CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Hertfordshire Life today CLICK HERE

Shedding light on bluebells

PUBLISHED: 11:11 09 June 2014

Occassional white bluebell flowers among the blue

Occassional white bluebell flowers among the blue

Archant

Bluebell woods are one of the wonders of the Hertfordshire spring. Elizabeth Hamilton, chairman of the county Campaign to Protect Rural England group, goes in search of this delicate flower

Our bluebell woods are one of the wonders of the countryside. Flourishing in the mild, damp climate, bluebells are more widespread and numerous in Britain than anywhere else. In Hertfordshire, bluebell woods are found throughout the county, although the flower seems to prefer acid soils (which gardeners know support species like rhododendron) especially on clay. In some of our woods the sea of blue can completely cover the ground and the sweet perfume of the flowers is also intense. They are at their best in late April and early May, when the leaves of the tree canopy are just emerging.

Bluebells grow mainly in ancient woodland – sites that have been wooded since at least 1600. Some of these may have a direct link back to the original wildwood. During the 20th century, many ancient woods were planted with conifers, which cast heavy shade and thereby reduce species diversity.

Coppicing, once widespread in British woods, exploits a tree’s ability to regenerate after felling. Species like hazel, ash, oak and hornbeam were cut regularly to produce wood for tools, fencing, fuel and house-building. The cycle could be as short as seven years to yield hazel spars for thatching, and up to 15 years for large hornbeam logs for fuel. Immediately after coppicing, woodland flowers thrived in the extra light, and then were able to survive the darker periods. In some woods, plants other than bluebells carpet the ground in spring. At Hoddesdonpark Wood to the south of Hertford Heath, the starry white flowers of wood anemones are a spectacle during April.

At the end of the 20th century, only around five per cent of Hertfordshire’s woods were actively coppiced. As the value of coppicing for wildflowers and wildlife has been recognised a few once-neglected woods are being managed in this way again. The mosaic of different growth stages in a regularly coppiced wood – where areas are cut in rotation – benefits species like dormouse, nightingale and butterflies.

.

BLUEBELL WOODS TO VISIT>>>

.

Ashridge Estate, near Berkhamsted. There are bluebells in many of these National Trust-owned woods, but one of the best areas is Dockey Wood, near Ringshall. It can get busy! UK Grid ref SP974147.

.

Langley Wood and Round Wood within the Woodland Trust’s Heartwood Forest. Access is off the B651 between Sandridge and Wheathampstead. Grid ref TL162109 and TL162121.

.

Harrocks Wood and Whippendell Wood to the west of Watford. Access from Grove Mill Lane. Grid ref TQ081983.

.

Gobions Wood (Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust) between Brookmans Park and Potters Bar. Grid ref TL249040.

.

Reynold’s Wood near St Paul’s Walden. Accessed along a public footpath from the B651. Grid ref TL197219.

.

For the wood anemones in Hoddesdonpark Wood, access is from Hoddesdon or car parks at grid ref TL347087 and TL347077.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hertfordshire visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hertfordshire staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hertfordshire account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Yesterday, 12:26

Christmas isn’t complete without a trip to a festive fair. From German-style food stalls to vintage fetes, Hertfordshire’s Christmas markets have it all

Read more
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

We quiz author Kevin Exley about his new book that takes the reader on the trail of fascinating stories, new and old, around Berkhamsted

Read more
October 2018
Monday, October 29, 2018

Hertfordshire is a county with a vast, fascinating and sometimes dark and bloody history that has reportedly lead to more than a few angry ghosts sticking around to wreak havoc and take revenge on the living. We have gathered 10 of the most haunted places in the county

Read more
Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Make the most out of autumn with these eight walking routes that take in a variety of Hertfordshire’s terrains and - most importantly – have a cosy pub along the way

Read more
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

We've selected a variety of spooky activities in the county that are sure to delight the kids

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust’s Charlotte Hussey explores the fascinating world of bats and new projects in the county to help conserve these remarkable creatures

Read more
October 2018
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The People’s Trust for Endangered Species is asking the public to look out for mammals on Hertfordshire’s roads as part of a citizen science project

Read more
September 2018
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

From stately homes to skateparks, we have selected some of the best ideas for things to do in Hertfordshire

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The diverse parkland of Pishiobury Park in Sawbridgeworth is undergoing a five-year plan to promote its heritage and enhance its habitats. It makes for a royal day out

Read more
September 2018
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

From Aldbury to Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire has a plethora of pretty villages. We have picked just 10 that you should visit

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy



Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search