This item is only available as the following downloads:
4j .---., I
The Baldwin Library
J. .. ..,,,. "
&.~i~ 44 .
,, L .-
AMIONG THE WII.D FLOWERS.
BY THE AUTHOR OF
"Sunshine and Shadowfs in Kattern's Life."
S56, PATERNOSTER ROW.
THE DAY OF FLOWERS. vii
CHILDREN AND FLOWERS I
THE SNOWDROP 14
THE DAISY 19
CHILDREN'S GARDENS 24
THE DAFFODIL 34
THE VIOLET 38
THE HEARTSEASE 43
FURZE AND BROOM 60
FLOWERS AND FESTIVALS .65
HAWTHORN, OR MAY 75
OLD-FASHIONED FLOWERS 92
WHITE LILIES 100
REEDS AND RUSHES. 104
SCARLET FLOWERS 117
"NASTY" NETTLES. 126
FLOWER GIFTS 130
FLOWERS ON GRAVES 153
THE DAY OF FLOWERS,
The All-beneficent! I bless Thy name
That Thou hast mantled the green earth
SLinking our hearts to Nature. By the love
Of their wild blossoms, our young footsteps first
Into her deep recesses are beguiled.
S Her minster-cells, dark glen and forest bower,
Where, thrilling with its earliest sense of. Thee,
S Amidst the low religious whisperings,
And shivery leaf-sounds of the solitude,
The spirit wakes to worship, and is made
Thy living temple. By the breath of flowers
Thou callest us, from city throngs and cares,
Back to the woods, the birds, the mountain streams,
That sing of Thee;-back to free childhood's heart,
Fresh with the dews of tenderness. Thou bidd'st
The lilies of the field with placid smile
Reprove man's feverish strivings, and infuse
Through his worn soul a more unworldly life,
With their soft holy breath. Thou hast not left
His purer nature, with its fine desires,
Uncared for in this universe of Thine !
The glowing rose attests it, the beloved
Of poet-hearts, touch'd by their fervent dreams
With spiritual light, and made a source
Of heaven-ascending thoughts. Even to faint age
Thou lend'st the vernal bliss: the old man's eye
Falls on the kindling blossoms, and his soul
Remembers youth and love, and hopefully
Turns unto Thee, who call'st earth's buried germs
From dust to splendour ; as the mortal seed
Shall, at Thy summons, from the grave spring up
To put on glory, to be girt with power,
And filled with immortality. Receive
Thanks, blessings, love, for these Thy lavish boons,
And, most of all, their heavenward influences,
O Thou that gav'st us flowers !
CHILDREN AND FLOWERS.
dh LL young things rejoice in the
k spring time, the gay youth
K of the year, when everything
seems so pleasant. How even
the babies toddle out on the
grass plat, and clutch at the
daisies with their fat fingers,
esteeming them the most
valuable of earth's treasures!
How they watch with big
wondering eyes some kind
elder sister or nurse, who,
sitting on the ground beside
them, strings the white flowers into a daisy-chain,
which is but a poor sort of play after all; for the
loveliest daisy-chain soon dies, and it seems to me
2 Flowers and their Teachings.
nearly akin to cruelty when the sharp needle and
the long coarse thread are thrust through the very
golden heart of the first blossom of spring: I would
rather buy a nursery cup from the china shop, all
shining and shimmering in a gloss of gilding and
colours, or perhaps a white one with a gold rim and
a picture on it, and let the children learn to make
nosegays of their flowers.
They will stick them in, at first, with the heads in
the water, and the stems standing up; but what does
it matter? They will soon learn how to arrange
them with taste and in order. But tiny hands will
never carry home a large bunch even of daisies. It
is a good thing, therefore, to supply every little
child who likes flowers with a basket, which may be
bought from a travelling basket-cart, such as may be
often met in every village, piled high with baskets
and basket-work, mats and brushes. Amongst the
stock it is always easy to select a little round basket
with a handle-its colour generally is white, with a
red and purple plait around it as an ornament. This
will make a useful accompaniment to every country
stroll, and soon the little owners will learn where to
look for the earliest flowers.
Peeping up by the side of the daisies are the
SPR IN G-T IMIR.
Children and Flowers. 5
bright buttercups, which are amongst the earliest
gay blossoms of the year. The first little gilt cup
of a flower which opens to receive the warm sunshine
amongst the daisies is not properly the buttercup,
though children often call it so. It is the little celan-
dine, of which the poet Wordsworth was so fond, and
of which he pleasantly writes,
"There is a flower that shall be mine,
'Tis the little celandine."
Wordsworth liked it for what he considered its humi-
lity and simplicity, patiently bearing to see its gayer
and younger sister, the yellow buttercup, absorbing
the admiration which the thoughtful and discerning
poet would have given his own simple flower:
"Taking praise which should be thine,
Little humble celandine."
It is indeed a shy little thing: its flowers shine on
sunny banks, in early March, like drops of molten
gold; but when clouds cover the sky and betoken
coming rain, or as soon as evening approaches, it
shuts its glossy cups, folding all its gorgeous gold
under a mantle of dusky brown.
But the true buttercup stands out boldly dressed in
yellow of the richest dye ; it does not blossom till the
6 Flowers and their Teachings.
end of April, May, and June, in which months it often
covers meadow-land with a brilliant carpet. Beautiful
in the eyes of children, but not so welcome to the
farmers, who say that cattle will not eat the flowers,
which fill an unprofitable place in the fields. But
never mind; if cows won't eat buttercups, there will
be all the more to fill the basket, and adorn the nur-
sery, and for little girls to hold closely under each
other's chins to see who loves butter; the butter-lover
being known by a reflection of yellow light falling
from the flower on her chin,
"Buttercups and daisies,
Oh, the pretty flowers !"
cropping up in abundance near every home, and where
the tiniest hands can gather them. But as the tiny
hands grow bigger they will not be always contented
with daisies from the garden lawn, or the field near
home; they will soon learn to search farther.
Happy are those children who live near some
mossy hedge bank, or long green lane, where early
spring violets peep out from leafy beds, or where
primroses can be gathered, at the cost perhaps of
muddy boots and a wetting; for primroses love a
damp home, and are often seen flowering by the side
of a ditch, or little streamlet, which has to be waded
Children and Flowers. 7
or crossed in some fashion before the prize can be
secured. But for the sake of a rare fair bunch of
early primroses who would not willingly wet their
The remembrance of these happy violet hunts, and
glorious "finds" of primroses in unexpected nooks,
will be retained with pleasure long after the excite-
ment of the moment has passed away. Caroline Fry,
a lady well known as an author, who lived in the last
century, says in her own account of her life, that "her
earliest remembered pleasure was the first blown
flower of spring, or the new-born lamb in her father's
meadow. She knows distinctly where she used to go
with her nurse to see if the wild snowdrop was bud-
ding, to gather the first primroses, to hunt the sweet
violets from among the nettles where they were
yearly to be found ;" and she never returned to her
native place without a vivid remembrance of these
early delights. This experience is doubtless shared
by many others.
In some English counties the primrose is much
more abundant than in others. There are hedges in
the south and west where large handful may be
gathered without leaving a gap behind, and bridle
roads carpeted with primrose blossoms. In these
8 Flowers and their Teachings.
cases it is easy indeed to fill any amount of flower-
baskets; and to ornament the home with primrose
nosegays, which, to be perfect, should always have
some of the green crinkly leaves and half-open buds
.. ;, ; ; i -
mixed with the full-blown blossoms. A bouquet
thus arranged forms a present fit for a'queen.
In close connection with the primrose, the cowslip
shakes her golden bells. Who does not know the
pleasure of cowslip balls and cowslip tea ? What
Children and Flowers. 9
country child has not shred the fragrant blossoms
into a little tea-caddy-thence into a tiny tea-pot,
and then known the delight of pouring hot water
over them, and drinking the sweet mellow beverage
from the smallest of tea cups? for in childhood
flowers are playthings; and before the thoughtful
age when they are pulled asunder in divers pieces to
discover their Latin and botanical name, they are
toys and companions, alike to the poor man's child,
springing up close to his cottage door, and to the
children who live in grand houses, and whose parents
can afford to buy handsome playthings for them.
Even to those who have no gardens they are a de-
light, for the wild flowers are scattered far and wide
-amongst the "good gifts" which the Father in
heaven sends to all His children alike.
Every child has amused itself by blowing abroad
the feathers of the dandelion clock to count the
hours of the day; judging the hour by the number
of puffs required to clear the stalk of its light plumes,
long before they knew that each feather contained a
seed, which even without their help would soon have
been wafted by the wind broadcast over the country,
thereby ensuring fresh growths of that curious plant,
with its broad radiant face, like a small sunflower, its
IO Flowers and their Teachings.
deeply cut leaves, which have won for it the name of
dent de lion, or lion's tooth, and which are greedily
devoured by rabbits, which enjoy the milky juice
flowing from them, bitter though it is.
