This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol2-4", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
Of these wayside flowers we have included about forty-four, deeming; it wiser to give rather fuller attention to this section from its easy accessibility, and the variety of wild flowers that may be found along the highways and byways of Great Britain.
In the south of England, or where chalk abounds, the hedges are bordered with Traveller's Joy, and here and there Barberry crops up, though it is largely an introduction. Along the ditch side, Watercress, Garlic Mustard, and Great Stitchwort are familiar friends, the latter having delightful pearl-like blooms, the two former being used as salads.
Perforate St. John's Wort grows on the sward or by the ditch side, its yellow blooms making the roadside bright along with the pink-flowered Herb Robert, which crouches amid the undergrowth in the hedge bottom, its fragrant foliage scenting the whole roadway from side to side. Spindle-tree serves the gipsy many a good turn, as he cuts from the hedge skewers he can hawk for sale. Side by side with the latter grows the Sloe, which adorns the whole countryside in white festal array, its flowers being in bloom in the hedgerows before the leaves.
Rambling over the hawthorn hedges Tufted Vetch makes handsome bright-hued tufts along every country lane, and in wet hollows or in the shallow ditch bottom. The Yellow Vetchling lends another (yellow tint) to the assemblage of wayside flowers. The Bramble forms a fine nesting-place for White-throat and Blackcap, lining many a hedgerow with pink or white blossoms arranged in handsome panicles.
Along the gritty border of the macadam the silvery foliage of the Silverweed forms a fine fringe enriched by pale golden blooms. Close by the Barren Strawberry opens its numerous white blossoms which mature no ruddy fruit. In the hedge and in arching clumps by the way the Dog Rose gladdens the heart of many a weary traveller on a hot June or July day with its rose-tinted or waxen-white petals, while earlier, too, the Crab Apple in flower is a delightful picture in the hedgerow or copse. Everywhere the road is tinted with budding May in early summer, making the air heavy with its almost narcotic scent. The Bryony curls in graceful disorder over the layered hedge. With spotted stem and fetid stench Hemlock warns the wayside beast not to touch it. Under the hedgerow the Hedge-parsley with rigid stem lines the roadway as some sentinel. Cornel red-stemmed, and gay with white bloom, and Elder vary the monotony of the Whitethorn hedge. Underneath in the shade a faint smell of musk betrays the little Moschatel. Teasel with its pitcher-like leaf-bases is fond of this habitat by the hedge side.
The diminutive blooms of Nipplewort peep out from the hedge where the Ash affords ample shelter for the passer-by. Great Hedge Bindweed with its handsome, white, trumpet-like blooms encompasses the hedgerow far and wide. The sward is scattered up and down with Red Bartsia sponging on the grass roots.
Ground Ivy carpets the hedgebanks, and White or Blue Bugle is rampant in the moist hollows. Spurge Laurel grows in the hedge. The Nettles endeavour to drive all else out of the ditches. The tall Elm throws a wide shade across the road where Black Bryony clambers up the hedge, and in autumn the scarlet berries lend rich colour to the hedge side, as do those of the Cuckoo Pint in earlier months.