Though the spring-time, ere the pale green of the hawthorn-bud had burst, we have noticed the pinkish buds of the Woodbine or Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum). The woodbine is one of the earliest leafing plants in our hedgerows, and by midsummer its trailing branches are resplendent with their sweet-scented cream-tinted flowers, which are occasionally quite yellow, but generally white marked with red. The flowers grow in a whorl, familiar to those conversant with classical decoration; for it is one of the most common forms used in Greek and Roman ornamentation, as it is now the favourite of the cottage porch. The fruit is red, of a sweet flavour, and frequently remains till the harsh winter winds hustle it to the ground.

As the summer advances, one of the most beautiful of old English wild flowers begins to bloom. The large, hoary, green, woolly leaves of the Foxglove {Digitalis purpurea) have remained all winter in sheltered spots; and when midsummer is past the flower-stalks arise, generally .solitary, but bearing the lovely bell-like purplish flowers one above the other, their heads all turned one way, to the height of three or four feet. The foxglove is one of the plants which mark the geological strata. It flourishes best when it can nod its handsome head over the earlier formations. In Devon, Cornwall, Wales, and the south of Ireland, it is especially handsome. In the Midland districts, away from the carboniferous system, it becomes dwarfed and scarce. Its common name is a corruption of Folk's (i. e., Fairy) glove; and it has. besides, the common names of fairy thimbles and fairy bells in Munster, where it is more than common. When it is transplanted to a garden, its flowers become pale, often white, and lose their speckled appearance, by which you recognize it as "the foxglove that Tom stays to pop, Though his mother has sent him for bread to the shop."

The popping is produced by closing the opening of the bell and striking the upper part - a favourite pastime with schoolboys where the flower is plentiful. The powerful medicine digitalis is made from this plant, and occasionally villagers drink an infusion of the leaves, but it is dangerous to do so.

About midsummer, but frequently a little later, the tall sturdy spikes of Aaron's Rod - Mullein - put forth their pale yellow blossoms. The Great Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) is easily known. At the root the large, woolly, flannelly leaves are something like those of the foxglove, and the woolly material is frequently used for tinder. The angular rough stem rises stiffly to four or five feet high. Its flowers are yellow, and the buds cling closely to the stem. The great mullein frequently grows on recently cleared woodlands, and sometimes makes its appearance on artificial rockwork. The old name of high taper and hag taper was given to this flower. The Romans dipped the stems in tallow, and burnt them at funerals; hence its name. Probably it received this name also from its use to hold the taper to light the candles on the altar, for which its lightness and peculiarity of structure would well fit it. In the Midlands it is called Aaron's rod. Kentish folk call the mullein flannel-flower, from its leaves.

The country people extract a species of ointment from the flowers and use it for chest complaints. "We have no less than seven native species of mullein, but many of them are scarce. The Moth Mullein (Verbascum blattaria) received its name from the real or supposed dislike some kinds of insects are said to have to its leaves. The yellow Hoary Mullein (Verbascum pul-verulenluni) has a quantity of meally down on its leaves, and its flowers, which are exceedingly numerous, are so slightly attached to the stem as to fall off on the stem being shook; the calyx then closes round the germen immediately.

Sometimes the St. John's Wort (Hypericum) may be found by the road-side, though it belongs to the woodlands. The Galium family are more common. The common Cleavers (Galium aparine) are known to everybody under the name of goosegrass, catchweed, tongue-bleed, or harriff (hairrough?). They cling to the hedgerows, and force their way to the tops of the bushes by means of the minute hooks with which every portion of the plant is armed. The leaves are arranged in whorls, and the minute white flowers are succeeded by small bristly seeds, which cling to the dresses of the passers by. Its name goosegrass was given it from the supposed fondness of gees9 for the plant. Schoolboys draw the whorls over the tongue until it bleeds. The pillow lace-workers collect the seeds to form heads for the pins used in their work. Hairrough tea is considered a purifier of the blood. The cleavers belong to the Bedstraw family, and the Ladies' Bedstraw (Galium verum) is often found in hedgerows, but more frequently on the moorland, where it trails through the furze bushes. Its tender stem, dark green fairy-like whorls, its minute yellow flowers, redolent of honey, which cluster round the head of the plant, render it a favourite. The old name bedstraw is supposed to be a misnomer, as I have elsewhere shown,* for beadstraw. The fact that Irish peasant girls often repeat their "aves" from them in the absence of a rosary, and the regular whorls suggest the name - "Our Lady's Beadstraw." It blooms, too, throughout the early autumn months, during which the Feast of the Assumption takes place (August 26). It is said to be one of the flowers which burst into bloom on the birth of our Saviour. Bead-like excrescences frequently appear on the stem.

* "Athenaeum," February 21, 1868.

The root of this variety gives out a red dye, and the flowers will coagulate boiling milk.

The Wild Hop (Humulus lupulus) is common in some parts of England; it is frequently seen in hedgerows in the Midland and Southern counties. Its dark green rough lobed leaves render it conspicuous, and at the end of the summer months its strong-scented cones peep out from amongst the foliage. The young shoots of the hop plant are frequently gathered and eaten.

The Black Bryony {Tamus communis) blooms in June, and its glossy heart-shaped leaves may be seen in the hedgerows. The flowers are yellowish-green; but in autumn its brilliant red berries are very conspicuous. The root of this plant is large, and was frequently called Our Lady's Seal. Its acrid nature may be removed by washing, and leave a small residuum of starch-like substance.

The heart-shaped leaves of the Great Bindweed (Calystegia sepiuni), with its white trumpet corollas, is common - too common - everywhere. Sometimes it is trained as a climber round cottage porches, but it is a troublesome weed to introduce into a garden. The drugs jalap and scammony are prepared from foreign relatives of this species of convolvulus.

Where the hedgerow-bank is warm and sunny, the pretty scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis) may bo found, where it has sought and found shelter from the corn-fields. This is the "shepherd's weather-glass," for one of the " signs of rain " is the closing of the "pink-eyed pimpernel;" it has many powerful virtues, and was highly extolled by the old herbalists as a cure for many diseases of the brain. It may be easily recognized by its square stem, egg-shaped sea-green leaves, which are often marked by black specks on the underneath side. It is one of the most common plants in corn-fields in June and July.

Of all the plants that grace our hedgerows and creep amongst the bushy places, but few are more interesting than the trailing Vetches. Their small tendrils and elegant leaflets set opposite to each other in rows on either side of the stalk, distinguish the whole of the twelve varieties. The red pottage, for which Esau sold his birthright, was the Lentil, a species of Vetch or Tare (Ervum lens). One of the earliest flowering varieties is the pretty crimson Vetchling, or Grass Vetch, which has butterfly-shaped blossoms and grass-like leaves, and haunts the bushes of the green fields. The Tufted Vetch (Vicia aracca), with its numerous crowded flower tassels of a bluish-purple hue, is common in all hedgerows, over which it flings its "breathing garland." In the Midland shires, and farther south, the narrow-leaved Everlasting Pea is common enough. Its large greenish flowers, veined with purple, are not much unlike those of the sweet pea. The white Climbing Corydalis (Corydalis clavi-culata), with long and slender stems, small pale yellow flowers, may sometimes be found on gravelly soils growing amongst the bushes. In the hedgerows and by the wayside the rough-leaved labiate plants have usurped the places of the summer flowers, and tell us that autumn is at hand.

By The Wayside And Hedgerows 35