Blue-bells, more even than roses, are the flower I associate with England. There is magic in walking under a woodland canopy among the delicate blue bobbing bells as they carpet the ground for weeks.

When I grew up, holidays were spent with my grandmother at her aunt’s (only seven years between them) on a farm in Derbyshire. I was free to wander through the woods for hours and remember the wonder of those flowers. I tried to pick a few and bring them home to put in a jam jar, but soon learned that they wilt when picked and are better left where they grow.

They also had a shed in the garden which I adored. It was painted pistachio green and had windows with ‘leaded’ diamonds on them. For me it was a cottage and I used to arrange the random garden chairs and boxes into a place to sit and feel happy.

Those holidays were a reprieve from a rather stressful home life, and blue-bells have lost none of their enchantment.

The last memory I have of such a hyacinthine tapestry was when spending a few months living with a friend of the family and my brother in deepest Devon. I went for a run along a labyrinthine lane, and came across this sun-dappled paradise.

‘Look at those blue-bells.  They’re like the sky fallen down.’


Source: Elizabeth Goudge, The Runaways (London: Hesperus Press, 2013), p.93

Photo credit: Oldiefan at


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