Purple Patch

Bluebell season is pretty much over now - well especially for photography (it has to be perfect), coinciding with a rainy few days, a bit more 'normal' for April. Weeds are taking over and it's the  'sticky willy' and nettles' time to dominate the woodland floor now in my local copse.

The entrances to the badger setts are looking smaller and smaller as a green curtain now hangs over the big oval shaped cave entrances. Only in the field are the entrances clear of vegetation, like big sandy beaches to bask and frolic on, their tell tale trails radiating across the field and scuff marks in the sand show what fun they had last night. I can just imagine the cubs rolling and tumbling over each other in the darkness, kicking and burying their litter mates in the sand.

I was asked the other day by a friend in another part of the world why bluebells aren't called purple bells? as most photos show them as purple carpets on the woodland floor. Well, that, alongside their gorgeous hyacinth fragrance just after dawn on a dew-laden morning have got to be the reason why we are besotted with bluebells. They are just so pleasing to the eye, a pop of colour after many months of grey and brown dullness and a basically monochrome world. One minute there is nothing the next as if someone has spilled their paint pot over the woodland floor.

So, for me, bluebells are always a challenge to represent as you can see above. sometimes they are true magenta, sometimes the deepest blue, it is of course just dependent on the light conditions which are also tricksy in a woodland setting early or late in the day. As the canopy hasn't yet formed, nasty highlights and shadows develop quickly after dawn and the small window of good light is short. Not to mention the usual unpredictable and varied weather conditions at this time of year, getting it right in terms of photography needs a big dollop of luck.

The other thing that no one ever appreciates is that these are truly wild flowers, native to our ancient woodlands and therefore attuned to the local ecosystem, meaning that they are vital for bugs, spiders, beetles, bees and anything that can ruin a good macro picture!

Their slightly chaotic nature means finding patterns and clean backgrounds is a challenge too, natural woodlands are messy by nature and I just love that. Not the uniformed beech stands for me, I love the fact that the tree trunks aren't straight but have developed with the prevailing winds. That you have to mind your footing from all the holes underfoot, not only the ancient, abandonned homes of the badgers but fox holes, rabbit holes, twigs and nasty brambles that are waiting like a gamekeeper's trap to snag the ankle of the unwary traveller! As stealthy as I wish I was, I feel clumsy and oafish walking in this woodland, the local Roe deer I'm sure think that I am related to Godzilla!

So, it's very unlikely that I'll ever get tired of visiting these amazing places, these historic places that have been flushing with royal purple for hundreds of years and no doubt delighting the human population too for just as long. It's been a super retreat for me especially with the chaos of the current human world, to be brought well and truly down to earth to observe, smell, feel, touch, taste and listen to where I really live, what the world is like without day to day human trappings and to perhaps, just perhaps, feel what it's like to be a human in the 'real' world.

Happy days.


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