Many women are experienced botanists in their own locality, and can tell where every wild flower of the region is to be found. They rejoice, too, in the discovery of a new weed with as much enthusiasm as an astronomer shows over a fresh comet. Most of the men who live in the country are too busy to give much time to flower-gardens, but they show great interest and pride in those so carefully tended by their wives and daughters, and are ready enough to lend a helping hand, even though they may pretend to begrudge the space taken from grass or vegetables, for what they think it their duty to call an idle diversion. But given a retired merchant with not much to occupy his mind, and the chances are that he will soon be wearing himself out in loving labor among his Rhododendrons and Roses, taking pride in having the earliest and largest blossoms in his parterre, and conferring in a friendly way over the fence with his neighbors, who stop to consult with him on the best way of dealing with insect pests. Of course, in the remoter West, life is too strenuous to leave much space for flower-gardening. Flowers are often seen growing in a little inclosure on a frontier sheep-ranch, which cost not only labor but self-denial, and yet they are hardly seen once a year by any save their owner. The care which it cost the mothers and daughters among the early emigrants to transport seeds, and slips, and roots of the old home flowers from New England, to brighten new homes in the West, has often been described, and the love with which these flowers are cherished by their descendants is well known.
It is to these people we must look to discover whether the love of flowers and gardening is implanted in a people, not to the wasteful and luxurious dweller in the town, who only uses flowers as a pretext for wanton expense. It should not be forgotten that aside from this extravagance, which may show itself in the purchase of flowers, as in the purchase of other luxuries, simply because they may be rare and costly, great numbers of people in the city buy flowers habitually because they love their beauty and fragrance.
As to the nomenclature there is this to be said: In older countries the people and the flowers lived together long before the botanist appeared, while here the botanists came with the early settlers to an unexplored field, found the new flowers, and named them before the people had become familiarly acquainted with them. The State flower of California was introduced to the children of that commonwealth as the Eschscholtzia before they could spell it, but this does not prove any lack of love or admiration for it on their part. They have a pet name for the flower, too; and in all the older settled parts of the country, wherever a plant or flower is so abundant, or useful, or obtrusive that there is need to speak of it, a name is found at once. The children of New England call the wild Columbine Meeting-houses, from their shape, no doubt, and with them Viola pedata is the Horse Violet, perhaps from its long face. The Houstonia, which is Bluets in some places, is Innocence in others. In northern New Jersey, the Marsh Marigold of other regions (Caltha palustris) is invariably a Cowslip. Some children, gathering Dogtooth Violets by the handful within sight of Trinity Church spire, when asked the name of the flowers, expressed much surprise that the inquirer had never heard of Yellow-bells. Even Shortia, which hid away from botanists for a hundred years, had a name which was common enough to answer every purpose, and the man who first discovered it in any quantity was told by the dwellers in the mountain hamlet, where it was spreading over acres, that it was nothing but Little Coltsfoot. Even where botanical names have not been adopted outright as common ones, they have often been changed, just as Pyxidanthera has become Pyxie to all the dwellers among the New Jersey Pines. There are plenty of common names in every locality which have never found their way into the botanies.