This morning I took a trip to a nearby ‘bluebell wood’. We drove past it last night, but it was getting a bit dark, so I promised myself I would return this morning.
In folklore, it was said to be bad luck to walk through a wood of bluebells, because it was full of spells. I can well understand why people believed this, as it is one of the most magical places I have ever experienced! It was considered to be the house of the flower goblin, and was also said to have fairies living inside the bells. It was said to be bad luck to pick bluebells…oops! I just picked a few to go into my dye pot, but was careful not to uproot any.
If worn as a wreath, the wearer would be compelled to speak only the truth. This may be the origin of the “…something blue” which a bride should wear on her wedding day, as it is also a symbol of constancy.
The Latin name for the bluebell is Endymion, the lover of the moon Goddess, Selene. The goddess put Endymion into an eternal sleep, so she could enjoy his beauty all to herself.
It is an extremely poisonous plant, especially the bulb, but at present is being researched as a potential from which to develop medicine to fight cancer.
There was something extremely surreal about walking through this wood… Alone… peaceful… unspoilt…I almost expected to meet the white rabbit or some other magical creature, it was like being in a dream.
The trees in the wood are predominantly beech (below), oak and birch. Some of these trees must be at least 150 years old.
This impressive beech tree (above) was starting to show some damage from fungus and storms. Near this tree, there were some fallen branches, and I noticed amazing gnarled textures on them, which I later confirmed had been caused by Tinder Fungus ( a type of fungus named after its use in kindling fires).
Tinder fungus creates these amazing gnarled textures on beech trunks and branches
I found a small piece of branch covered in tinder fungus which I put into my bag…I think it may make a really great sculpture, if I can take a mould or cast of it somehow.
Walking on a bit further, I encountered some bracket fungi. These are called false tinder fungus, or hoof fungus, as they do resemble the hooves of a horse somewhat. These strange parasitic entities actually suck the life out of the trees which they are attached to, becoming so hard that they begin to grow as part of the trunk and are almost impossible to remove.
The substance found just under the skin has its uses, and is known as Amadou. When soaked, it swells, and can be flattened out to use for fuel for fires, but more bizarrely it has also been used to make hats in Eastern Europe!
I couldn’t help myself from “liberating” one of the fallen trunks from these suckers…I managed to break a younger hoof off the trunk, and have plans for it when I get home!
Finally I picked some nettles. Some of the leaves on these were the biggest that I had ever encountered. I’m guessing that their sting may be even more powerful, given their size, so I was very careful to use scissors when picking them.
It was certainly an amazing experience here today, and I feel that I have found a few more inspirations and materials to keep me going for another few weeks.