Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Cold winter will mean a long wait for bluebells

Woodlands carpeted with bluebells are one of the sights of spring — but the harsh winter means the displays are set to be up to three weeks late this year, experts have said.

Bluebells are among the spring flowers blooming late this year because of the unusually sustained cold spell recently.

According to the National Trust, bluebells, which require light and warmth coming into the forest floor to trigger growth, are normally at their height around late April or early May.

Recently they have been blooming earlier as a result of milder winters and early springs.

But with a cold spring, bluebells are not likely to be in full bloom until around mid May.

If so, it will be latest peak in flowering for the plant since 1996, the National Trust said.

The woodland flowers are more likely to bloom at once in a shorter burst.

The arrival of displays could also be patchy and dependent on where the woods are located.

But they are on their way, said the trust's gardens adviser for Devon and Cornwall, Ian Wright.

To help people find where and when the best displays are near them, the trust will have a “bluebell watch” page on its website.

“Bluebells are the iconic plant of spring. There's hardly anything better than walking through some nice woodland full of bluebells,” Mr Wright said.

The plant also faces a more immediate threat in the form of Spanish bluebells, an invasive species which has escaped from gardens and interbreeds with the native to produce a hybrid.

Around a quarter of the National Trust's woodland is ancient or semi-natural, providing good habitat for bluebells.

Places such as Rowallane in Co Down are a good bluebell spot though people will have to wait a little longer than normal to see them this year.

The Bluebell Watch site, which will be going live soon, can be found at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bluebells

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