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Gardens - Flowers Of Mystery

( Originally Published 1901 )



"Let thy upsoaring vision range at large
This garden through : for so by ray divine
Kindled, thy ken a magic flight shall mount."

CARY'S Translation of Dante.

BOGIES and fairies, a sense of eeriness, came to every garden-bred child of any imagination in connection with certain flowers. These flowers seemed to be regarded thus through no special rule or reason. With some there may have been slight associations with fairy lore, or medicinal usage, or a hint of meretriciousness. Sometimes the child hardly formulated his thought of the flower, yet the dread or dislike or curiosity existed. My own notions were absolutely baseless, and usually absurd. I doubt if we communicated these fancies to each other save in a few cases, as of the Monk's-hood, when we had been warned that the flower was poisonous.

I have read with much interest Dr. Forbes Watson's account of plants that filled his childish mind with mysterious awe and wonder ; among them were the Spurge, Henbane, Rue, Dogtooth Violet, Nigella, and pink Marsh Mallow. The latter has ever been to me one of the most cheerful of blossoms. I did not know it in my earliest childhood, and never saw it in gardens till recent years. It is too close a cousin of the Hollyhock ever to seem to me aught but a happy flower. Henbane and Rue I did not know, but I share his feeling toward the others, though I could not carry it to the extent of fancying these the plants which a young man gathered, distilled, and gave to his betrothed as a poison.

There has ever been much uncanny suggestion in the Cypress Spurge. I never should have picked it had I found it in trim gardens ; but I saw it only in forlorn and neglected spots. Perhaps its sombre tinge may come now from association, since it is often seen in country graveyards ; and I heard a country woman once call it " Graveyard Ground Pine." But this association was not what influenced my childhood, for I never went then to grave-yards.

In driving along our New England roads I am ever reminded of Parkinson's dictum that " Spurge once planted will hardly be got rid out again." For by every decaying old house, in every deserted gar-den, and by the roadside where houses may have been, grows and spreads this Cypress Spurge. I know a large orchard in Narragansett from which grass has wholly vanished; it has been crowded out by the ugly little plant, which has even invaded the adjoining woods.

I wonder why every one in colonial days planted it, for it is said to be poisonous in its contact to some folks, and virulently poisonous to eat — though I am sure no one ever wanted to eat it. The colonists even brought it over from England, when we had here such lovely native plants. It seldom flowers. Old New England names for it are Love-in-a-huddle and Seven Sisters ; not over significant, but of interest, as folk-names always are.

I join with Dr. Forbes Watson in finding the Nigella uncanny. It has a half-spidery look, that seems ungracious in a flower. Its names are curious : Love-in-a-mist, Love-in-a-puzzle, Love-in-a-tangle, Puzzle-love, Devil-in-a-bush, Katherine-flowers — another of the many allusions to St. Katherine and her wheel ; and the persistent styles do resemble the spokes of a wheel. A name given it in a cottage garden in Wayland was Blue Spider-flower, which seems more suited than that of Spider-wort for the Tradescantia. Spiderwort, like all "three-cornered " flowers, is a flower of mystery ; and so little cared for to-day that it is almost,extinct in our gardens, save where it persists in out-of-the-way spots. A splendid clump of it is here shown, which grows still in the Worcester garden I so loved in my childhood. In this plant the old imagined tracings of spider's legs in the leaves can scarce be seen. With the fanciful notion of " like curing like " ever found in old medical recipes, Gerarde says, vaguely, the leaves are good for " the Bite of that Great Spider," a creature also of mystery.

Perhaps if the clear blue flowers kept open throughout the day, the Spiderwort would be more tolerated, for this picture certainly has a Japanesque appearance, and what we must acknowledge was far more characteristic of old-time flowers than of many new ones, a wonderful individuality; there was no sameness of outline. I could draw the outline of a dozen blossoms of our modern gardens, and you could not in a careless glance distinguish one from the other : Cosmos, Anemone japonica, single Dahlias, and Sunflowers, Gaillardia, Ga zanias, all such simple Rose forms.