Every child has fought mimic battles with the
brown-headed "soldiers," which peep up uninvited on
every piece of waste grassy land, long before they
learn to call them ribwort plantain;" and many
a merry half-hour has been spent in decapitation,
and ruthless knocking together, wounding and de-
stroying the round hard heads on the wiry green
stalk before they are known to be as truly flowers
as are the golden buttercups and the sweet wild
And who has not watched the scarlet pimpernel
opening its bright eye to the morning sun, or closing
it before the threatened shower, knowing it, perhaps,
only by its name of "poor man's weatherglass?"
It probably is more sensitive than many English
flowers; but it is not the only one that possesses the
peculiarity attributed to it, and those who watch it
ought to remember that it always closes about four
o'clock, be the weather wet or fine.
Then, again, it is a favourite amusement with
almost all children, who know where to find the
Children and Flowers. II
lilac mallow, to gather its round seeds, and store
them up and call them "cheeses."
Sitting down when school was o'er
Upon the threshold of the door,
Picking from mallows, sport to please,
The crumpled seed we call a cheese."
From some reason which I could never quite under-
stand, the delicate wood-sorrel is also called bread
and cheese" in some parts of the country. It is a
favourite with all children, partly from the difficulty
of finding it, for it lives in woods and shady
places, and is fond of growing round the trunks of
old trees; partly, perhaps, for the fragile beauty of
its pencilled lilac blossoms; and greatly for the acid
taste of its bright green trefoiled leaves, which, for-
merly, when green food was scarce in England, made
it a valuable addition to many sauces and salads in
the kitchens of our ancestors.
But by far the most valuable of plaything flowers
is the wild arum or cuckoo pint; still better known
by its name of kings and queens. Who has not
searched under the damp low hedges, in the "hedge
bottom," as it is sometimes expressively termed, for
the broad glossy leaves and the pointed green sheath;
which, being carefully unrolled, presents to view a
12 Flowers and their Teachings.
rich pillar of deep crimson, or delicate pink, or creamy
white, rounded at the top and tapering towards the
base, where it is daintily fringed and studded with
a white or red coral-like beading ? Oh, the excite-
ment of watching the gradual opening of this royal
cell, and the amusement of separating the inmates
according to their shade of colour; the darker
columns beings kings-the lighter ones queens.
Even in mature years the attractions of the arum
are irresistible; and, unfolding the royal captives'
mantling hood, in the centre of a group of admiring
children, many a mother, aunt, or elder sister has
forgotten for a moment that she has left her child-
hood far behind her, and feels once more that she is
A sunshiny world full of laughter and leisure,
And fresh hearts unconscious of sorrow and thrall."
For some people seem to think that a child's life is
composed of sunshine and joy. They
Think that childhood does not share
With age the cup, the bitter cup of care:
Alas they know not this unhappy truth,
That every age and rank is born to ruth."
After all, the discipline of pain is often a good thing.
Children and Flowers. 13
It would be sad indeed if we loved this world so well
that we could be contented to live here for ever, and
never care to look beyond it to the better home
which Christ has prepared for those who love Him.
Suffering and sorrow are often God's blessed dis-
cipline, leading His people to think more of that
heaven where "sorrow and sighing shall flee away,"
and where God shall wipe away tears from off all
faces." Therefore it is good that even the tiny ones,
who play amongst the buttercups, should feel some-
times a touch of pain to remind or teach them, even
before they can fully understand the precious lesson,
that, however beautiful and pleasant,
"This world is not our home."
THE ,N OWDROP,
a, ., l li[E snowdrop tells us by
"-' its very name that we
'- may look for it before
the winter is over, whilst
the snow yet lies on the
.,_ndI Very soon after Christ-
Srlas, -.or som etim es earlier, you
i nav see the little blue-green
S sheath of two leaves bursting up
from the brown earth, which
shows that the snowdrop is at hand; and the flower
itself appears, a white globe of a bud, before it raises
The Snowdrop. 15
itself on its stalk, and hangs its beautiful blossom like
a drop of snow over the cold garden-border or field ;
for the snowdrop, in some parts of England, grows
I remember, when I was a child, hearing of a field
near my home where wild snowdrops might be found;
and though the walk to reach it was long and muddy,
I never rested till I persuaded my governess to at-
tempt it with me. We were quite repaid for our
boots heavy with mud and our toilsome pilgrimage
when we reached the field, one bank of which was
covered with snowdrops, quite white with them,
waving their pretty heads in the breeze, as if they
would say, "We are glad you have walked so far to
see us." We filled our hands with the flowers to
decorate our rooms at home, but still we left so many
that those we had gathered apparently left no blank
The snowdrop has been called "the fair maid of
February." It is generally in flower by the second
of February, which is also sometimes called Candle-
mas Day; because in Roman Catholic times there
were ceremonies connected with that day in honour
of the Purification of the Virgin Mary. Our fore-
fathers used to walk in processions, bearing lighted
i6 Flowers and their Teachings.
candles, which custom has been abolished since the
Reformation gave us a better light and understanding
of the Word of God.
There have been children like snowdrops, frail and
innocent, lovely and
loved, whose history on
"earth may be summed
up in the few short
words, "they were born
and they died." One
such little girl I knew
whose name was Bea-
Strice, a beautiful name,
which means "blessed."
She was a delicate
baby, so frail and white
and small, and with a
tiny face so sweet that
her mother loved her
with an exceedinggreat
love, and she used to call her "Little Snowdrop,"
she was so like a fragile winter flower. When she
was still a baby God took her to Himself, and her
mother sadly mourned for a short time; but she com-
forted herself by, remembering that her Snowdrop,
The Snowdrop. 17
blooming in the heavenly garden, was happier and
safer with her Saviour than she could have been
The same Saviour who loved the baby Snowdrop,
and took her to His safe home, loves and watches
over all His children. All are stained and soiled
with sin, just as the earth of the garden-border spoils
and sullies even the snowdrop's pure white petals;
the flowers drop into the ground earth-stained and
defiled. But the Saviour will wash the souls of His
children, and cleanse them with His blood, so that in
His kingdom they shall walk in white raiment pure
Our great poet Tennyson has beautifully described
the longings of a young girl for a more perfect holi-
ness, and a nearer union with her Saviour than she
could experience on earth. Whilst the snow was
white around her, and snowdrops were springing up:
Deep on the convent roof the snows
Are sparkling to the moon;
My breath to heaven like vapour goes,
May my soul follow soon!
The shadows of the convent towers
Slant down the snowy sward,
Still creeping with the creeping hours
That lead me to my Lord.
18 Flowers and their Teachings.
Make Thou my spirit pure and clean
As are the frosty skies,
Or this first snowdrop of the year
That in my bosom lies.
As these white robes are soiled and dark
To yonder shining ground,
As this pale taper's earthly spark
To yonder argent round;
So shows my soul before the Lamb,
My spirit before Thee,
So in my earthly house I am
To that I hope to be;
Break up the heavens, O Lord, and far
Through all yon starlight keen
Draw me, Thy bride, a glittering star
In raiment white and clean."
St. Agnes' Eve.
",. Wee, modest, crimson-tipp'd flower."
,.. ,'.' i '. .r
S\ISIES are the first
S sweet blossoms our
baby hands gather;
Srasping and crushing them
SIead; and stems together,
:. toddling over them with
"-. ., r tiny feet, rolling on them as
they cover the garden grass-plat.
When older we love them for
their dear memories of those far-
off childish days. There are few flowers so near
to our hearts.
20 Flowers and their Teachings.
Sweet puffs of spring air seem to breathe about
me as I write of daisies. A daisy in the winter is a
rare sight; they come with the soft warm weather.
There is an old saying that "you must not think
spring is here till you can set your foot on twelve
daisies." A machine is in fashion now which was
unknown a few years ago-a daisy rake-it cuts off
their pretty heads that they may not disfigure the
lawn. But I like to see them; no lawn looks so
lovely as one dotted with daisy-stars, all white and
yellow and pink. The poet who wrote the line at
the beginning of this chapter was Robert Burns, a
Scotchman. He had crushed a daisy with his
plough; it was standing in the way of his plough-
share, and he was obliged to tear it up; but it grieved
him so much to do it that he wrote a beautiful little
poem about it, which is still read and admired, though
it is nearly a hundred years ago since he lived and
The daisy used to be called Herb Margaret; in
France its name is still Marguerite. This is the
name of a pearl in French, and the daisy is called
by the same name from its likeness to a pearl. It
was of old a flower of renown. Have you read of
an unhappy Queen of England, called Margaret of
The Daisy. 21
Anjou ? She was the wife of King Henry VI. She
was very brave and fearless. When she was young
and happy she chose the
daisy as her own flower,
and the nobles of her court
wore it in her honour. Poor
Margaret of Anjou lived in
troublous times. Her hus-
band was dethroned and put
into prison, that Edward Iv
might be king in his stead.
