Bluebell wood

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Colonel's Covert, East Leake, South Nottinghamshire
Bluebell wood, Hallerbos, Belgium
Bluebells at Dane-in-Shaw Brook SSSI near Congleton

A bluebell wood is a woodland that in springtime has a carpet of flowering bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) underneath a newly forming leaf canopy. The thicker the summer canopy, the more the ground-cover is suppressed. This encourages a dense carpet of bluebells, whose leaves mature and die down by early summer.

Bluebell woods may be found in all parts of Great Britain[1] and Ireland, as well as elsewhere in Europe. Bluebells are a common indicator species for ancient woodlands,[2] so bluebell woods are likely to date back to at least 1600.[3]

Gerard Manley Hopkins, one of the romantic poets, was very keen on bluebells, as his poem "May Magnificat" shows.[4]

And azuring-over greybell makes
Wood banks and brakes wash wet like lakes

In his journal entry for 9 May 1871 Hopkins says:

In the little wood opposite the light they stood in blackish spreads or sheddings like spots on a snake. The heads are then like thongs and solemn in grain and grape-colour. But in the clough through the light they come in falls of sky-colour washing the brows and slacks of the ground with vein-blue, thickening at the double, vertical themselves and the young grass and brake-fern combed vertical, but the brake struck the upright of all this with winged transomes. It was a lovely sight. - The bluebells in your hand baffle you with their inscape, made to every sense. If you draw your fingers through them they are lodged and struggle with a shock of wet heads; the long stalks rub and click and flatten to a fan on one another like your fingers themselves would when you passed the palms hard across one another, making a brittle rub and jostle like the noise of a hurdle strained by leaning against; then there is the faint honey smell and in the mouth the sweet gum when you bite them.

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