As spring emerges in most forests, the landscape goes green with new life. But in Hallerbos, just south of Brussels, Belgium, springtime brings a sea of blue to the forest floor.
Bluebells blanket this ancient forest for a brief window of time every year — just a few weeks annually, typically starting in mid-April. As the prolific little bluebells take over, visitors come in droves to see the spectacle. (Perhaps they’re all just following doctor’s orders to spend more time in nature.)
Bluebells, also known as wild hyacinth, don’t grow just anywhere. They thrive in old-growth forests, and spotting them is often a sign that the forest is ancient, even if the trees themselves are not.
Mental Floss reported that this is the case at Hallerbos. Many of the forests’ trees were cut down during World War I by the German army, but Belgium did a conservation push in the forest for 20 years to restore it. The deep-rooted bluebells survived the entire time.
The bluebells aren’t the only flowers on the forest floor here. Wood anemones and daffodils appear in the forest earlier in the spring, before the bluebells take over.
The delicate blue blooms are dependent on both cold and sunshine. So when the trees overhead begin to leaf out and create too much shade, the bluebell blooms fade. This means there’s a rare window when the bluebells are visible.
The forest isn’t far outside of Brussels, just a half hour’s drive from the city center. So if you happen to be in Brussels anyway (eating chocolate, presumably) during the latter half of April or early May, you might want to follow the pro tip in this post from Visit Brussels and head over for a morning walk:
Can’t make it to Belgium this April? You can track the progress of Hallerbos’ blooms at the public forest’s website, where the staff posts updates and lots of photos throughout the spring season.