The bluebells are now starting to flower here at Sun Rising, a sure sign that summer is a hop, skip and a jump away. With the first of the hawthorn blossom, the bird cherries in flower, the air is filled their sweet warm scent.
Bluebells are, of course, also problematic. The English bluebell, above, is a deep purple-blue, the bell flowers tending to fall to one side giving the stems their iconic droop. They also have that wonderful fragrance. At Sun Rising, most of the bluebells are English.
However, the majority in our gardens are now Spanish bluebells: these can be larger, the splay of the bells being wider, the colour more of a pale lilac, the stems standing up straight, the leaves thicker and broader. They are also invasive. They not only take over a good deal of ground, but they hybridise with the English bluebell, gradually wiping it out. The real frustration is that most bluebell bulbs sold now are either Spanish or hybrids (labelled as English) …
Needless to say, at Sun Rising we are doing our best to keep to English bluebells, which means over the past week and the weeks to come, we will be removing any bluebells that turn out to be Spanish. We’ve noted the graves that we’ve removed them from, and in October will plant some native English ones instead.
Our plea is, please, do not plant bluebell bulbs unless you are positive they are English – you may have to wait a few years for them to flower, and then it will be disappointing if they then need to be removed. At our Planting Day in October, we will have plenty of English bluebell bulbs to share, which of course will be available to those who can’t make the day itself. If you have any queries, let us know!