There was a quaint and mysterious annual in ancient gardens, called Shell flower, or Molucca Balm, which is not found now even on seedsmen's special lists of old-fashioned plants. The flower was white, pink-tipped, and set in a cup-shaped calyx an inch long, which was bigger than the flower itself. The plant stood two or three feet high, and the sweet-scented flowers were in whorls of five or six on a stem. It is a good example of my assertion that the old flowers had queerer shapes than modern ones, and were made of queer materials ; the calyx of this Shell flower is of such singular quality and fibre.

The Dog-tooth Violet always had to me a sickly look, but its leaves give it its special offensiveness ; all spotted leaves, or flower petals which showed the slightest resemblance to the markings of a snake or lizard, always filled me with dislike. Among them I included Lungwort (Pulmonaria), a flower which seems suddenly to have disappeared from many gardens, even old-fashioned ones, just as it has disappeared from medicine. Not a gardener could be found in our public parks in New York who had ever seen it, or knew it, though there is in Prospect Park a well-filled and noteworthy "Old-fashioned Garden." Let me add, in passing, that nothing in the entire park system—greenhouses, water gardens, Italian gardens — affords such delight to the public as this old-fashioned garden.

The changing blue and pink flowers of the Lung-wort, somewhat characteristic of its family, are curious also. This plant was also known by the singular name of Joseph-and-Mary ; the pink flowers being the emblem of Joseph ; the blue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Lady's-tears was an allied name, from a legend that the Virgin Mary's tears fell on the leaves, causing the white spots to grow in them, and that one of her blue eyes became red from excessive weeping. It was held to be unlucky even to destroy the plant. Soldier-and-his-wife also had reference to the red and blue tints of the flower.

A cousin of the Lungwort, our native Mertensia virginica, has in the young plant an equally singular leafage; every ordinary process of leaf progress is reversed : the young shoots are not a tender green, but are almost black, and change gradually in leaf, stem, and flower calyx to an odd light green in which the dark color lingers in veins and spots until the plant is in its full flower of tender blue, lilac, and pink. " Blue and pink ladies " we used to call the blossoms when we hung them on pins for a fairy dance.

The Alstrœmeria is another spotted flower of the old borders, curious in its funnel-shaped blooms, edged and lined with tiny brown and green spots. It is more grotesque than beautiful, but was beloved in a day that deemed the Tiger Lily the most beautiful of all lilies.

The aversion I feel for spotted leaves does not extend to striped ones, though I care little for variegated or striped foliage in a garden. I like the striped white and green leaves of one variety of our garden Iris, and of our common Sweet Flag (Cala-mus), which are decorative to a most satisfactory degree. The firm ribbon leaves of the striped Sweet Flag never turn brown in the driest summer, and grow very tall ; a tub of it kept well watered is a thing of surprising beauty, and the plants are very handsome in the rock garden. I wonder what the bees seek in the leaves ! they throng its green and white blades in May, finding something, I am sure, besides the delightful scent; though I do not note that they pierce the veins of the plant for the sap, as I have known them to do along the large veins of certain palm leaves. I have seen bees often act as though they were sniffing a flower with appreciation, not gathering honey. The only endeared striped leaf was that of the Striped Grass — Gardener's Garters we called it. Clumps of it growing at Van Cortlandt Manor are here shown. We children used to run to the great plants of Striped Grass at the end of the garden as to a toy ribbon shop. The long blades of Grass looked like some antique gauze ribbons. They were very modish for dolls' wear, very useful to shape pin-a-sights, those very useful things, and very pretty to tie up, posies. Under favorable circumstances this garden child might become a garden pest, a spreading weed. I never saw a more curious garden stray than an entire dooryard and farm garden — certainly two acres in extent, covered with Striped Grass, save where a few persistent Tiger Lilies pierced through the striped leaves. Even among the deserted hearthstones and tumble-down chimneys the striped leaves ran up among the roofless walls.

