Bluebells, Hertfordshire, England
© JayKay57/Getty Image
For just a few weeks every spring, one of the most enchanting flowers begins to bloom in England. The bluebell is known by many names, including ‘fairy flower’, and it has a strong, sweetly scented allure. According to British folklore, a blooming bluebell carpet on the woodland floor is a mystical place where fairies live. It has been said that fairies hang their spells on the flowers to dry, and disturbing them would unleash the magic. In earlier times, children were warned that if they picked a bluebell, they would never be seen again. And according to another tale, if you hear the fairies ring the bluebells for their gatherings, it means your death is imminent, a belief that inspired another name for these flowers: 'dead men's bells'.
The truth 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 recommended. Walking through ancient woodland to see these short-lived flowers is a popular activity throughout the United Kingdom where they are most often found, like those in today’s photo of Hertfordshire, England.