Monday, October 1, 2007

Regency Flora and Fauna - October

October. The nights are drawing in, instead of sunsets at 9:30 pm, they are now at 6:30 pm. A noticeable change. The leaves are turning yellows and reds and various shades of brown. So what are we seeing in gardens and the countryside as we go for a carriage drive or take a stroll through fields and woods.

Well, after you've stopped looking into the eyes of your beloved (romance alert) here are a couple of things of interest in the natural world.

Our naturist tells us that in England in October in the Regency, we will still see geraniums.
Geraniums have a vary interesting history, because they were originally misnamed and have kept the wrong name ever since.

The first plants were brought from South Africa to England by famed plantsman John Tradescant in the early 17th century. African pelargoniums (called geraniums) quickly became popular conservatory plants, although rare enough that only the well-to-do could afford them. By the beginning of the 18th century, both amateur enthusiasts and serious scientists groups were hybridizing species and propagating the new plants from cuttings.

Around the same time the 18th century the Turkish "Secret Language of Flowers" was introduced to Europe by Lady Mary Wortley Montague 1869-1762, wife of the British ambassador to Constantinople and interesting lady in her own right, and look at that gown, but before our time.


Flowers had long been a sign of romance but now lovers were able to send secret messages to each other by means of sending a posy of flowers. Each flower had a specific meaning and the order of arrangement had much to do with the intended "message". The French seem to have taken this idea to heart.

In 1819 a French woman writing under the pen name of Madame Charlotte de la Tour (Louise Cortambert), wrote and published "Le Language des Fleurs" which offered seasonal floral and anecdotal advice to those wishing to send "secret" messages to each other.

The geranium was offered as comfort.

Enough with the flora, I can also tell you a little bit about the birds. One bird in particular interested me, the the ring-ouzel which our naturalist tells us "arrives from the Welsh and Scottish Alps to winter in more sheltered situations". And here he is. Interesting bird and not one I recall seeing in England although I did live in the south east which is where they are supposed to winter. They are, apparently a very shy member of the thrush family.
The other bird mentioned is the swallow. Around this time they leave for Africa. This bird I recall fondly. "One swallow does not make a summer." My mother said this English proverb with dates back to the sixteenth century every spring without fail. Just shows how we keep up our traditions in our family. It sure gave one the feeling that summer was just around the corner though!

Until next time, Happy Rambles.