The Sussex Bluebell Showcase

The mild, wet winter and cold April led to peak bluebell flowering before the beginning of May at an ancient bluebell wood in East Sussex. It was interesting to see how much individual trees had changed in just 12 months. The decaying lower branches of a particular old oak gave way at some point since my last visit. I wouldn't have liked to be in the vicinity when they fell. 

Best practice is to avoid the popular public stomping grounds and visit much less well-known woods up the muddy tracks. The advantage is that I can photograph pristine carpets of bluebells before they get disturbed. Bluebells cannot generate energy to regrow bulbs if people crush the foliage, something annoyingly visible every year, as social media influencers drape themselves, their children and brides among the flowers. If a route to a good vantage point is not immediately obvious, I will find an indirect route, taking care to step on bare patches and leap over clumps of flowers. Since my somnolent rituals are not conducive to pre-dawn woodland visits, the evening golden hour is my preferred time for bluebell photography. Bluebell woods facing west look beautiful at this time of day. For bluebells situated in the woodland interior, bright, but sunless conditions work well. I always use a polarising filter to eliminate glare and improve the appearance of foliage.


East Sussex Bluebell Wood


Bluebells on field edge, East Sussex


Ancient Bluebell Wood, East Sussex


Bluebell Showcase


Ancient oak in Bluebell Wood


Bluebell Forest, East Sussex


Ancient Bluebell Forest, East Sussex


Oak in Ancient Bluebell Wood


Oak in Bluebell Wood


Fallen trees in Bluebell Wood


Golden Hour in Bluebell Wood


Now that the bluebells are just going over, the remaining foliage will recharge billions of bulbs with energy, for when they burst into life and push above ground-level in late winter next year. Some bulbs will use their energy to multiply, allowing the plants to spread. I could see this spreading in progress at the periphery of each carpet — a less dense dapple of bulbs gradually filling-in over time. Bluebells can spread via seed, but the process from seed to plant takes several years.

Thank you for taking the time to look at my work. My time for seeing the bluebells is over for another year, which makes me feel a little sad, but that won't stop me coming back again in 2025. I went to bed in the early hours of Saturday morning feeling extremely happy about my final visit to the woods. I feel part of something much bigger than myself when I am in a bluebell wood during the golden hour.


Mark Nicolaides said…
Hi Alan,

Good to 'see' you again.

Quality work as always.

All the best,

Alan MacKenzie said…
Hello Mark. I haven't had the opportunity to go out with my camera for the last year. I'm glad to be behind the lens again. Best wishes, Alan.
Mark Nicolaides said…
Hi Alan, That's great to hear, and see!
All the best, Mark

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