Because of repeated glaciations our tiny island has a relatively poor number of native wild flowers compared with the rest of Europe. But we do have more than a quarter of the world’s bluebell woods and what a glory they are. Kate at Thegardenbarnhouse has written a lovely post about her local bluebell woods. Do have a look. The native bluebell is an unmistakable sight. Dainty and lightly fragrant; a woodland of these beauties is one of the joys of spring. Here is a wood near where I live.
But our bluebell woods are under threat from the invasive Spanish bluebells which were introduced into the country by Victorian gardeners. The trouble is that if these are grown near native bluebells they crossbreed and produce fertile hybrids. These are far more vigorous than our natives and like the grey squirrel, are a great threat to our native beauties. It has been found that one in six of our broadleaved woodlands contains hybrids.
I worry about my garden being overrun with Spanish bluebells, but they are very difficult to eradicate. As I am three or four miles from the nearest bluebell woods, I hope that they will not be a threat. And in their own way they are very pretty. I have tried repeatedly to remove them from this bed in the front garden but still they flourish. In fact they are everywhere.
The flowers of the native bluebell are deeper blue, with curved back tips and they are on one side of the stalk. They smell sweet and have cream pollen. The first photo shows the native bluebell. A nice deep colour and bent stem with flowers one side.
Spanish bluebells have broader leaves. The flowers are chunkier and not so delicate. They are conical with straight stems. The flowers are paler and all round the stem. They are not fragrant and have blue pollen.
Hybrids are a bit more difficult to identify. But the native Hyacinthoides non-scripta is quite distinctive.
I can’t let the bluebell season go by without filling a vase with blue. When I was a child we use to go into the woods and gather great bunches of bluebells to bring home. We shudder at such vandalism now. At least the Spanish interlopers are useful for vases and each flower picked is one less to seed around. So here is my Vase on Monday.
Cathy at Ramblinginthegarden hosts this meme. This week is a special one, as she is showing us how she did the flowers for her daughter’s wedding bouquet and the buttonholes. Congratulations Cathy, on making such a beautiful contribution to your daughter’s special day. All the work, forward thinking and preparation really paid off. You did a wonderful job.