14 May 2010

bluebells

Via Andrew Sullivan's blog is this meditation from the Guardian on English bluebells by Adam Nicolson, grandson of Vita Sackville-West. I think we might be hard-pressed to have acres of English bluebells (Hyacinthoides nonscripta) in our woods (they're hardy in zones 6–7, according to Old House Gardens). Maybe we could establish instead a little woods full of Spanish bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica; hardy in zones 5–8).

You walk out of the field, into the shade of the wood, where the new leaves of the chestnuts and beeches are emerging, and the first thing that hits you is the scent of the bluebells. It is a waft of sweetness on the wind. You sigh it in. There are no sharp notes in it, no sophistication, just honey on honey, straight from the jar.

Then, beyond that sweetness, the drifts, rivers and lakes of the blue itself, one layer after another, mysteriously hazy in its density, sliding off into the shadows of the wood like a vision of what a wood could or should be. Here and there, visible from miles away, are one or two very pale, even white ones, but most of the flowers occupy that strange and shifting middle ground between lilac and blue, an uncertainty in them as if there were a mild, electric flickering on the screen in front of you. You never see that in photographs, where bluebells so often seem to have lost their allure, but if you lie down in a wood and look closely at the flower head, it becomes clear.

A few images here: http://www.english-country-garden.com/flowers/bluebell.htm

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful piece of writing -- and those fields of bluebells must be something quite spectacular. I hope all is well on Pleasant Hill. :)

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