The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
The Months.

by House of Education Students.
Volume 15, 1904, pg. 299


by A. Shirrefs Gordon.

To all lovers of Nature the month of April is full of fascination.

      "A bursting into greenness,
      A waking as from sleep,
      A twitter and a warble
      That makes the pulses leap."

Who has not sat on a balmy April afternoon and drunk in with delight the pulsating life of wood and glen? All Nature seems to delight in the bountiful renewal of her life and vigor. And what a wealth of flowers! Celandine, primrose, herb nettle (red and white), the graceful feathery stitchwort, herb Robert, and the various cresses enlivening the hedgerows; anemones, violets, adoxa, water avens, goldy locks, and gagea peopling the woods. And the mosses! They cannot, it is true, boast of any striking infloresence, and are thus apt to be passed over by the careless observer, but to all those whose eyes are open to see, the soft luxuriance of their growth and delicate beauty of their structure cannot fail to attract admiration.

Is it possible to imagine our country-walls without their clinging mosses? Do they not clothe them in beautiful colours, softening hard outlines by their luxuriant growth? A mass of purple fork moss (Ceratodon pupurcus) with its dainty ruby-tinted stalk, or of bristle-pointed hair moss (Polytrichum piliferum) with its quaint and ingenuous calyptra, seen against a blue April sky is never forgotten. I remember, even now, my feeling of intense pleasure on discovering for the first time a tuft of Bartramia pomiformis in a shady nook of a moss-grown wall. What could be more fairy-like than the pale green star-like leaves and slender stalk crowned with its exquisite sporangium?

In order to become familiar with all the mosses of our country-walls, much time and patient study is required. Where this is impossible it is well to learn the names of those already familiar to the eye, e.g., Homalthecium sericeum with its curious growth reminding one of the arms of a starfish, Ptychomitrium polyphyllum, its pale yellow vermillion-tipped sporangium and exquisitely delicate peristome forming a beautiful contrast to its dense tufts of dark green leaves. When these have been mastered it seems only natural to pass on to the study of those which, owing to their minute growth, are less likely to attract attention.

In the woods we are also confronted with many and various kinds of mosses. Here, amongst others, we find the feather mosses (Hypnum) whose graceful foliage add so much to the beauty of our woods, the thread mosses (Bryum), hair mosses (Polytrichum) and the thyme thread mosses (Mnium). These latter are generally found in damp spots or along the banks of streams. They have delicately beautiful leaves of an almost transparent green, with a round orange-tipped sporangium. The swan-neck thyme thread moss (Mnium hornum) is familiar to all with it’s rich dense masses of dark green leaves and striking orange-tipped sporangium; it seems to have a fondness for old tree stumps, clothing their nakedness with its beautiful and luxuriant growth.

In closing let me mention the bog mosses (Spagnum) which form such an important part in the covering of bogs and in furnishing the material for peat. These are all aquatic, or semi-aquatic, their leaves being of a yellowish-brown colour caused by the peculiar structure of the chlorophyll-cells.

Typed by Nicole Robinson, August, 2023; Proofread by LNL, August, 2023