HOMES & GARDENS 23
Norfolk Wildlife Trust Bluebells Swathes of indigo bluebells flowing across the woodland floor are an iconic part of Britain’s natural history, and Norfolk is fortunate is having several sites where this fantastic spectacle can be enjoyed. Bluebells are a native species that have a special place in our imagination. Writers like the Brontës, the nature poet John Clare, and later Romantics such as Gerard Manley Hopkins have all commemorated these delicate flowers in verse.
the shadows lie deepest, but paler blues, even greys, where certain slants of light find their way through the canopy. Bluebells first flower in April, but the dates can vary considerably from one year to the next. For instance, 2011 saw a relatively early first flowering of April 12th; 2013 was at the end of the month. Once flowered though bluebells are no fly-by-nights, with their blooms lasting well into May.
The reason we are so affected by them is apparent once you have stood in a spring woodland, sunlight filtering through the dappled layers of shade to illuminate the mass of blue that blankets the ground.
A number of places in Norfolk are home to spectacular bluebell shows including Lower Wood Ashwellthorpe (near Wymondham), Thursford Wood near Fakenham, Wayland Wood near Watton (home to the babes in the wood legend), and Norfolk’s largest remaining ancient woodland: Foxley Wood, between Norwich and Fakenham. All these sites are fabulous places to visit in spring. As well as bluebells, other wild flowers will be in evidence,
such as wood anemones and wild garlic, often known locally as ramsons. These pretty, but pungent, white flowers favour damper, shadier corners, making a beautiful contrast to the bluebells. Spring is, of course, also the time when our woods are at their noisiest. Visit early in the morning and the dawn chorus will be in full sway: the rattling drumming of great spotted woodpeckers, the repetitive onomatopoeia of newly-arrived chiffchaffs, and the bubbling song of the blackcap. Norfolk Wildlife Trust owns Foxley Wood and the other nature reserves mentioned above. Entrance is free throughout the year (from dawn till dusk) to all of them, though Foxley is closed every Thursday for essential conservation work.
On closer inspection the flowers themselves are as bell-shaped as their name promises, though exquisite and ephemeral, sent swaying by the slightest breeze. Their colour seems equally unfixed, rich and purple where
For information on visiting and details of events taking place see our website:
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