In Ancient times when deep oak woods and forests were mystical places, the people of those times believed bluebells were synonymous with the fairies who lived there. Superstitions tell that if anyone wandered into a bluebell ring they would soon fall under the enchantment of the fairies and meet their death. Equally they believed that bluebells rang to summon the fairies to secret gatherings amongst the old oaks. Anyone it is said who heard a bluebells tiny chime would soon wither and die.
British native bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) are a common sight in spring in the Ancient woodlands throughout the land. Undisturbed for years the bulbs are well adapted to woodland life and carpet the woodland floor well before the trees come into leaf. Without leaves on the trees there is more light available which helps the plant complete it's natural perennial cycle. Sometimes known by the local name Auld man's bells, the bluebell of course, gets it's common name from the blue bell shaped flowers that hang from the stem.
There are several reputable nurseries that now sell the British bluebell (Hyacinthoides no scripta). It is illegal of course to dig them up in native English Woodlands. Bluebells can be planted throughout late Autumn and very early Spring. They do best in the loamy leaf mould under deciduous trees like Oak, Ash and Beech. Care should be taken not to plant them where the ground is prone to waterlogging
They are a great source of early nectar for insects and bees coming out of the long winter months. Walking through a woodland carpeted with bluebells is truly something to lift the soul.
The National trust has a guide to where you can find a bluebell wood open to the public. Follow this link to find out a wood near you HERE
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