The text on this page is taken from the book 'Flowers shown to the Children\ by C E Smith and illustrated by Janet Harvey Kelman,
The pages are courtesy of the Gutenburg Project. The Book is not in copyright under the Gutenberg license visit www.gutenberg.org
The coloured images/photographs are my personal choice. [see reuse of images below}
This page is aimed at educating children the future custodians of our countryside.
The Borage is not a very common plant, though it is widely distributed throughout the country. You find it on hedge-banks and in waste places, and it blooms in summer and autumn.
It has beautiful bright blue flowers, with five petals which are gracefully pointed at the tips. These flowers droop either singly or in clusters at the end of stout, hairy stalks.
The stamens of the Common Borage have no thread-like stalks; their purple heads are placed close together in a circle round the slender white pillar of the seed-vessel. Notice the curious purple horns that rise from the back of each stamen. There is a ring of dark purple scales with white blotches on them at the base of the petals. The calyx has five long narrow pointed sepals. These are covered with bristly hairs, and so are the leaves, stalks, and stem.
The leaves of the Borage are a dusty grey-green colour. Wherever the stem forks, you find a large stalkless leaf clasping it. These leaves are usually oval, but they are very varied in shape, and those leaves that rise from the root are frequently quite different.
The stem is light green and is round, with a hollow in the centre.
Some people do not consider this one of our native plants, but it is widely distributed over the country. You find it in hedge-banks and by the roadside in spring and autumn.
The Alkanet is an erect, hairy plant, which is not quite so bristly as its cousin, the Common Borage.
The flowers have small blue tubes, lined inside with white, and there is a deeply waved sky-blue wheel round the mouth. When in bud the flowers are deep pink. These flowers grow either singly or two or three together, at the end of straight stalks which rise from between the leaf and the stem.
There are five purple-headed stamens clinging to the white lining of the tube, and there is also a tiny seed-vessel. These you cannot see until you pick the flower to pieces.
The mouth of the calyx-cup is edged with five blunt points, and it is covered with soft hairs.
The leaves also are covered with soft hairs and have scarcely any stalks, but grow singly on alternate sides of the stem. These leaves are oval, with smooth, regular edges. They are olive-green above and bluey-green underneath.
If you cut the stem across, near the ground, you will see that it is six-sided. It is a juicy stem, with scarcely any hollow in the centre, and it is covered with fine, soft hairs.
The graceful Wood Hyacinth is one of our prettiest flowers. You will find the woods and hedge-banks covered with its masses of pale blue flowers in late spring and early summer.
The leaves appear first,—long, narrow green straps, with a point at the end, and each green strap looks as if it had been folded in the middle and not quite flattened out again.
These leaves spring from a bulb which lies deeply buried in the ground. Underneath this bulb are a few white thread-like roots.
The Hyacinth flowers grow, all on one side, towards the end of a tall and juicy flower-stalk. This flower-stalk droops when the flowers are in bud, and again when the flowers are faded. But it stands proudly erect when its bells are in full bloom.
Each bell is made up of six long, narrow petals. These petals are really separate, but about half way down, they touch each other and so form a bell. The tips of each petal fold back at the mouth.
There is a yellow-headed stamen clinging to the side of every petal, and in the centre of the bell sits a green pear-shaped seed-vessel, with a short pillar on the top. In the Wood Hyacinth there is no calyx.
Every blue bell hangs from a short stalk of its own, and wherever a flower-stalk joins the main stem there are two narrow pointed leaves.
The Field Gentian is to be found in damp pastures all over the country, especially in Scotland, where it is very plentiful. It blooms in late summer and autumn.
It is a stout, upright plant, but not very tall. The short stalks, which fork from the main stem and bear the flowers, stand straight up very stiffly, and the main stem itself is very firm, and has ridges running from top to bottom.
The flowers grow singly, each on its own stalk. They consist of four lilac-blue petals with the lower parts joined together to form a tube.
At the top of this tube, the petals fold back in four points, and within the tube, standing close up round the mouth, there is a blue fringe.
Inside the blue tube are four stamens clinging to its sides, as well as an upright, green seed-vessel.
The four bluey-green sepals are unequal in size. The two inner ones are narrow, with pointed ends; the outer sepals are much broader, and they are blunt at the tip.
The dark green leaves grow in pairs, opposite each other, and they clasp the main stem closely. These leaves taper to a point, and have long veins running from the broad part to the tip.
There is very often a single flower-bud growing close to the stem, where the leaves meet.
This somewhat dingy-looking plant loves to grow in muddy salt marshes close to the seashore; you find it in bloom all round our sea-coasts in autumn.
The Sea Aster is a stout, coarse plant, with straight, stiff stems which are ribbed from top to bottom. The dark green leaves are shaped like a sword, and as they have no stalks, they clasp this rough stem closely on alternate sides. These leaves are thick and fleshy, with smooth edges.
