When I was a kid I loved the Scarlet Pimpernel books by Baroness Orczy. I can't remember why I started reading them as they would have been quite old fashioned at the time.
I probably found a copy at a jumble sale book stall and bought it for pennies but I don't own any of them now.
I remember watching a black and white film based on the Pimpernel books that I was sure had Stewart Granger in the title role, but after looking at the film details on IMDB it seems I'd swapped him in my mind for David Niven-its funny how the memory plays tricks like that.
For some reason , the rhyme about the Scarlet Pimpernel stuck in my mind and I could recall it without hesitation:
"We seek him here, we seek him there, Those Frenchies seek him everywhere. Is he in heaven? - Is he in hell? That damned, elusive Pimpernel?" Baroness Orczy
The Scarlet Pimpernel flower is the hero's emblem but I don't recall being aware of what one looked like when I read the book - apart from the flower being reddishl.
A couple of weeks back, I saw some tiny reddish flowers growing wild and took some photos in order to work out what they were. It turned out that they were, in fact, the elusive scarlet pimpernel, Anagallis arvensis. In French its called Mouron des champs [Pimpernel of the fields].
The flowers are very small, about the size of the tip of my pinkie and were obviously quite sensitive to light and shade. At different times of day or when it was overcast, the flowers were closed. When closed the flowers almost dissapear within the greenery of leaves and stems and only tiny points of orangey-red are visible.
The plant is also called Poor man's weatherglass, Shepherd's weatherglass and Shepherd's Clock because it responds to the weather and tells the time of day.
This is a different scarlet pimpernel flower from the side - i didn't realise at the time that it had 6 petals, I was more interested in the fact that it looked like a teeny, tiny hibiscus flower.
It does look remakably like a hibiscus but it should only have 5 petals - so this plant was very unusual.
Unfortunately scarlet pimpernels are considered weeds, and since I took these photos, the Nice council gardeners have been round and removed all traces of the plants; including the odd 6 petalled one.