So spring is in the air and the Bluebells are starting to carpet our woodlands with a bluey-purple haze... I got out a couple of weeks ago for an hour to the local nature trail, the woods surround the old railway line from Radcliffe to Prestwich. Less well kept than some locations, but quite rugged and natural about them. With the sun threatening but not breaking through the cloud cover, I got down to work with my telephoto first, then I thought it was a great opportunity to try out my Lensbaby Spark with the single glass optic.
There are two types of bluebell found in the UK, native and Spanish bluebells. Cross-breeding between the two species means you may spot flowers which combine traits from both.
The two species you might find are:
Native (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)
1. Deep violet-blue. A genetic mutation occasionally causes white flowers
2. Flower stem droops or nods distinctly to one side
3. Almost all flowers are on one side of the stem, hanging down to one side
4. Flowers are a narrow, straight-sided bell with parallel sides
5. Petal tips curl back
6. Flowers have a strong, sweet scent
Spanish (Hyacinthoides hispanica)
1. Pale to mid-blue, often also white or pink
2. Flower stem is stiff and upright
3. Flowers are usually all the way round the stem, with the flowers sticking out
4. Flowers are a wide open, almost cone shaped bell
5. Petal tips flare slightly outwards
6. Flowers have little or no scent at all
So I have been doing a bit of research on Bluebells and here are some interesting (I think at least) facts...
Bluebells are a link to our woodland past
Did you know that most bluebells are found in ancient woodland where the rich habitat supports a whole host of species. Ancient woodland includes woods from the 17th century and some may even be remnants of the original wildwood that covered Britain after the last Ice Age.
Unusual bluebell facts
1. In the Bronze Age, people used bluebell glue to attach feathers to their arrows
2. The Victorians used the starch from crushed bluebells to stiffen the ruffs of their collars and sleeves
3. Bluebell sap was used to bind pages to the spines of books
4. According to folklore, hearing a bluebell ring is a sign of impending death!
5. Legend also says that a field of bluebells is intricately woven with fairy enchantments
6. Bees can 'steal' nectar from bluebells by biting a hole in the bottom of the bell, reaching the nectar without pollinating the flower.
And finally, I found this great article on the National Trust's website about Bluebell woods - great location ideas for photographers or folk who like to wander in the woodlands...