Bluebells in May

03/05/18 3:15pm by Lucy Kennaway

bluebells in east devon  escot parkland  the natural place 

Everyone gets very excited when the bluebells start to come out in late April and early May. They seem to be harbingers of warmer weather – and with temperatures in the South West set to rise for the first May Bank Holiday, we’d agree with that!

Did you know that the about half the world’s population of bluebells is found in the UK? The bluebell is a woodland plant and its favourite location is usually shady woodland. But you can also find it in hedgerows and on grassland.

We all recognise the bell-like flowers and as the carpet of bluebells spreads, so does the distinctive scent, which can sometimes take walkers completely by surprise with its strength.

If you’re keen on attracting wildlife to your garden, bluebells are an important nectar source for butterflies including Orange Tip, Brimstone and Pearl-Border Fritillary, as well as bees. 

In recent years the Spanish bluebell has become a threat to the native British bluebell. You can see the difference quite clearly if you put them side by side.

Native bluebell

  • Has a drooping bell
  • Distinctive scent
  • Narrow bell-shaped flowers with rolled back tips
  • Creamy white pollen

Spanish bluebell

  • Upright stems
  • No scent
  • Conical bell-shaped flowers with open tips
  • Blue pollen

The advice is not to plant Spanish bluebells in your gardens, and never to pick the native bluebells or harvest the bulbs.

Escot Estate has 220 acres of private parkland and in the spring the park comes alive with colour. In addition to the vibrant blue of native bluebells in our woodland we leave the buttercups to flower rampantly, and the grounds by the house become a sea of yellow.

If you would like to visit the Estate to view our bluebells, other wildflowers, champion trees and rhododendrons there are a number of well-marked footpaths. Please note there is no official vehicular access to the parkland apart from visitors to the house.

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