Then Margaret wandered
about the country with her
young son, who was after- ,
wards cruelly murdered. -
There was another and a
happier royal Margaret who loved the daisy-the
good and clever sister of Francis I, King of France.
She lived in those times of which you may have read,
when people began to find out that the Roman
Catholic religion was wrong, and the doctrine of
its priests full of errors; and when they began to
read their Bibles and pray in their own language;
and when by God's good help they learnt many
things about gospel truths which were new to
22 Flowers and their Teachings.
them, though we have been taught them from our
earliest years. The Princess Margaret helped as
much as she could the good men who sought to
bring the Bible home to all people. She tried to
induce her brother, King Francis, to listen to them,
and to help them ; but though the king would not
do as she wished in this respect, yet he loved and
respected his sister very much, and called her The
Marguerite of Marguerites." The daisy used to be
worn in her honour.
I must tell you of one other royal Margaret of
more modern times, for whose sake and in whose
honour the daisy is worn. She is the young wife of
Prince Humbert, the eldest son of Victor Emmanuel,
the first king of United Italy, which unhappy country,
after having been divided for centuries between
divers small princes and rulers, having been ill-
governed by men who refused to allow the good
tidings of the gospel to be preached within their
dominions, has at last been united under one govern-
ment; and the Bible, no longer a sealed and forbidden
book, is admitted even into the city of Rome, the
very stronghold of Papal tyranny.
When the first heir of the kingdom of Italy, Prince
Humbert, married his cousin the Princess Margaret,
The Daisy. 23
the rejoicing was universal; many people showed
their respect and affection by wearing in different
forms of wreaths or bouquets the flower whose name
she bears. It is said that she is very sweet-looking
and gentle, and that every one who knows her loves
her. We in England call the flower the day's eye,
shortened into daisy, because it opens its pretty eye
with the morning, and closes it again at night.
I will give you one of the many poems written
about the daisy.
"Not worlds on worlds in phalanx deep
Need we to prove that God is here;
The daisy, fresh from Winter's sleep,
Tells of His hand in lines as clear.
For who but He who arched the skies,
And pours the day-spring's living flood,
Wondrous alike in all He tries,
Could raise the daisy's purple bud;
Mould its green cup, its wiry stem,
Its fringed borders nicely spin,
And cut the gold-embossed gem,
That set in silver gleams within;
And fling it unrestrained and free
O'er hill and dale and desert sod,
That man, where'er he walks, may see
In every step the stamp of God?"
: CHILD with a bit of ground
- i of his own which he can
S call a garden is rich and
happy in his possessions;
f a landed proprietor on a
t* small scale. Most children,
excepting those who live
in crowded towns, may
Enjoy this privilege, from
the sons and daughters of
the wealthy to the la-
"bourer's little ones, who can dig cowslip-roots from
the meadows to plant in an otherwise useless corner
of their father's cottage-garden. Nay, even in the
smoky streets of a city home, a poor little dusky
garden may be contrived for the amusement of a
town-bred child who has never seen the country,
Children's Gardens. 25
and who can therefore watch with delighted eyes
a box of mignonette struggling into beauty and
sweetness on the window-ledge; or a pale gaunt
primrose, bought in the street, when fresh from a
country lane, poor thing, and planted in a tea-pot
perhaps, or a broken cup, where it drags on a sad
existence for one short season, and puts forth some
meagre flowers and consumptive-looking leaves, and
dies before the summer is over, to be succeeded by
another rustic captive in the following spring.
But the tea-pot and the mignonette-box, and
even the saucer of water and coarse flannel on which
mustard and cress are sometimes persuaded to grow,
are very poor substitutes for the real garden which
country children so much enjoy, and which, if the
proprietors are very young, often look like a series of
pitfalls; for a child's first delight is in digging, and
he likes to try how deep a pit he can dig, and how
high a mound he can raise beside it; which he may
perhaps decorate with a few gay flowers stuck into
the earth by their stalks only, which, of course,
having no roots, perish after a few days. But he
soon tires of such useless sport, and with a great
deal of labour levels the ground and prepares it for
26 Flowers and their Teachings.
No rare or costly plants adorn the children's
gardens. The roots are principally collected during
their walks, dug out of the hedge with a blunt knife
and great difficulty. It is easy enough to pull up a
root of primrose, or violets, or cowslips; they can
almost be pinched out of their soft damp beds of
mould with the fingers. Only it must be remem-
bered that, if they are wanted to live, there must be
a good ball of earth round the roots; for all flowers
Children's Gardens. 27
love their native soil, and die when they are trans-
planted unless great care is taken of them. They
ought to be well watered, and shaded from the sun
for two or three days. A cabbage-leaf hung on two
small sticks, umbrella-wise, over them, is a great
protection. The attractive purple orchis, and the
bonny blue-bell, and the arum with its curious
flowers, are much more difficult to obtain, it being
almost impossible to get at their roots, which are
deeply buried in the ground. Great is the disap-
pointment when one attempt after another to obtain
a perfect plant proves fruitless: nothing being drawn
up but the long blanched strings of leaves and
tendrils, which "leave their roots behind them," and
being of no use whatever, cause a feeling akin to
remorse in those who have to leave them by the
roadside, knowing that they have spoilt the beauty
and life of the wild flower for one year at least,
without gaining anything in compensation.
No such disappointment is likely to attend the
sowing and nurturing of seeds and annuals, which,
properly managed, will make any corner of garden-
ground a blaze of beauty in June and July. The
seeds can be bought in little penny packets from any
market-gardener, or they may be saved when quite
28 Flowers and their Teachings.
ripe and brown in the autumn for sowing in.the follow-
ing spring. Some hardy annuals, such as mignonette,
blue nemophila, and the gaudy yellow escholtzia,
are best when sown in the autumn months, or
when allowed to sow themselves; they spring up
and blossom very early in the year when the weather
is mild. Mignonette is a name of French origin.
It means "little darling." One can hardly have too
much of it in a flower-border; its delicious perfume
and delicate appearance make it a general favourite.
Also sweet peas are indispensable, either in great
fragrant clumps, or else stuck" in hedge-shape, like
their useful relatives the green peas of the kitchen
garden; they form a suitable background for a
border of bright and sweet-smelling flowers. For
no flowers are perfect that are not sweet; not even
the scarlet geranium, nor the splendid dahlia in its
rich velvet glory. The perfume of a flower is like
kindness in a child, it makes itself felt where it is not
seen. And as the plainest and most unpretending
blossom is prized if it be fragrant, so a child, though
neither pretty nor clever, is loved if it be loving and
gentle. And of how many small acts of kindness is
the owner of the meanest garden capable! What
sweet gifts of flowers to parents and friends, or to
Children's Gardens. 29
sick people,.to whom the sight of a rosebud is a treat.
And what kindliness may the little ones show to one
another, interchanging seeds and roots, or helping
each other's gardening operations; the strong boy
doing the rough work for his little sister, the girls
doing the rough work for his little sister, the girls
30 Flowers and their Teachings.
helping and consulting over flower-beds and rock-
Rock-work is one of the most necessary parts of
the child's garden, especially the child of a poor man,
who may perhaps have only a small and stony piece
of ground, where few green things would flourish.
The rockery may be composed of every kind of
bright pebbles, stones of all shapes and sizes; the
crevices filled with earth, where at. least a bit of
house-leek will grow, or soft moss, or the flowers
which Kingsley has so beautifully described as "stars
of the white saxifrage, golden-eyed, blood-bedropt, as
if a fairy had pricked her finger in the cup, which shine
on some green cushion of wet moss in a dripping
crack of the cliff."
There are several sorts of saxifrage; they most
often grow about rocks and stones, or by the side of
water. In France the golden saxifrage is called
"cresson de roche."
I have seen these little rockeries or grottoes in
children's gardens decked with glass bottles and
pictures, china images, or even dolls; nothing seems
out of place. But the best taste is to have only
rough stones,'pebbles, and hardy plants, with perhaps
shells; or, if space can be afforded, a few ferns to
Children's Gardens. 3
wave their green plumes over it, or a tall proud fox-
glove to stand sentry in the background.
