Blickling’s bluebells set to peak

Bluebells on the National Trust's (NT) Blickling Estate will be looking their best from this weekend.

The annual spring display, one of the best in the East of England, is expected to reach its peak between Easter and the first May bank holiday weekend.

After the coldest December for more than a century, the mildest February in nearly a decade, and the driest March for 40 years, with higher than average sunshine levels, the flowers are blooming early.

NT naturalist Matthew Oates, said: 'The bluebell starts growing in January with its sole purpose to flower before the other woodland plants, which have this year stalled because of the dry weather. This means that the bluebell is relatively free from competition and attracts the early spring pollinators.'

A quarter of the Trust's woodland nationwide is ancient or semi-natural; the ideal habitats for bluebells to flourish. At Blickling the woodland is thought to date back to the 1600s.

Blickling head warden Dave Brady, said: 'Many people don't realise that it's actually quite unnatural to have such a pure carpet of bluebells. It's all down to the fact that we manage the woodland here, cutting back the undergrowth in the autumn so that there are fewer plants for the bluebells to compete with.

'What's so special about Blickling is that our woodland floor is made up of native bluebells, which haven't been hybridized with the scentless non-native Spanish bluebell, often planted in gardens.'

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Visitors to the estate should also look out for yellow archangel and pink campion.

* The Trust has set up the first-ever interactive Bluebell Watch map at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bluebellwatch

The public is being invited to tweet the first part of their postcode and the hashtag #bluebellwatch to populate the map with sightings, photography and information on bluebells in their area.

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