Let me state here that the suggestion of mystery in a flower did not always make me dislike it ; some-times it added a charm. The Periwinkle — Ground Myrtle, we used to call it-was one of the most mysterious and elusive flowers I knew, and other children thus regarded it; but I had a deep affection for its lovely blue stars and clean, glossy leaves, a special love, since it was the first flower I saw blooming out of doors after a severe illness, and it seemed to welcome me back to life.

The name is from the French Pervenche, which suffers sadly by being changed into the clumsy Periwinkle. Everywhere it is a flower of mystery ; it is the " Violette des Sorciers " of the French. Sad-der is its Tuscan name, " Flower of death," for it is used there as garlands at the burial of children ; and is often planted on graves, just as it is here. A far happier folk-name was Joy-of-the-ground, and to my mind better suited to the cheerful, healthy little plant.

An ancient medical manuscript gives this description of the Periwinkle, which for directness and lucidity can scarcely be excelled : —

" Parwyke is an erbe grene of colour,
In tyme of May he bereth blue flour.
Ye lef is thicke, schinede and styf,
As is ye grene jwy lefe.
Vnder brod and uerhand round,
Men call it ye joy of grownde."

On the list of the Boston seedsman (given on page 33 et seq.) is Venus'-navelwort. I lingered this summer by an ancient front yard in Marblehead, and in the shade of the low-lying gray-shingled house I saw a refined plant with which I was wholly unacquainted, lying like a little dun cloud on the border, a pleasing plant with cinereous foliage, in color like the silvery gray of the house, shaded with a bluer tint and bearing a dainty milk-white bloom. This modest flower had that power of catching the attention in spite of the high and striking colors of its neighbors, such as a simple gown of gray and white, if of graceful cut and shape, will have among gay-colored silk attire — the charm of Quaker garb, even though its shape be ugly. You know how ready is the owner of such a garden to talk of her favorites, and soon I was told that this plant was " Navy-work." I accepted this name in this old maritime town as possibly a local folk-name, yet I was puzzled by a haunting memory of having heard some similar title. A later search in a botany revealed the original, Venus'-navelwort.

I deem it right to state in this connection that any such corruption of the old name of a flower is very unusual in Massachusetts, where the English tongue is spoken by all of Massachusetts descent in much purity of pronunciation.

There is no doubt that all the flowers of the old garden were far more suggestive, more full of meaning, than those given to us by modern florists. This does not come wholly from association, as many fancy, but from an inherent quality of the flower itself. I never saw Honeywort (Cerinthe) till five years ago, and then it was not in an old-fashioned garden but the moment I beheld the graceful, drooping flowers in the flower bed, the yellow and purple-toothed corolla caught my eye, as it caught my fancy ; it seemed to mean something. I was not surprised to learn that it was an ancient favorite of colonial days. The leaves of Honeywort are often lightly spotted, which may be one of its elements of mystery. Honeywort is seldom seen even in our oldest gardens ; but it is a beautiful flower and a most hardy annual, and deserves to be reintroduced.

A great favorite in the old garden was the splendid scarlet Lychnis, to which in New England is given the name of London Pride. There are two old varieties : one has four petals with squared ends, and is called, from the shape of the expanded flower, the Maltese Cross ; the other, called Scarlet Lightning, is shown on a succeeding page; it has five deeply-nicked petals. It is a flower of midsummer eve and magic power, and I think it must have some connection with the Crusaders, being called by Gerarde Floure of Jerusalem, and Flower of Candy. The five-petalled form is rarely seen ; in one old family I know it is so cherished, and deemed so magic a home-maker, that every bride who has gone from that home for over a hundred years has borne away a plant of that London Pride ; it has really become a Family Pride.

Another plant of mysterious suggestion was the common Plantain. This was not an unaided instinct of my childhood, but came to me through an explanation of the lines in the chapter, The White Man's Foot," in Hiawatha : —

"Whereso'er they tread, beneath them
Springs a flower unknown among us.;
Springs the White Man's Foot in blossom.”

