Bluebell Flowers: Beautiful and Whimsical Perennials

Updated on September 25, 2017
Athlyn Green profile image

Athlyn Green lives on an acreage and enjoys the flowers, plants, and bushes therein.

Common Bluebell

Common bluebell is anything but "common" with its fragile and sweetly curling bells.
Common bluebell is anything but "common" with its fragile and sweetly curling bells. | Source

But when I looked upon the bank

My wandering glances fell

Upon a little trembling flower,

A single sweet bluebell.

— Anne Bronte

Once a year, for a few days only, magic happens...

Bluebell flowers grow from North America to North Africa and are a favorite flower, no matter which side of the Atlantic they grow on. The flowers are seen in gardens and along pathways, gracing meadows and glens, tucked away in shady forest areas and carpeting woodlands.

Bluebells poke their heads out in spring, usually between April and May and are a welcome messenger of warmer weather. Bluebells can bloom through the summer months, if conditions are right.

The flowers are enchanting, shaped as they are into captivating bells and painted in sky blue. Whether you come across one or many, they are sure to catch your eye.

Delicate little bluebells could almost make one believe in fairies and magical things, and it comes as no surprise that the bells are believed by some to actually call fairies to their meetings.

If you are fortunate enough to encounter these flowers, your spirits will be surely lift. Indeed, how much better our world has been and is, blessed by lovely bluebell flowers.

A Dainty Flower Dots the Landscape

Adding a splash of color to woodlands.
Adding a splash of color to woodlands. | Source

O, that lone flower recalled to me

My happy childhood's hours

When bluebells seemed like fairy gifts

A prize among the flowers

— Anne Bronte

Trumpet Shaped Bluebells

These bells have a tubular shape and add enchanting hues of pink and blue.
These bells have a tubular shape and add enchanting hues of pink and blue. | Source

Perhaps, another reason these flowers are so charming is that they are shaped like little bells.

Bluebells are also called:

  • Auld man's bell
  • Blaklocka
  • Bush tucker (Australian bluebell)
  • Calverkeys
  • Campanula
  • Common bluebell
  • English bluebell (Europe, British Isles, most often found in woods)
  • Harebell
  • Jacinth
  • Ring-o'-bells
  • Scottish bluebells
  • Spanish bluebells (Europe, British Isles, most often seen in gardens)
  • Virginia bluebell (Canada, U.S.)
  • Wild hyacinth
  • Wood bells

Is a Fairy or a Sprite Living Inside?

Pale blue bells open as if to greet the fairies.
Pale blue bells open as if to greet the fairies. | Source

There's a little flower up yonder, the last bud from the multitude of bluebells that clouded those turf steps in July with a lilac mist.

— Nelly Dean, Wuthering Heights

Electric-Blue Floral Bells Make a Striking Contrast Against the Green at Wanstead Park

Bluebells carpet the in forest floor at Wanstead Park.
Bluebells carpet the in forest floor at Wanstead Park. | Source

Different Types of Bluebells

  • Hyacinthoides non-scripta, grows in woodlands and in other shady places.
  • Hyacinthoides hispanica, also known as the Spanish bluebell shows up in gardens and can grow out in the countryside.
  • Hyacinthoides x massartiana is a common hybrid.

Lingering in Hollows

Bluebells growing in a shady hollow.
Bluebells growing in a shady hollow. | Source

The bluebell is the sweetest flower

That waves in summer air:

Its blossoms have the mightiest power

To soothe my spirit's care.

— Emily Bronte

Sky-Blue Hyacinthoides Non-Scripta

Hyacinthoides Non-Scripta
Hyacinthoides Non-Scripta | Source

How Many Types of Bluebells Around the World?

There are 11 known types of bluebells around the globe. DNA studies have helped scientists to identify and classify bluebells.

Fast Facts

  • Bluebells are a perennial and, as such, are usually grown from a bulb, although seeds are available.
  • They've been spotted growing in shady areas, such as woodlands, under trees and under bracken and even near sea cliffs.
  • While they are common in the British Isles they do not grow in all places in Britain.
  • Hybridization has occurred, which, it is believed, has impacted natural bluebells, due to invasive Spanish bluebells.

Take a Walk in A Bluebell Wood...

Bluebell Woods

Actual bluebell woods are found in all parts of Great Britain, in Ireland and in other locations in Europe.

