Spring into AC­TION

Join the Wood­land Trust and help to en­sure the UK’s na­tive blue­bells stay in bloom

Gardeners' World - - Advertisement Feature -

Spring is one of the most en­joy­able times of year to em­brace all the won­ders of the great out­doors. There’s noth­ing quite like go­ing for a stroll through a for­est and see­ing the wood­land floor trans­formed by vi­brant swathes of ex­quis­ite blue­bells. These en­chant­ing blooms – one of the na­tion’s best-loved wild­flow­ers – cap­ture the essence of why an­cient woods are so cher­ished in the UK, and so spec­tac­u­lar to ex­plore in spring­time. Such stun­ning dis­plays have grown over the springs of many years in broadleaved woods that al­low sun­light through to the wood­land floor. By late May, as the trees sprout leaves and the canopy closes, the blue­bells fade for an­other year. While na­tive blue­bells can be spot­ted in woods, hedgerows and parks through­out April and May, the largest cov­er­ings of them are usually found in an­cient wood­land. This is the UK’s most frag­ile and pre­cious habi­tat, home to thou­sands of vul­ner­a­ble species of flora and fauna – in­clud­ing the blue­bell. Al­though blue­bells are still com­mon in the UK, their ex­is­tence is un­der threat from the de­struc­tion of their habi­tat, be­ing picked from the wild and hy­bridi­s­a­tion with non-na­tive blue­bells. Eas­ily dam­aged both in bloom and when ly­ing dor­mant un­der­ground, these del­i­cate flow­ers are be­ing in­ad­ver­tently de­stroyed by peo­ple stray­ing from wood­land paths and tram­pling on them. The im­pact of peo­ple walk­ing on blue­bells can dam­age them enough to pre­vent them from seed­ing, and it can take many years for re­gen­er­a­tion to oc­cur. So, next time you’re en­joy­ing a wan­der through the woods, do watch where you’re walk­ing and take care to stick to the paths, no mat­ter the sea­son.

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