In a Vase on Monday. Fairy Flowers and some Ancient Woodlands.

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Where I come from in Yorkshire the old name for Bluebells was Fairy Flowers. There was a legend that fairies would use bluebells to ensnare small children who tried to pick them. It was considered bad luck to bring them into the house. We are lucky in the UK to have some wonderful bluebell woods and when I was a child despite this superstition, everyone used to bring huge armfuls home from the woods to put in a vase. The very idea of this is appalling today, when we are all so concerned to preserve our precious flora.

We have a heritage of such wonderful bluebell woods. Where there are carpets of bluebells and a great diversity of other wild flowers, it is usually a sign of ancient woodland.

Hyacinthoides non-scripta

Hyacinthoides non-scripta

There are several, beautiful old woods in Suffolk which are remnants of ancient forests.  Sometimes,  as in the wood in the Stour Valley Nature Reserve there are carpets of Wood Anemones, Anemone nemorosa as far as the  eye can see.

Anemone nemorosa

Anemone nemorosa

There are  clumps of flowers that are delicately  tinged with pinkIMG_1112.
There are other woodland beauties in April.

As you carry on through the wood, fallen trees and roots make wonderful patterns.

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You are pursued by the constant repetitive call of the chiffchaff. If you are there as evening comes on, you may here the nightingale’s beautiful song.
Suddenly the view opens up and the Stour estuary with all its marsh birds come into view. We were lucky enough to hear the haunting call of the curlew, but I was not quick enough to photograph him.

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In another wood closer to home there are carpets of Wild Garlic, Allium ursinum or Ransoms as they are known. The smell is quite pungent.

Allium ursinum

Allium ursinum

Last year I did a post on a special beauty which grows  in a  wood near here,  the Early Purple Orchid, Orchis mascula or ‘Long Purples’ as Shakespeare called them. Each year I look forward to these wonderful blooms.

Orchis mascula
All these lovely flowers make the woods a delight in April but I think we all have a special place in out hearts for the lovely native bluebell.
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So my vase this week has to be bluebells. My garden has masses of them and each year I dig them up in a vain attempt to get rid of them. They are Spanish bluebells, Hyacinthoides hispanica which are pretty in their way, but they don’t have the dainty elegance of our native bluebells. Worse still, they are putting our native bluebells at risk, by the readiness with which they hybridise. Britain holds one third of the world’s bluebell woods and these Spanish thugs are threatening them.

I think they look good in a simple rustic pot, with a bit of green Tellima grandiflora.
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I also quite like them in this pretty vase.
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To be honest, I think I should be quite sorry if they all disappeared from my garden, they are such a cheery sight.
Do join in with the meme at the Ramblinggarden ‘In a Vase on Monday’. Cathy was last heard of somewhere in the Outer Hebrides, clutching some dandelions, but her loyal followers are still joining in and showing us some lovely vases.

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45 Responses to In a Vase on Monday. Fairy Flowers and some Ancient Woodlands.

  1. Christina says:

    Perfect, Liz; seeing the bluebell woods is a reason to come to the UK in May, sadly we were either a bit early or everything else had grown up around the bluebells when we were in the UK 10 days ago, so I’ve missed them for this year, so you can show as many as you like. Even when I was a child the woodland ranger (not sure of his real title) threatened you with prosecution if he found you picking the blue bells, I remember once he tore our huge bunch in half and scattered them on the ground; I was only about six but it lives very vividly in my memory.

    • Chloris says:

      The bluebells round here are at there best right now so you were probably a bit early. How scary having fierce woodland rangers. We didn’ t have such things and everyone picked the bluebells. We were always told to break the stem off and not pull it. So perhaps it didn’t hurt the plants. Still, I hate to think of it now.

  2. Anca Tîrcă says:

    What can be more beautiful than fairy flowers and photos of UK woods? Thanks, Chloris for making my evening! Great vases, too, as usual!

