There may be perverse and misguided folk, who, like myself, have an unaccountable distaste for looking at Mother Nature through the spectacles of Another. One is humbly aware that the "spectacles" offered by the various writers are admirable; that they clarify and enlarge the vision, place the object in an excellent light and show our much-inspected Mother as wearing the loveliest of complexions, and yet - one likes to use his own eyesight - his own spectacles. To such, this little book will prove a peculiar blessing. It goes no farther than to tell "Who's Who" among the wild flowers, merely giving an introduction and allowing one the privilege of making friends with them after the devices of his own heart.
Mr. Beecroft believes that a portrait if an excellent likeness and true in all its details will enable the most unskill'd, unpractis'd and unbotanical person to recognize his new acquaintance more speedily than much writing of many paragraphs. The drawings are supplemented by the briefest of notes on the personal appearance - only enough to identify, and in the blank spaces "remarks" can be made by the reader who is allowed the chance of making a flower book after the devices of his own heart; thus an idler will make it the record of a summer's wanderings and write in bits of verse and prose that fit the subjects; the exact and botanical soul can add descriptions, Bertillon measurements, variations of nomenclature, drawings of parts to heart's content: children will enjoy mounting the flowers they find opposite their pictures. While to the botanist it will be a most convenient field-book, for at the end of the season his various jottings will be found already classified and indexed.
In arrangement, the excellent method inaugurated by Mrs. Parsons, now customary in most nontechnical flower-books, has been followed here, that of grouping the flowers according to color. Within the color-divisions the plants are arranged according to their time of appearance.
The nomenclature is that of the latest edition of Gray's "Manual." The pronunciation is indicated, since it sacrificed no space and may be a convenience to children and those of us whose instincts about the pronunciation of a botanical name are not always infallible.
The common names of plants are legion, of these, the best known and most generally used are in large type, the less important ones in small type and they are given lest some reader look for a flower under the alias by which he knows it, and missing this should think his friend omitted in this "Who's Who."
It may be well to remind flower-loving folk that some of our plants are in sore need of a little intelligent affection. Unless speedily befriended, the exquisite Trailing Arbutus will quite vanish from our hillsides, leaving behind only a memory of its loveliness. The cutting of the blossoms would be harmless enough, but it is the ripping up of the creeping, slow-growing root-fibres for convenient picking which makes the extinction of this darling New-Englander so certain. The bunches for sale in the city streets represent the death of millions of little unborn Mayflowers. The next plant to go will be the Mountain Laurel. Other flowers whose existence is in peril are the Fringed Gentian and Hepatica, Orchids, Maiden Hair Fern, Sabatia, Ground Pine or Club Moss and the Hollies.
The nature love which manifests itself in a kind of pot-hunter's enthusiasm or sees in each rare flower only a kind of botanical scalp to be added to his belt, is a poor sort of affection, and though perhaps one cannot sing about that Millennium of Flowers when folk will be content to love the wood rose and leave it on its stalk, we may live to see it cut instead of torn from its stem and the last Fringed Gentian respected and left to perpetuate its lovely kind.
Brooklyn, New York, January, 1910.