five species of violet proper, and two of anemone.
These are all common flowers, and easily observed; but the catalogue might be increased by rare ones, as the white corydalis, the smaller yellow violet (V. rotundifolia
), and the claytonia or spring-beauty.
But in England
the crocus and the snowdrop-neither being probably an indigenous flower, since neither is mentioned by Chaucer
—usually open before the first of March; indeed, the snowdrop was formerly known by the yet more fanciful name of ‘Fair Maid of February.’
's daisy comes equally early; and March brings daffodils, narcissi, violets, daisies, jonquils, hyacinths, and marsh-marigolds.
This is altogether in advance of our season, so far as the wild-flowers give evidence,—though snowdrops are sometimes found in February even here.
But, on the other hand, it would appear that, though a larger number of birds winter in England
than in Massachusetts
, yet the return of those which migrate is actually earlier among us. From journals which were kept during sixty years in England
, and an abstract of which is printed in Hone's ‘Every-Day Book,’ it appears that only two birds of passage revisit England
before the fifteenth of April, and only thirteen more before the first of May; while with us the song-sparrow, the bluebird, and the red-winged blackbird appear about the first of March, and a good many more by the middle of April.
This is a peculiarity of the English
spring which I have never seen explained or even mentioned.
After the epigaea and the hepatica have blossomed, there is a slight pause among the wild-flowers,—these two forming a distinct prologue for their annual drama, as the brilliant witch-hazel in October brings up its separate epilogue.
The truth is, Nature attitudinizes a little, liking to make a neat finish with everything, and then to begin again with éclat
. Flowers seem spontaneous things enough, but there is evidently a secret marshalling among them, that all may be brought out with due effect.
As the country-people say that so long as any snow is left on the ground more snow may be expected, for it must all vanish together at last,—so every seeker of spring-flowers has observed how accurately they seem to move in platoons, with little straggling.
Each species seems to burst upon us with a united impulse; you may search for it day after day in vain, but the day when you find one specimen the spell is broken and you find twenty.
By the end of April a??? the margins of the great poem of the woods are illuminated with these exquisite vignettes.
Most of the early flowers either come before the full unfolding of their leaves, or else have inconspicuous ones.
Yet Nature always provides for her bouquets the due proportion of green.
The verdant and graceful sprays of the wild raspberry are unfolded very early, long before its time of flowering.
Over the meadows spread the regular Chinesepagodas