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  • Writer's pictureRachael Bentley

Why UK bluebell woods are the best in Europe

Enjoy one of Britain’s greatest natural spectacles.

A walk in the woods in late April and early May delivers one of Britain’s greatest natural spectacles. The woods are carpeted with Bluebells and they smell just as good as they look.

Bluebells are a sign that you’re in ancient woodland, and these woods have a special feel about them.

As a child I was told that Bluebell’s rang to summon fairies, which added to the effect, but even as an adult, the sight of thousands of flowers is pretty magical. What you might not expect, is the amazing scent. It’s worth coming back for each spring.

are our bluebells losing their scent?

We have over half the world’s population of Bluebells in the UK which means they are vitally important, not just to us but globally. And they're under threat. Our native Bluebells are declining due to the invasion of the Spanish Bluebell, often grown in our gardens. Both bluebells are pollinated by bees and other insects and easily hybridise, resulting in the more robust Spanish Bluebell gradually taking over.

How do you tell the difference between a Spanish Bluebell and our native Bluebell?

We can all help to keep our woodlands special. If you have a Spanish impostor in your garden, why not dig it up and replace with a home-grown variety? You can tell them apart as the Spanish Bluebell is paler lilac with flowers all around the stem, rather than drooping bells along just one side of the stem. It also has thicker leaves than our native Bluebell. They often have creamy green, rather than white anthers inside the flowers and crucially, they don’t have the same heady scent as the wild, darker Bluebells.

You can get UK Bluebell seeds or plants online or from good garden centres. Never take them from the wild, it’s illegal.

This year I’m going to check out The Outwoods near Loughborough for my Bluebell fix. But you can find your nearest Bluebell wood at:

Purple Haze all in my brain, lately things don’t seem the same, actin’ funny but I don’t know why ‘scuse me, while I kiss the sky.

Jimi Hendrix


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