Native and Spanish Bluebells19th May 2013 • In The Garden • Stephanie Donaldson
As someone with a profusion of both types of bluebell in my garden I’m very familiar with the differences between them. The native bluebell carries its flowers down one side of its stem which gives the flower heads their characteristic droop, while the Spanish bluebell is sturdier and more upright with the flowers on all sides of the stem. The wild bluebell is also sweetly scented while the Spanish type is unscented. There has been concern over recent years that the two would hybridise readily and gradually overwhelm our woodlands, but the RHS reports that this might not be as serious a problem as was feared. Various scientific bodies, including The Natural History Museum are researching the problem and although there is still much work to be done, initial findings indicate they may not hybridise as readily as was feared. In my garden, I have found that by pulling out the Spanish bluebell stems before they set seed and leaving the native ones alone, I now have more of the latter than the former.