Tag Archives: Bluebells

Bluebell Woods and an Enchanting Carpet of Colour

‘…she flopped to the ground amid the bluebells.
Her hands brushed the mat of flowers and she lowered her head 
staring intently at the spray of tiny bells.’
Beneath the Rainbow

Bluebell Woods and an Enchanting Carpet of Colour

Anyone stopping by my blog cannot fail to notice my love for bluebells. You’ll find them on my banner and on my first book cover, I’ve blogged about them before and they’ve been my favourite flower since I was small. Now I wander through Carmarthen’s Green Castle Woods rather than the Sussex woodlands of my childhood. The beauty, however, exists countrywide.

bluebells-green-castle-woods-the-last-krystallos-four

© Lisa Shambrook

Bluebells talk to me of spring, new growth, romance, fairies, childhood and innocence, and I look forward to them every year. The hardy flowers thrive in our damp climate amongst the woodland flora. 50% of our native bluebells grow in our woodlands and we stroll through their carpet of blue every April and May as their delicate flowers swathe the ground.

bluebell-woods-the-last-krystallos-green-castle-woods-2.jpg

© Lisa Shambrook

Not much gets in their way as they spread beneath our trees, but the Victorian introduction of Spanish Bluebells, as garden plants, have become a threat over the years.

bluebells-thelasy-krystallos-garden

© Lisa Shambrook

Spanish bluebells are stronger and more vigorous, and can easily crossbreed creating a fertile hybrid. Native bluebells have become protected by UK law and we’re encouraged not to grow the Spanish variety in our gardens.

bluebells-green-castle-woods-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

The varieties have distinctive differences and the hybrids lean more to the stronger Spanish Bluebell.

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Native British Bluebells © Lisa Shambrook

British Bluebells (hyacinthoides non-scripta)

Dainty, nodding and delicate.
They have narrow stems and leaves, and arch like a shepherd’s crook with delicate bells that droop.
The bells only hang from one side of the stem, nodding lightly.
They have a soft sweet scent and are often a deep purple, violet blue and have creamy white/yellow anthers and pollen.
Their bells are narrow and the petals curl back at the tips and they carry fewer flowers.

 

spanish-bluebells-lisa-shambrook-the-last-krystallos

Spanish Bluebells © Lisa Shambrook

Spanish Bluebells (hyacinthoides hispanica)

Sturdy, upright and strapping.
These have a much thicker stem and leaves, standing tall and erect.
Their bells are more closely packed and their sturdy stems can hold more flowers.
The bells don’t hang they grow all around the stem and are generally a paler lilac blue.
They don’t really have a scent and their anthers and pollen are blue.
The bells are shorter and open wider.

 

whitebells-bluebells-lisa-shambrook-green-castle-woods-carmarthen

© Lisa Shambrook

Both are beautiful, but the Spanish bluebells that once grew in my garden are now restrained in containers, while I allow the natives to sweep, unrestricted, through the undergrowth. And every now and again I’ll revel in the white bluebells that show their nodding faces…

carpet-of-blue-beneath-the-rainbow-lisa-shambrook

Beneath the Rainbow © Lisa Shambrook

Here’s a fun author/writerly fact:
Bluebell bulbs and stems were once used to make glue that was used to bind books!

Where do you find your favourite bluebells? 

The Old Oak: Green Castle Woods

I have a real thing for trees, and in particular oaks.
I live in a market town which thrives on the legend of its old oak,
so it’s perhaps appropriate that the oak inspires me!

the old oak green castle woods, the last krystallos,Maybe I’ll write a post about Carmarthen’s Old Oak in the future, but today I want to show you my favourite local oak. It’s not a towering, far-reaching, huge, sun-blocking tree; it’s small, but adorable.

old oak tree green castle woods carmarthen, the last krystallos,

The old oak in spring – Green Castle Woods – May 2014 © Lisa Shambrook

I’ve tried to find out information about its history and come up with nothing, but it entrances me all the same, and I cannot walk by without imagining a rich past and a fantastical future! I imagine dragons wheeling above, squirrels collecting acorns, and creatures hibernating within its embrace.

