Sunday, 24 April 2011

The Bluebells this year are lovelier, by far, than I have ever seen them.

When Spring comes around again, one of its greatest pleasures in southern England is to go and see the bluebells that carpet the woodlands with a hazy blue.

They are prolific in hazel woods, which in turn are prolific around here, and usually have been coppiced for centuries, providing a perfect bluebell environment.

Coppicing is an ancient method of woodland management that involves cutting the trees back almost to the ground every few years, so that they re-grow with thin straight branches.  This gives a nearly everlasting supply of wood for building, fencing and tool-making.

Another advantage of coppicing is that it ensures the  light canopy and dappled sunlight that bluebells prefer, so they become really well established: sometimes the colonies have been growing for hundreds of years, and cover many acres.

And I have never seen them lovelier than they were today on the Downs of West Sussex.

Take a look:

See what I mean?

And here are the Downs, that I love so much, probably because I was born among them.

A Down is a rounded, chalky, and largely treeless hill in southern England, with the same Old English root as "dune", as in sand dune.

I wrote about my favourite Down, and my Dad, here:  A Magic Summer Evening Long Ago.

More on Bluebells, which, as you might expect, are under threat from invasive species.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful! The bluebells, the Downs and your story.