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tors left off. But first-hand knowledge will always be most highly prized. The following is an example of a popular description of a flower, in which free use is none the less made of technical terminology:
THE TRAILING ARBUTUS.
The trailing arbutus, known in botanies as Epigwa repeñs, is the earliest, sweetest, and most charming of our native flowers. It is an evergreen creeping plant, found mostly in mountainous regions, in ravines and on northern slopes. The leaves are deep green, from one to two inches long and about half as broad as long, borne on short petioles covered with brownish hairs. Each branch bears several of these leaves near its extremity, and then terminates in a crowded spike-like cluster of exquisite waxy flowers, varying in color from white to rich rose, and emitting a delicious, aromatic fragrance.
The flowers are tubular, the tube being half an inch in length and the expanded flower about half an inch across. They are enclosed in a membranous calyx of five pointed sepals, which are half as long as the tube, and these sepals are in turn embraced by three hairy, brownish bracts, somewhat broader and shorter than the sepals. The tube of the flower is wider at the base than above the sepals, and is densely set inside with long, silky, white hairs. It encloses entirely the pistil and ten stamens.
The anthers are attached at one end, and borne upright; the seeds are small and numerous.
The buds are formed the previous season, and may be distinctly noticed in autumn. If the plants are lifted at that season and placed in a fernery kept in a cool room, as a partially heated bedroom, the buds will develop in February and yield their beauty and fragrance as freely as in their native haunts in spring. Left undisturbed where they grow, however, in the rich, sandy leafmould of a wooded northern slope, the buds are just ready to open on the approach of pleasant days, and may be found in perfection from the tenth of April till the first of May in the latitude of southern Pennsylvania. — Ladies' Home Companion.
The term plants embraces the entire range of vegetable life from the gigantic forest tree to the moss that clings to its trunk and the toadstool that thrives beneath its shade. If the plant you select to write about bears flowers and fruit, some description of these will be necessary, though it will naturally not be so minute or exhaustive as if you were writing about them alone. Keep in mind your subject and observe throughout that symmetrical treatment which every subject demands. It would be manifestly absurd to devote half of an article on 66 The Chestnut” to a description of the leaves and half of it to a history of the tree, or one-fourth to general features and the remainder to the nut which the tree bears. Yet such absurdities are committed. A pupil has been known to write a six-page composition under the title of “The Maple,” five pages of which were given up to an account of the manufacture of maple sugar. The composition was good enough in itself, but it needed re-christening. There was a manifest incongruity between the subject and the subject-matter. Keep in sight the subject always, and then give each feature of the object described only that prominence which its importance warrants.
It may be best to begin with a description of the general appearance of the plant. The reader will be better satisfied if he has at the outset some sort of outline picture of the whole. Then proceed to details. Take up in succession, so far as the plant in question possesses these organs, root, stem, branches, foliage, flowers, fruit. General considerations will follow varieties, uses, associations. If you are describing the oak, note its symbolism as illustrated in the derivation of our word robust; note too its connection with Dodonæan and Druidic rites. In like manner the palm has a symbolism of its own and will call up more than one scriptural and classical allusion. There is a saying among the Arabs that the palm tree has three hundred and sixty uses."
However, do not get the idea from what has been said that one particular order must always be followed. Such a practice would result in very mechanical, inflexible, monotonous composition. Many subjects will admit being treated in half a dozen orders, each of which has a defensible claim to the attribute of natural. Writers of genius may even depart from natural order altogether and still produce a happy effect. When you have thoroughly trained yourself in the systematic treatment of subjects so that the most intractable material will assume under your hands symmetry and just proportion, then you may more safely venture to strike out upon whatever lines your fancy suggests. Cultivated taste will have to be your guide.
Those who have traveled through the limestone districts of Pennsylvania during the early part of May, will remember with pleasure the beauty of the landscape. At that time the large trees of June-berry are a mass of white bloom, and every brake and thicket is richly decorated with the glowing red of the Judastree and the snowy flowers of the wild plum in pleasing contrast. All of these trees are desirable for ornamental planting, blooming as they do very early in the season, before the foliage has developed, and making a gorgeous display by the profusion of flowers which they never fail to produce. But the most lasting and pleasing of the three is the Judas-tree, or red-bud, botanically known as Cercis Canadensis.
This beautiful tree belongs to the great order Leguminosa, which includes the black locust, the honey locust, the coffee-tree, and many other trees prized in ornamental gardening. The flower buds, which are clustered at the leaf axils along the stem, begin to swell at the dawn of spring, and in southern Pennsylvania are showing their color by the middle of April. They continue to develop in size and brilliancy for several weeks, and it is not until the middle of May that the banner-like petals are unfolded and the bud assumes a peculiar bird-like form. A dozen or more of these little flowers are found in each cluster, and by a little stretch of the imagination, they remind one of as many miniature humming-birds vying with each other for a share of the honey from some nectared flowers.
The trees are often found from twenty to thirty feet in height, with a branching, semi-globular top almost as many feet in diameter, supported by a trunk fifteen to twenty-five inches in circumference. In full bloom, such trees are a mass of soft crimson color, and may be seen across the landscape for miles.
As the flowers begin to fade, the rich, broad, green leaves expand, and clothe the tree with dense verdure, which furnishes a delightful shade the entire season. This is further intensified by the profusion of long, compressed green seed-pods which turn to a brownish red during autumn, and by their number and
length, as well as peculiar color, excite the curiosity and admiration of those who see the tree or enjoy its shade.
Propagation is easily effected by seeds, and the trees are easily transplanted and do well in the most exposed situations. With all these characteristics, it seems strange that the Judas-tree is not generally used for ornamental gardening. — Ladies' Home Companion.
PLANT GROWTH AND ACTIVITY.
Plant Creepers and Climbers.
Take half a dozen beans or grains of corn or other seed, and plant them in warm, moist earth. Examine one each day and from your examination describe as well as you can the process of growth. The more mysterious processes of change in organic structure, of cellular growth and multiplication, must of course be left for the microscope of the skilled botanist.
This is very plainly description though it assumes to deal with activity. We describe the plant as it appears at different stages of the activity, and that is about all. We see it before the change takes place, we see it again afterward, but just what that change consists in deeper than this external manifestation of it, is extremely difficult if not quite impossible to say.