Bluebells at Sissinghurst Castle Garden

A woodland filled with bluebells in the Spring

Bluebells are a spring spectacle which thrive in woodland spaces, here at Sissinghurst we're lucky enough to have millions of these purple flowers which create a vibrant carpet of colour amongst the trees.

Why are bluebells so important?

Living in the south east of England it's easy to forget that the English bluebell is declining year on year, that's because here in the UK we have 50% of the world's bluebells, with Kent being particularly abundant in them.

During spring, bluebells are the main source of pollen for bees and other pollinators that inhabit woodlands. This means that bluebells are crucial to spring time ecology and is the reason that the UK government made it against the law to pick willd bluebells. This coupled with their decline in numbers makes them a sepcies in danger.

The main competitor, while still visually spectacular, are the non native Spanish bluebell. The Spanish species lacks the same multitude of scents that adds to the iconic spectacle of a bluebell woodland. There is a real possibility that in the near future, by a combination of human devestation and climate change that the English bluebell could become a thing of the past. Spanish bluebells thrive in areas of neglect, either from fly tipping or from trampled exisiting bluebells which adds to their faster rate of growth. As English bluebells take years to recover from such damage they are easily being overtaken and driven out of their habitats.

Close up of a bluebell at Ashridge, Herts

Things you might not know

Firstly, there're 11 species of bluebells but generally speaking here in the UK there are 3, these are; the English bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scipta), the Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica) and the hybrid (Hyacinthoides x massartiana).

  • Around 50% of the world's population of bluebells are in the UK, with the south East of England being a major stronghold for bluebell populations.
  • Bluebells are believed to have been discovered in Britain since the ice age, which means that bluebells inhabited the UK at roughly the same time as modern day humans.
  • They can take years to recover after being crushed under foot, they die from a lack of food as they struggle to photosynthesis, please keep this in mind when taking photographs.
  •  Bluebells can have up to 20 flowers on one stem, this adds to their intense scent which makes for an impressive display in the peek season.
Wild bluebells
Wild bluebells
Wild bluebells

Bluebell season is always a visual delight, with their vibrant colours and their volume of numbers it makes for a vista that's always worth the yearly wait. The best places to see the carpets of colour are near the lower lakes on our estate, please ask at reception for more information on how to get there. Please help us to look after these incredible wildflowers for generations to come by keeping to the paths and admiring them from afar.