Exbury has never looked so good. Blossom and colour is everywhere, and this early spring has brought on the wildlfowers as well. Apart from extensive spreads of primroses, the bluebells are opening under the trees in the park land and along the edges of the paths. The native British bluebell has an elegant curve and its bells all hang on one side of the stem. The invader, the Spanish bluebell, is a stouter more upright plant with flowers all around the stem. It hybridises easily with the native version and is regarded by botanists as a problem. Those at Exbury are mainly pure. The two species differ also in the colour of their pollen (creamy white in British, blueish in Spanish) and in the shape of their bells. The native bluebell is narrower and more reflexed than the Spanish, which has more of a flare (see photo).
Less showy, but still delightful, are patches of wood anemones (also called windflowers, left below) in places, and on Daffodil Meadow you can find cowslips and the native lungwort, Pulmonaria officinalis (right). This is a stunning bright blue and selections of it are a popular garden plant which is good ground cover, and acts as a magnet for bees in the spring.
Bugle, Ajuga reptans (left), with its spires of purplish-blue flowers, is also attractive to bees which are active around it in sunny spots, and violets can be found almost anywhere. The well-known Celandine, right, (not popular with most gardeners because of its invasive habit) looks wonderful where allowed to romp, opening its brilliant yellow flowers whenever the sun hits them.