Beating the bluebell blues
Bluebell season is imminent – indeed they’ve already been poking their heads through the soil for a fair few weeks now – and this signals a return for the Heartwood ‘Save our Bluebells’ campaign (SOB). As with many of our sites, the ancient woodlands at Heartwood are transformed into a carpet of blue each spring. We all know bluebells are a great way of engaging with and inspiring people to get out and connect with trees and woods, but they can also present some significant challenges. Over recent years more than an acre of bluebells have been lost in Heartwood’s Langley Wood, as a result of people (and dogs) not sticking to the designated pathways.
As a result, staff and volunteers have been looking at ways of sharing the important protection and conservation messages that surround bluebell woods to encourage positive and proactive behaviour from visitors to Heartwood.
So what are we doing?
- In 2017, all the main paths through Langley Wood were roped, and these have now also been surfaced (using a low impact procedure to ensure minimal impact). This means that visitors are guided through the wood on an appropriate route, and it also means it’s now more accessible for a wider range of visitors – good news all round!
- Signage and leaflets have been produced that highlight the importance of safeguarding our bluebell populations, and how visitors can join us in actively playing a part in achieving this.
- This information is reinforced through supporting information on the Heartwood website, and staff and volunteer presence onsite every weekend during the campaign (which runs from Easter weekend until mid-May).
- Last year we trialled a temporary sculptural bluebell archway, located on the path from the car park up to Langley Wood. The installation included our protection message, and was so successful in engaging visitors that this year we are expanding this to a series of four archways; guiding people up to the woodland and providing more opportunities for touch points with visitors.
- Staff and volunteers are now busy getting ready for the start of the campaign, and will be welcoming thousands of visitors to Heartwood over the coming weeks. We’ll keep you posted as to how it’s going – so watch this space!