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THE towering height of this majestic plant renders it an appropriate emblem of ambition. It is a native of the East Indies, China, Siberia, and Africa. From the French name, Rose de Damas, or Rose d'Outremer, it is surmised that the Hollyhock was first brought to Europe from Syria at the time of the Crusades.
We have few flowers that contribute more to the embellishment of large gardens than the Hollyhock, whose noble stems appear like so many banners garnished with roses of every variety of colour, from the palest blush to the deepest carmine, and from a faint white, through every shade of yellow, to the richest orange, from which the colour is carried on to a dark chesnut. Others are dyed of a reddish purple, deepening to black. These give gaiety to the shrubbery till a late season of the year, throwing out a succession of flowers till the arrival of frost.
Phillips, in his "Flora Historica," indulges in the following pleasing speculations respecting this flower:-"When the children of the lower classes of society have become more civilized, and their parents sufficiently enlightened to instruct them in their duty, so that their amusement may not consist in idly destroying what cannot benefit them, but materially injures their more polished neighbours, the Hollyhock will be planted in the hedges of our fields, and the whole appearance of the country be much improved by relieving the uniformity of the generality of fences. Considerable benefit would at the same time be received by those cottagers who have the prudence to give attention to the hive; since the late season at which the Hollyhock flowers gives the bees an opportunity to make a second season for collecting their sweets."
From the nectaries of Hollyhocks
The humble bee, e'en till he faints, will sip.
It is now known that the Hollyhock may be employed for other economical purposes besides the feeding of bees. It has been ascertained
that good strong cloth may be made from the fibrous bark of its flower-stalks. In 1821, two hundred and eighty acres of land near Flint, in Wales, were planted with the common Hollyhock for this manufacture; in the process of which it was discovered that the plant yields a fine blue dye, equal in beauty and permanence to the best indigo.
Up to the present day, botanists have in vain studied this plant, which seems to conceal from the most searching examination the secret of its flowers and seed, confiding to Zephyr alone the invisible germs of its young family. That deity selects a spot for the cradle of its offspring. Sometimes he delights to form with its long tresses the dark veil hung before some cavern, in which the solitary Naïad has slept ever since the beginning of ages; at others, bearing them on his wings, he fixes them like verdant stars on the top of the towers of some old castle, or, disposing them in light festoons, he adorns with them the cool and shady spots which the herdsman loves. Thus this species of fern, which baffles the researches of Science, and conceals its origin from the most piercing eyes, does not withhold its benefits from those who solicit them.
MY BEST DAYS ARE PAST.
WHEN the leaves begin to fall from the trees, a flower resembling the crocus springs up amidst the grass of the damp meadows: but, instead of being, like the crocus, the harbinger of joy and hope, it proclaims to all Nature that the bright days of summer are over. This flower is the Meadow Saffron, or Colchicum autumnale, supposed to be so named from Colchis, in Asia, where it is said to grow in abundance.
According to fabulous history, this autumnal flower owes its origin to some drops of the magic liquor, prepared by Medea to restore the aged Eson to the bloom and vigour of youth, which were spilt in the fields.
The foaming juices now the brink o'erswell;