Sunday, 19 May 2013

Bluebells...and not so blue bells

Bluebells are currently in flower all over Byfield, in gardens and by waysides - but none is the English Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta. A large proportion of them are Spanish Bluebells Hyacinthoides hispanca but most are clearly hybrids between the two species - Hyacinthoides x massartiana. Whatever the species, all are readily visited by bees.

Bluebells, Hyacinthoides non-scripta
Titchmarsh Wod, Northants 17 May, 2013

These plants are quite variable in colour, thus there are blue specimens and white,  together with with some pink inbetweeners; all help to add interest. All are garden escapes of course. Much as I love our English Bluebells the Spanish Bluebells are probably a better garden plant, being more robust and, should one wish to cut some for a vase, less liable to droop. There is a down side: Spanish bluebells are very invasive and even the hybrids produce prolific quantities of seed to the point where they have become a nuisance in gardens.


A white form of the Spanish Bluebell.
Byfield 13 May, 2013

Pale pink-lilac "bluebells" in my garden.
Byfield 13 May, 2013

During our first spring in Byfield I was pleased to see another "white bluebell" flowering beside the stream. In truth it clearly wasn't a bluebell at all and furthermore it looked vaguely familiar. A closer look showed that it was Three-cornered Garlic, Allium triquetrum. The onion smell when the plant is bruised is a giveaway and the scape, with its triangular cross-section, confirms the species. I had become familiar with the plant almost fifty years ago when serving with the RAF in Gibraltar; there it is a common feature of roadsides and waste ground - as it is throughout much of the Mediterranean region. 
Allium triquetrum in my garden.
Byfield, 19 May, 2013

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