Thornton, Robert John (1768?-1837) / Temple of Flora, or, Garden of the botanist, poet, painter, and philosopher.
Rhododendron Ponticum; or, Pontic Rhododendron.
RHODODENDRON PONTICUM; OR PONTIC RHODODENDRON. IN the dreary season of winter, Nature has partially indulged the eye with ever-greens, the presage of the resurrection of animated beings, and of the returning zephyr; and none of this class claims our attention, for the beauty of its flowers, and wisdom of its contrivance, more than the PONTIC RHODODENDIION, which was introduced into our gardens from the Levant in 1763. The flower is funnel-shaped beneath, and then expands into the resemblance of five Petals, which, in fact, are only five Lacinae, or segments, of a monopetalous Corolla. The upper Segment performs the office of Nectary, is grooved in the middle, and so fertile is this part in the formation of honey, that you may observe a sweet globule in almost every expanded flower. There are in this part spots of a dingy purple, as also in the KALMIA, indications of poison; and, in fact, the honey formed from this bog-plant, as well as from the other, is found to be poisonous. From the cup of the corolla issue ten Stamina, the Filaments of each are beset with fine hairs, and are curvilinear, in order better to perform the useful office of dispersing the Farina on the Pistillum, which is contained in two Cells, each of which open at top. The Pistillum takes the same elegant curve as the Stamina; but when impregnation has been accom- plished, what appeared before a cluster of flowers, the stamina and corollas having withered, now is seen entirely to consist of pistilla, each one displaying its pentagonal germen, the style, and stigma, and assuming its distinguished rank; and Nature now delights us with the art shewn in adjusting their respective places around the stem. Nor was the kind intention of provident Nature less conspicuous in the infant state of the flower, when each bud was protected by a corresponding Stipule, which, as it ceased its utility, fell from off the stem, gradually unfolding to the admiring eye of the spectator, a superb group of purple crowning flowers, which, as being hardy natives of wild situations, cast an air of dignity over such solitary scenes. It comes under Class X. DECANDRIA, Order I. MONOGYNIA, of LINNAEUS. O'er pine-clad hills, and dusky plains, In silent state RHODONIA reigns, And spreads, in beauty's softest bloom, Her purple glories through time gloom. There, by the solemn scene enchanted, The melancholy maiden strays; And by dark streams and fountains haunted, Well pleas'd each rocky wild surveys: To her more fair those shadowy bowers Than glittering halls and castled towers. Nor, happy less, who thus unknown, Can call the woods and shades his own! And wand'ring o'er the moss-clad plain, At will indulge the pensive strain! Array'd in smiles, array'd in terrors, Great Nature's awful form admire, And from the world, and all its errors, In silent dignity retire! SHAW.
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