Having reached the shoulder at which we were aiming, we shall now have to turn straight down its northern side - down into this amphitheatre of rugged cliffs. And here the nature of the ground is entirely different. Crumbled rock takes the place of turf, and huge boulders lie strewn about the steep declivity. Snow, too, still fills many of the gullies. With such a change in aspect and condition there is bound to be a change in vegetation, and we shall find few of the things which people the sunny, grassy slopes we are leaving behind us. Sure enough, here is a widespread colony of an Alpine Crowfoot (Ranunculus glacialis), with its shining white flowers, which rapidly turn a madder red after the bees, flies, or winds have visited them - much in the manner of the Box-leaved Polygala, of Micheli's Daisy, and of Lathyrus luteus. The Alpine Toad-Flax is here, too, in profusion; and an Alpine Willow-herb (Epilobium Fleischeri), with its rosy flowers and cottony seed; so, also, is that brilliant and arresting gem, Sempervivum arachnoideum, with its bright brick-red or crimson stars enlivening the severe, grey rock. Several Saxifrages are also here: the violet-red Saxifraga oppositifolia. the greenish-yellow S. muscoides, and the cream - coloured S. aspera, with golden yellow at the base of each petal; while on these sunnier rocks is many a rosette of S. Aizoon, the commonest and yet one of the loveliest of Swiss Saxifrages, and varying greatly as regards the red spots on its creamy-white flowers. Here, also, in the dripping moss on these reeking rocks, is the Yellow Mountain Saxifrage (S. aizoides), together with its bright chestnut-coloured form (S. atrorubens). And what a wonderful sight is the Forget-me-not (Myosotis alpestris), as it springs in bright profusion from the grey-green stones! Some there are who regard this Myosotis as but an Alpine form of the Wood Forget-me-not (M. sylvatica); but however that may be, Forget-me-not reigns here as it reigns below, captivating the heart and mind of everyone who sees it - and this, too, in spite of all its many rivals for our praises and attention. The Forget-me-not of the plains, much as we admire its cool, clear blue, never reaches the intensity of colour of its Alpine kinsman; and in the brilliant green moss growing around this small water-course the Forget-me-not is boldly mingling with immense quantities of the brilliant blue Gentiana bavarica, of deeper, richer, more summery blue than verna. None but Nature could have blended so harmoniously these two blues as they are here. Is it the green of the moss that makes the blend so possible, so acceptable? Dressmakers say they can harmonize any two seemingly antagonistic tints or colours by putting a break of black between. Possibly Nature uses green to a like end and purpose. In any case, nothing in the way of colour-harmony seems to affright her; she dares all, and dares without fault or failure.
Alpine Garden (La Rambertia) On The Rochers De Naye, Above Montreux. At The End Of June. With The Jungfrau, Eiger, And Monch In The Distance.
We must now make for that farther green Col, across this slope of thick Heather and Sphagnum; then we shall come in sight of our starting-point down below, for we are working round in almost a circle. Except for a few of the pale porcelain-blue Campanula barbata, and an occasional specimen of its white-blossomed form, there are few flowers here. This slope will be perfect in Autumn, when the Heather is out. For the moment we are granted a pause in the feast of colour: one of those healthy interludes so necessary for the repose of attention and the avoidance of a sated interest. But, evidently, fresh attractions are ahead of us. These gay butterflies, complements of the flowers, are not speeding for nothing in such hot haste across this grey-green waste.
We are once again in flowerland; we are arrived upon this second Col! Small wonder that the butterflies were in such a hurry! The slaty, ungenerous-looking ground to our left, covered sparsely with a reticent growth of grass, is a veritable garden. Here is a wellnigh infinite profusion of Aster alpinus, whose blue-mauve flowers (here and there pink, or even white), with golden centres, harmonize so admirably with the host of dark wine-red heads of the sweet-smelling Vanilla Orchid, and with the pale canary-yellow of the Alyssum, or Mountain Madwort Here, also, are several late patches of Gentiana brachyphylla, a close relation of G. verna Alche-milla is nestling, green - flowered, everywhere. Although insignificant of blossom, this is a plant it would be hard to part with from the Alps; moreover, and as Lord Avebury points out in his 'Beauties of Nature,' its properties form an essential part of the finest Gruyere cheeses. Skipping light-heartedly amongst the Asters is a true Alpine butterfly which we have not noticed before - Melitoea Cynthia, one of the most distinctive of the Fritillaries, with wings of a dark blue-purple, flecked with white and russet: an insect whose season of beauty, like that of the Rhododendron-loving Colias, is short, owing to the high winds which sweep the localities in which it is generally found. To secure good specimens, it is well to be up in its haunts (the neighbourhood of the Col de Balme, for instance) about the second week in July. Above us, to the left, under the lichen-scarred rocks and amongst the fallen debris, we can espy several groups of the scarce Alpine Poppy, smaller and more delicate than that favourite of our gardens, the Iceland Poppy; like this latter, it varies in colour - white, pink, orange, or yellow - but only the white form is growing hereabouts. And what a curious grass this is (Poa alpina; forma vivipara) amongst which all these flowers are growing! It is possessed of a novel method of propagation. Looking closely, what at first appears to be the usual flower-head is seen to be really a plume of small plants, already showing tiny roots. The increasing weight of these progeny as they develop bears the plume to the ground, and there they take root around their parent.