  3. Oh what a beautiful sight to see a mass of these bluebells in a jug….I love them and can you believe most of mine are gone. I really adore your bluebell woods….so absolutely stunning like a fairy wonderland.

  4. Anna says:

    Spanish or native they are both attractive flowers Chloris and yours look most attractive in their respective vases. That carpet of anemones is quite magical 🙂

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Anna. I think I will always prefer the delicate native ones but the Spanish ones are great for picking. I was a week or two late for the wood anemones and many of them had gone to seed. My friend who went a couple of weeks ago showed me photos where they were just dense carpets of white.

  5. I love naturalized bulbs, and especially if they are blue. Thanks for relating the backstory of the “fairy flowers” legend!

  6. Magical is right. Spectacular is more like it. Mother Nature does her best work in the woods..love those natives. I am quite taken with the swamp, er, wetlands near my house.

  7. AnnetteM says:

    Lovely post – I love bluebells in their natural woods. Not so sure about them in my garden as they are so uncontrollable and always get themselves into places where I can’t dig them out. The blue ones are not so bad, but I seem to have more and more pink ones. Now wood anemones , I love. I am doing my best to spread them around everywhere. Your bluebells do look different from mine, so I wonder if I have the native ones? Do you get pink native bluebells?

    • Chloris says:

      You could have hybrids they are more difficult to tell apart from the natives. You get the odd white native ones but very rarely pink. You are right they are fiendishly difficult to get rid of. I have tried, but now I have decided to give in and enjoy them where they are flowering under the apple trees.

  8. Julie says:

    Really lovely evocative post. Your Spanish bluebell vases are really pretty too, I can understand how hard that would be to dig the whole lot up.

  9. Julie says:

    Thank you Chloris for such a lovely post – I do love the sight of massed bluebells. I have a few clumps in the garden and thought they were all Spanish, but I did see some today that looked more English. I need to cut a few stems of each and compare them. Do the spanish bulbs in our gardens threaten the wild population or is it only if the two types are growing together that there is a problem? I have not tried to remove the spanish bulbs but will if they are a danger to the native bluebells.

    • Chloris says:

      English bluebells are darker in colour and they are scented. The flowers are mostly on one side of the stem and the ends of the petals are recurved. The pollen is cream coloured. I think the danger to the native bluebells is if you live near a bluebell wood.
      Spanish bluebells have broader leaves and more conical flowers with flowers all round the stem. Of course if you have hybrids they are more difficult to tell apart.

  10. Cathy says:

    What glorious woodlands you have around you Chloris – I particularly remember the first time I saw wood anemones like this, a magical sight, as of course are bluebell woods. I particularly like your bluebells in the stoneware pot – and at least if you are picking them they won’t be seeding themselves around! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  11. Some wonderful photographs to sigh over there. I’d forgotten about the bad luck aspect of bluebells. The rustic vase combination is beautiful.

  12. rusty duck says:

    Even with his own English bluebell wood our predecessor planted these damn things and now I can’t get rid of them. Perhaps that’s the answer. Behead the whole lot of them and put them in a vase 🙂

    • Chloris says:

      I think it is ignorance that makes people plant them. They think a bluebell is a bluebell. Are they hybridising with the ones in the wood?

      • rusty duck says:

        The woodland population looks fairly ‘pure’ as far as I can see, but there are quite a few Heinz specimens between the wood and the garden. They’re all coming out. The trouble is I can’t do anything about spanish interlopers that the neighbours might have. Except hope they are far enough away.

  13. pbmgarden says:

    Your arrangement is beautiful and the vase itself suits the flowers perfectly. I enjoyed glimpsing your wildflowers today. The bluebell woods seem magical.

  14. I’m thrilled your wildflowers as I’ve never been to England in April or early May. Looks like there is plenty enough to tempt me though.

