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OS Wallpaper: May 2021

• • May 01, 2021 • 3 minutes

OS Wallpaper: May 2021 - Bluebells at Parnholt Wood, Hampshire by Liz Beverley

If you are lucky enough to live near one of Britain's ancient woodlands, at this time of the year you may find a carpet of bluebells covering the ground between the trees. This photo by OS team member Liz Beverly was taken this week in Hampshire.

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Bluebells flower in late spring and are relatively common in western Europe. They often grow in great carpets in ancient woodland, although they can appear as single plants in hedgerows and field margins. The British Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) is more common, but in some places is is replaced with the Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica), which is similar, but tends to stand more upright, and have flowers on all sides. The British Bluebell is also the only one that is scented.

You can find more photos by Liz on her Instagram account, @liz.beverley

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Tips for visiting bluebell woods

There are bluebell woods scattered all over the country, and the best often attract large numbers of visitors at this time of the year. Here's our tips for visiting them:

  • They flower in April or May for around two weeks, although the exact time they appear will depend on where you are - it tends to be once the weather has warmed.
  • You will generally find them in deciduous or mixed woods. Look for green areas with tree symbols on your map.
  • Bluebells can be very sensitive to damage, taking years to recover. Ensure humans and dogs stick strictly to the existing footpaths, and not stray onto the areas where they bloom. Use a zoom lens rather than moving closer for photographs.
  • The bluebell is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981), so it's illegal to dig them up and remove them. Most landowners will also take a dim view of visitors picking them, so leave them for everyone to enjoy. Legend says that if you pick a bluebell you will be led astray by fairies, wandering lost forever.

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