"Behold those brightly-tinted Roses, How fresh the blush upon their silken leaves, With the clear dewdrop glancing in the sun As bright as diamond, with its ray intense, Shining the most when most 'tis shone upon! Does it not glad thy heart to look on them? Are they not glorious ministers of Heaven, Shedding their sweetness on the summer earth To tell us of His love who sent them here?"
Countess of Blessington.
The Rose is par excellence the flower of summer. Summer indeed "brings the Roses back to us, and their rich fragrance loads the golden air," as many a wanderer through our rural lanes and bye-ways can testify. This is true of the Wild Roses - to say nothing of our garden beauties.
The Dog Rose* is one of the commonest of our wild Roses, being found in almost every hedge and thicket: "vaulting o'er banks of flowers." It forms a somewhat straggling bush, armed with strong curved prickles; and the branches, which are furnished with elegant pinnated leaves, bearing stipules or little wing-leaflets on either side at the base, are profusely decorated with spreading five-petaled flowers.
* Rosa canina - Plate 11 D.
The flowers - those of the single Dog Rose - consist of an egg-shaped smooth-surfaced calyx-tube contracted towards the tip, and dividing into a spreading limb of five, often unequal, sometimes lobate and almost leafy, segments. The five petals are obcordate and generally pink, and within them the numerous stamens are inserted around the mouth of the calyx-tube, which latter encloses the numerous one-seeded carpels. This part, that is, the calyx-tube, enlarges and acquires as it ripens a certain degree of succulency, becoming converted into the bright scarlet hips so commonly seen on wild Rose bushes, and with which the branches are often rendered gay after leaves and blossoms have passed away.
There is considerable resemblance in the general aspect of many of the plants of the Rosaceous family, which this Dog Rose may be taken to illustrate, and certain Ranunculaceous plants, of which the Buttercup is typical; but they are really very different both in structure and properties, and may always be known by the position of the stamens, which in the Ranunculaceous plants are set on quite distinct from the floral envelopes - that is, calyx and corolla, but in the Rosaceous family are set on to the calyx itself.
" 'There is no flower that blows ' - Such are the words of song - 'So lovely as the Rose;'
Nor thus, perchance, we wrong The fairest blossoms that around may throng.
"O'er hedgerow green, in spring, Where the mild breezes play, The pale Wild Roses fling Their lightly wreathing spray, And show their petals fair by rude or lonely way.
"When sliineth summer light - In every garden glade, Flush forth the blossoms bright: And sweetest is the shade Where clustering roses twined a bower of rest have made.
" And oft some lovely Rose Doth linger last of all, When wind of autumn blows, When frosts of autumn fall; Like memory sad and sweet, past summer to recall."
The Rose belongs to the perigynous division of Calycifloral Exogens, the peculiarities of which have been already explained.
Reverting to something like systematic order while giving a brief explanation of our Illustrations of Summer Flowers, we commence again with the Thalamifloral Exogens, a group of plants which, it will be remembered, have the petals all distinct, and the stamens hypogynous or inserted beneath the young seed-vessels, and distinct from the surrounding parts of the flower.
During the summer months, an abundance of common Ranunculaceous plants will be found in blossom in meadows and waste places; but as the peculiarities of this family have been already pointed out, we must pass on to another allied group of Thalamiflores, the Berberidaceous plants, which are represented by the common Barberry."* This is a deciduous shrub, having the branches armed with long three-lobed thorns at the base of the tufts of leaves, which are alternate or clustered, oblong-ovate, and sharply toothed. The flowers grow from the leaf-axils in short drooping racemes, and are yellow, with a disagreeable smell. They consist of a small calyx of six sepals; a corolla of six concave petals, each having two glands at the base; six distinct stamens, which have the peculiarity of opening by valves; and a peltate stigma. The flowers are succeeded by bright orange-red, oblong, succulent berries, which are sometimes used for making preserves. The recurved anther-valves are very peculiar.
* Herberts vulgaris - Plate 7 A.
In lakes and slowly moving waters, will be seen floating the broad peltate roundish heart-shaped glossy leaves of the White Water Lily,* and amongst them, just lying above the water surface, the beautiful rosette-like flowers, which are among the most lovely of our wildings: it is indeed "A water-weed, too fair Either to be divided from the place On which it grew, or to be left alone To its own beauty."
This "water-weed" represents the Nymphseaceous family, a small assemblage of Thalamiflores, all having aquatic predilections. The plant has a thick rootstock, which is submerged, rooting into the mud, and producing annually the broad floating leaves which are attached by a slender petiole or stalk fixed near their centre and which elongates sufficiently to bring the leaves to the surface. The flowers also have separate stalks, which elongate to a sufficient extent to elevate the chaste and noble blossoms above the water. Thus, in all her classic purity, "upon her throne of green, sits the large Lily as the Water's Queen," and there "she seems, all lovely as she is, the fairy of the stream." The blossoms are rather peculiar, having numerous sepals and petals and stamens all present; but the transition from one series of organs to the other is so gradual, that it is difficult to determine where the one ends and the other begins. The calyx is usually set down as consisting of about four sepals, like the outer petals in form, but green exteriorly; then come the numerous petals, set in several rows, and passing gradually into the also numerous stamens, the anthers of which are adnate or fixed by their whole length. The ovaries too, are numerous, imbedded in the thick receptacle, forming separate cells radiating from a common centre, while the petals and stamens are attached to the outside of the receptacle nearly as high as the top of the cells.