The flowers grow on short stalks, in dense heads which branch from the upper part of the main stem. These heads are made up of two kinds of flowers. In the centre you find a crowded mass of tiny yellow tube-flowers which are evenly notched all round the mouth. And outside these yellow flowers is arranged a double ring of tiny tubes, each of which has a broad, blue strap at one side. These blue straps stand out like a frill all round the centre bouquet of yellow flowers.
These flower-heads are placed in a green cup, composed of row upon row of small green pointed leaves, laid closely one above the other, like the scales of a fir-cone.
After the flowers are withered, the seeds still cling to the end of the stalk, and each seed is winged with a tuft of dingy white cotton down. When the seeds are ripe, the wind blows them away from the plant.
The first thing you will notice about the Viper's Bugloss is the way the rows of flower-buds curl like a scorpion.
The plant is common in most parts of the country, in waste places, by shingly sea beaches, and on chalky soil. It flowers in summer and autumn.
The Viper's Bugloss is a stout, upright plant, with a curious pale green hairy stem, which is dotted all over with red spots. From this thick stem others, small and thin, branch on alternate sides, and drooping from the end of each stem is a double row of bright pink buds. The pair of buds nearest the main stem open first, and when in full bloom the flowers are usually bright blue, but sometimes you will find them deep purple or white. These flowers are bell-shaped and they open wide at the mouth, which is unevenly divided into five graceful points.
Each flower sits in a green calyx-cup edged with five sharply pointed teeth.
There is a row of narrow green pointed leaves, standing up like a cockscomb behind each row of flowers. These leaves curl over at the tip, along with the buds, and they uncurl as the flowers open.
The leaves of the Viper's Bugloss are rough and hairy, with smooth edges.
The Red Poppy is known and beloved by children. You find it in all parts of the country in summer and autumn, growing among the corn, on the railway banks and under the hedges.
The flower has four bright red petals, and of these the two outer are larger than the two inner.
These petals are soft and silky, with wavy edges. When they first burst their green covering they are tightly folded and are much crinkled all over. But after a day in the sunshine they unfold, and all the crinkles disappear.
Sometimes you find a bright purple spot at the bottom of each scarlet petal.
In the centre of the flower sits a curious green cup with a lid, and this lid is covered with dark rays which look like the legs of a spider. This green cup is the seed-vessel, and as soon as the seeds are ripe, they pour out through a row of little holes which open just beneath the green lid.
There is a ring of black-headed stamens standing up all round the green seed-cup.
The Red Poppy has two green sepals. These are very thin and hairy, and they drop off almost as soon as the flower opens.
Each Poppy grows on a long slender stalk which is covered with hairs. The leaves are divided into many narrow fingers, and they are rough and hairy.
This fragile plant is very common. You find it in cultivated fields as well as by the roadside and in waste places. It blooms in summer and autumn.
This Scarlet Pimpernel is one of our few red flowers. It has five round scarlet petals, which are joined together like a wheel. In the centre of the wheel there is a seed-vessel, the size of a tiny green pea, and closely clustered round its thread-like pillar are five yellow-headed stamens. The slender stalks of the stamens are covered with hairs, and so are the edges of the scarlet petals.
The calyx consists of five narrow green sepals, with sharp points: these you can see appearing between the edges of the petals as you look down into the flower.
Each flower grows singly on a short, fine stalk, and these flower-stalks always rise between a leaf and the stem. The stem is four-sided, and it is very easily broken. It is a very feeble stem, and straggles along the ground.
The leaves of the Scarlet Pimpernel are small and oval, with smooth edges and blunt points. They have fine lines running from base to tip, and underneath they are a blue-green colour, with little dots all over them.
You find the dull crimson Sorrel everywhere. It grows in meadows and pastures and open woods, and it is abundant all spring and summer.
The flowers are small and unattractive. They grow on a spike in whorls or circles, with five to eight flowers in each circle, and these circles are separated at short distances.
Each flower droops from a tiny stalk. It has three narrow green sepals, which fold back close to the stalk when the seed is ripening. Inside these sepals are three dull crimson petals, also small and narrow. But when the flowering time is past, these three petals grow broad and oval, and become thicker, and at the base of each petal you see a tiny swelling, which is the seed.
The stem of the Common Sorrel is tinged with pink. It is ribbed all over, and is very juicy. Both it and the leaves are acid to taste and are often eaten in salads.
The leaves are quite smooth, with the edges uncut. They are dark green above, but much lighter underneath. Each leaf is shaped like an arrow-head, and those close to the root have a long stalk.
There are pages on each of these plant species with much more information for adult visitors Just click on the relevant content box above and scroll down to view.