In every little flower,
Each one its own sweet feeling breathes
With more or less of power.
There is a silent eloquence
In every wild bluebell
That fills my softened heart with bliss
That words could never tell…
– Anne Bronte 1820-1849.
They’re the quintessential sign of British springtime, with the vast spreads of tiny blue flowers found across Britain in April and May.
The UK’s woodlands are home to half of the global population of our native bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta).
With its unique scent and the very delicate form and structure of the flowers, it is an extremely special flower, say experts.
"We have some of the best bluebell carpets in the world," says Katie Lewthwaite of the Woodland Trust. "People don’t necessarily realise, but we’ve got just the right damp climate for them.
“The warm and dry weather at the start of Spring has sped up the flowering process for bluebells, but the absence of rain means that visitors will need to be quick to see them – it could be a short but sweet season for bluebells and other classic spring plants like the primrose.
The bluebell starts growing in January with its sole purpose to flower before the other woodland plants, but in dry conditions the bluebell will flower less, will be less abundant and its growth will be stunted. On the plus side, the flowers are more sweet-smelling than usual,” she said.
There is lots of folklore connected with bluebells but in medieval times the plant was actually farmed for its glue.
Bluebell stems feels sticky and two centuries ago they were used as a glue.
Both the stems and the bulbs were boiled in water to produce a glue, which was important both in war and peace. Bluebell glue was used to stick the flights into arrows.
Early Spring is the time of year to enjoy our bluebell woods, but don’t wait too long.