The love of gardens and gardening is not confined
to the children of the poor or middle classes. The
sons and daughters of Queen Victoria have each in
childhood cultivated their private domain in the
palace gardens; and when the Princess Royal
married the Prince of Prussia, and left her native
land for a German home, the little garden which had
belonged to her in England was still cherished in her
name, and some of its produce yearly sent to her in
Berlin. And in Paris there is, or was, a spot in the
royal gardens of the Tuileries where generation after
generation of the "Children of France" worked
amongst their flower-beds. Here, before the storm
of the first French Revolution broke over his head,
the poor Dauphin, son of Louis XVI, toiled amongst
his flowers. The same plot of ground Napoleon I
gave to his child, the King of Rome. Charles x
gave it to hjs grandson Henri, Duc de Bordeaux;
and Louis Philippe gave it to the Count de Paris.
But France has proved a cruel mother to the
children she proudly called her own. All these
young owners of the little angle of ground left it in
haste and sorrow. The first died in prison at ten
32 Flowers and their Teachings.
years old, a victim to the cruelty of the Revolution.
The others all had to flee from their native country,
youthful exiles, to find foreign homes in Austria or
England. Strange scenes that little garden witnessed
in the early days of the troubles of France, when
Louis xvI and his family were prisoners in all but
name, in the palace of the Tuileries, and the great
angry waves of the Revolution were surging and
Children's Gardens. 33
roaring around them, and were soon to burst over
their heads in an overwhelming deluge of blood.
Then the little son of the king was attended, even
when amusing himself in his garden, by soldiers of
the National Guard. "One day a poor woman
found her way to him amidst his flowers, and en-
treated him to ask a favour for her. 'Ah, sir,' she
said, 'if I were to obtain this favour I should be as
happy as a queen.' The prince, who had stooped to.
pick some china-asters, rose up, looked at the peti-
tioner with a mournful air, and said, 'Happy as a
queen! I know one queen who does nothing but
weep.' But the next day when the woman reap-
peared, all hope and expectation, he put into her
hand some gold and some flowers. 'The first is
from mamma,' he said; 'and the bouquet is my
'-\ EEET SCENTED, old fashioned
l' power is the daffodil, or, as children
S sometimes call it, the daffidowndillie.
S They blossom in March. In some
parts of England they grow wild. I
have seen them waving their yellow heads in Glou-
cestershire fields, on the banks of Devonshire and
Cornish streams, and have welcomed them in a lovely
Wiltshire valley, where primroses and sweet blue
violets grow, arid :tre watercresses are cultivated
to be sent away, and sold in smoky hard-working
towns. In the lake-country of Westmoreland daffo-
The Daffodil. 35
dils grow in great profusion. The poet Wordsworth
beautifully describes their appearance in his lines:
"I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils,
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of the bay,-
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced, but they
Outdid the waves in sparkling glee:
A poet could not be but gay
In such a joyful company."
Wild' daffodils are generally single. But the most
lovely are the double, rich, golden, yellow daffodils,
with a peculiarly sweet and spring-like perfume.
They are essentially spring flowers. Of old they
were called Lent lilies. They are still so called
in Cornwall, and in the warm western counties,
where they blossom during Lent. In the cold
North and Midland England the spring is late,
36 Flowers and their Teachings.
and their old name, being inappropriate, has been
forgotten and dropped. North country people
would not know what you meant if you spoke of
",, a Lent lily. About
Christmas time, in
the warm west, we
.. ,. used to see the
I .. green sheaths of
S'- their leaves pushing
.- above the ground.
-It was a pleasant
-f f' I sight; it reminded
us that the cold and
| dark winter days
would soon be over,
and that spring was
at hand, that season
so dear and welcome
to all young and light hearted things.
The Lent lilies last in bloom but a short time:
they fade away quickly, as do the freshness and
blossom of our own youth and strength. They
speak to us with warning voices to make a good use
of life and time, for life is very short, and time is
fleeting. In this world nothing stands still; and
The Daffodil. 37
for this we ought to be thankful, for it is but a
sad and sinful world, and in it we are as strangers
and pilgrims passing onwards to a better home.
Here are some quaint but beautiful verses, written
by Herrick more than two hundred years ago :
Fair daffodils, we weep to see
You haste away so soon:
As yet the early rising sun
Has not attained her noon.
Until the hastening day
But to the evening song,
And having prayed together, we
Will go with you along.
We have short time to stay as you,
We have as short a spring,
As quick a growth to meet decay
As you or anything.
As your hours do; and dry
Like to the summer rain,
Or, as the pearls of morning dew,
Ne'er to be found again."
S. Linder the green hedges, after the snow,
here do the dear little violets grow.'
) 0 a mothering, and find vio-
lets in the lane !" Have
'you ever heard this saying?
"I have seen it printed under
an old picture of a little girl,
SLir' essed in the tippet and cottage
bo nnet and long mits of a charity
-. -chool, \' ho was walking along a lane,
tying together a bunch of violets. In old times the
Sunday in the middle of Lent was called "Mothering
Sunday." Young people in service were always allowed
The Violet. 39
to go home to see their parents on that day; and
it was customary for those who were able to do so to
present their mothers with a cake, called the simnel,
or mothering cake. At this season, of course, violets
would be in flower. Per-
haps you may see a second
meaning in this little say- -
ing; it may help to teach
us that sweet pleasures often
lie all unsought and unex-
pected by the side of the i' /
path of duty. The child
on the way home to show
respect and affection to a
mother will find joy and .
beauty in the path.. -
There are many kinds of ,
violets, but the general --e
favourites are those which
blossom on banks and hedges in March and April:
the rarer and more delicate species can only be pro-
cured by those who have gardens. But the sweet
wild violets are the property of rich and poor alike;
and on many a bright spring da/ I have seen the
cottagers' children bringing home from fields or
40 Flowers and their Teachings.
lanes great bunches of blue or white fragrant flowers
to ornament their homes.
The ancient heathen poets have a fabulous tale,
which says that when Jupiter changed Io into a
heifer, he caused violets to spring up amongst the
grass, in order that she might have herbage worthy
of her-whence the origin of the name.
There is a niche in modern history for the blue
violet. An old friend once said to me, "When I see
violets in March, I always think of the Emperor
Napoleon." This was the first great emperor of that
name. Though his mighty deeds of arms and bound-
less ambition made him the terror of Europe, the
French people almost adored him: they liked the
honour and glory and greatness which, by his vic-
tories, he gave to France; he also in many ways
greatly improved and embellished their country, and
especially their dear city, Paris. He also gave them
a code of laws, and a stronger government than
they had enjoyed for a long time. So it was, perhaps,
not quite without reason that his people loved him.
When, at last, the foreign powers, by a united effort,
overcame him who had tried to conquer them all,
he was banished to the island of Elba; but many
of his old subjects and soldiers wished him to come
The Violet. 41
back again, and one fine March day he returned to
the shores of France.
He was received with such a welcome All those
friends of his who wished for his restoration, yet who
did not like to speak of it openly, adopted as a secret
symbol the blue violet, a well-known favourite flower
of the absent Emperor; this was worn by his ad-
herents as a silent sign that they were ready to stand
by him, and by each other, to the end; sometimes
they wore rings of violet colour, with the engraved
words, "Elle r6paraitra au printemps (It will re-
appear in the spring.) When asked the question,
"Aimez-vous la violette ?" (Do you love the violets ?) if
the answer was "Bien?" (Well?) a brother conspirator
was recognized, and the sentence was completed-
"Elle reparaitra au printemps." But the Emperor
remained for only a short time on his recovered throne.
The battle of Waterloo quickly followed on his resto-
ration, and he was once more sent into exile, to the
island of St. Helena, in the Atlantic Ocean, where he
died in 1821.
Though the violet is considered a flower of spring,
some varieties open their blue eyes in the autumn,
and even winter, sweetening "the dark days before
Christmas." To us these late blossoms are very
42 Flowers and their Teachings.
valuable, but our ancestors were prejudiced against
them. They had a saying, "When roses and violets
flourish in autumn, it is an evil sign of plague or
pestilence in the coming year." Probably this say-
ing, as well as that one which tells us that "a green
yule makes a fat kirkyard," had its origin in the
simple fact that a mild and damp winter, which pro-
duces grass and flowers, is less healthy than a colder
season. This superstition still lingers amongst
country people, who think that spring flowers blos-
soming in autumn portend death.
g VLLIED to the violet is the pansy,
"trimmed with golden lace," which
brightens up the garden border
almost through the whole year.
