Leaving the open downs, we will proceed "Let us walk where reeds are growing By the alders in the mead, Where the crystal streams are flowing, In whose waves the fishes feed."

THE hedgerows are gay and the flowers are laughing in the meadows and woodlands ere the blossoms that dwell by the streamlet and the river show their beauties to the sun. Early in April, in shallow waters, some of the aquatic plants send their foliage to the surface of lake and river, but they wait for the summer sun ere they show their brightest flowers. Not so the large Butterbur (Petasites vulgaris), which sends its thick stems, loaded with a crowded cluster of flesh-coloured flowers, before the leaves emerge from their winter resting-place. Its big heart-shaped leaves will be conspicuous enough in the summer, for its foliage is the largest of any of our wild flowers, and always forms a feature in the landscape.

If the weather is mild the bright flowers of the May-blobs, the Marsh Marigolds (C; dm palastris), have "oped their golden eyes" before the butterbur and the Ladysmock will have bloomed. The plate-like leaves of the Lilies have arisen ere the leaves of the butterbur appear.

Though aquatic plants, as a rule, are acrid and poisonous, the Water Crowsfoot (Ranunculus aqua-tills) is a remarkable exception, considering the acrid nature of the family. Its green foliage and pretty white flowers, known by their similarity to the buttercup, are wholesome. Cattle eat it readily, and possibly it might be made of great use as a fodder plant. It is difficult to distinguish the form of its three-cleft foliage under water if the current is strong, for the flower alone rears its head in the air.

The spring will have advanced somewhat ere the pink flowers of the Ragged Robin {Lychnis flos-cuculi), the cuckoo flower of Shakespeare. Its jagged petals flaunt by the side of the streamlet, and overtop the meadow grass on its tall stems and long purple-veined seed-cup until midsummer. In the meantime, the many-shaped foliage of the reeds and rushes are growing, and in a sheltered spot, towards the end of May, the Rough-leaved Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) begins to show its yellowish-green bells from amidst its coarse foliage. Its root is mucilaginous. It is used for coughs when candied. The young foliage is not bad eating when cooked, and it forms good fodder for cattle.

As we gain the river-banks we shall see the grey leaves of the Silverweed glistening as if it was on the dusty road-side, and the star-like foliage of the Vernal Starwort (Callitriche verna) floating in the stream. There is little to distinguish it except its stalked oval leaves. The green flowers are insignificant. The new aquatic weed, known as the Water-Thyme (Anacharis alsinastrum), or Canada Weed, is only too common. The history of this plant is well known, but how it reached this country is a mystery. It was first seen, in the Dunse Loch, in 1842; next in the Grand Junction Canal, near Market Harborough; then in the Trent, and in the Cam; and now it is found in nearly every river and stream. It has been largely propagated by the ignorance of boatmen of its habits, for each of its three-leaved whorls has the power of growing, even when floating down a stream, and the toothed foliage enables it to catch any stray filament of confervae or weed, and anchor itself, to begin a new life.

"What wonderful organism does the still pool reveal to us! the thick green scum is but a mass of Crowsilk, a green thready mass, very apt to appear in tanks. The Quiverworts and Quickmosses, and the wonderful Duckweeds and Pondweeds, all excite our attention as we wander in search of wild flowers. Even the Duckweeds (Lemna) are flowering plants, but it will require a pair of sharp eyes to discern the bright anthers on the edges of the green scale-like leaf which forms such a verdant coat for the pool or ditch. There are several varieties, distinguished principally by the shape of the fronds. The Pondweeds (Pata-mogeton) are almost equally as well known to the angler and the saunterer by the river-side, though but few can distinguish the many different species from each other. These transparent, somewhat leathery reddish-brown spikes of leaves, sometimes in early spring rise above the surface of the water, but usually the foliage is immersed, and floats about in the crystal stream like the glorious seaweeds in the clear waters of the ocean. They are occasionally several feet long. The most common species are the Curled, the Shiny, and the Perfoliate species. The thread-like whorls of the Hornworts (Ceralophyllum) crowd round the stem. But these, though flowering plants, and curious and useful in their way, are not usually ranked as old English wildflowers.

Not so the White Rot (Hydrocotyle vulgaris), with its roundish lobed leaves, for it sends its pinkish flowers upwards in the month of May, while the leaves loll on the water in shallow places, or even where there is a slight pool on the marshy ground. As it marks the place where the sheep are afflicted with foot-rot, its name is obvious, though at one time the plant was supposed to cause the rot in sheep.

Under the old name of Passions, the common Bistort (Polygonum bistorta), or Snakeweed, is yet known in many country places. Its leaves were longlooked upon as the source of safety from infectious fevers, for marvellous virtues were attributed to a decoction made from them. The base leaves are somewhat heart-shaped, but like most of the species they become more egg-shaped as they rise up the stem, which is about a foot high, and bears a long spike of small pink-coloured flowers. Modern science is silent as to the genuine virtue of the plant. Ere it has ceased flowering the spring days are merging into Bummer, and the river-sides are bursting into glory.