A path winding through a forest carpeted with bluebells in Hertfordshire, England
© JayKay57/Getty Image
Dare to tread through the fairy flowers?. Bluebells in Hertfordshire, England
For just a few weeks every spring, across the pond in England and under the newly forming woodland canopy, one of the most enchanting flowers begins to bloom. The bluebell is known by many names but those who know it as the 'fairy flower' might be the most prepared to withstand its strong, sweetly scented allure. According to British folklore, a blooming bluebell carpet on the woodland floor is a mystical place where fairies live. The legends hold that fairies hang their spells on the flowers to dry, and disturbing them would unleash the magic. In earlier times, children were warned that picking bluebells would cause them to be spirited away. Even adults could fall victim to the flower, being doomed to wander the woods and never escape. And heaven forbid you ever happen to hear the fairies ring the bluebells for their gatherings—it means your death is imminent, a belief that inspired another name for bluebells: 'dead men's bells.'
The truth of the matter is that bluebells are considered toxic. Ancient folktales about fairies were a good way to make sure curious humans avoided handling them. But enjoying their beauty is a whole different matter. Walking through ancient woodland to catch a glimpse of these short-lived beauties is a popular activity in the United Kingdom, where they grow prolifically—today's enchanting photo was taken in Hertfordshire, England. Rare in other parts of the world, there has been success in transplanting them, should you want to want to tempt fate with the fairies.