Drought could cause shorter bluebell season

The bluebell season is likely to be shorter than usual because of the drought, the National Trust has said.

The warm and dry March and the low winter rainfall will also lead to the plants being smaller and less abundant.

But the dry conditions could mean those bluebells which do flower will be well-scented, giving visitors to woodlands a real scent of spring along with the seasonal displays.

The Trust, which is runningits annual Bluebell Watch scheme for the public to report sightings, said flowering usually peaked in a Mexican wave effect across the country startingin the south west.

But this year's dry weather could see them appear more patchily in the woodlands, thick old hedges, bracken-covered hillsides and sea cliffs where they are found.

Matthew Oates, from the NationalTrust, said: "The warm and dry weather of the last few weeks has sped up the flowering process for bluebells, but the absence of rain means that visitors will need to be quick to see them - it could be a short but sweet season for bluebells and other classic spring plants like the primrose.

"The bluebell startsgrowing in January with its sole purpose to flower before the other woodland plants, but in dry conditions the bluebell will flower less, will be less abundant and its growth will be stunted.”