Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/244

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Along my daily pathway have thronged the shepherd's-purse and the purslane. The former passed the winter as seedlings from self-sowed seed in early autumn, and closely hugged the frozen soil unprotected, or perchance benignly covered with a blanket of snow. When the November blasts are howling and whirling down the snows, some belated plants—or, more properly, some hasty specimens ahead of their time—are left blooming alone. The pepper-grass (Lepidium virginicum) is closely related to the shepherd's-purse, and has the same times and seasons and habits of growth. On the other hand, the hot-blooded purslane, which was able to sprawl at full length upon the superheated ground in August, and thrive, to the great annoyance of the tidy gardener, falls a lifeless victim at the first firm grasp of the frost-king. In its obeseness it blackens with the rising sun, and soon leaves little else behind except the thousands of almost microscopic seeds, for which the icy winter only seems to serve as a fitting introduction to new activities when the long-delaying spring arrives. Look into the vegetable garden, if you please, and recall the two classes of plants therein grown for the table. There are sorts, the seeds of which may be sown as soon as the ground can be worked; while other seeds are of the tender sort and can not be committed to the earth until the settled weather has come and the danger of the laggard frosts is past. Toward the end of the season there is a like distinction. In short, some of the garden favorites must make all their growth during warm weather, and perish with the frosts of autumn; while others can be gathered at pleasure, even left in the earth until 'the following spring, and improved by the seeming neglect. Of meadow and pasture crops there are few that flower later than the red clover. This may be found in full bloom until the snows cover the melliferous heads for the balance of the year. The alsike also is a late bloomer, but the white sort gives up much earlier.

Let us turn now to the wild plants which are in flower upon or after the first of October in the climate of central Iowa—a prairie region—where autumn is more than past its middle by that date. At the outset, it is manifest of the plants in flower that a large number belong to the sunflower family. Among the most conspicuous are the asters and golden-rods, and the most beautiful of them all is the Aster Novæ Angliæ. This is a common species, and because at home in New England—as the name indicates—is none the less attractive, and one, the charm of whose purple rays of the large heads never flags. I have been upon long tramps through the low meadow-land where this species is the chief blossom, and never tired of the variability which the many plants exhibit. The leaves are clasping as if a strong affection existed between the blade and the stem from which it sprang.