Saturday, May 22, 2010

To the Woods.....


The bluebells in Durham's woodlands are just about at their best now, with the leaf canopy overhead allowing shafts of sunlight to sweep across the mist of blue flowers on the woodland floor. This is a woodmouse-eye-view. In the hot, still humid air the whole of this woodland, just outside Durham city, smelled like a florist's shop....


... but with a few more days of this heat the bluebells will soon begin to fade.


This breathtaking annual display of bluebells has its origins in the previous year's summer. As the flowers fade the plants use the brief window of opportunity before the leaf canopy closes overhead to build up food resreves in a new bulb, where next year's flower initials will already be formed by mid summer. By late summer the leaves will have wilted, leaving only the papery seed heads, while underground next years bulb, primed and ready to go, will sit out the winter ready to burst into life when spring returns. 


Meanwhile, down amongst the bluebells the spreading fronds of buckler fern Dryopteris sp. have already expanded. The whole plant is a living waste-paper basket, catching leaves in that funnel of foliage in autumn and trapping them around the crown of the plant, where they'll decay and create humus around its roots.

6 comments:

  1. Around our area in Lancashire we've had a wonderful display of Bluebells this Year, down in the Ribble valley they are past their best but in the higher valleys they are just about perfect. Up in upper Teesdale at the begining of this week they were just starting to open.

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  2. They are beautiful, never knew ferns did that. Thank you once again.

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  3. Hi David, I find that one of the great things about living near the Pennines is that you can travel back in seasonal time by heading for the hills. I find that there can be a month difference in flowering time for some species between the coast and Weardale and Teesdale. It seems to have been an exceptional year for a lot of spring flowers around here - maybe it was all that cold weather holding them in bud, so more have opened at once?

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  4. Hi Adrian,there's a wonderful fern called shuttlecock fern (the name says it all) that does this to the max...

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  5. Lovely bluebell pics Phil, I would have never thought of photographing the flower from that angle. It works so well, with the rich green canopy pictured overhead. A lovely description too. Best wishes, Linda

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  6. Hi Linda, I really like using little pocket cameras for pictures like this - with a small sensor they have a wide angle and a lot of depth of focus even on the close-up setting, so they are ideal to ground-up pictures of plants and sets them in a natural context .... although it can be a bit hit-and-miss. kind regards, phil

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