Monday, 18 May 2015

bluebells

the arching head of our native bluebell
The transition from spring to summer is marked in lucky woodlands by the flowering of our beautiful native bluebell (hyacinthoides non-scripta).

Lovely as a single flower spike as seen here is, it is when they are massed together that they have the 'wow' factor - sight and scent. This month I have had that 'wow' near Nottinghamshire's Clumber Park where bluebells are thriving in woodland by the A614. I've also enjoyed them on walks around Ockbrook, Derbyshire.

It's at this point that the depressing bit goes in. We have around 20% of the world population of bluebells. But as is widely recognised, native bluebells have declined significantly and have been adversely affected by 'cross contamination' with the invasive and much more vigorous Spanish bluebells. Spanish bluebells have a more upright habit whilst our natives have a graceful curve. And as with much of our countryside, bluebells have been affected by changing land use so there's less space for those that are left.

one of the groups of re-introduced bluebells
When we came to Cordwood and I was clearing brambles, I uncovered a tiny clump of two native bluebells near our boundary with adjacent Crimea Plantation. I know from speaking to local users of the wood that there was once a bluebell presence there, but I was told that these had been dug up. I haven't seen any in the wood.

Having found a place where the bluebells occurred naturally on our site, we chose this area as the first focus of our reintroduction 'programme'. Last year we bought and planted 100 bulbs 'in the green' (with leaves on) to add to the lonely two. This month we had 80 bluebells flowering there. Encouraged by this success we planted another 100 bulbs this week.

We've now also got tiny populations at two other Cordwood locations (one from Tesco club card points bulbs and the other from a packet of seed that mum and dad got from the Sunday newspaper!!).
We plan to add to these too until the populations become self-sustaining through seeding and natural bulb division.

Loss or addition of a species is not only a single loss or gain - its effect can have a 'domino-effect': the bluebell is one of the the larval food plants the Six-striped Rustic and the Autumnal Rustic moths. Presumably an increase in these moths will aid our Pipistrelle bats.... Which may possibly then benefit the tawny owls that we share the site with.

Today is gloriously wet outdoors. Great for bedding in this years new bluebells - and great for
 viewing them just as soon as I've had a cup of tea!!



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