Originally published in the Manchester Guardian on 11 May 1916

Nowhere, surely, do the bluebells grow more luxuriantly or look more ravishingly beautiful than they do under the beeches in the grounds of the Queen’s Cottage at Kew. Here the varying thicknesses of sheltering boughs make varying shades of colour in the sea of flowers – now deep, now pale, now lilac of the most warm and tender hue. It is the most fugitive colour to catch and describe, but it hangs in the memory to solace and encourage. It is like a butterfly’s wing. When you get the first glimpse of it through the trees on a sunny day, it seems incredible. Looked at close, each fluted bell seems one colour; pale or bright, it is blue. But the bracts are red and the effect in mass is shot, and now one and now the other of the two colours prevails.

The sunlight streams in shafts between the tree-boles or drips in golden rain through the young foliage; the wide grass tracks are strewn with a warm brown carpet made of the outer husks of the beech leaves; the squirrels flicker from branch to branch; the air is full of the song of birds and the perfume from a million bells. Here and there Stars of Bethlehem look like twenty-branched candlesticks, set to celebrate the thanksgiving service of the spring.

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Source: Guardian Environment