An escape into the bluebell woods
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.
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.
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.
You might enjoy the flowers in Blooming June: wild flower heaven