This flower is of the same family
as the violet, and is called by
S botanists "Viola tricolor." Some pansies
S may be found wild in England, growing chiefly
Sin cornfields, and other cultivated ground:
these are generally a pale yellow colour, but
are sometimes streaked with purple. The garden
pansies are mostly natives of Siberia, the North
of Europe, and America. They can be propagated,
and varieties produced from seeds, but they require
great care and attention to bring them to perfection.
This little flower is rich in gentle names." Pansy is
from the French "pens6e," thought. To this name
44 Flowers and tneir Teachings.
Shakespeare alludes, when he makes Ophelia say
"And there are pansies, that's for thought." It has
also been called, "Three faces in one hood," and
"Love in idleness." But the best and favourite
English name is Heartsease," a name which tells
its own story, and makes one love to wear and see
it; an emblem of that "quiet heart" which is the
gift of God to those He loves, "a heart at freedom
The Heartsease. 45
from itself, to soothe and sympathise," whose owner
is always welcome, always beloved.
Do you remember the account of the Valley of
Humiliation in the Pilgrim's Progress ? When Chris-
tiana and her children entered on its green and fruit-
ful ground, "as they were going along and talking,
they espied a boy feeding his father's sheep. The
boy was in very mean clothes, but of a fresh and
well-favoured countenance: and as he sat by him-
self he sung. 'Hark!' said Mr. Greatheart, 'to
what the shepherd-boy saith.' So they hearkened,
and he said :-
'He that is down needs fear no fall,
He that is low no pride;
He that is humble ever shall
Have God to be his guide.
I am content with what I have,
Little be it or much;
And, Lord, contentment still I crave,
Because Thou savest such.
Fulness to such a burden is
That go on pilgrimage;
Here little and hereafter bliss
Is best from age to age.'
"Then said the Guide-' Do you hear him ? I will
dare to say, this boy leads a merrier life and wears
46 Flowers and their Teachings.
more of that herb called heartsease in his bosom,
than he that is clad in silk and velvet."'
S iiS name has been
given by a lover of
nature and beauty to
"* the most delicious
time of the year, the
first burst of early
summer, when to
every young and
happy thing this
beautiful world seems
Full of enjoym ent. It
is a pleasure just to
"live, to walk in and
out amongst the flowers to drink in the loveliness of
Sweet spring-full of sweet days and roses,-
A box where sweets compacted lie."
48 Flowers and their Teachings.
When God made man, and placed him in the
garden of Eden, He gave him not only every thing
that was good for food, but also all that "is pleasant
to the sight." Therefore let us always remember to
number amongst the many gifts of God the sweet
sounds and sights and flowers which in the spring
and summer are so "pleasant" in our eyes.
The especial glory of this favourite season is seen
in the many flowering shrubs and trees which fill the
air with perfume.
The lilac, which gives a name to the whole "tide"
or time of year, is known to every one by its plume
of fragrant lilac or white flowers, standing amongst
light-green heart shaped leaves. It is a native of
the East, and was brought from Persia to Turkey,
and thence to Vienna, and the countries of Western
Europe, about the sixteenth century. By the side of
the lilac the laburnum should always drop its golden
chains, which must look charming indeed in its own
home amongst the Swiss mountains. The laburnum
is cultivated chiefly as an ornament in this country;
but its timber is very valuable, being hard, strong,
and dark. The seeds grow in pods, lfke tiny peas;
they are poisonous, and children must never be
tempted by their resemblance to the peas of the
GATHERING LILAC. (E)
kitchen-garden to put them into their mouths, which
is a dangerous place for any kind of unknown seed or
wild berry, or green thing gathered from a hedge.
None of these things ought to be tasted, however
good they may look, without especial leave from
mamma, or some older friend.
The third lovely blossom which graces the garden
in the lilac-tide is the guelder rose, whose snowballs
look beautiful by the side of their brighter sisters.
Then the double gorse shines in a blaze of gold; the
acacia trees are powdered with their light white
flowers; the deep red peonies open their huge
crimson globes; and the syringa shines "ivory
white," resembling orange blossom both in colour
Horace Walpole, who gave to this season the name
of lilac-tide, thus describes it: "I am just come out
of the garden, in the most oriental of all evenings,
and from breathing odours beyond those of Araby.
The acacias are covered with blossom, the honey-
suckles dangle from every tree in festoons, the
syringas are thickets of sweets, and the new-cut hay
in the field tempers the balmy gales with simple
Now also the hawthorn blossoms white and red.
52 Flowers and their Teachings.
It is the fashion to admit pink and scarlet hawthorn
or "may" into gardens and lawns, and to leave their
white but older sister to adorn the hedges and bloom
by the roadside. Why is this? Not because the
deeper colour makes the flower more beautiful, but
because it makes a new variety, and is more rare.
Novelty and rarity are the tests by which some
people try the merits of flowers.
But never mind, white hawthorn! Yours is the
noblest place after all. Perhaps for one or two or
three people who enjoy the beauty of the garden
favourite, those who love and watch for the white
may of the hedges may be numbered by fifties or
hundreds. This more humble sister is the property
of every village child, of every weary-hearted man or
woman who may pause to look at the white petals
so daintily specked with pink, so full of spring per-
fume. When we remember whose almighty Hand so
delicately pencilled, so deliciously scented the com-
mon flower, and then flung it "unrestrained and free"
over the length and breadth of the country, we "may
take heart again," and return to our work with fresh
confidence and faith. It is better to fill well some
humble place, and to do some lowly work, than to
sit amongst princes, and do nothing at all.
The pleasures of the hay-field must rank amongst
the delights of early summer, coming after the lilac
and laburnum have shed their fragrant leaves, but not
too late to be numbered amongst the riches of the
lilac-tide. What child has not revelled amongst hay?
Who has not enjoyed tossing about the fragrant
masses with a tiny wooden fork, or burying them-
selves and their companions under the soft warm
heaps, or building a round sweet nest in which to
settle themselves, and whisper to each other childish
confidences and important secrets through the long
pleasant summer afternoon ?
It used to be much more the fashion than it is now
to drink tea in the hayfield, a good old custom which
all the younger members of a family would like to
see renewed; though in the days of which I speak
this treat was as much enjoyed by father and mother,
elder brother and sister, as by the little ones from the
I have heard it said, that a cup of tea sweetened
with brown sugar tastes of hay! Surely this must
have been from some association in the speaker's
mind with the days of her merry girlhood, when tea
was served round to visitors under the haycocks,
boiled and prepared in one of those tin cans so
54 Flowers and their Teachings.
familiar to every one who has ever seen a "school
There is no waste of precious time in spending an
afternoon in the hayfield. God Himself made every-
thing that is "pleasant to the sight;" and made them
for His children to enjoy. So, when you are tired of
helping the haymakers, sit down, or lie down to rest
on one of the soft hay couches, and read a page out
of a book which is always open-the book of Nature.
Rejoice in the light green foliage of the trees, meeting
the clear blue of the sky, and the quivering dance of
the trembling summer air. Listen to the delicious
music of the bird's voices, which will soon be stilled
into their midsummer silence, the baa baa of the
distant sheep, the whirr and buzz and hum of insect
wings, always accompanied by the swish-swash of
the mower's scythe, or the less musical rattle of the
hay-cutting machine as the tall grass falls before it,
and not grass alone, for round heads of clover, white
and red, daisy stars, and orchis flowers, and bright
buttercups all bow down to die together. "All flesh
is grass-all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of
the field. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth."
"In the morning it flourisheth and growth up. In
the evening it is cut down and withereth."
IN THE HAYFIELD.
Will it spoil the enjoyment of the pleasant after-
noon in the hayfield if such remembrances as these
of Bible verses come stealing into the listener's
6, --- -
heart ? Stealing in he knows not how or whence-
like the wind, which bloweth as it listeth, and which
flutters amongst the green leaves of June with a
58 Flowers and their Teachings.
scarcely perceptible motion. Just so God's Holy
Spirit speaks by these silent quiet thoughts, which
come we know not how or when. He it is who
reminds us that like as the blossoms die, so must we.
So must the little children sometimes die like the
flower-buds amongst the full ripe blossoming grass.
It is a very great mercy that we are reminded of
death by these solemn thoughts, which will make
themselves felt. It is useless to try to push them
away, as children will do sometimes, for the power of
God is with them, and they are sent by Him. It is
better to listen to the warning voice, and to trust to
His guiding who will surely lead us into the way of
salvation. Sweetly does an American poet write of
Death and of the Resurrection :
"There is a reaper whose name is Death,
And with his sickle keen
He reaps the bearded grain at a breath,
And the flowers that grow between.
Shall I have nought that is fair? saith he;
Have nought but bearded grain?
Though the breath of these flowers is sweet to me,
I will give them all back again.
