 pm

      A little wilderness is essential to the spirit, isn’t it? We all need green places in our lives. Best of luck with your meadow!

  5. June 8, 2013 8:28 am

    Just gorgeous! I can almost smell them! What an exquisite place to be able to wander on a summer’s day. I love the photo of the bluebells mixed with stitchwort. What a joy!

  6. Ana N. Patel permalink
    June 9, 2013 8:34 am

    Whilst the robust Spanish bluebell and its hybrids are all very beautiful; there is something uniquely special about the fragility of the Common Bluebell. Hopefully our native species will survive the new competition and continue to inspire future generations who visit our ancient woods.

  7. June 9, 2013 1:02 pm

    Oh, how truly glorious, DB! Such a privilege to have such beauty right on your doorstep. I love bluebell woods and have very fond memories of a very pretty one close to my childhood home in Lancashire. I’m afraid my sisters and I used to pick sheaves of them every spring, as there were no bans on doing so, but our depredations never seemed to diminish their numbers. 🙂

    • June 10, 2013 12:52 pm

      It really is a privilege. It fills me with peace and thankfulness every time I walk through it.

      Your innocent picking of bluebells must have been such a pleasure. I love being able to pick wildflowers from our fields and woods but, even on our own land, I am careful to pick only one or two from each patch. My children have been taught the same care, and never to pick the solitary flower. We are custodians for the ones who come after us, after all. 🙂

  8. June 11, 2013 11:20 pm

    “Rich” is the perfect description of the green grass, trees and bluebells. The picture of the westie made me giggle. He looks so pleased – those little guys are such characters

    • June 18, 2013 5:23 pm

      Do you know, he absolutely LOVES squirming about and scrubbing himself in the juicy bluebell leaves, grunting with pleasure. Then he emerges with a big smile on his face, as in the photo above. Snow has the same effect. 🙂

  9. June 16, 2013 10:09 pm

    I remember going to Burbage Woods, near Hinckley in the Midlands, and seeing whole armfulls of bluebells abandoned because they had wilted, and it put me off picking them even when I was a child.

    Just returned from a holiday in Ardnamurchan; the bluebells there were in small clumps where we were, but still very appreciated!

    • June 18, 2013 5:24 pm

      I do hate seeing flowers picked and abandoned: what a waste.

      So you are another person who’s just escaped to the West Highlands! There are quite a few of us, it seems. May and June is such a beautiful time to be there.

  10. Alberta G. Juarez permalink
    June 17, 2013 2:27 am

    Although much wildlife is behind this year, bluebells are now out in many of Gloucestershire’s woodlands, nodding their heads as they carpet the floors. There’s nothing more magical or enchanting than walking in woodlands dappled in gentle spring light, with a fragrant blue sea of delicate trumpet shaped blooms.

  11. afarawayhome permalink
    July 24, 2016 8:56 pm

    Wow, those photos are stunning!

Trackbacks

  1. An escape into the bluebell woods | West Highla...
  2. The magic of a bluebell wood | Dancing Beastie
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