April’s Bluebells

Looking at the bluebell photographs that I never got around to posting last year, two things stick out: this year’s bluebells came up over two weeks earlier than last year, and they did not get nibbled by ravenous rabbits. There are limits to what they will eat after all.

In 2023, the rabbits tried a few newly erupted bluebells, and decided there were other, tastier morsels growing in the yard. The two nibbled sprouts are circled. Photographed on March 26, 2023.

This year, the rabbits left the bluebells alone. Perhaps there were too many overwintered leaves hiding them.

New bluebells poke out among the leaves that fell last fall from the overhanging silver maple and elms. Photographed on March 9, 2024.

Within three weeks they were covered with sprays of obvious flower buds.

Bluebells with several sprays of flower buds, which on this plant, are distinctly purple. Photographed on March 31, 2024.

Some plants have bluer flower buds, but a few have pink buds.

A spray of bluebell buds in bubblegum pink. Photographed on April 4, 2024.

I am relieved to say that the flowers opened blue.

A spray of bluebells, with newly opened blue flowers. A little pink still shows just above the sepals. Photographed on April 9, 2024.

There are little spots of pink here and there, but even with freshly opened flowers, the bluebells remain blue. Whew! They get bluer as they age to a blue that positively vibrates in late afternoon sunlight.

Bluebells in full bloom. Photographed on April 15, 2024.

Once the flowers start dropping, the plants flop, a potential problem, since they are the largest spring ephemera in this yard. Fortunately, there are narrow-leaved asters behind them and hostas in front of them, both of which get big rather fast, distracting the eye and covering the yellowing plants. This year, I lopped the spent flower stalks off all the plants. I took a close look to see how they manage to produce so many seedlings, which were apparent in the grassy path in front of them.

Each flower produces three or four seeds, which doesn’t sound like a lot until you multiply those seeds by a gazillion flowers. 

A bluebell flower stalk setting seed. The flowers slipped off leaving three or four seeds still attached to their pistal, nestled in the sepals that were at the base of each flower. Photographed on May 2, 2024.

These flower stalks could be scattered on a partially shady spot to start a new bed of bluebells, but this year, they got composted.