That curious characteristic of the human mind which will scarcely let us rest content in the beauty of an object, but forces us to seek out the something concrete with which the beauty is associated, cannot be better exemplified than by the universal desire to put a label on the object of our admiration, be it picture, or mountain, or tree. For most of us the interest of wild flowers lies chiefly in their aesthetic appeal; and yet, though it does not affect the loveliness of the plant, there are few who do not feel their interest quickened by the knowledge of what the flower is called. To enable that great majority of flower-lovers, which has no acquaintance with the technicalities of botany, to acquire that knowledge is the aim of this book. In such short space little more is possible; but the attempt has been made to indicate in some cases the peculiar interest that a plant may have for mankind, in others some point worthy of remark in its own life. The reader will also observe that plants do not grow at random in any sort of situation, but that they occur in nature in definite communities, one set preferring the river-side, another the woodland, a third the moor or the pasture. Such indications, though quite inadequate, may be sufficient to widen somewhat the interest of our flowers.
The number of technical terms has been reduced to a minimum, hardly a score of words not in everyday use being employed: the meaning of these will be clear to anyone who has read the following introductory paragraphs.