After my father showed me the Plantain as the White Man's Foot," I ever regarded it with a sense of its unusual power; and I used often to wonder, when I found it growing in the grass, who had stepped there. I have permanently associated with the Plantain or Waybred a curious and distasteful trick of my memory. We recall our American humorist's lament over the haunting lines from the car-conductor's orders, which filled his brain and ears from the moment he read them, wholly by chance, and which he tried vainly to forget. A similar obsession filled me when I read the spirited apostrophe to the Plantain or Waybred, in Cockayne's translation of Ælfric's Lacunga, a book of leech-craft of the eleventh century : —

"And thou Waybroad,
Mother of worts,
Over thee carts creaked,
Over thee Queens rode,
Over thee brides bridalled,
Over thee bulls breathed,
All these thou withstoodst,
Venom and vile things,
And all the loathly things,
That through the land rove."

I could not thrust them out of my mind ; worse still, I kept manufacturing for the poem scores of lines of similar metre. I never shall forget the Plantain, it won't let me forget it.

The Orpine was a flower linked with tradition and mystery in England, there were scores of fanciful notions connected with it. It has grown to be a spreading weed in some parts of New England, but it has lost both its mystery and its flowers. The only bed of flowering Orpine I ever saw in America was in the millyard of Miller Rose at Kettle Hole - and a really lovely expanse of bloom it was, broken only by old worn millstones which formed the door-steps. He told with pride that his grandmother planted it, and "it was the flowering variety that no one else had in Rhode Island, not even in green-houses in Newport." Miller Rose ground corn meal and flour with ancient millstones, and infinitely better were his grindings than " store meal." He could tell you, with prolonged detail, of the new-fangled roller he bought and used one week, and not a decent Johnny-cake could be made from the meal, and it shamed him. So he threw away all the meal he hadn't sold; and then the new machinery was pulled out and the millstones replaced, " to await the Lord's coming," he added, being a Second Adventist - or by his own title a "Christadelphian and an Old Bachelor." He was a famous preacher, having a pulpit built of heavy stones, in the woods near his mill. A little trying it was to hear the outpourings of his long sermons on summer afternoons, while you waited for him to come down from his pulpit and his prophesyings to give you your bag of meal. A tithing of time he gave each day to the Lord, two hours and a half of preaching — and doubtless far more than a tithe of his income to the poor. In sentimental association with his name, he had a few straggling Roses around his millyard — all old-time varieties ; and, with Orpine and Sweet-brier, he could gather a very pretty posy for all who came to Kettle Hole.,

We constantly read of Fritillaries in the river fields sung of Matthew Arnold. In a charming book of English country life, Idleburst, I read how closely the flower is still associated with Oxford life, recalling ever the If ley and Kensington meadows to all Oxford men. The author tells that "quite unlikely sorts of men used to pick bunches of the flowers, and we would come up the towpath with our spoils." Fritillaries grew in my mother's garden ; I cannot now recall another garden in America where I have ever seen them in bloom. They certainly are not common. On a succeeding page are shown the blossoms of the white Fritillary my mother planted and loved. Can you not believe that we love them still? They have spread but little, neither have they dwindled nor died. Each year they seem to us the very same blossoms she loved.

Our cyclopædias of gardening tell us that the Fritillaries spread freely ; but E. V. B. writes of them in her exquisite English : "Slow in growth as the Fritillaries are, they are ever sure. When they once take root, there they stay forever, with a constancy unknown in our human world. They may be trusted, however late their coming. In the fresh vigor of its youth was there ever seen any other flower planned so exquisitely, fashioned so slenderly ! The pink symmetry of Kalmia perhaps comes nearest this perfection, with the delicately curved and rounded angles of its bloom."

