Bluebells

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We made the decision to get married in a bluebell wood, many moons ago, so the wild bluebell has fond associations for me. I grew up in Buckinghamshire, a county of England that was once nicknamed ‘Beechy Bucks’ because of its extensive beech woods. There was a beech wood opposite our house and each year in Spring the woodland floor was carpeted with bluebells. It was on a visit home as an adult that the matrimonial plans were made, so this flower is special.

I have been noticing bluebells in the city, right in the heart of Durham. This one (a cultivated variety) has a wide-open flower shape.

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The wild variety of bluebell is rather different in shape and in colour. It has a narrow bell of a deep blue-purple colour.

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I’d heard of some bluebell woods near where we live now, so last weekend we set off to find them and were not disappointed:

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There are a few bluebells growing wild around the cricket ground in our village so I picked a few (a very few) and spent some time drawing and painting them. You have to work quickly as they droop in captivity and are best enjoyed in the wild.

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I did a spot of research on butterflies, in order to determine which species feed on bluebells and discovered that the Large British White is a candidate. This particular butterfly is unloved by gardeners because it is a great destroyer of cabbages! Nothing can detract, however, from their beautiful markings. They have a dusting of blue on the white of their wings, which also have charcoal grey spots and borders.

This watercolour painting led to a fabric design on a background of pale spring green. The proof of the fabric has just arrived in the post today, so the fabric is now for sale (click here to see it).

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While I am writing about woodlands, I will also mention last week’s design, this time featuring blackberries. Once again, this brings back strong childhood memories:  we used to go to the margins of those same beech woods to collect blackberries in baskets lined with newspaper. As a teenager I used to make blackberry and apple jelly, still one of my favourite foods. This is the design I created. Click here to find the fabric.

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And as for other signs of Spring, which tends to arrive late in the North-East of England, I have been enjoying seeing leaf buds opening on the horse-chestnut trees:

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and cherry blossom on a tree near Durham station.   Lovely May!

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