Wildlife Column: Our glorious sea of bluebell flowers
Since it is the time of year for bluebell woods to be at their peak, and 2019 has been a bumper year, this is the first of two bluebell articles.
Interestingly, last year was excellent for the ancient woodland flower, the ‘wood anemone’ and this year was less good.
The two plants have different ecological requirements and maybe last year’s weather suited anemones and this year’s bluebells.
Also of course, flowering plants tend to go in cycles and if there is a ‘boom’ year it is often followed by a ‘bust’ – when exhausted flowers recharge their biological batteries.
Anyhow, 2019 has been a splendid ‘bluebell year’ and our ancient woods have been absolutely glorious.
Graves Park (nee Norton Park) has been a sea of bluebells and now wild garlic along the wetter parts of Summerhouse Wood and Waterfall Wood. Ecclesall Woods has also been a fantastic spectacle of both colour and fragrance.
To really appreciate the experience you need to walk through the woods in early morning or in the evening and on a warm, calm day as the heavy scent hangs in the air.
The colour of the woodland as sunlight transfuses through the bluebells is almost beyond description.
Add to this atmosphere the song of blackbirds, robins, great tits, chiffchaffs, blackcaps, and wrens and you really do have an experience that you cannot buy.
Setting off the blue haze are the pale and vibrant greens of a lush bloom of spring leaf-burst on oaks-trees, but especially on the beech-trees.
If there is a slight breeze then you also get a rather magical effect as the leaf bud-scales are shed by the emerging leaves and they rain down from the tree-canopy like a miraculous white rain.
Of course a woodland walk is best if you can get away from traffic noise and the hustle–bustle of modern existence; at least just for a while.
At least you can then imagine a more pristine nature and a simpler lifestyle, until the humdrum demands of work and life draw you back in! Enjoy it whilst you can.