13th April 2022

Among the delights of Hertfordshire in the springtime are the bluebells.

Bluebells, (species name Hyacinthoides non-scripta), are a protected species in the UK and must not be picked or uprooted. Carpets of these deep blue wildflowers appear in mid to late April in deciduous woodlands. The blooms last a few weeks, then as the leaf canopy overhead blocks the light, the spectacular show of bluebells comes to an end.

Bluebells are indicators of ancient woodlands (which are known to have existed since at least 1600), because they are very slow to colonise newly-established woodland areas. This is one of the reasons why ancient woodlands should be protected and cannot be replicated on a new site.

About half the world’s bluebells grow in the UK, another reason for making sure that they are protected. We must ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy the spectacular sight of massed bluebells on a spring day. They are sweetly-scented too. In some places you might see the occasional white or pink bluebell flower amongst the mass of blue.

Sometimes bluebells are found growing under hedges and in the open. This is a sign that these areas were possibly once covered by woodland. They also grow on cliffs and ravines in the north and west of the country where the climate is more humid, in places unlikely ever to have been wooded.

Bluebells can be found in many parts of Hertfordshire. Several of our self-guided walking routes pass through particularly notable spots for bluebells. These include –

Bluebell location CPRE Hertfordshire walk
Tring Park in Dacorum Tring Park and Hastoe
Whippendell Woods in Watford Whippendell and Harrocks Woods
Harrocks Woods in Three Rivers Whippendell and Harrocks Woods
Astonbury Wood southeast of Stevenage Aston and Hooks Cross
Reynolds Wood near Whitwell in North Herts Whitwell and St Paul’s Walden
Birchall Wood east of Welwyn Garden City The Cole Green Way and Panshanger Park


Bluebell leaves are very delicate and easily damaged by people and pets walking over them: this can lead to reduced flowering in future. So please keep to existing paths when visiting a bluebell wood.

If you’re a fan of bluebells, why not send greetings to friends and relatives on our Spring Bluebells notecards? The profit from every sale helps fund our work to protect, promote and enhance the countryside for everyone to enjoy.


blue wildflowers, bluebells, in a green woodland with sun filtering through the leaf canopy
Bluebells late in the season with leaf canopy well established overhead Eliza Hermann