He gazed at the flowers with tearful eyes,
He kissed their drooping leaves,
It was for the Lord of Paradise
He bound them in his sheaves.
My Lord has need of these flowerets gay,
The reaper said, and smiled;
Dear tokens of the earth are they,
When He was once a child.
They shall all bloom in fields of light,
Transplanted by my care,
And saints upon their garments white
These sacred blossoms wear.
Oh not in cruelty-not in wrath-
The reaper came that day,
'Twas an angel visited the green earth,
And took the flowers away." Longfellow.
URZE AND BROOM,
,l.-iANY people think of the
Sfurze (or gorse, as it is
i' sometimes called) only as
an ugly, prickly, useless
"-- shrub. No one really knows
its wonderful beauty who has
not seen it in its golden glory,
as it clothes some roadside, or
Waste land, or rocky breezy hill in
""bi the mild southern or western sea-
"- side counties, where it most often
flourishes. It is not common in
northern regions, as it will not bear intense frost or
cold. A stray bush may often be met with in the
cultivated midland counties of England, and even in
Furze and Broom. 6
these circumstances it is very beautiful; but if you
would see it in its magnificence, you should visit the
southern or western counties, where, in some of the
wild secluded corners, or in the open breezy moor-
land, the furze flowers resemble sheets of gold, ex-
tending often as far as the eye can reach, filling the
air with fragrance. You may then see how
Nature, with Midas-like touch,
Here turns a whole common to gold."
Many years ago the great botanist Linnaeus
lived in Sweden, a cold northern country in which
the furze is never seen. Linnaus came to England
in the year 1736, where he met with many friends,
who helped him in the pursuit of his favourite study
of plants and flowers. In England he saw much that
was new and lovely in his eyes, but nothing seems to
have charmed him so much as the furze. A beautiful
tradition has been handed down to us that when he
first saw its golden bloom on Putney Heath, he fell
on his knees and thanked God for having created so
much beauty. He tried in vain to introduce furze
into his native land on his return, but it would not
live through a Swedish winter.
The prickly furze is useful as well as ornamental.
The green shoots are eaten by cattle-horses, sheep,
62 Flowers and their Teachings.
and cows. Before it is given to them it must be
mown and bruised, that the sharp points may not
prick their mouths. When dried, it is also used for
lighting fires and
heating ovens. Its
name of furze is
from a Saxon word
from its dryness it
is adapted tobe used
for fires. Gorse is
also from a Saxon
word meaning "an-
the furze in colour
is the yellow broom,
which is also only
in its luxuriant beauty. Like the furze, it covers
hills and valleys, "the uplands and lowlands and
breezy moorlands" of some of our milder counties;
and though it is very lovely as it stands, a single
cultivated shrub in a garden, yet no one has seen
it in its perfection who has not seen its blaze of
Fzrze and Broom. 63
glittering bloom in those counties where it grows
The broom is an historical flower. It gives a name
to a long line of English kings. Its Latin name is
" Genista," and "Planta Genista" was the origin of
the royal family name of Plantagenet. There are
many traditions as to the cause of the first assump-
tion of this surname; but the most generally received
story is, that Geoffrey, Earl of Anjou, placed a spray
of broom in his helmet before he went to battle; and
that he thus acquired his surname. He was the
husband of Matilda, or Maud, who was the only
daughter of King Henry I, and who would have been
Queen of England if King Stephen had not taken
the throne from her. King Stephen and Maud, the
old king's daughter, had many a sharp conflict for
the crown of England. After Stephen's death,
Henry II, the son of Maud and Geoffrey, quietly
succeeded to the throne, and became a great and
wise king of England. He and all his descendants
kept his father's family name of Plantagenet, borrowed
from the "bonnie broom."
There is another pretty historical anecdote relating
to the broom. In the year 1234, Louis Ix, a good
and wise king of France, instituted a new order of
64 Flowers and their Teachings.
knighthood; the members of which order wore a
chain of broom-flowers entwined with white lilies.
The lily was the emblem of France, as the broom
was of humility. A gold cross was suspended from
the garland, with the inscription, "He exalteth the
humble." With this order the king associated a body
guard of one hundred nobles, who all wore a broom
flower on their coats, over which a hand issuing from
the clouds held a crown inscribed, "God exalteth the
F LOWERS AND FESTIVALS,
ERTAIN days have been always set
"apart as high days and holidays.
Many of these old festivals are now
almost forgotten, their celebration
is fading away, or only remembered
here and there, in quiet country
nooks, as occasions of amusement
Flowers were closely associated
with many of these olden anniversaries, especially
with those which were celebrated in the summer
season, when our forefathers used to disport them-
selves in fields and woodlands, which were then
undisturbed by railway trains and iron roads, or
indeed by any roads at all, for people travelled
chiefly on horseback, or on foot; or if they
66 Flowers and their Teachings.
ventured in a springless carriage through the
deep ruts and pitfalls of country lanes, it was in
imminent peril of their lives and limbs. But in old
times, as in the present day, the spirits of the English
rose high in the pleasant sunny weather, and they
did not care to waste their summer days at home.
This is curiously alluded to by the Spanish am-
bassador in England, in the reign of Queen Mary.
Mary married Philip of Spain-a marriage which was
much disliked by most of her subjects. The Spanish
ambassador, writing to Charles v, the father of the
intended bridegroom, says, "Summer is a dangerous
time in England, when people's blood is apt to boil.
Prince Philip had better not come till the autumn."
Philip, however, did not take advice; he landed in
England in the middle of July, and saw his new
country and his new wife for the first time with the
accompaniments of untimely winds, and a "steady.
downpour of July rain."
The rejoicings of the floral year commenced in the
merry month of May, when, on the first of the
month, our ancestors went out in the woods before
sunrise to bring home green boughs with which to
decorate their houses. Kings and their households
did not disdain this annual amusement. Chaucer,
Flowers and Festivals. 67
who lived in the reign of Edward III, says that early
on May Day
Fourth goeth al the court both most and lest,
To fetche the flowres fresh and branch and blome."
It is well known that Henry vIII joined in these
diversions in the early years of his reign, when his
affable and kindly manners won for him the affections
of his subjects. Queen Elizabeth, also, who liked to
honour every popular custom with due observance,
was up betimes, and out a-maying, even in her sixty-
It is not very agreeable to remember that all these
May festivals (as well as many others which were
long held in high estimation) have a Pagan origin.
They were instituted in honour of the goddess Flora,
and were probably introduced into our country by
the Romans, who engrafted many of the old heathen
rites on the newly-taught Christian faith, thereby
laying the foundation of much error and false
doctrine which gradually crept into the Christian
Too soon, alas! the honours paid to the goddess
Flora were transferred to the Virgin, and May soon
became known as "the Month of Mary," which name
it still bears in Roman Catholic countries. A relic
68 Flowers and thcir Teachings.
of this superstition is still retained in some quiet
Protestant villages of our own land, where, even now,
little girls carry a doll in their Maypole, in all happy
innocence and ignorance that it is the remnant of a
custom their ancestors had of carrying an image of
the Virgin Mary amongst their flowers on May-day.
Flowers and Festivals. 69
Midsummer-day was another occasion of high
floral festival in the olden time. We have many
accounts from old writers of its celebration and its
curious customs, especially in the city of London,
which on this festival seemed turned into an illumi-
nated wood or garden, for bonfires blazed in every
street, and lamps were hung out by each house-
holder; whilst every house was adorned with flowers,
and green branches hung from doors and windows, of
which birch and lilies, green orpine and Saint John's
wort were most favoured; and amongst these lights
and flowers the young people of the day used to
Dance in every street
With garlands wrought of mother-wort, or else with vervain sweet,
And many other flowers fair, with violets in their hands,
Where, as they all do fondly think, that whosoever stands,
And through the flowers beholds the flame, his eyes shall feel no
Bright lights, lamps, and fires were the peculiar
characteristic of midsummer rejoicings, which were
celebrated especially in honour of John the Baptist,
and were supposed to illustrate the words : He was
a bright and shining light." In the country, fires
were lighted on the hill-tops that they might be seen
afar off; and remnants of this old custom may still
70 Flowers and their Teachings.
be found in midsummer fires in some secluded
corners of the country.
A favourite plant for decoration on midsummer
eve was green orpine, which was succulent and
herbaceous, growing abundantly in woods and
thickets, and bearing small purple flowers. It used
to be known by the name of "Midsummer men,"
and country people liked to set it in pots or shells on
Midsummer-eve, or upon slates and trenchers daubed
with clay, and so to hang it up in their houses. This
annual custom is supposed by some authorities to
have a Pagan origin, as well as the May-day and
other ancient revelries; it is thought to be the
remains of the honours paid to the Sun and to Fire,
at a time when they were looked upon as gods.
