Flowering season 2017
info: in the southeastern part of the forest, called ‘Keldergat’, trees have been felled this year (wood extraction). Trunks and crowns are lying in various places in that part of the forest and there are piles of firewood along the trails. From 1 March to 30 June however, the wood extraction stops (“schoon” time) and the loggers are not allowed to continue their work. “Schoon” time comes from the German “Schonen” meaning ‘save’, ‘protect’. The “schoon” period helps to protect the vegetation (spring flowers), to ‘save’ and not to disturb the nesting birds.
Permission for professional photo shoots, with or without models, or film recordings must be requested via the box office. In the Hallerbos you must always stay on the paths, also when taking pictures and filming. The soil and vegetation are fragile and very sensitive to trampling. The use of drones is not allowed in the forest.
It seems that not all bluebells are equally beautiful or important. Some visitors find the bluebells they step on and that thereby perish, to take a picture, are of little importance. “It’s only for a picture.” Completely flattened places and innumerable new ‘little paths’ through the flowers are traces left after the passage of smart phone users and other photographers. The picture stays on Instagram forever. The barren spaces caused by making the picture, stay forever in the wood.
How to destroy wonderful and protected nature in the blink of eye? To be seen in the Hallerbos.
The wood is at its most beautiful now. Abundantly blooming bluebells colour the wood purple-blue and fill the air with fragrance. The seedlings of beeches now have their recognisable beech leaves. In the edges of the paths, wood speedwell, yellow pimpernel, common dog violet, pendulous sedge, Solomon’s seal and yellow archangel are blooming. The high beeches are not coming into leaf yet, due to the low temperatures, so the bluebells are still in direct sunlight.
In order not to damage the wood: please stay on the official paths, also when taking pictures.
Many flowering spring flowers can be found: a few wood anemones, lesser celandine, yellow archangel, greater stitchwort, lords-and-ladies, garlic mustard, herb-paris, bear’s garlic, wood-sorrel, Solomon’s seal, common dog violet. The wild bluebells and the young fresh green beech leaves that seem to float in the wood, create this fairy-tale like atmosphere, nature at its most beautiful. High beeches are still not coming into leaf, due to the continuing lower temperatures. For sure until 1 May every sunny day is a day to take pleasure in the enchanting wood.
Less good news is that some visitors find it necessary to leave the official paths (which are over 40 km long!) to take a picture and thereby step on flowers and young seedlings of trees and make the soil denser, harder. All of these will become bare patches where bluebells have disappeared forever.
How stupid and disrespectful to this magically beautiful but fragile nature that people from all continents come to admire.
A sunny day, wonderful to surrender to the colours and the smells of the fairy-tale forest. The sea of bluebells is deep purple-blue in most parts of the wood now. Solomon’s seal is flowering. The city of Halle is doing an extra effort for the visitors and provides a second free shuttle bus on Saturday 22 April from 12 to 18.30 and on Sunday 23 and 30 April and Monday 1 May between 15 and 18.30. On Saturday there is the yearly ‘bluebell jogging’. If you want to enjoy the forest quietly, come on another day. For sure until the end of the month, every sunny day is fine to experience the magical spring in the wood. But stay on the official paths please. The bluebells’ leaves are making new flower bulbs right now. Wherever you step on them, there will be no new flower bulb and as a consequence there will be no new plant next year! If you step on forest soil where there aren’t any flowers, this soil gets more dense, and the seeds of the bluebells will not be able to sprout there as the tiny root that comes from this seed in September will not get through the hard soil. So you don ‘t give the new plants a chance.
Due to the low temperature, the high beeches aren’t coming into leaf yet, and some bluebells keep waiting to flower. The fairy-tale will continue until the end of April for sure. It is worth the while to experience spring in the wood on any sunny day. Low beeches have translucent green leaves, and combined with the purple-blue flower carpet, it is a mesmerising sight. It is more quite during the week. On Saturday afternoon 22 April there is the yearly ‘bluebell jogging’. That whole day, Houtveld can not be used as a car park. Try to come another time, if you can. Also next weekend, P2, P3 and P8 can not be reached by car, but there is a free shuttle bus. Part of P8 is where the buses turn, please respect this and do not park your car there. Today and tomorrow, ARTE France is in the forest to make recordings for a documentary on wild bluebells. It’s admirable how this cameraman makes the most stunning pictures, staying on the path, not setting a single foot on the flowers and not walking between the flowers at all.
“It’s only for the picture.” Always the same excuse for going off the path, walking in the footsteps of some earlier visitor who sneaked into the wood, creating a ‘small path’ which was not there in the morning. “There aren’t any flowers where I’m standing, are there?” Indeed there are not, not anymore now, but only a few days ago or even this morning there were.
A worldwide rare vegetation, top-level nature protected by Europe, only found in old forests, that has taken a long time to be as it is, not resistant to trampling at all. So magnificent that people from all over the world come to see it. It gets destroyed in the blink of an eye, for a picture. What a shame!
And the bluebells are not even flowering fully yet. The magical time has only just started. It is possible to enjoy the flowers and take pictures, on the paths. Fortunately there are a lot of visitors who do respect this unique spring beauty.