Our bluebell woods

Seeing bluebells scattered along a grassy verge or carpeting a woodland floor has to be a highlight of any spring walk. These delicate blooms can be found across Western Europe, but about half of the world’s population is right here in the UK.

As restrictions start to ease, you can begin to enjoy these nodding blue flowers at a place we care for near you. Please check the webpage of the property you wish to go to, and book ahead when you're planning to visit.

Latest visiting update 

Our gardens, parks, cafés, shops, countryside locations and many houses are open. You no longer need to pre-book at many places. Some still require booking ahead, so please check the property webpage before you travel.​

Bluebells take a long time to get established, so if you come across a thick swathe of them it’s often a sign that you’re walking through an ancient woodland. Our rangers and gardeners take great care of these special flowers – read on to discover some of their favourite facts and top tips for growing your own bluebells at home.

In this article:

Find a bluebell wood near you

Bluebells in the East of England

Bluebells covering the forest floor

Places to see bluebells in Northern Ireland 

When it comes to spotting a bluebell bounty in Northern Ireland, we've got some of the top places to see bluebells near you. The National Trust is one of the most important organisations in the conservation of bluebells. Spot the star of the spring show at our places near you.


Take a virtual tour of a bluebell wood

There’s plenty of scientific evidence that being out in nature is hugely beneficial to our health and wellbeing, but recent studies have shown that just looking at images of nature can also help to reduce stress levels. If you’re searching for a way to relax, why not escape to a virtual bluebell wood with the help of this ‘slow TV’ video? Simply put your headphones on and let yourself be transported.

A pathway through a bluebell wood

Did you know?

Bluebells are delicate and easily damaged, especially if they’re trodden on. Damage can prevent the leaves from photosynthesizing, causing the plant to die back. Bluebells take between five and seven years to get established, so minor damage can have long-lasting impact. Help to look after the bluebells by watching where you tread, and sticking to marked pathways.

Top tips from our gardeners

  1. Bluebell seeds can take four to five years to reach flowering size, so it’s better to buy bulbs. In spring you can get bluebells ‘in the green’ i.e. while they’re flowering, which many gardeners believe will have a better chance of getting established. Alternatively you can buy them as dry bulbs to plant in autumn.

  2. You can buy bluebell plants from garden centres – just use our handy guide below to make sure you’re buying English rather than Spanish or hybrids. It’s illegal to pick or dig up wild bluebells so make sure your new plants have been cultivated by a reputable source, and that they haven’t been imported from abroad.

  3. Bluebells are woodland plants, so they grow best in partial shade with moist but well-drained soil. Adding leaf mould, manure or compost to the soil will ensure they have plenty of nutrients. Try planting them in clumps under deciduous trees or shrubs to create a mini-woodland effect.

  4. Plant ‘in the green’ bluebells at the same depth they were previously grown – you can often see this where the leaf stalks change from white to green. If you’re using dry bulbs place them 10cm deep and 10cm apart, with the pointed tip facing upwards. Water well after planting.

  5. Bluebells take a while to get established, so don’t be surprised if you only get leaves next year. The plant will be putting most of its energy into producing roots rather than flowers. Leave the foliage to die back rather than cutting it off – the leaves use sunlight to make food which strengthens the plant for the following year.

 Bee approaching bluebell at Badbury Clump, Wiltshire

Bees love bluebells

Bluebells are vital to keeping woodland ecosystems going. Bees, butterflies and hoverflies are all attracted to them – the striking blue and purple colours stand out among the greenery of woodlands, making them easy to spot for these pollinators. Check out below what you can do to help these creatures when you make a promise for nature, like building a bee hotel or making a wildflower seed bomb.

Help the wildlife that loves bluebells by making a promise for nature. Make your promise

English and Spanish bluebells

Hyacinthoides non-scripta bluebells are native to the UK, but they’re under threat from the non-native Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica) which was introduced to Britain around the late 17th century. In the last thirty years the Spanish bluebell has escaped from gardens and begun to mix with native bluebells. It’s fairly easy to tell the difference between English and Spanish bluebells, but the hybrids can be trickier as they take characteristics from both.

How to tell the difference between English and Spanish bluebells:

Godolphin bluebells 2

Caring for bluebells 

Over a quarter of the woodlands we care for are ancient and have been left to develop naturally over the years. This makes them an ideal spot for bluebells, but there’s still plenty of work that goes in to looking after these special flowers. Read on to discover more about our native bluebells, and how you can help look after them.

Robin in the frost

Give back to nature 

More than ever before, nature has been our source of comfort during difficult times. But climate change is accelerating the decline of these green spaces. Nature gives us so much, donate today and help us protect these precious places and the wildlife that live there.