Thursday, April 1, 2010
And they're not hard to find. In fact, in the right places, they're downright prolific. Bluebells like the bottomlands along streams and rivers. There are many stretches of parkland along the Potomac where they form 14-inch tall blue carpets for a few weeks every April.
But before turning blue, bluebells start out pink. The clusters of flowers don't open all at once, so you'll often see a bunch of puckered-up pink buds mixed in with the blue flowers. The stem arches over and the trumpet-shaped flowers really do hang like a cluster of little bells ready to ring in spring.
William Cullina says of bluebells: "As best I can determine, Mertensias are not plants at all, but delicate clumps of sky, thinly disguised and sent here for a few weeks each year to bring us earth-bound folks briefly closer to heaven."
In the wild: Look in any of the wooded parks in the flood plain along the Potomac for big patches of bluebells -- including Scotts Run, Turkey Run, McKee Beshers, and some other stretches of the C&O Canal. They were already blooming last Saturday in some south-facing stretches of the Billy Goat C trail around Carderock. There are also some big patches in Rock Creek Park. We'd love to hear about other locations!
In your yard: Bluebells need moist, but well-drained, soil. They do best in deciduous shade -- they need the spring sun, but don't naturally grow in places where they'll get full sun in the summer.
Do you have a favorite spot where you find bluebells? Have questions about them? Leave us a comment!