"See, winter comes to rule the varied year, Sullen and sad, with all his rising train, Vapour, and clouds, and storms;"

AND as he comes the wild flowers go to their wintry home, where the secret processes of Nature - which are never still - are at work to renew, with vigour, life, and beauty, the opening year, and gladden the face of spring. For "Look nature through, 't is revelation all, All change - no death."

The hedgerows are yet full of beauty. The tall sprays of the "Wild Rose toss their arms aloft, as if proud of their coralline hips, as well as of the "fairy pincushions," or "rose sponge." We have noticed, as Shakespeare noticed before us, that the canker-blooms have full as deep a dye As the perfumed tincture of the roses."

These mossy excrescences are the product of a species of gall-fly (Cynips). Another variety produces the round bead-like protuberances at the back of oak-leaves, which are now developing into gall-stones. The "unsightly monstrous fungi," arrayed in their bright shades of orange and red, display their fleshy protuberances like sensual ghouls on the moist graves of the withered summer blossoms. The crimson-leaved Bramble trails over the hedgerows, and hides itself in the luxuriant undergrowth, which has not yet succumbed to the wintry storms.

The flowers are not all dead. A second blow of many flowers appear "faintly tinged, and breathing no perfume." A lingering autumn Knapweed, or a starry Corn Marigold, or an early Dandelion, opes its big yellow eyes to receive the cold kiss of the winter's sun. On chalky or clayey pastures we may see clusters of the radiate or star-shaped flowers of the Ploughman's Spikenard (Conyza squarrosa), which blooms late. Its leaves are hairy, and it grows to the height of three feet. In former days the spikenard was hung up in rooms to drive away gnats and other insects. In many cottages, both here and in France, it is hung up for this purpose. The "wee Daisy" raises its glad face to heaven from many a sheltered nook.

The hedges are decked with many-coloured berries - with hips and haws, the rose-tinted fruit of the Spindle tree (Eunonymus Europoeus), the transparent red berries of the Honeysuckle, which contrasts with the black berries of the Sloe, Privet, or Elder, and the clear white pearls of the Mistletoe, which may be seen on many a crab and apple tree. The red and white berries of the Cowberries, the grateful acid berries of the Barberry, and the scarlet ones of the White Bryony hang in profusion like clustered gems.

The Mistletoe - the "silvery modest mistletoe" - (Viscum album), with its thick, succulent, yellow-hued foliage, and white viscous berries situate in the axils of the upper pair of leaves, is common in the south of England. We have seen it growing in profusion in the neighbourhood of Guildford. It puts forth its flowers in May.

The Holly {Ilex aquifolium) sturdily maintains its place in many a hedgerow. I have seen its magnificent red-berried clusters in Westmoreland, and its thick leathery leaves on Dartmoor. It is common through all the Midland districts, and one of the finest holly hedges I have seen skirts the Watling Street, not far from the heart of England. Its name is supposed to be a corruption of holy tree, on account of its frequent use in decking churches at Christmas-tide. The white flowers appear in April, though the plant has far more associations with winter.

The Ivy (Hedera helix), which puts forth its green blossoms in October, now becomes a prominent object among the woodlands, by the walls, and in the hedgerows, though its chocolate berries are not ripe until April. The late bee, tempted from home by the warm glow of a November sun, hovers round the ivy flowers. The various-veined and differently-formed leaves, which distinguish the ivy, are supposed to be caused partly by a variation in the age of the plant, as well as the different soil on which it grows. There is a rapid-growing variety, known as the Irish Ivy (Helix vegetata), with large foliage, instead of the ordinary five-angled leaf, so well known, that poets have taken ivy as the emblem of friendship. Some doubts exist as to the injury which ivy does to growing timber. In Shakespeare's time it was looked upon simply as a parasite, and it was asserted that "No flower can bear the ivy's shade, No tree support its cold embrace."

Its tendrils, however, are not rootlets which "suck the verdure" out of the "princely trunks" of the forest trees, and Calder Campbell makes the ivy say -

"Oh ! falsely they accuse me

Who say I seek to check The growing sapling's flourishing;

I better love to deck The dead or dying branches

With all my living leaves. 'T is for the old and withered tree

The ivy garland weaves."

By many a road-side, "Fringing the fence on sandy wold With blaze of vegetable gold, The furze - but, ah ! beware the thorn Too oft 'mid brightest blossoms born ! - The furze still yields its fragrant bloom."

The Winter Furze or Gorse (Ulex tianus), studs the heathland through the winter, and brightens up the landscape, and peers even through the wintry snow. This is a species of lower growth than "the Never-bloomless Furze" (Ulex Europoeus), which blooms in April and May. In many a foreign greenhouse is our Common Furze cherished as a precious plant: its golden butterfly blossoms so excited the great Swedish botanist when he first saw it, that he fell on his knees and praised God for its beauty. Nor is it unprofitable. Horses and cattle will browse on its prickly foliage when bruised. It forms a useful fence, and when twisted in hurdles, on many a bleak hill-side, it forms the most sheltered nook of the sheepfold.

In the intervals of mild weather the minute flowers of the Chickweed will peep forth. We may also find the bright yellow blossoms of Eranthis hyemalis "The aconite that decks with gold Its little merry face."

The Dandelion will peep forth in the meadows, and the sweet-scented Coltsfoot occasionally wakens up during the winter. In the gardens the Spurge Laurel (Daphne laureola) expands its blossoms, and the Mezereon (Daphne mezerum) shows its fragrant pink blossoms down its bushy stems, and the Snowdrop - the "snow piercer" of the French - appears. The Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger) stands like a flake of snow, amid its dark green leaves; and though, like the aconite, scarcely an English wild flower, we are glad to welcome them " as a token to the wintry earth that beauty liveth still."

At this season the Ferns, Lichens, and Mosses are in full fructification, and form beautiful objects of investigation. On old walls, or springing from the decaying roots of trees, the Common Polypody (Poly-podium vulgare) may be found, and on the back of its fronds the small orange velvet buttons. On the Hart's-tongue (Scolopendrium vulgare) the seeds have a longer form. On the Maidenhair Spleenwort (As-plenium trichomanes), common on old walls, they are minute black dots. On the Blechnvm boreale, the Hard Fern, with its wiry roots, they are more diffused. Each species has a distinctive mark of its own on the fronds waving in the breeze, or hiding in the shady nook.

But what shall we say of the Mosses, eight hundred species of which have been discovered ? Each minute plot of vegetation is a little world of its own; but it requires a microscope to see their full beauty. They spring forth on newly formed soils; thoy appear in the most inexplicable manner on the newly quarried stone, struggling for existence. Still more strangely do they appear on the newly discovered volcanic island, where they form the pioneers of a higher state of vegetative existence. They protect the root of the Alpine plant near the region of perpetual snows, and where mosses cease to grow all vegetation is at an end. A new world opens up before us, which requires greater space than at present is at our disposal. Thus the spring, summer, and autumn flowers pass away, with their blossoms, leaves, and fruit. Other seasons will come, ever gay with flowers, other eyes will note their beauty, other pens describe their varying and manifold attractions. And now,

• Farewell, dear flowers 1 sweetly your time ye spent, Fit, while ye lived, for smell or ornament;

And, after death, for cures, I follow straight without complaint or grief; Since, if my life be pure, I care not if

It be as short as yours."