Asphodel-(Day or Lent Lily)- "My regrets follow you to the grave." This plant is a native of Sicily, and was used by the ancients for funeral purposes, and planted around tombs, in the weird belief that its roots nourished the spirits of the departed in the underworld. One inscription upon a very ancient Sicilian tomb begins, " I am nourished by the asphodel." Asphodel was supposed to clothe the dark and misty fields of the lower regions, just as the ambrosia was believed to bloom in the sunshine of heaven. Tennyson refers to it in his "Choric Song" of the Lotus Eaters, who, worn out with the toils of earth, envy those who:
" . . . in Elysian valleys dwell, Resting weary limbs at last on beds of asphodel."
Aster (China)-" Variety is charming." From their constant use in funeral wreaths and crosses the mauve and white asters have come to be called " death-flowers " by the French peasants, and are used particularly on All Souls' Day (November 2), when these tributes of love-" the last white stars of an autumn day "-are laid upon the grassy mounds of the dead.
Aster (edged)-" Importune me not."
Aster (scarlet)-" Avarice."
Azalea-" Temperance." From the Greek " azaleos " (" dry ").
Azalea (Indian)-" True till death."
Bachelor's Buttons - "Celibacy." An old country custom was for a lad to carry this flower to ascertain the feelings of his ladylove. If it faded, his suit was hopeless; if it kept fresh, he might persevere.
Balm - " Sympathy."
Balm (gentle) - " Pleasantry."
Balm of Gilead - " Healing and relief."
Balsam (yellow) - " Impatience."
Balsam (red)-" Touch-me-not "; often called " Noli me tangere."
Banyan (Indian fig)-" Increase."
Barberry-" Sourness "; " ill-temper."
Barberry-tree-" Sharpness." The Italians call this the " holy thorn," from its supposed use in forming the Saviour's crown of thorns.
Barebind-" I cling to thee."
Bay-leaf-" I change but in death." The bay was supposed to be an antidote against lightning, and often worn as a talisman during a thunderstorm.
Bay-wreath-" Reward of merit." Among the Romans their heroes were crowned with bay-wreaths in token of their victorious exploits.
Bear-berry-" Self-control." A species of heath.
Bear's-garlic-" Acrid tongue."
Bearded Crepis-" Protection."
Bed-Straw-" Repose." A plant sacred to the Virgin Mary.
Bee-larkspur-" Lightness of heart."
Bee-Orchis-" Industry." This pretty wild flower bears a most striking resemblance to the velvety-brown body of a bee; at first glance it is easy to mistake it for a bee resting on the bloom.
Begonia-" Evil thoughts."
Belladonna (deadly nightshade)-" Silence." This is an Italian name signifying " beautiful lady," because, if dropped into the eyes, it makes the pupils large and lustrous. It also has a less romantic but most beneficent effect upon chilblains. It is sometimes called " banewort," in reference to its poisonous berries.
Bell-flower (pyramidal)-" Constancy."
Bell-flower (white)-" Gratitude."
Belvedere-" I declare against you."
Berberis-Another name for barberry.
Bignonia (the trumpet-flower)-" Declaration." To be continued.