The Bluebell Grove
In a shadowy and long forgotten part of the farm lies the inner sanctum of the old chalk quarry, fondly known as the pit. Here, as a child, I used to search amongst the ancient stones for fossil ammonites. Long before that, my grandad used to camp out in an old caravan during the lambing season, and fill up the grain barrels for the young pheasants. Now, largely overgrown and hidden amongst wayward trees lies a lot of potential.
In the autumn of 2015, I and my band of bulb planters set about a new project to create a new English bluebell wood. The Spanish bluebell has swept across the UK, and pops up everywhere, invading habitats and smothering our own, quintessentially British alternative. However, with it’s slender curving stem and beautiful fragrance, the English bluebell is definitely superior, so it’s time to bring more of them back.
We popped in just 100 bulbs, and many have taken. A few, alas, have been pulled up and nibbled by passing rabbits or squirrels. On our visit in spring 2016 we found these discarded bulbs uneaten – and hopefully leaving the wildlife with a toxic taste in their mouth and a keenness never again to nibble on such a temptation. The bluebells were starting to set flower and will multiply over coming years, thanks to natural reproduction and the addition of some additional bulbs from time to time. One day, and with some more coppicing of the surrounding trees and better management of the small woodland, I hope to transform this forgotten patch into a springtime hidden gem!