This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Saturday Rave: Wild Flowers of Britain and Ireland by Marjorie Blamey and Richard and Alastair Fitter.

Here (at random) is a description of the Spear-leaved Willow herb from Wild Flowers of Britain and Ireland:

"Spear-leaved Willowherb Epilobium lanceolatum. The least frequent of the group, but instantly recognisable by its long-stalked, narrowly-eliptical, blunt-tipped leaves. Stems only faintly ridged. Flowers pale pink to pink, 12 - 13 mm; late flowering, July-Sept. Waste places, walls; has a curious liking for Midlands churchyards."

How about that? Not only do you get a useful description, but you get the beautiful narrowly-eliptical as well as a neat little dig at Midlands churchyards as well (not that anyone in their right minds would want to have a dig at a churchyard).

The most remarkable thing about the book, though? Yes, the watercolours are astonishing and beautiful. Yes, there are thousands of entries.

But for me the most wonderful thing about this book is that the writer of the texts, Richard Fitter, was in his ninety-first year when this book was finished. His son Prof Alastair Fitter, who drew the maps, was only fifty-five; but Marjorie Blamey, who painted the illustrations (thousands of them), was in her eighty-sixth year.

Together they've produced a masterpiece.

And they've made me realise that whatever life is for, it's not for retiring.

Word To Use Today: willow. This word comes from the Old English welig, related to welige, wicker basket, from the Greek helix, which means twisted.

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