Monday, 27 April 2015

Bluebells Galore


I only spent 8 days away in England yet the difference in the Normandy countryside over that time was amazing.  I came back to such greenness and so many wild flowers.  Dominant amongst these at the moment is the bluebells (jacinthes des bois) carpeting the verges and woodland floors with the nodding blue beauty.  They really are stunning.




However did you know there are 2 different types of bluebell, on that is native to the UK and northern France and one to Spain?  For ease of tying I will refer to the former as English bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) and the latter as Spanish (Hyacinthoides hispanica).

The native English bluebell has all the "bells" on one side if the stem causing the head to dip over and nod in the breeze - the pictures above are all, without doubt, English bluebells.  With Spanish bluebells they are bigger anyway and the bells are on all sides resulting in a taller and very upright flower:

Spanish Bluebell - Image with consent from Schnobby at Wikipedia

In many parts of the UK the Spanish Bluebell, (introduced as a garden plant) has taken over and whilst in itself this may not cause huge problems it is a more invasive species and gradually take over from the more delicate and, in my view, much prettier English bluebell. This is made worse by the fact that the two can hybridise giving a cross between the 2 plants - a semi upright bluebell which was what we saw in parts when we visited Knightshayes Gardens last week.  Overall the risk is the English Bluebell will be last and we will be left with just the Spanish bluebells and the hybirds.  That would be a sad loss.

Are your local bluebells in flower yet ... and are they English, Spanish or a hybrid?

10 comments :

  1. I never knew that Rosie! We saw bluebells in the woods yesterday funnily enough, love seeing a carpet of purple - it pleases me greatly! I hope you're good. I've been doing comedy hours for a wee while in London so been a little elusive! Back working locally again now which is much better!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah you see I have a background in Countryside Management! I am well and gearing up for a busy summer in the gite. Glad to hear you are back working close to home - my daily commute is about 150m to the veg patch and I am forever grateful for that!

      Delete
  2. We don't get them in the south, I guess it's too warm maybe, but I do love English bluebell woods. I have happy memories of walks in Kent around my parents' place when I was a kid. Right now around here it's all about wild cistus, or messuge, "lou messugo" in Provençal!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oooh - now it's your turn to teach me about where your gite name comes from! I love cistus as a garden plant but I had never clicked it was a cistus you use in header on the webpage. Now I know it is and why.

      Delete
  3. So lovely - I'm heading to the woods tomorrow morning if the rain holds off!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope it's dry for you - it's raining here this morning although in fairness we need it to fill the water butts and water the dry ground.

      Delete
  4. The bluebells are rampant in London at the moment. I don't remember noticing them before, but you can't miss them this year. But! I think, now I have read your post, that a lot of the ones I've seen are the Spanish version. Deary me! Must now go to the countryside to compare types.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am in Normandy near Argentan and would love to visit a bluebell wood. Do you know of any near here? Even in the rain bluebells make me happy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know the Argentan area but if you head towards us at Lenault between Condé-sur-Noireau and Aunay-sur-Odon you'll find plenty.

      Delete

I love receiving comments and I do read every one but if you are simply here to spam me with a link, guess what ... I won't publish it.