Over the space of a few weeks in spring, from mid-April onwards, bluebells set our woodlands ablaze with their bright blue flowers. The UK is home to more than half the world’s population of bluebells, making it our unofficial national flower. Their presence is a sure sign you are in a very old woodland.
What are they?
Bluebells are the start of the show in springtime woodlands but there's lots more to see and hear too. Listen out for woodland birds singing from the branches. Many bluebells woods will be home to birds that have migrated thousands of miles to the UK to breed like the blackcap, wood warbler, nightingale and chiffchaff. On the ground look for other woodland wildflowers among the bluebells like the delicate white stars of stitchwort and the unmissable pink spikes of early purple orchids. Remember it’s not just about the colour. The flowers have a distinctive if subtle sweet scent: get down amongst the nodding flower heads and take a deep sniff too!
Where can I see them?
Spring is the best time to visit Aughton Wood when the bluebells form a carpet across the woodland floor.
Brockholes Nature Reserve
At Brockholes, spectacular blue carpets spring up in Boilton Wood and practically glow between the trees! It’s one of our favourite sights, and now is the perfect time to head over to the reserve and photograph them in all their glory.
In Potts Wood and Strickland Wood, ground flora includes wood anemone, bluebells and primrose as early-purple orchid, violets and pignut; woodland types are typical of moist, calcareous soils, with ash and hazel, alongside yew, birch and rowan.
The woodland areas of Moor Piece make it a perfect catchment area for bluebells during the spring time.
There are rare white ‘albino’ bluebells which lack the blue pigment.
In folklore, bluebells are called ‘fairy flowers’ and are said to summon fairies to woodland gatherings.
Common bluebells are a protected species in the UK. Picking the flowers and digging up the bulbs carries a heavy fine.