The first book about wild flowers I ever read was the Ladybird book I mentioned previously. The next one I became aware of was a beautiful book of botanical drawings by W. Keble Martin: The Concise British Flora in Colour. Two lovely sisters of the generation whose potential husbands did not return from the First World War showed me a copy. One of them had taught my mother at primary school. They were most enthusiastic about the book, pointing out how much work was involved.
When a book club I joined several years later offered this book I bought my own copy.
Over the years three other wild flower books have arrived in our house. The most attractive of these is Dorling Kindersley’s Eyewitness Handbook: Wild Flowers of Britain and Northwest Europe. It is the book I consult first. The flowers are arranged by family. There is a identification key which starts by separating dicotyledons and monocotyledons. I find this of limited help and usually hunt through the pages.
The second one, which has far more subspecies pictured, is Collins New Generation Guide to the Wild Flowers of Britain and N. Europe. I have to admit that I have only used it as a reference book for identifying flowers. I ought to take the time to read all the background information. The author of this book was Alastair Fitter and David Attenborough was the general editor.
What I like about the third one is that it has an identification section organised by colour and by the size of both the flowers and the plant. I discovered it on my mother’s bookshelf; she allowed me to take it home! The Concise Flowers of Europe by Oleg Polunin also has over 1900 colour photographs. There is also a ruler (similar to those often provided on knitting patterns) so that the size of the flowers can be measured. (However I do not usually encumber myself with books outside.)
Learning about wild flowers has become much easier with digital photography. Instead of following in W. Keble Martin’s footsteps and making detailed drawings, which must have taken hours and hours, it is now possible to take a snap and consult books and/or the internet later. Fortunately there are still people, who make beautiful botanical drawings and paintings.
The naming of flowers in Latin has changed since the books I own were written. Serious botanists have the latest book with all the up-to-date names. An example of the changes is that the daisy family, which includes dandelions and thistles, used to be called Compositae. The modern name is Asteraceae. Twitter (especially #wildflowerhour) can be very educational! I am happy to remain an amateur botanist with out-of-date books.