The Old Oak in winter - Green Castle Woods - Dec 2014 © Lisa Shambrook

The old oak in winter – Green Castle Woods – Dec 2014 © Lisa Shambrook

When I first saw it, standing alone, I thought it was dead, especially as it was midwinter and bare, but as spring dawned I noticed new growth and my own excitement burgeoned just like its leaf buds! It spread gnarled branches, and foliage erupted and beauty ensued. It quickly became the most beautiful and unusual tree I know.

The old oak seasons - Green Castle Woods © Lisa Shambrook

The old oak seasons – Green Castle Woods © Lisa Shambrook

This oak is not much more than ten feet tall, and hollow. I know nature withstands a great deal, and the fact that it is fully alive amazes me seeing as it’s almost completely hollow. It stands alone in the middle of a reclaimed meadow in Green Castle Woods. It’s a popular dog walking area and we often take our German shepherd around the surrounding woodland and wander through the gorgeous bluebell woods. These woods inspire me and they’ve also become the place where each of my book cover images were taken. You’ll see the bluebells on the cover of ‘Beneath the Rainbow’, another oak on ‘Beneath the Old Oak’ and in the future you’ll see a carved out trunk on ‘Beneath the Distant Star’.

baby owl in owl box green castle woods, the last krystallos,

Baby owl – Green Castle Woods © Lisa Shambrook

Woodlands and trees offer me solace, perhaps there is nothing (except the ocean) more soul inspiring to me than the wind whispering through the canopy above, and the crunch of leaves and twigs beneath my feet. The vibrant colours that shine as the sun peers through the trees and the wildflowers peeping through the foliage and the undergrowth delight me.  I love the fragrance of spring, fresh and clean, and the musty rich scent of autumn as the season turns.  It’s peaceful and beautiful and I’ll always return to the woods.

Take a wander through Green Castle woods (click for map and leaflet), on both sides of the road, and you could find a Butterfly Totem pole, a bench protected by carved owls, an actual owl living in the well-hidden owl boxes, a bench decorated with the sun and the moon, a miniature replica of the main walk, a walk across small bridges and through the woods, my gorgeous almost magical oak, and much more. Like I said, I’ll always return…

Green Castle Woods - Carmarthen  © Lisa Shambrook

Green Castle Woods – Carmarthen © Lisa Shambrook

What do you love about the woods, and what is your favourite woodland tree?

A Purple Swathe of Bluebells – Beauty in Blue…

The Bluebell is the sweetest flower, that waves in summer air:
Its blossoms have the mightiest power to soothe my spirit’s care…
(Emily Bronte – The Bluebell)

a purple swathe of bluebells, purple swathe, beauty in blue, the last krystallos,

I promised a blog post on bluebells, an indulgence on my part as they’re my favourite flowers.

Blue, pink and white bluebells  © Lisa Shambrook

Blue, pink and white bluebells © Lisa Shambrook

I have clear memories of bluebell woodland walks when I was a little girl, running through the woods, jumping over tree roots and dancing through swathes of blue.

We didn’t live far from the Bluebell Railway, and a school trip saw me daydreaming out of the steam train window at the banks of bluebells. The verges and railway banks near my home were also strewn with the flowers during spring and I used to bring home bunches of wilting blue, pink and white bluebells for mum on the way home from school.

Bluebells never lost their appeal. That splash of colour, a carpet of blue from afar, delicate nodding bells, with barely there stripes, close up, and the air of mysticism…

Bluebells © Lisa Shambrook

Bluebells © Lisa Shambrook

Bluebells are symbolic of gratitude, humility and constancyall virtues that ring true to me – and they are closely linked to the realm of fairies, appealing to my love of all mythical and fantastical, ‘tis said that bluebells are rung to bring the fairies together.

As a child I adored Mary Cicely Barker’s Flower Fairies, my favourites were all the purple flowers, but her bluebell fairy disappointed me. I wanted her to look like the lavender fairy, so I spent many hours drawing and making up my own bluebell flower fairies. I only wish I’d kept the pictures!

It made sense that one day bluebells would burst forth within my own writing, and they did becoming a theme throughout my current series. The first book benefitted from a photoshoot in our local bluebell woods, Greencastle Woods, and became the cover of my first published novel ‘Beneath the Rainbow’. That’s my daughter in the picture, recreating a scene from the book where Freya finds herself in her own heaven. Her favourite place in her heaven is sitting amongst the bluebells, where she finds peace and calm. Bluebells also become a source of both grief and comfort for Freya’s mother, a way of showing the passing of time, and become a recurring theme in all three books.

© Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

In my own life, bluebells are a source of joy, heralding a season of growth and new life, and they always ignite memories encouraging gratitude and introspection.  Bluebells inspire me and make me happy, maybe it’s their colours. My favourite colour is green, closely followed by all shades of purple and lilac. Green offers calm, soothing, restful tones of growth and inspiration, and purple is the passionate, harmonious, meditative colour of creatives and the mysterious. These colours are me, so the bluebell becomes a signature flower, a representative of my own personality.

Greencastle Woods, Carmarthen © Lisa Shambrook

Greencastle Woods, Carmarthen © Lisa Shambrook

This year I have made time to walk our dog through our local bluebell woods as much as I can…enjoying the beauty, the swathes of blue and the quiet of nature. In Wales, the bluebells are at their peak, and if you can go seek out your own woods…see if you can hear the tinkling bells and fluttering of wings…

Are there bluebell woods near you? Let me know, and if I’m ever up your way in the spring, I will check them out!

beneath the rainbow, beneath the old oak, lisa shambrook, books, novels, If you want to read
‘Beneath the Rainbow’ and
‘Beneath the Old Oak’
all links are on my website.

Beneath the Rainbow:
“It’s those silly dreams that keep us alive.”
Freya won’t let death stand in her way. When she dies Freya knows she needs to move on, but is caught within her mother’s grief and the discovery of terminally ill Old Thomas. Beneath her Rainbow…Freya needs to reach her mother, wait for Old Thomas and be ready to move on.

Beneath the Old Oak:
“Turn those dreams of escape into hope…”
Meg thinks her mother is broken. Is she broken too? Meg’s life spirals out of control, and when she mirrors her Mum’s erratic behaviour, she’s terrified she’ll inherit her mother’s sins. Seeking refuge and escape, she finds solace beneath a huge, old oak. A storm descends, and Meg needs to survive devastating losses.

swathe of bluebells, bluebell woods, greencastle woods carmarthen, bluebells, the last krystallos,

Bluebells, Greencastle Woods, Carmarthen © Lisa Shambrook

10 Flowers that Embody Spring…

Spring has arrived and brought with it the first horticultural signs of new life…
feast your eyes on the beauty of Spring!

ten flowers that embody spring, spring flowers, spring, flowers, the last krystallos,These are the first signs in my part of the world…how do they compare to yours?

snowdrop, flowers, spring flowers, white flowers, the last krystallos,

Snowdrop © Lisa Shambrook

Snowdrop (Galanthus): I adore the tiny British Snowdrop, I look forward to its little nodding head and vibrant green marks. It’s a sign that winter is beginning to draw to a close. It generally flowers before the vernal equinox marking the arrival of spring in the middle of March, but can flower from midwinter on.

vinca, periwinkle, blue, purple, purple flowers, the last krystallos,

Vinca © Lisa Shambrook

Vinca (commonly known as periwinkle): This always delights me with that shock of purple spreading like a carpet of blue across the woodland floor and winding up tree stumps. In India the plant is known as sadaphuli meaning ‘always flowering’.

scilla, blue, spring, flowers, blue flowers, the last krystallos,

Scilla © Lisa Shambrook

Scilla: Blue seems to be the colour for spring, and the dainty, delicate Scilla peeps out of the bare ground in the early months of the year. It’s usually native to woodlands and meadows where I live.

chionodoxa, blue, star, flower, blue flowers, spring, the last krystallos,

Chionodoxa © Lisa Shambrook

Chionodoxa: Another beautiful blue bulb known as glory-of-the-snow also opens its petals in the early months, and produces some of the truest blue in all horticulture. Its tiny starry-eyed flowers brighten up the early months.

narcissi family, narcissi, narcissus, daffodils, daffs, sunshine yellow, yellow flowers, the last krystallos,

Narcissus Family © Lisa Shambrook

Daffodil/Narcissi (Narcissus): Perhaps the most famous spring flowers in every array of sunshine yellow you can imagine. Generally small narcissi flower first, heralding spring and paving the way for the daffodils and their huge trumpets of colour.

primroses and cowslips, spring flowers, yellow flowers, meadows, yellow, spring, the last krystallos,

