A solitary bluebell appears delicate and demure, hanging its head like a coy child. Yet as part of a troop it delivers one of our most powerful floral displays. Through early spring, as the daffodils and snowdrops take centre stage, the bulbs of the bluebell are content to bide their time. They wait until the trees begin to green before sending forth leaves of their own. By now, the days are long and warm, and the bluebells must respond swiftly before the forest’s canopy blocks out the precious sunlight. The flowers unfurl as one, carpeting the woodland in a shimmering sea of violet that floats ethereally above a sharp gloss of green. The stem curls beneath the weight of a dozen bell-shaped flowers, each one formed from six lobes that curl back to expose the anthers. The flower is smooth and unmarked, a quality that led to its Latin etymology. When Carl Linnaeus was classifying the flower in the 18th century, he referred to RomanoGreek legend for inspiration. After the hero Hyacinthus fell, Apollo took his blood and with it created a flower. The god wept, and his tears marked the newly formed petals, resulting in the naming of the genus The perfume of the bluebell can be intoxicating, though it is a smell under threat. The non-native and almost odourless Spanish bluebell has spilled from gardens and parks, hybridising with our native bluebell and neutralising May’s traditional woodland waft.