Bluebells make their appearance in areas where new leaves form a canopy above. Bluebells thrive in shady areas and will carpet the forest floor, suppressing competing ground cover, but for all that, lending an utterly charming effect.

Bluebells Create a Bluish-Purple Ground Cover in Bigsweir Wood

Bluebells in Bigsweir Wood
Bluebells in Bigsweir Wood | Source

Bluebells and Climate Change

While bluebells herald the start of spring they may give clues to climate change. Is hybridization altering genes and flowering time or is climate change responsible?

Protection of Bluebell Woods and Bluebell Walks

Efforts are in place to protect bluebell woods along with other ancient woodlands and to identify and preserve bluebell flowers for future generations.

In Britain, through the months April-June, the Bluebells Walks Season is geared at encouraging people to participate in up to 100 Bluebell Walks, in an effort to spot and identify bluebells growing in Britain.

The Bluebell Walks season is designed to help preserve bluebells in Great Britain. This effort has been initiated in concert with the Natural History Museum, aimed at gaining a better understanding of factors that are impacting on the bluebell.

Those who participate in Bluebell Walks are instructed to try to find different types of bluebells and include their findings in an online survey conducted by the Natural History Museum. This data will be used to chart where different types of bluebells are flowering.

Best Displays

Some of the best displays of bluebells can be found in National Trust woodlands and in parks in Great Britain, in Wales, and in Ireland.

Bluebell Walks

 
 
Arlington, Sussex
Dockey Woods, Hertfordshire
Ashenbank Wood, Kent
Forest of Dean
Beaconwood and the Winsel, Worcestershire
Foxley Wood
Bowdown Woods, Berkshire
Glen Finglas, Scotland
Bunker's Hill
Heartwood Forest
Bunny Old Wood, Nottinghamshire
Hillhouse Wood, Essex
Carnmoney Hill, County Antrim
Oversley Wood, Warwickshire
Castle Woods, Wales
Prehen Wood, Northern Ireland
Coed Cefn, Powys
Rufford Old Hall, Lancashire
Daisy Hill Wood
Scar and Castlebeck Wood, Yorkshire

Let's Go for a Meander in the Lovely Bluebell Woods Where the Slopes Are Misted in Blue

Image: Bluebells near Wenchford
Image: Bluebells near Wenchford | Source

There is a silent eloquence

In every wild bluebell

That fills my softened heart with bliss

That words could never tell.

— Anne Bronte

Protecting Bluebells for Future Generations

The common bluebell is so revered, it is now protected in the United Kingdom. The National Trust is active in preserving the Nation's bluebells for posterity and many hectares of woodland are now protected.

Additionally, gardeners are cautioned against planting Spanish or hybrid bluebells near native populations.

Forest Floor Carpeted in Bluebells at Heather Hills

Delight at every turn awaits those who take a wander at Heather Hills
Delight at every turn awaits those who take a wander at Heather Hills | Source

Scottish Bluebell

Not to be forgotten, the Scottish bluebell is another variety that has a clearly defined bell and is every bit as lovely as its counterpart. It is also known as the Harebell. This is the best known Canadian species and it is found from the Yukon Territory to the Atlantic provinces.

In Canada, bluebells flower somewhat later, making an appearance from June through August.

This type of bluebell has a clearly defined "hood."

Scottish Bluebell (Campanula Rotundifolia)

Scottish Bluebell also known as Campanula Rotundifolia
Scottish Bluebell also known as Campanula Rotundifolia | Source

Bluebells Under Threat

Unfortunately, beloved bluebells are so treasured by gardeners that they've become an income source to those who flout the law and dig them up and sell them to those eager to plant them in home gardens. This practice, according to Wildlife Trusts, has imperiled the bluebells. It can take over 100 years for a bluebell wood to recover and become established. It is a criminal offense to remove bluebells. One can see why.

How to Plant Blubells

Native Australian Bluebell

Another beautiful bluebell is the Australian bluebell (Wahlenbergia stricta).

This flower has does not have the classic bell shape but its delicate petals come out in a lovely shade of pale blue.

These little gems are edible and can be used to pretty up punches or for decorating sweets.

Wahlenbergia Stricta

This charming flower has a different shape and is a lovely pale blue.
This charming flower has a different shape and is a lovely pale blue. | Source

Australian Bluebells

Have You Tried Growing Bluebells?

See results

A Perfect Home for the Fey Fairies

Source

Whether a lone flower pushing up in spring or a multitude of bells carpeting a forest floor, bluebells are a delight just waiting to be discovered.

