verdure is profusely expanded, these miniature strokes would be lost, and Nature then practises landscape-gardening in large, lights up the copses with great masses of White Alder, makes the roadsides gay with Aster
and Golden-Rod, and tops the tall, coarse Meadow-Grass with nodding Lilies and tufted Spiraea.
One instinctively follows these plain hints, and gathers bouquets sparingly in spring and exuberantly in summer.
The use of wild-flowers for decorative purposes merits a word in passing, for it is unquestionably a branch of high art in favored hands.
It is true that we are bidden, on high authority, to love the wood-rose and leave it on its stalk; but against this may be set the saying of Bettine Brentano
, that ‘all flowers which are broken become immortal in the sacrifice;’ and certainly the secret harmonies of these fair creatures are so marked and delicate that we do not understand them till we try to group floral decorations for ourselves.
The most successful artists will not, for instance, consent to put those together which do not grow together; Nature understands her business, and distributes her masses and backgrounds unerringly.
Yonder soft and feathery Meadow-Sweet longs to be combined with Wild Roses: it yearns towards them in the field, and, after withering in the hand most readily, it revives in water as if to be with them in the vase.
In the same way the White Spiraea
serves as natural background for the Field
These lilies, by the way, are the brightest adornment of our meadows during the short period of their perfection.
We have two species: one slender, erect, solitary, scarlet, looking up to heaven with all its blushes on; the other clustered, drooping, pale-yellow.
I never saw the former in such profusion as on the bare summit of Wachusett.
The granite ribs have there a thin covering of crisp moss, spangled with the white, starry blossoms of the Mountain
Cinquefoil ; and as I lay and watched the red lilies that waved their innumerable urns around me, it needed but little imagination to see a thousand altars, sending visible flames forever upward to the answering sun.
August comes: the Thistles are in bloom, beloved of butterflies; deeper and deeper tints, more passionate intensities of color, prepare the way for the year's decline.
A wealth of gorgeous Golden-Rod waves over all the hills, and enriches every bouquet one gathers ; its bright colors command the eye, and it is graceful as an elm. Fitly arranged, it gives a bright relief to the superb beauty of the Cardinal-Flowers, the brilliant blue-purple of the Vervain, the pearlwhite of the Life-Everlasting, the delicate lilac of the Monkey-Flower, the soft pink and white of the Spiraeas,— for the white yet lingers,— all surrounded by trailing wreaths of blossoming Clematis.
But the Cardinal-Flower is best seen by itself, and, indeed, needs the surroundings of its native haunts to display its fullest beauty.
Its favorite abode is along the dank, mossy stones of some black and winding brook, shaded with