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.
After a rainy morning, nice weather again to experience spring in the wood. The fragile purple-blue flowers of the bluebells fill the fairy-tale wood more and more. Even then, many flower buds are waiting to emerge. The coming 10 days the wood will be nicer every day, with more flowering bluebells.
Please help us protect the wonderful but fragile vegetation by not walking through the flowers or walking up to a tree stem in the flowers to take pictures. Wild bluebells do not survive when you tread on them. Once crushed, they do not return on that place.
Free shuttle bus over the weekend of: 15-16-17 April; 22-23 April; 29-30 April – 1 May 2017
Vlasmarktdreef will be closed on these days from Nijvelsesteenweg. Parking 2, 3 and 8 can not be reached by car. Except from 9 am to 8 pm for groups coming by coach, and for drivers who have an identity document for the disabled.
The city of Halle provides a shuttle bus from 9 am to 8 pm. This bus takes you for free from Halle to the wild daffodils (P8 Achtdreven). It has two pick-up points: at the station of Halle and at the end of the Welkomstlaan. More information here.
On Saturday 22 April, the yearly ‘bluebell jogging’ takes place. ‘Houtveld’ can not be used as a car park that whole day. The jogging itself takes place in the afternoon.
If you want to enjoy the wood in more peace and quiet, come on weekdays if you can.
Crisp weather, excellent for a brisk walk and to enjoy the colourful spring in the wood. The magical atmosphere is gradually coming to life, in particular when the sunlight caresses the bluebells and gives the wood a deep purple-blue touch as far as you can see. But still lots of bluebells are waiting for hotter weather to flower. Meanwhile the beautiful herb paris is flowering and bear’s garlic or ramsons is in bud.
The wood is gradually becoming a fairy-tale forest. Wood anemones bloom abundantly and on sunny days they form a dazzling white flower carpet. Where the sun reaches the flowers from the morning, wild bluebells colour the wood purple-blue, but even on these places, a lot of them are still in buds. On the edges of the valleys, where there is less sunlight, flowering is slower. There were a lot of beechnuts last autumn, and this can now be seen as there are lots of seedlings (= very young beeches) along the paths. They can be recognised by their two ‘elephant’s ears’, the first two leaves on the seedlings that look nothing like true beech leaves. Some young beeches are getting leaves already. Plant lovers will recognise Belgian gagea, one of the rarest plants in the wood.
Not good news: the wood has hardly started to flower, and the traces of photographers are visible: where they walked, sat or lied down on the flowers. How sad!
There stays a great contrast between the valleys that are still completely green, and the plateaus where the bluebells start to colour the wood. But even on the plateaus, most bluebells are still in bud. Meanwhile, the wood anemones steal the show. Along the verges, greater stitchwort and garlic mustard are flowering. If you come to the wood only once, to see the bluebells, have some more patience. The spell of low temperatures forecasted for next week, may slow down the flowering in the valleys.
Just like every year at the beginning of the flowering of the bluebells, there is a big difference between the plateaus where the sun can heat the soil the whole day, and the flanks of the valleys. The plateaus are slowly getting some purple green colour. The flanks of the valleys are still completely green. Most bluebells have to start flowering yet, also on the plateaus. The wood anemones, though, give the wood an enjoyable spring atmosphere. What is remarkable, is that some shrubs are getting leaves already.
On the plateaus where the sun heats the soil easier, there are more bluebells every day. But in most parts of the woods, the anemones are predominant. A blue sea of flowers will not be seen this week yet. A nuthatch is adapting a former woodpeckers’ nest entrance.
If you can, come during the week to enjoy the spring atmosphere. In three weekends, from 15 April, there is a special traffic arrangement and the city of Halle provides a free shuttle bus. More information.
Sad scene at the wood this morning where a young roe deer was hit by a car. Deer never walk up to the road by their own free will, but only when they are chased, by dogs, or noise, for instance. They normally stroll quietly in the wood, they are very shy creatures and get easily startled. They are very fragile, a wound will cause their death.
This is why dogs must be kept on a leash at all times in the wood. Free running dogs may scare the deer and cause huge damage, as happened this morning…
Never walk on bridleways (horse riding paths) which are for horse riders only. Deer are used to seeing horses there, but again, seeing people there will frighten them off.
If you drive through the wood to the car park, drive slowly. Be aware that the wood is the home of many animals.