Flora and Fauna of Regency Britain - October

We had frost on our roof this morning, yet the sky is bright and clear and it reminded me of growing up in England, crunching through frosty grass on the way to school. Though October is probably a bit early for frost over there, it was a happy little memory.

Now here is a pretty little bird. A linnet. What has it to do with October?

Small birds now begin to congregate, and the common linnet is the first to lead the way.

They are congregating ready for migration, like so many of Britain's summer birds. It is a bird often referred to through various eras, although it is now endangered it was once prolific throughout England and it has a pretty song.

Amid the floral gaieties of autumn, may be reckoned the Guernsey lily, which is so conspicuous an object in October, in the windows and green-houses of florists in London and its vicinity.

I thought this interesting because it talks about the windows and green-houses of florists in London and vicinity. Without intention, our naturist has given us a glimpse into London life, the image of florists etc.

The lily itself has a whole history around it. Thought to have arrived in Guernsey in the late 1600's a whole wonderful tale of shipwrecks and Japanese or Chinese sailors has grown up around it. The lily actually comes from South Africa, but the tale is interesting.

Hips and haws now ornament the hedges. This is a part of a flower print by Louisa Anne Twamley circa 1836 and shows a variety of hips and haws (as well as blackberries which are probably not quite right for October). But the print shows the variety of these red seeds and they last through the winter to April time, which is great for birds, but October is when they start to make their appearance.

Hips are rose hips. You may have heard of rose hip syrup supposed to keep you healthy in winter. There is a lot of vitamin C in rose hips and now they are talking about it as an aid to rheumatism. Anyway, I digress. Hips are from roses. They are left once the flower is gone, if you don't prune.

Haws are similar, they come from white thorn bushes and other bushes. They are the smaller red seeds in the picture.

And so, while there is much more to be seen in October, you will have to wait until next year. Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Regency Fashion for October

Wow, here we are heading for the Canadian Thanksgiving next week end. After that I will be in Seattle at the Emerald City Writers Conference and my first booksigning for No Regrets with my American Title sister Gerri Russell.

October of course signals that winter is just around the corner. But what did our fashion mavens decide we should wear.

Here we are in the year before the Regency actually begins in October 1811.

Now just look at this outfit from La Belle Assemblee. This is a tunic of sky-blue-silk, the buttons down the front are self covered with the same silk. Over that is loose short dress of plain India Muslin. the long sleeves and the front of the dress is trimmed with a quilling of lace, and tied down with bows of white satin ribbon and deep French lace flounced round the hem. Ribbons blue Persian confine the arms and form the sash. A white lace hood, lined with blue, and double quilling of French net in the front tops of the outfit. It is worn here with pale buff kid slippers.

I must say I am not so keen on the hood, but the gown itself looks comfortable and the high neck would help keep our lady warm in the cooler mornings of October.

This gown is from 1814, and is clearly an evening gown. This one comes from Paris via the Journal des Dames et Des Modes. the triple row of lace at the bottom of the underskirt is stunning as is the embroidered decoration on the overdress. I just can't get with the turban though. Still, if it is all the rage, I am sure we are wearing it.

These two plates seem to really show the progression during this period. The earlier gown is flowing and more classic, the later one the fuller skirt leading into the hoop skirts of the next era. Yet the high waist still lingers, along with the low cut neckline for evening. Remember that at this time, English women had just discovered French fashions again. By 1818, Napoleon was safely ensconced on Saint Helena. Poor man. He caused lots of trouble, but that does seem like a very uncomfortable thing to do to a person.

I have a friend who comes from Saint Helena. His mother still livers there. One of these days I would love to visit that tiny isolated island.

That is all until next time. Until then Happy rambles.

Regency Flora and Fauna - October

October. The nights are drawing in, instead of sunsets at 9:30 pm, they are now at 6:30 pm. A noticeable change. The leaves are turning yellows and reds and various shades of brown. So what are we seeing in gardens and the countryside as we go for a carriage drive or take a stroll through fields and woods.

Well, after you've stopped looking into the eyes of your beloved (romance alert) here are a couple of things of interest in the natural world.

Our naturist tells us that in England in October in the Regency, we will still see geraniums.
Geraniums have a vary interesting history, because they were originally misnamed and have kept the wrong name ever since.

The first plants were brought from South Africa to England by famed plantsman John Tradescant in the early 17th century. African pelargoniums (called geraniums) quickly became popular conservatory plants, although rare enough that only the well-to-do could afford them. By the beginning of the 18th century, both amateur enthusiasts and serious scientists groups were hybridizing species and propagating the new plants from cuttings.

Around the same time the 18th century the Turkish "Secret Language of Flowers" was introduced to Europe by Lady Mary Wortley Montague 1869-1762, wife of the British ambassador to Constantinople and interesting lady in her own right, and look at that gown, but before our time.

Flowers had long been a sign of romance but now lovers were able to send secret messages to each other by means of sending a posy of flowers. Each flower had a specific meaning and the order of arrangement had much to do with the intended "message". The French seem to have taken this idea to heart.

In 1819 a French woman writing under the pen name of Madame Charlotte de la Tour (Louise Cortambert), wrote and published "Le Language des Fleurs" which offered seasonal floral and anecdotal advice to those wishing to send "secret" messages to each other.

The geranium was offered as comfort.

Enough with the flora, I can also tell you a little bit about the birds. One bird in particular interested me, the the ring-ouzel which our naturalist tells us "arrives from the Welsh and Scottish Alps to winter in more sheltered situations". And here he is. Interesting bird and not one I recall seeing in England although I did live in the south east which is where they are supposed to winter. They are, apparently a very shy member of the thrush family.
The other bird mentioned is the swallow. Around this time they leave for Africa. This bird I recall fondly. "One swallow does not make a summer." My mother said this English proverb with dates back to the sixteenth century every spring without fail. Just shows how we keep up our traditions in our family. It sure gave one the feeling that summer was just around the corner though!

Until next time, Happy Rambles.