After what always feels like an endless winter in Britain, the first bluebell I see is a sign that days are getting longer and temperatures are getting warmer – summer is finally on its way. Near my home in Gloucestershire, the Forest of Dean is one of the best places in the country to see native English bluebells. Time it right and there are so many amongst this ancient woodland that they merge into a dense blue carpet across the forest floor. They start off a deep, purpley-blue when they’re youngest and fade to a soft pale shade towards the end of the season. They usually flower in early May but get there quickly – the season only lasts a few weeks. Good places to find them in the Forest of Dean include Cannop Ponds and the Speech House Hotel, or check out the Woodland Trust for details of bluebell woods across the UK.