Welcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British and Irish — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British and Irish themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!
Last week, I explored the Academia aesthetic and its British inspirations. Tina reviewed two books, Madam by Phoebe Wynne and Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman. She liked the second one much better, so I’m putting it on my list!
Thanks, Tina, for commenting about Prince Philip’s death last week — that’s how I learned the news.
I’m not much of a royal watcher, so I don’t have much to contribute that hasn’t been said in a hundred places already. The most touching tributes, to me, display caring consideration of the Queen who has lost a partner of 73 years. The most interesting news, to me, has been the attempt to get people to donate to charities or sign the virtual book of condolence rather than leave floral tributes at Windsor Castle or Buckingham Palace or other locations. Flower displays draw crowds which aren’t a good idea in a continuing pandemic.
I had a different post scheduled for this week, but it didn’t suit the mood of the moment, so I thought I’d write about bluebells instead, especially since I had the opportunity to visit a bluebell wood this week.
Bluebell woods in the US and the UK have many similarities, which is all the more amazing due to the remarkable difference. Bluebells in the two nations are completely different plants — not the same species, not the same genus, not the same family. The British bluebell is Hyacinthoides non-scripta. The American plant is the Virginia bluebell, Mertensia virginica.
A close look at the flowers shows that while both are bluish or purplish and roughly bell-shaped, they aren’t at all difficult to tell apart.
Both types of bluebells bloom in the spring. In Missouri, we see bluebells in March and April. The English visit bluebell woods a little later — mid-April into May.
Bluebells carpet the ground in wooded areas in both the UK and the US. In Britain and Europe, bluebells are associated with ancient woodlands. The best places for me to see bluebells are near creeks and rivers in woodland that is better described as reclaimed than ancient.
Both types of bluebells are valued by gardeners who want to plant native species of their respective countries. The British gardener will be working with bulbs to plant bluebells. In Missouri, we buy seeds or plants grown from seed by nurseries that specialize in wildflowers.
Will you encounter any bluebells this spring on either side of the Atlantic?