Oh! roses and lilies are fair to see; But the wild bluebell is the flower for me. Louisa A. Meredith. The Bluebell. (1922)
On visiting a place that is set in fabulous grounds, I saw that in the week since I was last there, the bluebells have all burst forth in flower. We’d commented last week that they were just emerging and would soon be at their peak, so were thankful that the sun was out this time and I walked the last few hundred yards so that I could both enjoy them and take some photographs.
Over the last couple of visits we have enjoyed very good patches of primroses at the edge of the woodland and whilst many exposed patches are now passing their peak, with faded flowers, some in shady spots are just at their best, now snuggled up in the fast growing grass with bright blue forget-me-nots and a few pink primulas.
Whilst summer tends to offer up blousy, vibrant and colourful blooms, designed to make the most of the insects that are most active in warm sunny weather, I am personally very fond of the more subtle, diminutive blooms of spring. Those little delicate things that have to time their peak in that niche of time between improving weather, longer days and warming sunshine and the time when the trees gain their foliage, blocking out the light to the woodland floor below.
Bluebells are perhaps some of the more obvious woodland flowers at this time of year, because their spreading carpet tends to look at its most intense when glanced from a distance, where perspective foreshortens the distance between the blooms, deceiving the eye into thinking that there are more than there probably are. You can see that illustrated in my photographs, especially on the left, where there seem to be many more in the distance than the foreground, but in reality they’re evenly spread. When you get close to bluebells growing, they’re often quite thinly spread out, but en mass at a distance, they’re much more impressive.
There are few sights that would gladden my heart as much as a carpet of bluebells amongst deciduous trees, illuminated by the glow of warm spring sunshine, it feels like such a treat – and one that is often hidden and you have to seek out to enjoy. They seem to be early too – it was over a month later last year when I made a similar post about bluebells – those photographs being taken on the 23rd May.
You can view the images in sequence by clicking on any photograph and using the next and back arrows.
What a dense and fabulous collection of spring blooms at the base of this tree.
The bluebells take advantage of the warming spring sunshine before the leaves emerge. There are also yellow Celandines just flowering through the leaf litter.
A gorgeous carpet of bluebells spread through deciduous woodland.
It’s such a heart-warming sight to see bluebells emerge in woodland, especially when lit by glorious spring sunshine.
The actual flower is the plant’s highest fulfilment, and are not here exclusively for herbaria, county floras and plant geography: they are here first of all for delight.John Ruskin
I mentioned in an earlier post that I had an especially generous showing of snowdrops outside the house this year, probably some fabulous Mother Nature alchemy using the weather and conditions in the year since they last flowered. It seems that same combination of climate and rainfall etc. has worked wonders with other plants too.
Having looked at the Bank Holiday weekend weather forecast, we decided that Saturday evening was going to be our best option to get to our favourite spot for some quality R&R – that usually entails a decent walk through woodland, a picnic at the car followed by a combination of drinking coffee, reading, gawping out of the car window, looking at stuff through binoculars – well, that’s me at least. He on the other hand does coffee and snoring, not necessarily in that order.
We set off with picnic food in the car boot as the light cloud of the day evaporated and gave rise to a gorgeous spring evening, suggesting that our choice of day was indeed well selected. Unfortunately, the plans were scuppered somewhat when a work problem arose – he does on-call duties – and this wasn’t even meant to be his weekend. But as is often the case, the more you want a quiet time or have plans, the more likely the phone is to go bonkers.
We’ve decided over the years that once the phone goes with one problem, it then tends to escalate into something ridiculous, the opening of some telephonic floodgates. If it’s quiet for a while, it tends to remain quiet. Thus it was on Saturday, once one problem surfaced, then the phone would just not let up. So our walk was abandoned and the remainder of our activity punctuated by calls, texts and e-mails. So I did take advantage and took a short walk myself to take some photos in the lovely golden evening sun.
The route we drive takes us past a little corner which usually has a few bluebells growing amongst the trees. It’s almost always late in the day when we pass, when the sun has long gone off this area, so we knew they’d be in shadow when we got there. But we were pretty astonished to see the showing of colour we saw, it’s normally quite a scrubby patch – lovely in itself, but not the most vibrant patch we know. But it looked gorgeous, enough so that I actually got out to walk along and take some photos. The land drops away from the road surface and I could see that there were more spilling over that edge, so some of the photos were taken with the camera above my head at arms length, using the tilting back screen to try and frame the shot and get as many of them into view as possible.
We were forced to stop a mile or two further on as the phone was going again, so I jumped out to enjoy the peace and quiet. I’d heard somewhere on TV recently, on something like Countryfile, that the gorse was especially vibrant this year and I’ve certainly noticed that myself. Not only are the flowers particularly dense in their coverage, but the yellow is a lovely deep golden colour too. I don’t know if the weather affects this, or more likely the soil it’s in, but sometimes it seems a much more acid and light yellow.
The early evening and lower sun of the golden hour certainly enriches the colour and it was a treat to stop and enjoy it all with very little to disturb the quiet save for the sound of birds and lambs and an occasional distant tractor.
There have always been Cuckoo flowers in this area and they too were especially robust, with large heads of flowers and in this case, it even looks to have double flowers. They often grow just at the side of the road, I think water must accumulate a little there with the grasses, as they seem to like it a little boggy. I’ve always thought that they must propagate along the roadside when passing vehicles woosh the seeds along the verge.
We also had three other lovely wildlife treats, along with amusing ourselves for some time watching the evening shenanegans of young lambs playing. I’ve never quite understood why lambs congregate in an evening and run up and down en masse and search out the tallest bits of earth to stand on, jostling for top spot. There doesn’t seem to be much preparation for adult-life purpose in it, but it’s lovely to watch, I’ll never tire of it.
Whilst watching the lambs through binoculars, I also spotted the movement of a hare in my field of view. It was the same field I watched them chasing around over Easter and at one time I ended up with 4 individuals in my field of view. No chasing or boxing this time, they largely had their heads down eating, but still a rare treat nonetheless. We also saw the same kestrel overhead looking for supper and as we were packing up to leave, a movement to one side caught my eye and a barn owl was flying past. Close enough that we didn’t hear a sound from him and I didn’t want to look away to grab the camera as it was going to be all too fleeting and I wanted to just enjoy it.