In no garden, no matter how modern, could the Fritillaries ever look to me aught but antique and classic. They are as essentially of the past, even to the careless eye, as an antique lamp or brazier. Quaint, too, is the fabric of their coats, like some old silken stuff of paduasoy or sarsenet. All are checkered, as their name indicates. Even the white flowers bear little birthmarks of checkered lines. They were among the famous dancers in my mother's garden, and I can tell you that a country dance of Fritillaries in plaided kirtles and green caps is a lively sight. Another name for this queer little flower is Guinea-hen Flower. Gerarde, with his felicity of description, says :

" One square is of a greenish-yellow colour, the other purple, keeping the same order as well on the back side of the flower as on the inside ; although they are blackish in one square, and of a violet colour in another : in so much that every leafe (of the flower) seemeth to be the feather of a Ginnie hen, whereof it took its name."

A strong personal trait of the Fritillaries (for I may so speak of flowers I love) is their air of mystery. They mean something I cannot fathom ; they look it, but cannot tell it. Fritillaries were a flower of significance even in Elizabethan days. They were made into little buttonhole posies, and, as Parkinson says, " worn abroad by curious lovers of these delights." In California grow wild a dozen varie-ties ; the best known of these is recurved, but it does not droop, and is to all outward glance an Anemone, and has lost in that new world much the mystery of the old herbalist's " Checker Lily," save the checkers ; these always are visible.

The Cyclamen and Dodecatheon lay their ears back like a vicious horse. Both have an eerie aspect, as if turned upside down, as has also the Nightshade. I knew a little child, a flower lover from babyhood, who feared to touch the Cyclamen, and even cried if any attempt was made to have her touch the flower. When older, she said that she had feared the flower would sting her.

I have often a sense of mysterious meaning in a vine, it seems so plainly to reach out to attract your attention. I recall once being seated on the door-step of a deserted farm-house, musing a little over the sad thought of this lost home, when suddenly some one tapped me on the cheek — I suppose I ought to say some thing, though it seemed a human touch. It was a spray of Matrimony vine, twenty feet long or more, that had reached around a corner, and helped by a breeze, had appealed to me for sympathy and companionship. I answered by following it around the corner. It had been trained up to a little shelf-like ledge or roof, over what had been a pantry window, and hung in long lines of heavy shade. It said to me: " Here once lived a flower-loving woman and a man who cared for her comfort and pleasure. She planted me when she, and the man, and the house were young, and he made the window shelter, and trained me over it, to make cool and green the window where she worked. I was the symbol of their happy married love. See ! there they lie, under the gray stone beneath those cedars. Their children all are far away, but every year I grow fresh and green, though I find it lonely here now." To me, the Matrimony vine is ever a plant of interest, and it may be very beautiful, if cared for. On page i 86 is shown the lovely growth on the porch at Van Cortlandt Manor.

With a sentiment of wonder and inquiry, not un-mixed with mystery, do we regard many flowers, which are described in our botanies as Garden Es-capes. This Matrimony vine is one of the many creeping, climbing things that have wandered away from houses. Honeysuckles and Trumpet-vines are far travellers. I saw once in a remote and wild spot a great boulder surrounded with bushes and all were covered with the old Coral or Trumpet Honeysuckle; it had such a familiar air, and yet seemed to have gained a certain knowingness by its travels.

This element of mystery does not extend to the flowers which I am told once were in trim gardens, but which I have never seen there, such as Ox-eye Daisies, Scotch Thistles, Chamomile, Tansy, Bergamot, Yarrow, and all of the Mint family ; they are to me truly wild. But when I find flowers still cherished in our gardens, growing also in some wild spot, I regard them with wonder. A great expanse of Coreopsis, a field of Grape Hyacinth or Star of Bethlehem, roadsides of Coronilla or Moneywort, rows of red Day Lily and Tiger Lily, patches of Sun-flowers or Jerusalem Artichokes, all are matters of thought; we long to trace their wanderings, to have them tell whence and how they came. Bouncing Bet is too cheerful and rollicking a wanderer to awaken sentiment. How gladly has she been welcomed to our fields and roadsides. I could not willingly spare her in our country drives, even to become again a cherished garden dweller. She rivals the Succory in beautifying arid dust heaps and barren rail-road cuts, with her tender opalescent pink tints. How wholesome and hearty her growth, how pleasant her fragrance. We can never see her too often, nor ever stigmatize her, as have been so many of our garden escapes, as " Now a dreaded weed."

