A Bolt from the Blue

It’s bluebell season here in Scotland, when the forests grow a carpet of luminescent azure.

Ancient coppiced woodlands carpeted with bluebells

The only phenomena to which I can compare it is the bluebonnet show in my second home state of Texas each spring. But, like everything in Texas, that show is on a much bigger scale, with the cerulean wildflowers spreading over huge swathes of countryside, dotted pink with Indian Paintbrush. Here, the bluebells are more subtle- hidden in ancient woodlands, usually along the banks of a burn or spring- but no less breathtaking.

Every waterfall in Scotland is enveloped in a shawl of bluebells
Every waterfall in Scotland is enveloped in a shawl of bluebells

The ferns are just coming out and haven’t taken over yet, and the effect among the bluebells is one of a fairy cottage garden. No wonder bluebells are associated with the fairies!

My happy place among the bluebells

This is my second spring in Scotland, and the bluebell show is even more spectacular than last year, I suppose due to our mild, wet winter. Every day, sometimes more than once, I stroll down to a series of small waterfalls and sit amongst the profusion of bells- my happy place. Photographs don’t really capture the experience- the flowers are nestled among the greenery, and are best appreciated while knee deep in them.

Bluebells among the dandelions and pinks along the roadside
Bluebells among the dandelions and pinks along the roadside

True Blue: Unusual bluebell facts (according to The Woodland Trust)

  1.   In the Bronze Age, people used bluebell glue to attach feathers to their arrows
  2.  The Victorians used the starch from crushed bluebells to stiffen the ruffs of their collars and sleeves
  3.  Bluebell sap was used to bind pages to the spines of books
  4.  According to folklore, hearing a bluebell ring is a sign of impending death!
  5.  Legend also says that a field of bluebells is intricately woven with fairy enchantments
  6.  Bees can ‘steal’ nectar from bluebells by biting a hole in the bottom of the bell, reaching the nectar without pollinating the flower.
Bluebells at Dunollie House, Oban, Scotland
Bluebells at Dunollie House, Oban, Scotland

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