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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 04/14/2010

Bluebells and Redbuds at Battlefield Park

By Kevin Ambrose

* Warming back up: Full Forecast | Butterflies battered by weather *

Bluebells bloom along Bull Run at the Stone Bridge in the Manassas Battlefield Park, April 11, 2010.

The bluebells and redbuds were blooming at the same time this past weekend at the Manassas Battlefield Park, about a week-and-a-half ahead of schedule due to our recent warm weather. It was a beautiful scene along Bull Run near the Stone Bridge, with bluebells providing a carpet of blue along the forest floor and redbuds providing splashes of lavender along the stream's bank.

The bluebell is a native perennial plant that can grow up to 2.5 feet tall and prefers moist, wooded areas. The flowers in the bud stage are light pink but become light blue with maturity. The foliage of the bluebells dies down by mid-summer. The bluebells prefer shade or partial sun.

Keep reading for more photos and descriptions of the bluebells and redbuds.

Redbuds bloom along Bull Run at the Stone Bridge, April 11, 2010.

The redbud is a small, native tree that produces clusters of magenta flowers in spring. Redbuds can grow 20 to 30 feet tall and have wide-spreading branches. The redbud, like the bluebell, prefers a shady environment. The redbud flowers bloom on the tree well before the leaves appear and sometimes grow out of the main branches and trunk.

A close up of bluebells with bright sunshine, April 11, 2010.

The location where I photographed is the well-known Stone Bridge, on the eastern end of the Manassas Battlefield Park where Rt. 29 crosses Bull Run. The National Park Service has a parking lot next to the bridge and there are miles of hiking trails accessible from the location. The Stone Bridge was a focal point for the Union troops crossing Bull Run during the Battle of First Manassas on July 21, 1861. The bridge was also destroyed during the battle. There is a war-time photo of the Stone Bridge included at the bottom of this post.

Bluebells carpet the floor of the forest along Bull Run near the Stone Bridge, April 11, 2010.

I have been running the trails at the Manassas Battlefield Park since I was in high school. There are many different loops and trail systems that can be accessed at various locations throughout the park. As the Northern Virginia landscape has transformed and been developed over the years, the woods and fields in the park have remained virtually unchanged. I enjoy running the same trails today as I did when I was in high school. The only difference is that I never noticed the bluebells and redbuds during my high school years, but I do now.

Donna Clawson of the Northern Virginia Artist League paints the bluebell scene along Bull Run, April 11, 2010.

Mary Moon of the Northern Virginia Artist League paints the bluebells near the Stone Bridge in the Manassas Battlefield Park, April 11, 2010.

Bluebells carpet the flood plain along Bull Run near the Stone Bridge, April 11, 2010.

A very large redbud tree near the Stone Bridge at the Manassas Battlefield Park, April 11, 2010.

A photo of the Stone Bridge as it appeared in 1862, courtesy NPS.

By Kevin Ambrose  | April 14, 2010; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Photography  
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I drive thru that park every day to & from work. It's amazing to see the seasonal changes. The redbuds are indeed very lovely this week. Thanks for the pics reminding everyone that we have some great parks in the NOVA neighborhood.

Posted by: FIREDRAGON47 | April 14, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

beautiful pictures of the flowers - thanks for sharing them!

Posted by: madisondc | April 14, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Great pictures, thanks! I need to get myself over to the battlefield area and take some pics.

The redbuds are crazy beautiful this week; driving up and down Rt 15 between Leesburg and Aldie they were everywhere!

Posted by: natsncats | April 14, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: spgass1 | April 14, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

messed up the comment -- meant I agree the trails are quite nice...

Posted by: spgass1 | April 14, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for nice comments. spgass1, great photos, thanks for sharing. I'm impressed you ran the Bull Run 50 Miler. When I was in high school a few of us on the cross country team ran 18 miles along the Bull Run trail on several occasions. I remember that was a tough run.

Posted by: Kevin-CapitalWeatherGang | April 14, 2010 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Generally the redbuds bloom just before the dogwoods [meaning the American flowering dogwoods...the Asian dogwoods (Cornus kousa) bloom later after their leaves appear].

Posted by: Bombo47jea | April 14, 2010 11:13 PM | Report abuse

I love the two redbud pictures. Those are absolutely beautiful. I wish I could be there to experience them in real life.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | April 15, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Kevin-- "ran" the BRR50 is actually a stretch... more like hiked the uphills and jogged the rest :-)

Posted by: spgass1 | April 15, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

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