The ancient woodlands of the New Forest come to life from mid- April to late May with carpets of blue, indigo and purple bluebells and their heady scent fills the air.  These magical flowers are an ancient woodland indicator species, protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act of (1981) making it illegal to pick, uproot or destroy them.  They hold a very special place in the hearts of British people and with that in mind, we thought you might like to know a little bit about them and where best to see them in the New Forest.

It is estimated that over half of the world’s population of bluebells grow in Britain creating incredible carpets of gorgeous blue but they can also be found in white or shades of pink. Bluebells tend to like woodland areas, so the 34 square kms of broad-leaved inclosures in the New Forest are the perfect place to spot them.  By flowering early, bluebells can maximise on the sunlight before the trees in the canopy above have developed leaves and are an important early source of nectar for many species of invertebrate including bees, hoverflies and butterflies.

Throughout English folklore bluebells have been given many nicknames including ‘witches thimbles’, ‘ladies nightcaps’, ‘cuckoo’s boots’ and ‘dead men’s bells’.  Their beauty is captivating and their nature mysterious and the fact that they thrive in the shadows, in places that few choose to tread, just goes to strengthen the belief that they are imbued with fairy magic.  It is said that fairies ring the bell-shaped flowers to summon their kin to gathering, but if a mortal hears this, the fairy enchantment can be fatal!

Bluebells have had practical uses throughout the ages, Bronze Age people used the sap to set feathers upon arrows and the bulbs were crushed to provide starch for the ruffs of Elizabethan collars and sleeves.  According to ancient tales, monks from the 13th century believed in the healing powers of bluebells, using them to treat snakebites and leprosy despite the bulb’s toxic nature. In modern times, scientists are exploring the bluebell’s strong repellent properties against animals and insects. Some researchers even speculate that extracts from bluebells could potentially be utilized in the fight against serious diseases like HIV and cancer.

Where are the best places to see bluebells in the New Forest?  Here are our top 5 spots!

  • Pondhead Inclosure – Lyndhurst
  • Broomy Inclosure – just up the road from us
  • Roydon Woods – Brockenhurst
  • Furzey Gardens – Minstead
  • Exbury Gardens – Exbury

Don’t delay, book a stay with us in May to enjoy these breath-taking and magical wild flowers!