Saturday, 30 April 2011

Bluebell Looking

I love the colour blue. I think there's no other colour as vibrant in all its tints and shades; and I love blue flowers. Germander speedwell, cornflowers, forget-me-nots, delphiniums, monkshood. And bluebells.
Every year I look forward keenly to the flowering of the bluebells. I watch their rosettes of dark green, strap-like leaves. I watch the stalks appearing. And as soon as I see one flowering in some crack in a wall, I head for the Clent Hills.

The Clent Hills are a National Trust property, north of Birmingham. Every spring, on Walton Hill, the ground under the trees on the hillside turns blue with bluebells. On Clent Hill, the flowers grow on the open hillside, in the sun, and you can look over miles of unbroken blue. Such stretches of bluebells are a sign of ancient, undisturbed woodland. It takes a long, long time for such masses of bluebells to seed and grow.

Walking along these paths I walked through a dense cloud of fragrance: bluebells are wild hyacinths. No wonder folklore says that, if you fall asleep in a bluebell wood, you may go mad, or be transported into another world. They are Elvish, eldritch flowers, according to legend.

They are certainly blue. Sky-blue, dark-blue, purple-blue in the tree shadows. I love them. Next week I'll be here again, and the next week, until they all die. But next year they'll flower again, and I'll be back again, to look at bluebells.