Cassell’s Wild Flowers of Britain and Northern Europe
“I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight;
And there the snake throws her enamell’d skin,
Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in:………..”
This passage from Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream evokes the magic that we feel when we see wild flowers growing and thriving in our countryside. The names of the flowers are part of our shared memories. Many of the flowers mentioned above are in this month’s featured book – Woodbine (type of honeysuckle), Eglantine (briar rose), Violet and Wild Thyme. They can delight now just as they clearly moved Shakespeare to create his fairy bower with them.
I remember being taught the names of wild flowers when out walking with my parents as a child. I feel saddened that, although I have tried to pass this on to my own family, it has not been to such an appreciative audience! I hope the names and the flowers themselves will survive to the next and future generations.
Cassell’s Wild Flowers covers all the wildflowers of Britain and Northern Europe, over 2,400 of them, in astonishing detail and depth. Each flower, leaf, stem, fruit or seed is described and beautifully illustrated including any variations in colour and form. The artist, Marjorie Blamey, was Britain’s most prolific illustrator of wild flowers and most of the illustrations are life-sized. The texts that accompany the pictures give details on habitat and general characteristics but there is more than that contained here.
The book has a Glossary of common and scientific terms used when describing flora. Everything shown in the book has a key assigned which identifies which family of plants it belongs to and the common attributes of that family. As a text book this is informative and detailed. However, there is pure enjoyment to be found just by leafing through the pages, such is the quality and quantity of the beautiful illustrations.
Contributed by Nicky
(Published 9th Sep 2021)