  15. Kris P says:

    Your woodland views are wonderful, as is your pretty vase. I’ve heard that Spanish bluebells can be invasive but that definitely isn’t the case here. I planted a few dozen in an area that received partial shade when we moved in but now receives almost full sun – few of the bluebells planted there have returned and those that have turned to toast almost immediately. I should try to dig them up when I identify their remains as moving them may make a difference but it’s too late for that this year as evidence of their whereabouts is no longer apparent.

    • Chloris says:

      Once they are established you can never get rid of Spanish bluebells but if you give them a corner where they can spread without being a nuisance they are pretty. They last really well in a vase.

  16. Cathy says:

    It’s always wonderful to come across a woodland spread of flowers, be it anemones, corydalis, or some other treasure, but seeing a carpet of bluebells makes my heart beat faster and I just adore the scent too. And they look so lovely in a vase! I remember as a child filling the car boot with them and by the time we were home they were already wilting fast! Love your woodland photos, especially of the fallen tree and root. 🙂

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Cathy. You are so lucky to have wild Corydalis there. Spring wild flowers are such a delight and bluebells are my favourite. These Spanish ones last really well in a vase.

  17. Flighty says:

    A most enjoyable post post and lovely pictures. And I do like your tulips header picture. xx

  18. Robbie says:

    I love your photos! I had to rush and check out your invasive spanish bluebells up close. I was worried that I had the “correct” native bluebells ( to our area) in my garden and not the invasive. My bluebells were a pass along plant from a friend. I have been known to get
    pass along plants that were not what they said they were:-( PHEW-They are “Mertensia virginica ( Virginia Blue bells)” which I have in my garden.
    I have been trying to develp a few woodland beds in my garden out front since it is most shady there and they enjoy the soil under the large tree. Work in progress since I have been starting many of the natives from seed ( if I can) for they don’t carry them locally.
    I had to chuckle when you said “I am not quick enough” to get a photo of a bird:-) That is my story of the Golden Finch, humming birds and a few others! I struggle each year to capture a shot-I will yet! It is my quest:-)

    • Chloris says:

      I have never had much success getting Mertensia Virginica established here . It is such a lovely shade of blue.
      Birds just won’ t sit still and be photographed will they? I am always amazed at the wonderful bird photos on some blogs I read.

  19. Robbie says:

    Oh my-almost forgot to mention. I agree with above comment-your header is STUNNING!Love the pink:-)

  20. Annette says:

    I very much enjoyed this ramble through your woods, Liz! I’m so bad at picking flowers and always prefer to admire them where they grow. Not many things beat the sight of a bluebell wood. We had lots of them along with Anemone nemorosa in our Irish garden. I loved these carpets in spring. Isn’t it funny how one feels relaxed among wildflowers – no need to prune, weed or change things about…just at peace with the world. Trying to establish wild garlic on our land now and we’re slowly making progress. In my last garden it only took a few years but the soil was much lighter.

    • Chloris says:

      I get more pleasure from the woods in spring than any garden. They are sheer delight. I enjoyed your ramble through your secret valley in your last post. Just the sort of place I love.

  21. Cathy says:

    So perfect, Liz (now I know you are not ‘Chloris’!). I am at home in Scotland at the moment, and unfortunately too early for the bluebell woods near the village. They are only just showing a little colour. We used to live near some ancient woodland with masses of bluebells in Buckinghamshire and I remember going to say ‘goodbye’ to them when we moved to Ireland. Those woods were really quite dark in places. I sat for perhaps an hour and will never forget the experience. Didn’t know about the fairies and am glad I didn’t when small! Just the sort of thing I would have believed… An ex-boss of mine used to get us to grab handfuls of Spanish bluebell foliage and flower heads and yank them out wherever they appeared. It did seem to stop them hybridising/spreading, but of course we could never get rid. Lovely post and a great walk in superb English woodland.

  22. Chloris says:

    Thank you Cathy. Spanish bluebells haven’ t the charm or the perfume of native ones but they do make a pretty picture under my apple trees. They are great for picking too and last for ages in water.

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