Step Into Enchantment

Colors

The bells can range in color from:

  • Purple
  • Pinkish
  • White
  • Blue (the blue color is clearly a favorite)

No Work Today... Let's Go and Play in the Bluebell Woods

Image: Bluebell Woods
Image: Bluebell Woods | Source

Oh, Those Bonnie Bells

Bluebell flowers are beautiful and whimsical perennials, bringing delight to the soul and senses, wherever they are found.

Questions & Answers

  • Can bluebells grow in bright sunlight?

    Yes, as long as they aren't in an extremely arid area. Check them for signs of dryness and water accordingly. If they are wilting, you may need to consider location before you plant or a location change.

© 2010 Athlyn Green

Comments

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    • profile image

      Mary 

      2 years ago

      Would they grow in Las Vegas, Nevada? The temperature can get up to

      115* in the summer and as low as 29* in the winter .

    • Athlyn Green profile imageAUTHOR

      Athlyn Green 

      5 years ago from West Kootenays

      I so appreciate all the enthusiastic comments. Nice to know there are other bluebell lovers out there.

    • Athlyn Green profile imageAUTHOR

      Athlyn Green 

      5 years ago from West Kootenays

      Hi Stephanie and Dirt Farmer,

      Thank you for stopping by!

      Wow! Rereading all the great comments. I'm so glad this Hub touched everyone on the same level.

    • StephanieBCrosby profile image

      Stephanie Bradberry 

      5 years ago from New Jersey

      These images have convinced me to consider adding them to the garden.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 

      5 years ago from United States

      What a wonderful hub! It's like taking a scenic walk, you so gently lead your reader. A real delight.

    • handmadebybheng profile image

      handmadebybheng 

      5 years ago from Cubao , Quezon City

      wow.. we could use with some of these pretty flowers here in the Philippines :) Here flowers don't grow here like these do.. they are very nice :)

    • Athlyn Green profile imageAUTHOR

      Athlyn Green 

      6 years ago from West Kootenays

      Hi Jas,

      This Hub discusses when bluebells bloom and you can purchase flower seeds from the capsules.

    • profile image

      Jas 

      7 years ago

      Hey, this is gorgeous! Where can I find these bluebells? Also when the best time of year for them? Thanks!

    • Athlyn Green profile imageAUTHOR

      Athlyn Green 

      8 years ago from West Kootenays

      I've always loved bluebells. I remember being a tiny child and studying a bluebell and thinking it was almost magical.

      Years later, bluebells crept into my poetry.

    • tim-tim profile image

      Priscilla Chan 

      8 years ago from Normal, Illinois

      I love my Bluebells! In fact, I have a hub about the flowers I have in my yard. I love especially the rare wild flowers. I have Triliums and they are so beautiful! Thanks for sharing with all the nice pictures. It made me want to play with the dirt now:)

    • Varenya profile image

      Varenya 

      8 years ago

      Wondrous images!!! I love greatly the one of the wood with the soil litterally covered by flowers: amazing! Thank you for the hub, Athlyn Green!!!

    • Athlyn Green profile imageAUTHOR

      Athlyn Green 

      8 years ago from West Kootenays

      I would love to travel over to the U.K. and see the bluebell woods--they must be so lovely. I can see why bluebells are protected.

    • D.A.L. profile image

      Dave 

      8 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      Hi,Athlyn Green beautiful hub on a beautiful subject. Here on the west coast of England there are many bluebell woods which are a joy to see. However, some of our woods are under threat from the Spanish bluebell a garden escape which cross pollinates with the native and eventually takes over. Thank you for sharing this hub with us.

    • Athlyn Green profile imageAUTHOR

      Athlyn Green 

      8 years ago from West Kootenays

      Hi Purple,

      Aw, thank you. The world is a better place, cause bluebells are in it!

    • Purple Perl profile image

      Purple Perl 

      8 years ago from Bangalore,India

      Thanks Athlyn for transporting me into the woods feeling the bluebells with my bare feet! I loved it! Feast for the eyes too,soothing & refreshing!!!

    • Athlyn Green profile imageAUTHOR

      Athlyn Green 

      8 years ago from West Kootenays

      Hi Suzie,

      Yes, bluebells are lovely!

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 

      8 years ago from Asheville, NC

      So pretty! I'm going to plant some bluebells this year. Nice Hub.

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