A CARPET of bluebells swept across this hillside wood above Tillicoultry, a blue-buzzed haze that drew the breath away.

It was the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins who coined the phrase ‘blue-buzzed haze’, which so eloquently describes the wonders of bluebells.

It was a flower that totally captivated him and held him in such star-struck awe that on another occasion he wrote “...they came in falls of sky-colour washing the brows and slacks of the ground with vein-blue”.

It is easy to understand Hopkins’ obsession with the bluebell, for it is indeed one of our most attractive wildflowers.

To walk through the glory of a richly scented bluebell wood in late spring or early summer is one of life’s great natural experiences with its sea of shimmering azure.

Often known as the wild hyacinth in Scotland, the bluebell in the past was also commonly referred to as ‘crow’s toes’, probably because of the shape of the long, strap-shaped leaves.

There was other colour in this Tillicoultry woodland, too, including the dazzling yellow of broom, and the pinkish blooms of red campion.

The scratchy song of a whitethroat, a small summer visiting warbler, drifted across the breeze.

Whitethroats seem unusually scarce this year – has something happened to them, or am I wrong in my perception that their numbers have dwindled?

Another eye-catching flower on this Tillicoultry hillside was greater stitchwort, with its startling white blooms.

I am always fascinated how plants are so named. In the case of stitchwort, it is because it was used in the past as a remedy to ease ‘stitches’ and other pains of the abdomen.

I sat down on a grassy hummock, and gazed across Clackmannanshire, listening to the sweet music of a song thrush in a nearby tree.

The song was wonderfully varied, one delicious short couplet, followed by another, and so on, each phrase slightly different from before.

The song thrush crafts each note with care and precision and it has been estimated that the repertoire may approach 100 different phrases.

After a while, the thrush stopped singing, which brought me out of my dream-like revery, so I headed for home, making sure I didn’t inadvertently tread upon any bluebells.