Every one has observed that when the spring arrives the flowers appear, and that they become fewer and fewer as winter advances. The best time to begin study is in the New Year, before the flowers bewilder us with their profusion.
The earliest flowers to appear, if we put aside the daisy, dandelion, groundsel, chickweed, dead nettle, and a few others which often survive the winter, are the following: The celandine (167, ii) with its golden stars, the sweet violet (74), coltsfoot (Group viii), barren strawberry, speedwell, and dog's mercury. In the woods we see the catkins (see p. 25) on the hazel, alder, willow, and other trees, and find the fragrant blossoms on the spurge laurel (113). The primrose (52) is in full flower in March, and soon the hyacinths make their azure carpet under the trees. On dry walls the tiny whitlow-grass (100) appears, and the adoxa (112) in the hedgerows, where the tall treacle mustard is also flourishing. The buttercups (167) come rapidly forward in April, the anemone (165) flourishes, and the early orchids (see p. 35) appear.
May Flowers are almost too numerous to mention. Most of the trees are now gay with colour - crab, hawthorn, wild rose, elder, guelder rose, and others being in season. The cowslip, lady's smock, herb robert, mallow (175), pansy, scarlet pimpernel (55), avens, and poppies (Plate I) give beauty to the landscape. Then the
Plate I.- Poppies.
Summer Blossoms burst upon us in all their glory. It will now be necessary to work hard to keep up with the new treasures which may everywhere be discovered. The water lilies (Plate II), pond weeds, iris, purple loosestrife (141), willowherbs, meadowsweet (145), and other moisture-lovers adorn the streams and lakes ; heathers and their allies are on the moors ; while the sea holly, horned poppy (160), celery, sea campion, convolvulus (62), and other plants of the sea-shore are at their best.
Autumn is the season for all kinds of seeds and fruits, and, as these often afford the best means of identifying plants, they should be carefully studied. The composites and umbels are mostly in evidence now, but a number of hardy plants, such as appear in spring and summer, still linger. Among these are different members of the buttercup and mint families (Group iv), some crucifers (Group x), polygonums, and the like. The pretty grass of Parnassus (79), the stately foxglove (40), and the bell-flowers (59) are also to be found. As the year approaches its close, the ivy (72) and a few other plants come into bloom, and the fruits glitter in the hedgerows.
Fig. 4. - A Study of Narcissus Blooms (see Group ix, p. 51)