There are sound scientific reasons why looking at colour can enhance our feelings of wellbeing and joy.
Red and yellow stimulate the part of our brain which dilates blood vessels and increases heart-rate whereas blue lowers these responses. Looking at green things is understood to enhance creativity and invigorate the mind.
Add in the proven benefits of being in nature and you’ve got a pretty powerful combination, especially if you visit the magical New Forest, where you’ll find a feast of colour as our flowers and trees are now bursting out for Spring!
Top of our colour pops have to be the bluebells. These vast carpets of intense, ultramarine blue with their acid-green leaves only grow in Ancient Woodlands, or where those woodlands used to be, making the New Forest one of the world’s top spots to experience this annual phenomenon.
Look carefully as you walk or cycle along, and you’ll see bluebells dotting the hedgerows and in the older copses. But, to experience their full power, visit Clayhill Heath near Lyndhurst, Broomy Inclosure near Exbury, Roydon Woods, Sandleheath near Fordingbridge, and Pondhead Inclosure near Lyndhurst. Perfect for your Insta feed, they also smell wonderful, too.
Some of Spring’s most vibrant colours can be found in our hedgerows, many of which have been growing for hundreds of years. Peer downwards and you’ll almost certainly notice the pale, greeny-yellow of the friendly-faced primroses and the jewel-like purple of the violets, sprinkled like gems in the semi-shade. Later in the season, our hedgerows will be spangled with the pale pink and yellow of the honeysuckle, as well as the pearly-pink of the dog roses.
For another burst of brilliant yellow, celandines, a star-shaped ground-flowering plant, can’t be beaten and nor can the gorse, a strong, golden flower which blooms on the – very -prickly! - bushes you can see on the heathland. Try Hatchet Lane near Beaulieu, or the area around Picket Post and Burley where you may even see the roaming New Forest ponies nibbling at the bushes which are one of their food sources.
You’ll find more yellow in our meadows – from the buttercups to the rarer cowslips, which lurk in the longer grass. And, for masses of pink, checkout the towering foxgloves which can be found in many of our forest glades and edges but don’t touch them as the plant is poisonous.
Green is a year-round colour in the New Forest but head over to any of our woodlands where beech trees dominate and, if you catch them right, you’ll be treated to the lime green of their new leaves. They unfold like a fan and, in the right light, appear to be almost suspended in mid-air.
For even more vibrant spring colours treat your eyes to the jaw-dropping experience that is Exbury Gardens. Spring is the time to visit as their world-class rhododendron and azalea collection will be bursting into life. Peach, salmon, magenta and mauve blooms jostle for attention; their beauty reflected in Exbury’s exquisitely-positioned ponds and waterways. The garden’s spring bulbs will be in full-bloom as well as their beautiful blossom trees – perfect for capturing some lasting family images.
Other gardens to visit at this time of the year include Furzey Gardens near Minstead, and those at Palace House, Beaulieu, whose Wilderness Garden is filled with spring flowers. From April 28-30, Beaulieu is also hosting the popular BBC Gardeners’ World Spring Fair, which will be packed with plants to buy, as well as visits from top TV gardeners, including Arit Anderson and Adam Frost. Entry fees for the show also allow you to visit Palace House and its gardens, as well as the National Motor Museum.