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Arthur Owens Cooke.

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that they seem to grow in fours. The leaves are evergreen; they do not
fade and die in autumn.

Some of the Periwinkle stems are erect and are about six inches high;
others are creeping. It is only the erect stems which bear flowers; the
creeping ones are barren. They do useful work, however, for they form
fresh roots, as we have seen the stalks of some other plants do. In this
way the whole bank beside the lane has become covered with the pretty
plant.

The Periwinkle is a comparatively small plant. The last flower - the
Foxglove - that we shall see at Willow Farm is quite different. It is a
very tall plant. It is generally described as growing from three to five
feet high, but I have seen a stem of eight or nine feet. We shall find
it growing on the hedgebank in Little Orchard, and it also often grows
in woods.

Some plants, as we know, are annuals, others are perennials. The
Foxglove is neither; it is a biennial - that is a two years' plant. If
you sow Foxglove seed you will have no flowers the first year, only a
root and a great bunch of leaves. In the second year tall stems which
bear the flowers will appear. In the autumn after it has flowered the
Foxglove generally dies, though sometimes it may live for another year,
or even two. Foxgloves, of course, will reproduce themselves by seed, as
annuals and perennials do.

[Illustration: FOXGLOVE.]

The Foxglove is something different from anything that we have seen as
yet. The flowers grow on short flower stalks and hang down from the
tall stems, a great many on each stem. Here there are no petals, but
what we see and admire so much is the bell-shaped corolla, purple-red in
colour. This purple bell is spotted with white inside. Bell-shaped is
perhaps not a very good description; the flower is more like a large
thimble or the finger of a glove.

"A glove for a fox - that is the meaning of the name," you perhaps say.
No, it has nothing to do with a fox. Many years ago nearly everyone
believed in Fairies, and the Fairies were often called the Good Folk or
Good People. It is they, and not the fox, who were supposed to use the
purple blossoms as a glove. If you say "Folk's Glove" quickly, you will
see how easily it comes to sound Foxglove. So our last thought among the
flowers is of the Fairies, in whose existence hardly anyone believes
to-day.













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Online LibraryArthur Owens CookeWildflowers of the Farm → online text (page 4 of 4)