This isn’t quite about my garden, either. Oh well.
One of my friends suggested I join her on the daily dog walk this weekend, and took me into my favourite woods. It’s been busy, I’ve been busy, and I’d not paid one of my regular visits. I’m so glad she summoned me, because I would have missed this:
The scent hit me as soon as we were through the gate.
This is Coed Cors y Gedol, the wood of Cors y Gedol. Cors y Gedol itself is a very old house; the oldest existing part dates back to 1576, though there was a notable house on the site before that, and it was one of the main centres of poetic patronage in mediaeval Wales. A few more bluebells, and their heady perfume when they are present in such numbers, and it could be so again.
Above the house, the fields are filled with archaeological remains (I trained as an archaeologist), and there are marked traces of structures in the woods, though they are difficult to make out. Some, I’m sure, are recent; some are much older. The wood is a mixture of beech, oak and old hazel coppice, with all sorts of other bits and bobs, some of which is of ancient origin. The air is so clean that ferns often grow on branches, especially on the larger trees down by the river, the Ysgethin.
When you go through the gate, you see a hint of what is to come off to one side.
Through the second gate, and they line the path, leading you on:
The bright green of the new leaves and the astonishing colour of the bluebells are wonderful together, and as you move on, you see more and more. I have never been in the middle of such profusion, and I’ve been to some good bluebell woods; I think it must be an exceptional year (well, I have had two in the meadow, and that counts as a result).
In some places, they almost seem to be growing out of the stones (and these particular stones are the remains of one of the more recent structures, I think – certainly something with straight sides, unlike the lumps and bumps of what may have been an Iron Age roundhouse – oops, archaeology creeping in again).
One thing that surprised me was that we were alone. It was a bank holiday weekend, the weather was perfect, this is an area that’s popular with tourists – and most of the campsites were full – and it wasn’t even six in the morning.
People were missing a real treat:
(Even the dog seems impressed, though I actually think he’d found an interesting smell, probably not bluebell, ahem.)
Three days later, and they’ve almost faded. The scent has gone for this year. But there are still some in other places – for the moment. I’d always associated bluebells with woods, but the main requirement is actually humidity and ‘continuity of habitat’, and there’s another great display in the pass above Dinas Mawddwy where the A470 climbs up and over towards Dolgellau. The steep sides of the hills on the seaward side of the pass are so covered with bluebells that they look almost purple.
Still, there are other things to enjoy now the bluebells have almost gone. For one thing, there’s a lot of wild garlic:
I’ll really miss that, too, in a couple more weeks!