At this time of year, that wonderful little flower Hyacinthoides non-scripta – the common bluebell to you and me – is beginning to appear in beautiful misty blue carpets of colour, transforming the woodlands of Hertfordshire.
There is a rich and ancient folklore associated with these pretty flowers. In bygone days, when woodlands and forests were more forbidding places than they are nowadays, it was believed that the little bells would ring out to summon the fairies to their gatherings. Sadly, any human who heard these enchanted bells would be hearing their death knell. Grim indeed. There’s also an interesting theory that wearing a garland of bluebells around your neck will force you to only speak the truth. Obviously I myself have never had the need to put this to the test, being the honest person that I am, but much more importantly, I wouldn’t recommend it as the sap of the bluebell contain toxins that can cause dermatitis in some people, so you have been warned!
On a more serious note, it’s not generally known that the bluebell is protected under UK law, and it has been illegal since 1998 to collect bluebells from the wild for commercial purposes.
Did you know that nearly half of the entire planet’s bluebell woods are in Britain? There are plenty of them around Hertford and Ware that you can visit to see these lovely flowers in full bloom, but dates can vary and are very much dependent on the vagaries of the weather during April and May. Here are some great places to go and see them
Take the family to Gobions Wood, managed by the Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust, which is carpeted with bluebells at this time of year, and is home to over 500 species of fungi.
Heartwood Forest near St Albans is managed by the Woodland Trust. It’s only ten years old but is nevertheless a great place to see bluebells at this time of year.
Take a relaxing stroll along the National Trust’s Bluebell walk at Ashridge Estate , which takes in the best bluebell sites on the estate.
Explore Wormley Wood & Nut Wood, near Hoddesdon. Also managed by the Woodland Trust, these two neighbouring ancient woods are considered by many to be the best places in Hertfordshire to enjoy drifts of bluebells.
These are just a few of the many places around Hertford and Ware that you can explore with family and friends. But if there’s a patch of woodland near where you live, you’ll be pretty much guaranteed the sight and scent of bluebells, an experience unequalled in nature. Maybe you’ll even be persuaded to believe once more in magic and enchantment. Who knows? But cover your ears if you hear the tinkling of tiny bells…
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I became a VA eight years ago after working as a legal secretary and then a personal assistant at golf resort and conference centre, Brocket Hall.
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