There’s a magic to bluebell season. For a short time between late April and early May Britain’s ancient woodlands and parks are covered in a carpet of the dainty nodding heads that caused Emily Bronte to rhapsodise: “The Bluebell is the sweetest flower/That waves in summer air:/Its blossoms have the mightiest power/To soothe my spirit’s care.”
Native to western Europe, bluebells tend to be found in deciduous woodlands, growing best in undisturbed soil with plenty of dappled light. One of best places to see bluebells in the east of England is the Blickling Estate in Norfolk where the Great Wood and parts of the garden come to life.
In Dorset, the two-and-a-half-mile woodland walk on the Kingston Lacy estate is another great place to see the annual display of bluebells, while Cornwall’s Glendurgan Garden was described by its creators, the Quakers Alfred and Sarah Fox, as a “small peace [sic] of heaven on earth” and the sloping sides of its valley garden are the perfect host to a beautiful mix of wildflowers, including, of course, bluebells.
In the north-west, Rufford Old Hall in Lancashire, where the grounds are landscaped in the style of the late Victorian and early Edwardian periods, boasts a small woodland with a variety of native trees as well as a carpet of bluebells and crocuses in springtime, while at Dunham Massey in Cheshire the largest collection of these delicate flowers can be found under the oaks and witch hazels next to the unromantically named Bog Garden.