One great favourite anniversary is Royal-Oak Day,
on the 29th of May. There are no Pagan associa-
tions of heathen times connected with this comme-
moration. Every one knows the story of King
Charles II being hid in an oak-tree by some poor
wood-cutters of the name of Penderel, when he was
flying from his enemies, after being defeated in the
battle of Worcester, 1651.
I have heard some people say : How could the king
be concealed in an oak-tree in May, when the foliage
Flowers and Festivals. 71
is so scanty? They forget that the battle of Wor-
cester was fought early in September; therefore the
trees would be thick with leaves when
Pendril the miller, at risk of his blood,
Hid the King of the isles in the king of the wood."
The reason why oak leaves are worn in May in
honour of this event is because on the twenty-ninth,
which was also his birthday, Charles ii entered
London on his restoration to his kingdom. When
we read of the rejoicings with which he was received
on his return, we can only sadly say, "Would that
he had been a better monarch and a better man !"
During the reigns of the succeeding Stuarts the
Restoration Day was always held as a holiday, and
oak was worn almost universally. The first two
Georges did not like to see these tributes of loyalty-
to a fallen dynasty, and severe punishments were
inflicted in their reigns on soldiers and even on
private individuals who wore oak leaves on this
anniversary; but George III, with more sense and
better feeling, did not condemn this harmless annual
demonstration, which still survives in greater or less
degree to the present time. It was at one time the
custom to deck the grave of William Penderel with
oaken boughs yearly on the 29th of May.
72 Flowers and their Teachings.
The white rose used to be considered an emblem
of the unhappy house of Stuart; and the Ioth of June
was for a long time called White Rose Day, it being
the birthday of James Francis Edward-otherwise
called the Pretender-son of James II and of Mary
In harvest festivals and harvest homes flowers
bear an important part,-the scarlet poppies, and
rich blue cornflowers, and big ox-eyed daisies twined
amongst ears of corn, brighten up the last sheaf or
the last garland, when it is brought home with re-
joicings. These autumnal wreaths are again rem-
nants of Pagan rites in honour of Ceres, the goddess
The conclusion of the harvest season, when the
fruits of the earth are gathered in and safely stored
away for winter use, has been from all ages a season
of thankfulness and joy ; and if the ancient heathens
celebrated it with feasting and ceremonies in grati-
tude to the goddess of their own imaginations, how
much rather should we, on whom the true Light has
shone, ever offer with thankful hearts our praises and
thanksgivings to the "Lord of the harvest" from
whom every good gift comes.
The glories of the old harvest-home have been
Flowers and Festivals. 73
very much dimmed and shorn of their splendour in
these busy times; but many old people like to talk
of the days when they can remember the last sheaf
being brought home dressed in ribbons and flowers,
I - - z- 7- = -- ---- - = -: - *- - ^-_.-- ---
and accompanied by singing and shouts of joy.
Perhaps it is a good sign that in our times, though
there is less of outward and noisy revelry, the
74 Flowers and their Teachings.
" harvest thanksgiving" is rarely omitted in every
Protestant place of worship.
With the brilliant flowers and golden sheaves of
harvest-time, the floral feasts of the year may be said
to have concluded, for soon the days darken and the
air grows chilly, and the weeks and months hasten
on towards Christmas, with its holly berries, and the
darkest and shortest day, December 21st,-when
women used to go a-gooding," or asking alms and
offering sprigs of evergreen, a custom which is still
retained in some of the villages in Kent and
AWTHORN, OR MAY,
T is very seldom that the
.. pearly-white buds of haw-
thorn unfold on the first of
May, from which month it
i. as received its well-known
Same of "May." It is, how-
ever, generally in bloom by
-A. the "old May Day," that is,
the first of May by the old
Style,-twelve days later than
our present reckoning.
You all know how sweet
and beautiful the hawthorn is There are many old
stories and traditions connected with our ancestors'
favourite flower and favourite month. In those olden
times surely the weather must have been warmer in
76 Flowers and their Teachings.
the early spring and summer months than it is now,
when "winter, lingering, chills the lap of May."
Perhaps our forefathers were hardier than we are,
and did not feel the cold as much. They lived more
in the open air than we do, and were not so fond of
warm seats by the
S" ', the first of May was
of old a favourite
.-a- holiday; and young
., --, .'., ,. ---" people went into
''-' the woods and fields
S;'t :.. early in the morn-
'i ing, and brought
"- home branches of
green, and flowers
to hang over the
doors of their houses,
S- singing as they
went an old song,
which, mangled and garbled, has come down to us
through the memories of many youthful generations,
and which we still sometimes hear when the village
children bring round their flowery poles on Whitsun
Monday, to which day the remnant of the old May
Hawthorn, or May. 77
festival has been prorogued in our own village; one
of the verses, as far as we could rescue it from an
accompaniment of now meaningless words, runs
We bring you a branch of may;
And though 'tis past and gone,
We brought it in the morning
Before the rising sun.
We bring you a branch of may,
And at your door it stands;
'Tis but a sprout,
But it's well budded out,
And made by our good Lord's hands."
Doubtless this is the surviving remnant of a song of
the olden times, sung by youths and maidens in the
merry greenwood, and through the narrow streets of
the old city in the days when Plantagenets and
Tudors reigned in England. We read that, on one
occasion, Henry vIII and his queen, Catherine of
Arragon, joined in the May-day festivals in the
earliest and happiest days of that king's eventful
A few years after this May-day pageant, which
was honoured by the royal presence, an event took
place which, for a time, put an end to this annual
amusement. Much bitter feeling had for a long time
78 Flowers and their Teachings.
existed between the London citizens and the foreign
residents. In consequence of a prevalent idea that,
on the May-day of 1517, the people intended to rise
and slay the strangers, unusual precautions were
taken to preserve peace; and on the morning of the
expected catastrophe some magistrates so roughly
treated two apprentices who were playing together,
that their companions became excited, and rushed
through the streets crying, "'Prentices and Clubs !"
which cry being speedily responded to, a terrible riot
was the result, during which much property was
injured, and about three hundred young men were
taken prisoners. They were pardoned by the king;
but for a long time afterwards the May-day sports
were stopped, and never quite regained their former
splendour. This unhappy anniversary was long re-
membered as "Evil May-day."
The first Reformers, who began about this time
to preach the pure gospel to the people, instead of
the superstitious vanities which, in the preceding
"dark ages," had been the popular religion, strongly
objected to these festivities, no doubt with good rea-
son, for often they proved a fruitful cause of much
disorder and ill-doing.
There is a story told that good bishop Latimer,
Hawthorn, or May. 79
when he was going to preach in a certain town on
May-day, could get no audience, and found all the
churches locked, because the inhabitants were gone a
maying. In later years, in the sober Puritan times,
the May-day revel was quite condemned and dis-
allowed; but in the thoughtless merry days after the
restoration of Charles II, the may-pole was again
erected even in the streets of London, and the young
girls danced around it, dressed in flowers once more.
In our days it has quietly faded away, which those
who know best say is a good thing; and that the old
Reformers and the Puritans were right, and that a
source of much noisy and profitless revelry was
stopped when the sports of May were discontinued.
Only here and there, in some quiet country village, it
is pleasant to see little children enjoying this olden
holiday in innocent amusements and simple plea-
sures, "dressed in flowers so gay," and receiving
perhaps some trifling but valued prize from friends
or parents for the finest bunch of flowers, the best
made garland, or the first discovered spray of white-
flowering, sweet-smelling "may."
The hawthorn is connected by tradition with the
royal house of Tudor, as the broom is associated
with the Plantagenets. When Richard III was slain
8o Flowers and their Teachings.
at Bosworth Field, a small crown of gold which he
wore as a crest on his helmet was found by a soldier
on a bush of hawthorn; it was brought to the newly-
made king, Henry vII, the first royal Tudor, on
whose head it was placed when the army saluted
him as their sovereign. Miss Strickland says, that
"in memory of this event, the house of Tudor as-
sumed the device of a crown in a bush of fruited
hawthorn. The proverb 'Cleave to the crown,
though it hangs on a bush,' alludes to the same cir-
There is a still older tradition of the hawthorn,
which, although it is only a legend, and bears no
semblance of truth, is worth relating as a specimen of
the old-world stories in which our ancestors believed,
and which they repeated and talked over in simple
and wondering faith as they sat over their bright
wood fires on winter evenings of the dark days
of the middle ages.