One of the weirdest of all flowers to me is the Butter-and-eggs, the Toad-flax, which was once a garden child, but has run away from gardens to wan-der in every field in the land. I haven't the slightest reason for this regard of Butter-and-eggs, and I believe it is peculiar to myself, just as is Dr. Forbes Watson's regard of the Marshmallow to him. I have no uncanny or sad associations with it, and I never heard anything "queer" about it. Thirty years ago, in a locality I knew well in central Massachusetts, Butter-and-eggs was far from common ; I even remember the first time I saw it and was told its quaint name ; now it grows there and everywhere ; it is a persistent weed. John Burroughs calls it " the hateful Toad-flax," and old Manasseh Cutler, in a curious mixture of compliment and slur, " a common, handsome, tedious weed." It travels above ground and below ground, and in some soils will run out the grass. It knows how to allure the bumblebee, however, and has honey in its heart. I think it a lovely flower, though it is queer ; and it is a delight to the scientific botanist, in the delicate perfection of its methods and means of fertilization.

The greatest beauty of this flower is in late autumn, when it springs up densely in shaven fields. I have seen, during the last week in October, fields entirely filled with its exquisite sulphur-yellow tint, one of the most-delicate colors in nature a yellow that is luminous at night, and is rivalled only by the pale yellow translucent leaves of the Moosewood in late autumn, which make such a strange pallid light in old forests in the North — a light which dominates over every other autumn tint, though the trees which bear them are so spindling and low, and little noted save in early spring in their rare pinkness, and in this their autumn etherealization. And the Moose-wood shares the mystery of the Butter-and-eggs as well as its color. I should be afraid to drive or walk alone in a wood road, when the Moosewood leaves were turning yellow in autumn. I shall never forget them in Dublin, New Hampshire, driving through what our delightful Yankee charioteer and guide called " only a cat-road."

This was to me a new use of the word cat as a prænomen, though I knew, as did Dr. Holmes and Hosea Biglow, and every good New Englander, that " cat-sticks " were poor spindling sticks, either growing or in a load of cut wood. I heard a country parson say as he regarded ruefully a gift of a sled load of firewood, " The deacon's load is all cat-sticks." Of course a cat-stick was also the stick used in the game of ball called tip-cat. Myself when young did much practise another loved ball game, "one old cat," a local favorite, perhaps a local name. " Cat-ice," too, is a good old New England word and thing; it is the thin layer of brittle ice formed over puddles, from under which the water has afterward receded. If there lives a New Englander too old or too hurried to rejoice in stepping upon and crackling the first "cat-ice " on a late autumn morning, then he is a man ; for no New England girl, a century old, could be thus indifferent. It is akin to rustling through the deep-lying autumn leaves, which affords a pleasure so absurdly disproportioned and inexplicable that it is almost mysterious. Some of us gouty ones, alas ! have had to give up the " cat-slides " which were also such a de-light ; the little stretches of glare ice to which we ran a few steps and slid rapidly over with the impetus. But I must not let my New England folk-words lure me away from my subject, even on a tempting " cat-slide."

