Picture Gallery of Flowers
By Linda Tilston
There are many strikingly pretty wild flowers that adorn the British countryside. Here, I will take you swiftly through some of the most common, growing in nature's picture gallery - a leafy gallery that alters so beautifully throughout the changing seasons. Let us pause to admire for a moment, our first pretty example of nature's artistry, one that is petite and neat in its appearance, the stitchwort. This graceful plant, the `greater stitchwort,' has a slender stem and is weak at its base, but it goes on flowering from April to June. Its leaves of rich green are shaped like lances and are rough to touch, and it is a common plant in hedgebanks and woods alike.
Not a great beauty, perhaps, but a flower that pleases the eye with its quiet charm, not unlike certain people...
The scarlet pimpernel, or the 'Poor-man's-weather-glass,' to give it its other name, rarely grows to more than six inches, but its branches spread out well enough as if it makes up in width what it lacks in height. The petals are broad and lap over each other and they close up - like eyes, at sunset and sensibly enough do not open in cool weather - hence its name. While the pimpernel is often red it can also be white or even blue or pink. It makes its appearance in May and goes on blooming throughout September. The pimpernel is a common weed of cornfields and gardens, apart from being the code name of a famous hero from an adventure story...
The foxglove is much bigger than the daintier flowers I have spoken about, as it can grow from two to five feet in length. Its lovely flowers are shaped like bells, and are usually a red or purple with dots of white. The foxglove is seen from May until September, and, despite its beauty possesses a poison known as digitalis, an ingredient used even now, so I have heard, in a certain drug that treats a heart condition. Even poisons, with a correct usage can be used to help mankind - in the right hands, but it is wise for passersby not to mess about with the stately foxglove. Admire it from a non- touching distance - best place to admire any picture.
A plant, a common one that makes its home in ditches, apart from other places where water flows, is the hemlock water dropwort with its coarse branches and one that can grow to at least three feet. The white flowers spread out in groups at the ends of their stems, the leaves being fern-like, making the dropwort an attractive picture for our art gallery, but - beware. This plant shows itself from June until late August - and it is very poisonous.
A flower also known as the 'scentless mayweed,' is the feverfew, and, unlike the hemlock water dropwort, which is toxic., the feverfew can be turned into something good, as it is said to help migraine sufferers. The flowers look like those of the common daisy, with clear yellow centres, and the feverfew blooms from July until September. This is a common enough plant, both on what are looked upon as waste spaces and on cornfields. I wonder which one the feverfew prefers?
Another, very attractive plant also associated with cornfields is the corn marigold, having lovely rich gold flowers and fleshy, blue-green, scented leaves. This will beautify the countryside from June until September - deeper gold contrasting with the paler gold of cornfields.
I hope that you've enjoyed your brief stroll through nature's art gallery.