Thereby Hangs a Tale
Color in Garden - Plate 11b

For the child with a whimsical turn of mind, or a group of youngsters at the fairytale age level, you could plan a garden of folklore and nickname flowers. Scores of our commonest flowers are the central characters in delightful legends and myths. You will have no trouble in selecting worthy tenants. Screen all applicants with calculated snobbery; no story, or no pet name, no admission.


To fortify yourself for such an undertaking, look up some of the books on the lore and legend of flowers. Read bits of them aloud to your young prospects before making your plans, so that the stories will be familiar ones before the blossoms appear.

The iris, as you may know, was produced by the breaking up of the rainbow when the earth was first created. The collapse, caused by the weight of the angels standing on its arched surface, peering down at the new world beneath them, sent millions of multicolored bits of broken rainbow floating down to the earth below. These became iris. Zinnias, gentians, water-lilies and orchids are said to have resulted from this same rainbow catastrophe.

Color in Garden - Plate 11b

Lilies-of-the-valley, so the story goes, are the cups of nectar hung on blades of grass at a party given by the Queen of the Fairies, while her subjects danced. The cups were forgotten when the party broke up, and were changed by the magic waving of the Queen's wand into blossoms of the lily-of-the-valley.

Numerous legends about the little man underneath the petals of the pansy have been responsible for the dissection of many a blossom. One version is that he is a widower who married a widow with two glamorous stepdaughters. His own two daughters were quite plain and simply costumed. Since there were not enough chairs for everyone the stepmother made the two stepdaughters share one chair. Tear off the two plain top petals of a pansy and you will see that they were resting on a single sepal-chair. The widow's own beautifully dressed daughters were given individual chairs. Remove the two side petals and you will find it true that each had her own green sepal to sit on. For herself the stepmother, with her widely spread bouffant skirt, appropriated two chairs. By pull ing off the broad lower petal it is perfectly clear that she had two sepals supporting her. And poor father? He had to huddle down in the cellar with his feet in a pail of warm water to keep comfortable-a fact clearly visible when all the ladies have been unseated.