Primroses and Cowslips © Lisa Shambrook

Primroses (Primula vulgaris) and cowslips (Primula veris): Meadow flowers that spread through fields, woodlands and everywhere they can. The primrose was Benjamin Disraeli’s favourite flower, and cowslips are my mother’s favourite. Hardy and one of the first splashes of creamy yellow as the days get warmer.

wild violets, violet, purple, flowers, purple flowers, spring, the last krystallos,

Wild Violets © Lisa Shambrook

Wild violets (Violaceae): As much as I love pansies and violas, I can’t imagine spring without the tiny wild violets that pop up from nowhere and spread through the garden’s nooks and crannies, and their colours are softly beautiful.

qxalis, wood sorrel, common wood sorrel, woodland flowers, white flowers, spring flowers, the last krystallos,

Oxalis © Lisa Shambrook

Oxalis (Oxalis acetosella): There are many varieties of oxalis, but the common wood sorrel is the one I love best. The fragile petals have delicate stripes in the palest of pink and remind me of fairy dresses. The leaves can be eaten, but are quite sour.

wood anemone, fairy wings, white flowers, spring flowers, woodland flowers, woodland, the last krystallos,

Wood Anemone © Lisa Shambrook

Wood Anemone (Anemone nemorosa): These white flowers can be starry shaped or have big petals like fairy wings, and swathe the woodland floor in March and April like a galaxy of stars. One of my all-time delicate favourites.

forget-me-not, blue flowers, spring flowers, the last krystallos,

Forget-me-not © Lisa Shambrook

Forget-me-not (Myosotis): Another true blue of the horticultural world. In a German legend, God named all the plants when a tiny unnamed one cried out, “Forget-me-not, O Lord!” God replied, “That shall be your name.”. These are truly unforgettable sky-blue little flowers that in a clump can look simply stunning.

bluebells, purple flowers, bells, bell flowers, wooodland flowers, the last krystallos,

Bluebells © Lisa Shambrook

Bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta): This flower becomes your bonus (number eleven) in this post. It’s my favourite flower and will have a post all of its own…but for now…enjoy another bonus of spring and the prominent blue that blankets the woodland in April and May.

Like I said…this is my little corner of the world, Wales in the UK…
how fares yours this Spring?

What are your favourite Spring flowers?

If you’d like to see more of my flower photography please take a look at my
Flickr page and The Shutterworks Photoblog

NaNoWriMo Teaser: Empathy

Week two and my second unedited, first draft NaNoWriMo teaser for ‘Beneath the Stormy Sky’:
The anniversary of Freya’s death arrives and Jasmine’s mum fears the bluebells won’t flower in time…

The bluebells did blossom in time.
Jasmine woke early and watched her mother trudge down the garden. It was raining, an early morning shower, and Mum walked to the apple tree. A pink blush appeared over the horizon as the garden still sat in gloom. Jasmine peered around her curtain, not wanting to interrupt her mother’s private ritual.
At the tree, her mother sank down to the dewy grass and began gently plucking fresh bluebells. She touched each stem, carefully moving it away from the cluster, examining the delicate bells and choosing the best flowered stems to pull. There wasn’t a strong showing this year and Jasmine watched as she left flowers still tightly in bud only picking the open blossoms. She had a paltry handful, when Jasmine’s attention was diverted.
Out of the corner of her eye, in the semi darkness, someone moved in next door’s garden. Not worrying about concealment, she lifted the curtain and squinted. Their elderly neighbour, Daisy, wandered down her garden, in fluffy slippers. Jasmine’s eyebrow rose. Daisy shuffled quietly towards a crop of bluebells beneath her hedge and bent down. She moved slowly and definitely, choosing the best flowers as Jasmine’s mother did in her own garden. Daisy’s bluebells filled her frail hands as she painfully straightened her back and stood.
Jasmine glanced back at her mum and saw her brush tears away with her sleeve. Her mum held the small bunch of flowers against her chest as she sat beneath the tree.
In the still of the burgeoning morning Daisy’s soft murmur could be heard even by Jasmine through her window. Her mum looked up, turning to the fence. She saw the flowers in Daisy’s hands and more tears fell. She got to her feet and moved to the fence. The two women grasped hands and Daisy offered her flowers to enhance the grieving woman’s own bouquet.
Jasmine suddenly felt hot tears course down her face as memories flooded back. She remembered standing at that very fence handing bunches of flowers to her elderly neighbour. She recalled posies of daffodils, huge yellow trumpets and thick stems; bunches of freesias, purple, red, yellow and white, with long and broken stems; clusters of sweet peas, filling the air with scent and colour; late bouquets of bright blue cornflowers, bright red montbretia and heady purple lavender; and as today, limp bunches of bluebells…
Memories swamped her and emotions rose like a tidal wave. Warm and choking moments of pride, memories of a small girl gifting her neighbour battered bunches of flowers to continue a tradition set by her lost sister, threatened to undo her and a sob welled up with her tears.

