The Garden Guide

Book: London Parks and Gardens, 1907
Chapter: Chapter 8 Commons and Open Spaces

Hampstead wild flowers

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Hampstead was always famous for its wild flowers. The older botanists roamed there in search of rare plants, and the frequent references in their works, especially in Gerard's "Herbal," show how often they were successful. Osmundas, or royal ferns, sundew or drosera, and the bog bean grew in the damp places, and lilies of the valley were among the familiar flowers. As late as 1838 a work on London Flora enumerates 290 genera, and no less than 650 species, as found round about the Heath. The soil, the aspect, the situation, are all propitious. Even now it is so far above the densest smoke-fogs that much might be done to encourage the growth of wild flowers. It is true notice-boards forbid the plucking of them, and that is a great step in advance-but the sowing of a few species, which have become extinct, would add greatly to the charm of the place. It is also still the favourite haunt of wild birds, and the more the true wildness is encouraged, the more likely they are to frequent it. It is much to be hoped that the London County Council will refrain in their planting, from anything but native trees and bushes which look at home, and which would attract our native songsters.