Bluebell time

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions
Bluebells at Exbury. Image © Nigel Philpott

Bluebells at Exbury. Image © Nigel Philpott

This year the bluebells seem to have bloomed earlier than in previous years. They have been in my garden for three weeks at least telling me that now is the time to head to some of the well-known gardens that have magnificent displays of the plant.

Many people are aware that there are the indigenous variety and the Spanish variety. The domestic variety tends to like old woodlands which is why you can swathes of them in places like the Ashdown Forest in Sussex, in places like the woodlands between Dorking and Abinger Hammer or – and possibly best of all – in the New Forest.

The New Forest has the highest proportion of ancient woodland in the British Isles. Bluebells flower before the trees are in full leaf so they can complete their lifecycle while the light is high. Many consider their appearance as the beginnings of summer. If that was so, summer began whilst we were still having frosts and snow flurries in my part of the world!

So where’s the best place to see our bluebells on foot, on two wheels or in the car?

Two of the best New Forest bluebell woods are the Broomy Inclosure, north of Linwood, and Pondhead  near Lyndhurst. Sandleheath, near Fordingbridge, has a network of public footpaths and bridleways bordered by primroses and bluebells.

Roydon Woods near Brockenhurst is owned by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. It’s a patchwork of ancient woodland, pastures, heaths and the Lymington River – and a haven for a sea of bluebells.

Exbury Gardens is particularly stunning at this time of year. Take a drive to the home of the world-renowned Rothschild collection of rhododendrons and azaleas. Take the Summer Lane approach – a two-mile drive alive with a vibrant haze of bluebell drifts.

The Forestry Commission’s cycle tracks are a great way to see bluebells with the route between New Park, Brockenhurst and Bank especially recommended.

For those heading to the New Forest, they have created a bluebell trail on their website.


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