Though garden flowers run everywhere that they will, they are not easily forced to become wild flowers. We hear much of the pleasure of sowing garden seeds along the roadside, and children are urged to make beautiful wild gardens to be the delight of passers-by. Alphonse Karr wrote most charmingly of such sowings, and he pictured the delight and surprise of country folk in the future when they found the choice blooms, and the confusion of learned botanists in years to come. The delight and surprise and confusion would have been if any of his seeds sprouted and lived ! A few years ago a kindly member of our United States Congress sent to me from the vast seed stores of our national Agricultural Department, thousands of packages of seeds of common garden flowers to be given to the poor children in public kindergartens and primary schools in our great city. The seeds were given to hundreds of eager flower lovers, but starch boxes and old tubs and flower pots formed the limited gardens of those Irish and Italian children, and the Government had sent to me such " hats full, sacks full, bushel-bags full," that I was left with an embarrassment of riches. I sent them to Narragansett and amused myself thereafter by sowing several pecks of garden seeds along the country roadsides ; never, to my knowledge, did one seed live and pro-duce a plant. I watched eagerly for certain plantings of Poppies, Candytuft, Morning-glories, and even the indomitable Portulaca ; not one appeared. I don't know why I should think I could improve on nature ; for I drove through that road yesterday and it was radiant with Wild Rose bloom, white Elder, and Meadow Beauty ; a combination that Thoreau thought and that I think could not be excelled in a cultivated garden. Above all, these are the right things in the right place, which my garden plants would not have been. I am sure that if they had lived and crowded out these exquisite wild flowers I should have been sorry enough.

The hardy Colchicum or Autumnal Crocus is sel-dom seen in our gardens ; nor do I care for its increase, even when planted in the grass. It bears to me none of the delight which accompanies the spring Crocus, but seems to be out of keeping with the autumnal season. Rising bare of leaves, it has but a seminatural aspect, as if it had been stuck rootless in the ground like the leafless, stemless blooms of a child's posy bed. Its English name — Naked Boys — seems suited to it. The Colchicum is associated in my mind with the Indian Pipe and similar growths ; it is curious, but it isn't pleasing. As the Indian Pipe could not be lured within garden walls, I will not write of it here, save to say that no one could ever see it growing in its shadowy home in the woods without yielding to its air of mystery. It is the weirdest flower that grows, so palpably ghastly that we feel almost a cheerful satisfaction in the perfection of its performance and our own responsive thrill, just as we do in a good ghost story.

Many wild flowers which we have transplanted to our gardens are full of magic and charm. In some, such as Thyme and Elder, these elements come from English tradition. In other flowers the quality of mystery is inherent. In childhood I absolutely abhorred Bloodroot; it seemed to me a fearsome thing when first I picked it. I remember well my dismay, it was so pure, so sleek, so innocent of face, yet bleeding at a touch, like a murdered man in the Blood Ordeal.

The Trillium, Wake-robin, is a wonderful flower. I have seen it growing in a luxuriance almost beyond belief in lonely Canadian forests on the Laurentian Mountains. At this mining settlement, so remote that it was unvisited even by the omnipresent and faithful Canadian priest, was a wealth of plant growth which seemed fairly tropical. The starry flowers of the Trillium hung on long peduncles, and the two-inch diameter of the ordinary blossom was doubled. The Painted Trillium bore rich flowers of pink and wine color, and stood four or five feet from the ground. I think no one had ever gathered their blooms, for there were no women in this mining camp save a few French-Indian servants and one Irish cook, and no educated white woman had ever been within fifty, perhaps a hundred, miles of the place. Every variety of bloom seemed of exaggerated growth, but the Trillium exceeded all. An element of mystery surrounds this plant, a quality which appertains to all "three-cornered " flowers ; perhaps there may be some significance in the three-sided form. I felt this influence in the extreme when in the presence of this Canadian Trillium, so much so that I was depressed by it when wandering alone even in the edge of the forest ; and when by light o' the moon I peered in on this forest garden, it was like the vision of a troop of trembling white ghosts, stimulating to the fancy. It was but a part of the whole influence of that place, which was full of eerie mystery. For after the countless eons of time during which " the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the earth," the waters at last were gathered together and dry land appeared. And that dry land which came up slowly out of the face of the waters was this Laurentian range. And when at God's command " on the third day " the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielded seed — lo, among the things which were good and beautiful there shone forth upon the earth the first starry flowers of the white Trillium.



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