With more than half the global population of bluebells on UK shores, there’s plenty of spots to catch them in Kent. Here are our picks:
The blooming date for bluebells varies depending on the weather, but you can usually expect to see them from mid April to mid May. At the world famous Sissinghurst Castle Gardens there are around 126 million individual bluebell flowers. Venture into the woodland and be rewarded with them bursting among the other wild flowers from Wood Anemones to Cuckoo Flower, Red Campion and Greater Stitchwort - all trying to establish themselves before the tree canopy closes. In the garden, made famous by its creators Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson, the wall flowers, tulips and narcissus are ablaze in the cottage garden and along lime walk.
To find out more about visiting go to nationaltrust.org.uk/sissinghurst-castle-garden
EMMETTS GARDEN, SEVENOAKS
The garden at Ide Hill, near Sevenoaks, is renowned for its spring colour each year when the woodland will be turned into a carpet of blue. The woods are a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to the English native bluebells that grow in them. Every year the hillside is smothered with the blue beauties. The National Trust is one of the most important organisations in the UK for bluebell conservation - a quarter of the trust’s wood-land is ancient or semi-natural, the ideal habitats for bluebells to flourish.
To find out more about visiting go to the website at nationaltrust.org.uk/emmetts-garden
IGHTHAM MOTE, BOROUGH GREEN
Swathes of bluebells can be found in Scathes Wood, running alongside the entrance way to the National Trust property. The ancient woodland is home to around 15 acres carpeted in the distinctive blue colour of spring. Scathes Wood is well-known location locally for the best bluebell walks due to the sheer scale of the flowers and their amazing scent. Visitors can pick up an estate walks leaflet for suggested self-guided routes along the springtime trails. Details at nationaltrust.org.uk/ightham-mote
The estate covers more than 500 acres but tread carefully. The bluebells may seem especially inviting for a selfie but don’t step into them. They have soft, succulent leaves that are particularly sensitive to being trodden on. Once the leaves are damaged, they are unable to absorb the sun and photosynthesise.
SCOTNEY CASTLE, LAMBERHURST
The estate at Scotney Castle is home to woodland that becomes covered in bluebells from mid-April to mid-May. Little copses of trees, some with the added pleasure of ponds, are dotted across the estate. Spot the flashes of blue between the branches as you head out on a walk. Visitors can pick up a map from reception. The garden has naturalistic planting with the ruins of the Old Castle at its centre. Details at nationaltrust.org.uk/scotney-castle
Knole is the perfect place to set off on a walk to One Tree Hill, where the heady scent of English bluebells fills the woodland. One Tree Hill consists of a varied mosaic of habitats, with woodland and open glades, providing homes for some rare wildlife species too. Most of the area lies within an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest), and it is also within the Kent’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This means the beautiful woodland protects the precious flora and fauna – including the bluebells – for all to enjoy. Details at nationaltrust.org.uk/knole
Fact: It is against the law to intentionally pick, uproot or destroy bluebells.
HOLE PARK GARDENS, ROLVENDEN
Every year the gardens at Rolvenden attract visitors for its annual Bluebell Spectacular, which this year runs until Friday, May 10. The 16-acre formal gardens includes the 10-acre Bluebell Wood, considered one of the best places in Britain to see bluebells. Hole Park’s website will also have its bluebell barometer which tells visitors when the bluebells are at their peak. And, without spoiling the surprise... it’s at its maximum at the moment. The family owned gardens are open daily until Saturday, June 8. This year, there’s an extra bonus for visitors as dogs are now allowed in the gardens and woodlands, though they have to be kept on a short lead. To find out more go to holepark.com
RIVERHILL GARDENS, SEVENOAKS
There will be walks, children's trails and themed crafts all dedicated to the bluebell at Riverhill Gardens near Sevenoaks running from this week through to Bank Holiday Monday, May 6 (except for Monday, April 29). The Bluebell Festival is open from 10.30am to 5pm daily. To find out more go to riverhillgardens.co.uk