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Prolific vegetation -Pond-weeds-Aquatic vegetables-Water
Beauty of Nature-Heath-Ling-Wild Thyme-Harebell-
Hawkweeds Camomile - Cudweeds-Spurge
Grass of Parnassus-Reed Mace-Sea Southernwood-Horned
Golden Rod-Flea-bane-Marsh Mallow-Michaelmas Daisy-
Signs of Autumn-Ivy-Irish Ivy-Strawberry-tree-Shepherd's
NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER.
WILD FLOWERS OF THE YEAR.
IN watching the progress of vegetation, as, month by month, it expands before us, we are struck with the regularity with which the flowers and fruits of earth visit us at their appointed times. More than five thousand years since, the promise of God was recorded, that "while the earth remaineth, seed-time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night, shall not cease,' * and every season attests its fulfilment. They who mark most closely the changes of nature, know best how fully and faithfully God has kept his word. As said the inspired psalmist, "Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the Lord."+
Nature presents to us, even in the history of a simple blossom, some striking marks of God's skill and goodness. The devout Fuller has told us in what way we should look upon the flowers. "A flower," says he, "is the best complexioned grass, as a pearl is the best complexioned clay;
* Gen. viii. 22.
+ Psalm cvii. 43.
and daily it weareth God's livery, for he clotheth the grass of the field. Solomon himself is not outbraved therewith, as whose gallantry only was adopted, and on him; theirs innate, and in them. In the morning when it groweth up, it is a lecture of Divine Providence in the evening, when it is cut down, and withereth, it is a lecture of human mortality."
The argument so often applied to the various works of creation, that an instance of design necessarily implies a designer, is so obvious, that a child can understand it. That there is a God who created, and hourly regulates this world of ours, with all its changing seasons, its coming flowers, and falling leaves, seems so direct a conclusion, that the more we examine the works of nature, the more entirely we feel the truth of the declaration of the psalmist, that it is the fool who "hath said in his heart, There is no God."
Let us consider only the structure of the very commonest plant in the world; the meadow grass, which trembles at the touch of the butterfly, and bends before the sweeping wind. Destined for every soil and every situation, it is provided with a root composed of numerous slender fibres, so that it can penetrate, not only into the solid ground of the field, but can find its way into the scanty portion of earth at the top of the cliff, in the crevice of the wall, or on the loose sand. Its slight and hollow stem might be snapped by the high winds which pass
*Psa. xiv. 1.
over the most elevated spot of its growth; but the stem is strengthened by knots, at intervals, and by a coat of flint, which gives to it that solidity, furnished to the animal structure by means of the bone. Instead of receiving injury from the continual cropping of cattle, its leaves increase the faster for being broken; while its parts of fructification, which are to serve for its increase by seed, are carefully protected in a chaffy case, so minutely and beautifully perfect, that its fitness can only be seen by means of a microscope.
Advancing another step in the consideration of nature, we remark how constant the Almighty is to his original plan, in every subsequent growth of even the simplest flower. How, through all ages, the myrtle has its dark-pointed evergreen leaf, and its sweet odour; and the wood-sorrel, its triple quickly-withering leaf of palest green, and acid flavour. How the almondtree, which first put forth its bloom to the inhabitants of Palestine, and covered over the branches with its gradually whitening blossoms, so as to serve as a figure for the silver hairs of the aged man, still blooms and grows white, as it grows older, just as it did in the days of Solomon. How, in closely looking at the small cup, or calyx, of a flower-a cup so small that even a drop of dew might fill it—we find that the thread-like ribs with which it is marked, are, in the calyx of one family of plants, ten in number; and in another, only five; and this in all the individual blooms which have come and
gone, since Adam first looked out on the flowers of Eden.
The wonderful fertility of plants in the immense number of seeds which they produce, and the plans by which they are scattered, affords another remarkable instance of goodness and skill. Sharon Turner states that "a common scarlet bean yielded a hundred pods, with five full formed beans in each; making in such stalks, from three to five hundred from the single bean sown.” What is the end of all these numerous seeds? Why this profusion? Is it that five hundred plants may be produced by each one, and so the earth be overrun with a luxuriant vegetation, that man may find no room for himself and his home? No. The great Creator has provided the seeds, not only for the reproduction of the plant, but for the food of man and animals, and for the birds yea, even for the meanest. "He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry." He, in preparing for their wants, knew how many of his creatures should live upon seeds: how the corn should be even the very staff of life; how the apple, and the cherry, and a thousand other fruits, in which the seeds lie embedded, should refresh his frame, and gratify his appetite: how the silky thistle-down and the black ivy-berry should give food for the birds, and how "the cattle upon a thousand hills" should be nourished by the grass of his fields. He knew that the rains would destroy many seeds; that many would be blown by the