Bluebells burst into bloom
by Rhiannon James
Bluebells in Holland Park by Laura Nolte
If you go down to the woods today, you may well get a nice surprise, as bluebells are already starting to bloom in London and a fantastic display is expected over the next few weeks.
Mild and dry weather has encouraged bluebells to flower early and given them a head-start on competitors such as grass and other plants.
And if you do spot a carpet of these glorious spring flowers, you can tweet the location and help the National Trust to build its interactive Bluebell Watch map, which is showing in real time where the flowers are starting to bloom across the country.
Laura Nolte, from Hampstead, who spends her spare time photographing London’s parks and gardens has already spotted bluebells in the city and added the locations to the National Trust’s map. “I spotted my first bluebells this year in Cannizaro Park, in Wimbledon. So a few days later, I visited Gordon Square in Bloomsbury and the first ones had opened there as well,” she said. “I think the National Trust’s map is a nice idea because everyone can add their sightings to it, and you can use it to find out where bluebells are already in bloom too,” she added.
Bluebells are also starting to put on a show at Osterley Park, a National Trust property in Isleworth. Ben Griffiths, Warden there said, “Bluebells at Osterley are flowering earlier and in great proliferation this year because of the reasonably mild weather in February and March. Also, an exceptionally dry March and start of April has slowed the growth of grass leaving them free from competition from other plants.” Mr Griffiths will be leading two walks on 1st May to see the best spots for bluebells in the park.
There are plenty of other places to see bluebells in London including Barnes Common, the aptly-named Bluebell Wood in Haringey, Epping Forest, Gunnersbury Triangle and Richmond Park, according to the Woodland Trust’s website, www.visitwoods.org.uk. During April and May, visitors to the site can find their nearest bluebell wood by entering their postcode and ticking the bluebells search box.
To post a sighting on the Bluebell Watch map, tweet the location’s postcode, and a picture if available, with the tag #bluebellwatch. The Natural History Museum is also collecting information about bluebell flowering times because this is a possible indicator of climate change. See nhm.ac.uk/bluebells for more information.