Beneath the Rainbow: Cover Reveal

I’m bubbling with anticipation to show you something…something special! 

I’ve been working with Joni and Vern over at Blue Harvest Creative to put together a package, and it’s time to ‘Show and Tell’…
Two years ago, I published ‘Beneath the Rainbow’ on Kindle. I then took the step of joining Twitter to tweet my book. You’ll never know how very, very grateful and relieved I am that I barely mentioned my book on Twitter. I very quickly realised how many people were just there to pimp their book, and I didn’t want to become someone who threw their book at people. So I made friends. I followed writers and readers and learned a lot.

Now, I love ‘Beneath the Rainbow’ and those who bought and read it thoroughly enjoyed it, but something was missing. I’d published directly from Word…and then later as I read Sophie Moss’ gorgeous Selkie books and discovered the beautiful formatting courtesy of Blue Harvest, I knew I could do better.

I engaged Blue Harvest and it was mentioned that along with reformatting the eBook, a new cover might work. I liked my old cover, I still do, and it took some heartfelt moments to let it go. It wasn’t long though before I had a concept brewing away. When I’d made my original cover I wanted Bluebells, but the season was over, and anyone who knows me knows I like using my own images. Now, I had images…and the trademark image for the book sat upon my Blog…right up there in the header.

So I would love to reveal my new cover all ready for a relaunch set for Friday 11th October…

I love, love, love this cover…and have already used it as template for ‘Beneath the Old Oak’ which is currently within its first edit phase…I am excited!
On Friday 11th October ‘Beneath the Rainbow’ will be available as Print and eBook on Amazon. I think I might have a party!
Blurb:
“It’s those silly dreams that keep us alive.”

Dreams define us, shape us and realise our potential…they make us who we are. 

Freya won’t let death stand in her way. 
When she dies Freya knows she needs to move on, but is caught within her mother’s grief and the discovery of terminally ill Old Thomas. Finding she can affect the lives of those beyond her heaven she fights to reach her mother and wants to help Thomas realise his final dream.
Meanwhile, her family finds her own list of goals and soon discovers that Thomas has a burning desire to ride a motorbike. 
Freya intends to create a rainbow, the last item on her list, to reach her mother, but her pale arcs won’t achieve closure. She needs scarlet like remembrance poppies then sunset orange and sunflower yellow.  She makes green like her willow and blue like daddy’s t-shirt.  Finally conjuring indigo, the shade of deepening night and violet to match Purple Ted… 
Beneath these colours will Freya reach her mother, wait for Old Thomas and be ready to move on?
  
Discover the importance of dreams and fulfilment in Freya’s heart-breaking and uplifting tale of grief, hope, triumph and joy.

Design Credits:

Cover Photograph by Bekah Shambrook

Cover Concept by Lisa Shambrook

Cover Design by Lisa Shambrook & Blue Harvest Creative

Interior Design and eBook Design by Blue Harvest Creative

Bluebells…

My most favourite flowers ever are Bluebells…very evident from my Blog banner picture…they take me back to childhood walks in woods with my family, beautiful bouquets gathered through the railings from railway banks where I lived as a child, and inspiration for my book ‘Beneath The Rainbow’. So a walk in a bluebell wood is heaven! 
I thought I’d share a few photographs from today. Beautiful sunshine, gorgeous bluebells and a lovely Sunday afternoon dog walk in Greencastle Woods, Carmarthen.
Photo by Lisa Shambrook Flickr
Photo By Lisa Shambrook
Photo by Lisa Shambrook
Photo by Lisa Shambrook
Photo by Lisa Shambrook with Instagram