"And now the wood engirds me, and the tall stems Of birch and beech tree hemming me around Like pillars of some natural temple vast."

AS we pass along the embosomed lane, and turn into the woodland, we shall hear the redbreast and the blackbird singing their welcome to spring, and find here and there an early flower in March. First on some sheltered spot the flower of the wind, l'herbe an vent, as the French still call the "Wood Anemone (Anemone nemorosa), with its three-lobed elegant leaves stained with crimson on its slender stem. The "Dew-cup of the frail anemone " is white, and frequently has a tinge of purple beneath its golden stamens. Cattle will not eat its poisonous but seductive flowers; which, when bruised, will raise a blister on the skin. It has been used for similar purposes as the Spanish fly is now applied to. The Pasque Flower (Anemone pulsatilla) has large flowers of a dull blue colour, but is not so common. Its name shows its season of bloom.

Not far off, in a moist spot, we may hope to find the Daffy-down-dilly - the Daffodil (Narcissus pseudo Narcissus), "That comes before the swallow dares, and takes The winds of March with beauty."

The old poets wove a fabled story round the Narcissus (Narcissus poeticus), and it and the daffodil were frequently mentioned by Drayton, Spenser, and other early writers, under the name of "lily." The daffodil is a pale yellow flower, frequently nodding, surrounded by a circlet of lemon-coloured petals. The Narcissus has six snowy petals, expanded like a star round its yellow cup fringed with scarlet. Its showy, early, and attractive blossoms, and the peculiarity of its fragrance, which is strong and deleterious, has made it a permanent garden flower, though it is yet to be found wild in many parts of England.

"In the lone copse, or shadowy dell, Wild clustered knots of blue-bells blow;" and there is scarcely a "wilding of Nature" that delights us more than the Blue-bell of spring - the Hyacinthus non scriptus, or rather Agraphis nutans, of botanists; for the old poets tell us that its leaves were streaked with black, nay, even were marked with AI, to express Apollo's grief for having accidently killed the boy Hyacinthus, and was changed by him into a hyacinth.

"Apollo, with unwitting hand Whilome did slay his dearly loved mate, Young Hyacinth, the pride of Spartan land, And then transformed him to a purple flower."

We look in vain for any marks on this beautiful denizen of our woodlands, and it is now thought that the flower meant is the Martagon Lily, the markings of which sometimes assume the shape indicated by the legend, and botanists have taken it out of the family of hyacinths altogether, and have named it Agraphis nutans. Even in the smoky Lancashire cloughs they grow abundantly, "As if the rainbows of the fresh wild spring Had blossomed where they fell;" and in many places they literally clothe the woodlands with an azure carpet. The blue-bell is universally prized wherever it grows. The slimy juice with which its deeply-seated root and its long green foliage abounds was once highly prized as a starch to stiffen the stiff ruffs of our forefathers.

Wild Hyacinth. Purple Orchis. Wood Anemone. Stitchwort. Fritillary. Doe Rose. Blue Speedwell.

1. Wild Hyacinth. 2. Purple Orchis. 3. Wood Anemone. 4. Stitchwort. 5. Fritillary. 6. Doe Rose. 7. Blue Speedwell.

One of the most common and at the same time one of the prettiest woodland flowers is the Wood-Sorrel (Oxalis acetosella). In a warm spring it rises to receive the kisses of the first April shower; but it is frequently later ere its delicately beautiful triple leaves and the pencilled beauty of its blossoms are to be seen. No English plant has any greater right to claim affinity to the sensitive plant than this woodland beauty. Its foliage droops at the approach of rain equally with the evening dews. It shrinks when roughly handled in gathering, and it folds up its leaves when the "storm sings in the wind." It is said to be the original shamrock which St. Patrick plucked to convert the Irish, and it is so common in the "Island of Woods," as to give every reasonable probability to the suggestion. The Savoyard calls it the Pain de dieu, for it, like the manna of the Israelites, is scattered by the wayside. It is plentiful in Lapland, where it forms one of the principal vegetables. In Norway it is the primula - the first flower of spring. It bore in old times the names of "Wood-sower," "Stubwort," and "Wood Trefoil." Dear old Gerarde tells us that "apothecaries and herbalists call it Alleluya and cuckowes' meat." It yet bears the name of Alleluia in Italy and Spain. Its delicate acid flavour, so much admired by schoolboys, arises from the presence of binoxalate of potass (oxalic acid), and if taken in large quantities might be injurious. It formed part of the old "green sauce" which in former days always accompanied fish on the table. Villagers yet use the expressed juice to remove spots and ironmoulds from linen, and it forms without exception one of the most pleasant acids for turning milk into whey for a drink in fevers. A yellow species of the wood-sorrel (Oxalis corniculata), is also indigenous, but is extremely rare.

Later, in the moist recesses of the wood, we may find the Twayblade (Listera ovata), one of the Orchis tribe. The flowers are small, green, in a tender raceme, and grow about half-way down a stalk about a foot high. The two broadly ovate leaves are from two to four inches long. Glance for a moment at the veins in its leaves; they will be found to run from the top to the bottom, and do not form a network, which is so conspicuous in other plants: this is one of the distinguishing features of the Orchis tribe. The early Purple Orchis {Orchis musculo) shows its tall stem in the woodlands as well as in the meadows; but the brown Bird's-nest Orchis (Listera nidus-avis) is a true woodland plant. It looks like a drooping oak-leaf, and might be passed by as such, were it not for its evident life and freshness. It is different from the generality of our British orchids in the fact that its root is not bulbous, but fibrous, which cross and entangle each other like the sticks of a crow's nest.