There’s nothing quite like the scent of walking through a bluebell wood in early morning after overnight rain. It’s a unique part of our natural heritage, which we perhaps take for granted. But we must guard this privilege; there are those who dig up the bulbs for horticulture, and many have gone. I wonder how many ‘Bluebell Woods’ there are in Britain and I suspect we all have our favourite. The nearest and best around here is part of a local park. Landscape gardeners created Clyne Park from oak woodland more than a century ago, but left natural parts untouched, which is a most beautiful bluebell wood. Visitors flock to see the flowers, children learn about the scent, and it’s a photographers dream. Over many years I’ve never seen anyone seriously picking them. The park is also famed for its azaleas, forming contrasting borders of bizarre colours against the gentle mix of blues and yellows of the wildwood. There’s more than visual beauty here, there’s a special atmosphere as well. Even though I’m in the suburbs of Swansea, I’m surrounded by echoing songs of song thrushes, blackbirds, blackcaps and drumming woodpeckers, and could be deep in the countryside.
Set above the bay the view from the top of the park through avenues of great trees towards the sea beyond is breathtaking. Many trees are exotics, brought from all corners of the globe by our industrious forefathers and are all in their spring best, but standing out is a massive isolated beech at least 40 meters high, peerless in glorious light green.
Around the park as celandines fade, uncut hedgerow banks are turning from yellow to blue, pink and white. Bluebells, red campion attracting orange tip butterflies and the whites of wild garlic are slowly replacing the early colours of spring. The green shoots of foxgloves are showing through as well, and it won’t be long before they too add more delicate pinks. The whole park will soon be a riot of colour, skilfully managed to blend native and exotic plants from all over the world, providing a peaceful retreat for locals and visitors alike.