The north-east corner of Kew Gardens holds a forest glade that is filled with bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) in spring. I am very fascinated with bluebells as they are quintessentially English — sometimes being referred to as ‘Britain’s favourite flower’. According to the Kew Arboretum blog Britain is home to 50% of the world’s population of H. non-scripta. The rest is found in other parts of Atlantic Europe (i.e. Ireland, Belgium, France, Spain, etc.).
When I first came to England the notion that ‘bluebells’ bloom in spring was very confusing, as ‘bluebell’ denotes the summer-flowering bellflowers in Swedish. Rather, in Sweden, the forest floor is full of white windflowers (Anemone nemorosa) in late spring, filling the air with a pleasantly musky aroma. Bluebells are therefore very exotic to me, and I have taken an intense liking to them. : )
The first time I walked in a bluebell forest I was overwhelmed by the sweet scent of hyacinths in the warm spring air. I was therefore a bit disappointed that the scent was not as strong this time, but it was, after all, darned cold on the (mid-May) day that I went to Kew. (Had this spring been warmer, however, it is possible I would have missed the bluebell season as I don’t think the normal flowering season lasts beyond May…!)