Quadring bluebell harvest helps protect the native species

Henry Bingham in the bluebell fields. Photo: SG120514-121TW
Henry Bingham in the bluebell fields. Photo: SG120514-121TW
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The survival of the rare English bluebell is being safeguarded by a Quadring nursery.

Crossroads Nurseries has been growing the plant for at least 15 years, first when Richard Bingham was at the helm and in recent years with his son Henry running the business.

However, it is a long-term investment, with a five-year turnaround between planting a seed to growing a crop.

Henry says the nursery is selling both the bulb, to places like Homebase, and the seed, which is put in packets by local companies.

A perfumier received a lot of the flower heads last year, though the short-lived flower is normally a by-product of production.

Henry says: “These are proper English bluebells, which are a rarity. The majority of what is sold are usually hybrids.

“We bought the seed originally and grew it and then planted the small bulbs and also planted seed for the next year.

“We harvest some of the bulbs and the seed each year. We wait for the flowers to turn into seed pods and then harvest the seed. It’s a very short harvest window and we usually hand pick them.

“We have expanded the amount we do to about ten acres.”

Renting land has meant the business has gained another seven acres, which will probably be used for bluebells too.

Richard says the English bluebell is under threat.

Although it is illegal to uproot, pick or sell them from the wild, they are threatened by loss of woodland – ancient woodland now covers just two per cent of the UK.

Henry said: “There aren’t vast amounts of them about and with the influx of cheaper hybridised plants it is becoming a little bit rare. It makes a nice show.”