Volunteers go into battle to halt the bluebell ArmadaKent Tree Warden Carole Trowbridge and fellow volunteers are helping to protect bluebells in local woods from hybridisation with Spanish invaders.
“With a small amount of grant money and a lot of good will, this spring sees the first phase of our campaign to protect the native English bluebell wood,” explains Carole, Tree Warden for Ash-cum Ridley who instigated the project.
“The woodlands in this area are particularly at risk as they sit within the village boundaries and in very close proximity to residential gardens, and already garden escapees can be found along the woodland perimeter.”
Imported Spanish bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica) are more vigorous and hybridise readily with the native bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta), potentially changing our woodland landscapes forever, points out Carole. She is pictured here teaching volunteers how to identify native bluebells.
The only way to protect woodland bluebells from cross-pollination is systematically to eradicate Spanish bluebells from surrounding areas.
With the permission of the Village Association and residents’ societies, Carole and other trained volunteers are seeking out and removing any non-native bluebells found in communal areas around the village. They all belong to a group of local residents who meet regularly to work in the orchard and woodlands of New Ash Green.
Householders are also being encouraged to remove Spanish or hybrid bluebells from their own back gardens. As an added incentive, anyone who digs up and hands over their non-native bulbs is being offered English ones to replace them. These will be available for planting in the autumn. There is more information about the threat to native bluebells, and tips on how to spot the difference, on the New Ash Green Woodlands Group website.