The Spring Squill,* a regular-flowered Monocotyledon, and one of the Liliaceous family, is a delicate little bulbous plant, found in sandy wastes and pastures, especially near the sea. It has narrow-linear leaves, and a flower-scape bearing at top a short raceme of small blue starry flowers. The perianth of these flowers is composed of six nearly equal spreading segments, all coloured alike, and within them close to their base are inserted six stamens, one opposite each segment, the centre being occupied by the ovary. This is a superior ovary, the other parts of the flower being developed exterior to and beneath it.
* Orchis maculata - Plate 5 C (misnamed musculo). † Cypripedhim Calceolus - Plate 5 D.
Another example of a spring-flowering Liliaceous plant, also regular-flowered, is afforded by the Bluebell,+ the "shade-loving hyacinth" of the poets, a pretty bulbous plant, very abundant in Britain, in woods, hedgerows, and other shady places. This plant has broadish-linear leaves, and a flower-stem about a foot high, bearing a terminal one-sided or nodding raceme of pendent flowers, each flower having a small leafy bract at the base of its pedicel or stalk. The perianth is tubulose, the segments united for a short distance at the base, spreading only at the top where they become recurved. It is usually of a deep blue, though in some cases white, or more rarely pinkish. It is sometimes referred to the Scilla family, but a comparison with the foregoing will show considerable difference between them. This flower is occasionally called Harebell: a name which, is more appropriately given to the little Campanula rotundifolia. The Hyacinth of the ancients, - which was named in commemoration of a comely youth, Hyacinthus, who was accidentally killed by Apollo, and which bore certain lines or marks on its petals, in allusion to the absence of which our native species was called non-scriptus, - was made by the Greeks the emblem of Death; and hence an American poet has taken it as the symbol of sorrow: "the deep blue tincture that robed it seemed the gloomiest garb of sorrow."Another poet has called it the "sublime Queen of the mid-May."
* Scilla verna - Plate 6 C.
† Hyacinthns non-scriptus - Plate 6 D.
And with this well-known and favourite flower we close our sketch of the illustrative examples of the flowers of the spring season. In the succeeding pages we shall give a more complete and formal, as well as classified enumeration of the principal kinds of wild plants which blossom during the early portion of the year. The examination of these, as day by day they become unfolded, will, we hope, prove an agreeable and instructive pastime to many readers, and give them an increased zest for the search after those which are yielded by the seasons that follow.
Who loves not Spring's voluptuous hours,
The carnival of birds and flowers?
Yet who would choose, however dear,
That Spring should revel all the year? - Montgomery.