At Glastonbury, a town in Somersetshire, is a
tree known as the Glastonbury thorn, which is said
to blossom every year on Christmas day. The
legend says that Joseph of Arimathea once visited
Glastonbury, and preached the gospel for the first
time to its inhabitants. On his arrival, being
Hawthorn, or May. 81
fatigued, as he walked with feeble steps up a toil-
some hill, which still bears the suggestive name of
Weary-all-hill, he planted his hawthorn staff firmly
in the ground, where it at once took root, and grew
into a flourishing tree, bearing buds and flowers,
even in the winter season. On this spot St. Joseph
intended to build a Christian edifice for believers,
which was, however, ultimately erected half a mile
further inland. The original thorn produced by the
miraculous staff has been destroyed; but younger trees
have succeeded it, which it is pretended are descended
from it, and possess the same virtues as the Glas-
tonbury thorn. Such are the stories and miracles
of the dark ages,-for which, as in this instance,
there is often some foundation in fact, for it is true
that at Glastonbury flourishes a peculiar species of
hawthorn, which does flower in the winter season,
and which has been known to retain this natural
property even when transplanted and removed as
an experiment to one of the midland counties of
The following is a curious old ballad, called "The
Mayer's Song," which the young people used to sing
when they brought home green boughs from the
woods on the first of May:
82 Flowers and their Teachings.
"Remember us poor mayers all,
And thus do we begin
To lead our lives in righteousness,
Or else we die in sin.
We have been rambling all this night,
And almost all this day,
And now returned back again,
We have brought you a branch of may.
A branch of may we have brought you,
And at your door it stands,
It is but a sprout,
But it's well budded out
By the work of our Lord's hands.
The hedges and trees they are so green,
As green as any leek,
Our heavenly Father, He watered them
With His heavenly dew so sweet.
The heavenly gates are open wide,
Our paths are beaten plain,
And if a man be not too far gone,
He may return again.
The life of man is but a span,
It flourishes like a flower,
We are here to-day and gone to-morrow,
And we are dead in an hour.
The moon shines bright, and the stars give light
A little before it is day,
So God bless you all, both great and small,
And send you a joyful May."
"IC' LL, both old and young, are fond
of roses. The rose ranks as
queen amongst flowers, and
it blossoms alike in the rich
man's greenhouse and the
poor man's garden. We
S have roses in every shade
S of colour,-from deep crim-
Sson which is almost black,
to pure white; from rich
"yellow to delicate cream
colour. But no blue roses.
No triumph of art has yet
produced a blue rose!
Amongst so many varie-
"ties it is difficult to select a special
favourite; but, if called on to do
so, I should name the dear, sweet,
old-fashioned cabbage-rose as the
84 Flowers and their Teachings.
choicest of all the lovely sisterhood. No other
rose possesses its exquisite fragrance; no other
looks so charming as it stands in some old garden
amongst the lilies; its firm ball of shaded pink just
wet with drops of July rain, which tremble on its
petals, filling the air with delicious perfume.
Another dear old-fashioned rose, rarely seen now,
is the "York and Lancaster." You may have seen it
in some cottage garden, with its striped red and
white flowers. I am obliged to say it is not very
pretty, but then it has a story attached to it; and an
ordinary-looking flower with a story belonging thereto
is better than the handsomest exotic without one.
Its story carries our thoughts back to the terrible
days when England was the scene of civil war-two
rival families of princes "fighting for the crown." You
have read in history of the "Wars of the Roses,"
between the houses of York and Lancaster, in the
15th century. They began in the reign of Henry VI,
whose cousin, Richard, duke of York, considered that
he had the best right to the English throne. For
many years the country was devastated by these
dreadful wars; and there was great cause for thank-
fulness when at last they ceased on the accession of
Henry vII of the Lancastrian line, and his marriage
with Elizabeth, the heiress of York, the eldest
daughter of Edward Iv, and sister to the little
princes who were murdered in the Tower.
In the early days of these wars, or, as some
authorities say, before they had broken out, the
adherents of the gentle king Henry VI, and his brave
wife Margaret, adopted the red rose as their emblem;
whilst their opponents, who followed the house of
York, wore the white rose as their badge. There is
86 Flowers and their Teachings.
a tradition that at the time when the marriage of
Henry vII united the families of the red and white
rose, the York and Lancaster rose first blossomed in
England. There was then growing in the garden of
a certain monastery in Wiltshire a rose-tree, which,
during the troubles of the land, had, to the amaze-
ment of the beholders, borne at once red roses and
white. About the time of the marriage of Henry
and Elizabeth, all its flowers blossomed forth with
mixed petals of red and white in stripes; and people
came from all the country round to see the wonder,
hailing it, according to the spirit of the age, as a
joyful omen of peace and prosperity.
The bluff and sturdy royal Tudors who descended
from this marriage seem especially to have adopted
the rose as their flower; and we see it in ecclesiastical
and other buildings, carved in stone, a marked feature
of the architecture of that day.
There are many very old stories and traditions
concerning roses; some of them being connected
even with the gods and goddesses of the Pagan era.
According to these legends, the rose was originally
white, till Cupid, dancing amongst the gods, upset a
cup of nectar upon it, and it became red. Another
fabulous story says, that Venus, hastening to the
relief of Adonis, pierced her foot with a thorn which
drew blood, which, dropping on the white rose, made
it red for ever afterwards.
The rose was by the ancients considered an
emblem of silence, and as such was hung over the
tables at entertainments when it was considered
desirable to remind the guests that the conversation
in which they might indulge themselves need not be
88 Flowers and their Teachings.
proclaimed to all the world. Hence came the saying,
" under the rose."
In the eastern lands, and especially in Persia, the
rose has ever been held in high estimation, and its
beauty and fragrance are constantly alluded to in
eastern literature. Here is one instance: A
traveller, one day, walking through a district in
Persia, chanced to take into his hand a piece of clay
which lay by the wayside, and to his surprise he
found it exhaled the most delightful fragrance.
'Thou art but a poor piece of clay,' he said; 'yet
how fragrant art thou! how refreshing! Thou shalt'
be my companion. I will carry thee in my bosom.
But whence hast thou this fragrance ?' The clay
replied, 'I have been dwelling with the rose !'"
Another Persian legend relates how Sadi, when a
slave, presented his master with a rose, with these
words, "Do good to thy servant whilst thou hast the
power, for the season of power is often ,as transient
as the duration of this beautiful flower," which
words so touched the master's heart that he gave
his servant liberty, and Sadi became famous after-
wards as a poet.
The Persians also have many legends connecting
the rose and the bulbul, or the nightingale, which
is said to utter a plaintive lament when the beloved
flower is gathered, and which hovers around the rose-
bushes in the spring-time, till, overpowered by their
sweetness,;he drops senseless on the ground.
In France it used to be the custom to present
roses to the Parliament of Paris by an officer who
was called the Rosier de la Cour." It was part of
his duty to cause the apartments of the parliament-
house to be strewed with roses and sweet flowers
during the spring and summer months, and also to
provide an entertainment at which a nosegay of roses
was presented to each guest. In Salency, an obscure
village in France, it has been a custom for many
centuries to bestow a crown of roses yearly on the
young maiden who is acknowledged by her com-
panions to be the most amiable, modest, and dutiful
in the village. She is then called the rose-queen.
This rose festival was instituted in the sixth century
by a bishop of Noyen, who was a native of
Roses are cultivated both in France and this
country for the sake of their petals, which are used
for making rose-water, and also a conserve of roses
sold by druggists. The rare and exquisite perfume,
attar of roses, is made from flowers obtained in the
90 Flowers and their Teachings.
great plain of Syria, about three miles from Damas-
cus, where the rose trees are cultivated with great
care. Dried cakes of roses are also made in the
neighbourhood of Damascus, and most delicious con-
serves and tarts flavoured with rose leaves. The
damask roses, both red and white, which bloom in
our gardens, derive their name from the ancient city
near which they have been cultivated for centuries;
if, indeed, they are not natives of the neighbourhood.
We cannot make attar of roses, and we are not
likely to wish to make rose-leaf tarts; but it is a
pleasant summer amusement to collect and dry the
pink petals of roses, with other flowers, for "sweet
pot," or pot pourri, which will retain fragrance for
years, becoming even more delicious as time ad-
vances. The leaves of the cabbage-rose are the best
for this purpose. The following mixture of flowers
and spices makes a most excellent perfume, and
affords both interesting and pleasing employment for
leisure hours and hot summer afternoons-2 lb rose
petals; 2 oz. bay leaves; I lb lemon thyme; lb
jessamine flowers; I lb clove pinks; a handful
of sweet marjoram; a handful of rosemary; 6 oz.
lavender flowers; I oz. sweet oris root, shred
thin; I oz. gum Benjamin ; 2 oz. nutmegs, grated;