The Parents' Review
A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture
Edited by Charlotte Mason.
"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
A Few Flower-Favourites.
A Paper for Children
by Violet Picton-Warlow.
Volume 4, 1893/94, pgs. 468-471
I am going to talk to you, children dear, about a few of our favourite
wild flowers. Shall we begin with the Foxglove? Foxgloves are so tall,
so strong-looking, and so conspicuous; they seem to insist upon being
noticed first, so first here let them be. All through June they have
been flowering in their purple glory, and perhaps in July you may still
find a few lingering blossoms. They came much earlier this year than
usual, as did many other flowers. Early in April May-trees were white;
by the middle of May from many of them the white petals had all fallen.
In May, too, wild roses and honeysuckle, flowers of June, filled the
hedges. The beautiful blue weather brought them all out; the days were
so warm and bright that they thought they would like to see all that
was going on--with summer skies above them and summer air about them,
'twas dull to remain with buds tightly curled. But let us go back to
our foxgloves. What do you think the foxglove means? Most people think
it means folks' or fairies' glove, but I know a lady who does not like
that meaning at all. A fairy, she says, who could wear as a glove one
of those large purple blossoms could not, like Ariel (ask mother,
children, to sing you Ariel's song) lie in a cowslip's bell. She is
right. So large-handed an elf is not the wee sprite we know of and love
so well, the sprite who can fly through key-holes, ride on butterflies,
and perform many other equally wonderful feats.
Shall I tell you what I think the name means? I think the first part of
it 'fox' used to be 'folk's,' that is 'fairies,' and the second part
'glove' long ago was 'glew,' which means music, so that the two parts
put together mean 'fairies'-music.' [Miss Cresswell, "Alexis and his
Flowers."] But the spelling of the word has been changed to 'foxglove.'
In Munster the people call it Fairy-Bells, and the Norwegian name for
it means Folk's-Bells. Fairies' -Music is a much prettier name than
Fairies'-Glove, don't you agree with me?
That name must have been given to it because it, like the pretty blue
hare-bell, is said to ring out, at sunset and at sunrise, faint sweet
music from its beautiful purple bells; music so faint, so distant, that
only those whose souls and minds are spotlessly pure, and whose hearts
are full of love for all the wonderful works of nature, can ever hope
to hear it.
Now daisies, children, little common daisies that grow everywhere. How
many daisy-chains have you made this year? My fingers have grown too
big and clumsy now to make daisy-chains, but I love to see the babies
doing so. Welsh people call daisies "Trembling Stars." And a German
fairy-tale writer tells us that no daisies grew on the earth until one
day some baby-angels playing in the fields of light above threw some of
these blossoms over the walls of heaven, and down they fell, down, down
to us, and have grown in our fields ever since. So the daisies are
heaven's own flowers. Perhaps that is why the children love them so
dearly. "Daisy" means "day's eye."
Buttercups next, because buttercups and daisies always go together, and
buttercups also are "the little children's dower." Do you know that
there are three different flowers which are all called buttercups? I
wonder whether you have ever noticed the differences between these
three. The one that blossoms earliest--the buttercup of April and
May--has furrowed stalks, its calyx is turned back close upon the
stalk, and if you pull the plant up out of the ground you will
see that the bottom part of the stem which was under the earth is thick
and swollen-looking. That is the Bulbous Buttercup. Then there is the
Creeping Buttercup, which creeps along the ground and throws out roots
as it goes. It also has furrowed stalks, but the calyx spreads out, it
does not turn back on to the stalk as does that of the bulbous
buttercup. It flowers through June, July, and August. Do you know what
the calyx is? When it spreads out, it is like a tiny saucer underneath
the cup part of the buttercup.
The third kind, the Meadow buttercup, has smooth round stalks and a
spreading calyx. Its root is fibrous: that is, having little
thread-like rootlets growing out like tiny branches in every direction.
I like this last one the best. Some people call it the king-cup. If you
pick a big bunch of these flowers and put them into a jam-pot or a
pudding-basin you can't think how pretty they will look, they seem to
light up the room they are in like sunshine. I say "put them into a
jam-pot or a pudding-basin" because they don't look half so nice in a
grand vase. I don't quite know why this is, but I think they don 't
like the grand vases, they feel out of place in them and stiff, and
when they feel that, they look it. The are like little boys dressed in
their best clothes-all awkwardness.
Pansies, dear pansies! I wonder whether there is anyone living who does
not love pansies. On the sandhills here by the sea the pansies, yellow
and blue, quantities of them, are now all in blossom. They have many
names, and one very pretty one, 'Heart's-ease,' but I like 'pansy'
best. 'Pansy' means ' thoughts,' you know. Loving thoughts they must
be, for such a lovely flower could never mean anything but what is good
and sweet. After all, the names Pansy and Heart's-ease are the same,
for nothing will ever bring you such perfect heart's-ease, children, as
kind and loving thoughts of all around you, and nothing can ever cause
you such bitter heart-ache in days to come as the memory of unkind
thoughts, followed perhaps by bitter words.
The wild roses in June were exquisite, their pink, yellow, and white
blossoms lighting up all the hedges. The first wild roses were those
that grew in a thick wall round the palace of the Sleeping Beauty. No
doubt as the Prince approached them he thought, "If these fragile
little flowers are all that divide me from my Princess, I shall soon be
by her side." Then, as he got closer, he saw that the little delicate
flowers were protected by multitudes of thorns that were neither little
nor delicate, so that the task of getting through was by no means so
easy. However, being a brave man, he fought his way onwards, and won
his prize. Perhaps the roses were not particularly anxious to keep him
out; perhaps they liked him, and sometimes drew their thorny branches
out of the way to let him pass, in order that he might not get
discouraged, which was very kind of them--sweet roses!
Honeysuckle! Oh, children dear, honeysuckle! I am writing this at an
open window, outside which the honeysuckle grows like a beautiful
frame, and the scent of it fills all the air around and about me.
Honeysuckle is my chief favourite of all, it is so loving. It flings
such a sweet hearty greeting to every passer-by, doing all it can to
make everyone as happy as it is now making me. I must stop now; I have
no room to say more, and also, I have no more to say, but I hope, dear
children, you will all of you always be as happy as I am now, as I sit
by this open window and look through the waving scented honeysuckle
frame across the sandhills (where, although from here I cannot see
them, I know the yellow and blue pansies are making the ground
beautiful) to the blue sea that lies beyond them, smiling good-night to
the sinking sunlight.