This section is from the book "Wayside And Woodland Blossoms", by Edward Step. Also available from Amazon: Wayside And Woodland Blossoms: A Guide To British Wild-Flowers.
The purpose of this volume is to assist a very large and increasing class of persons who possess a strong love of flowers, but to whom the ordinary "Floras" - indispensable as they are to the scientific botanist - are as books written in an unknown tongue. With the enormous increase of our town populations, and the greater facilities for home travel, there has grown up a truer appreciation of the country and of all that is beautiful in nature ; and it is hoped that this work may be of service to those who thus steal back to the arms of their Mother, but have not time or inclination to spell out and painfully translate the carefully-made terms of the exact descriptions which learned men have written for the use of the scientific student. Such terms are absolutely necessary, for the things they describe were unknown to our Celtic and Saxon forefathers, who would otherwise have left us names for them which would now be familiar words to all. In a work like the present such words could not be entirely avoided, but they have been used sparingly, and in a manner that will not involve continual reference to a dictionary of scientific terms.
The Author's aim has been to write a book that, whilst it satisfied the rambler who merely wishes to identify the flowers by his path, might also serve as a stepping-stone to the floras of Hooker, Bentham, and Boswell-Syme ; so that should the interest of any reader be sufficiently awakened he may take up the more serious study of either of these authors without having to unlearn what this modest pocket-book may have taught him. At the same time he will here find information on many points of great interest, such as are rarely, if ever, noticed in the "Floras."
When it is stated that the "London Catalogue of British Plants" - meaning only the flowering plants and ferns - includes nearly 1,700 species, it will be understood that an inexpensive work for the pocket of the rambler can only give figures of a few of these ; but the Author has tried to so use the 180 plants delineated that they may serve as a key to a much greater number of species. He regrets that technical difficulties connected with colour-printing and binding have made it impossible to carry out his original plan of grouping the plants according to their natural affinities; instead, he has had to arrange them more in seasons, a course which, after all, may be preferred by the rambler, who will thus find in contiguous pages the flowers he is likely to meet in the course of one ramble. The more scientifically inclined may find the species enumerated in the Natural Orders at the end of the work (page 153).
Several of the black and white figures are of trees which are not natives, but from the frequency with which they are now planted in woods and parks the question of their identity is constantly troubling the rambler, and it seems well to give him the power to decide what they are.
In conclusion, the Author would but express the hope that the present volume may receive a similarly encouraging reception to that which has been accorded to his previous efforts to popularize one of the most delightful branches of human knowledge.