I cannot understand anybody living in the country and not taking a special interest in birds - from the skylark, the smallest bird that soars, to the water wag-tail, the smallest bird that walks. The constant fight always goes on as to whether birds in a garden do good or harm. Nothing convinces my gardener that we do not suffer more than our neighbours from the non-killing of bullfinches. Poor little things! the harm they do is terribly more apparent than the good, which has to be taken on faith; and this I do.

As I stated before, I have lately been growing Watercresses in pots and pans, with some measure of success. But I never feel my ignorance without looking about for some book which recounts an experience greater than my own. I have found a perfectly comprehensive little manual called 'Home Culture of the Watercress,' by Shirley Hibberd (E. W. Allen, 1878). Anyone interested in the subject should try and get this book. The reason of my comparative failure is that I did not stand the pans in receptacles that would hold water. Also Watercresses are much better grown from small cuttings than from seed. Mr. Hibberd says that, if kept sufficiently moist and grown in his way, in about twenty days or less one ought to be able to pick a nice dish of Cresses. There is no garden, however small or dry, if watering can be abundant, that cannot grow Watercresses in summer quite successfully as he recommends. The winter supply requires to be kept from frost.

From the point of view of a real Cactus lover I am but a weak-kneed disciple. I confess that a greenhouse full of these plants in various stages of bumpiness and without a single flower, as is often the case, leaves me cold and rather depressed. But to grow a certain number is of very great interest to me. The power they have of clinging to life is shared by few plants. This accounts for the fact that some of the finest kinds may be seen occasionally in cottage windows. The most gratifying point about cottage-window gardening is that in it fashion is unknown. Plants are handed down from father to son, with a total disregard as to whether these are fashionable or not. For a lengthened period Cactuses have been a neglected family. Just lately magnificent groups have been exhibited by London nurserymen, so they are fast coming to the front again.

Since writing my last book I have learnt by experience a good deal more about Cactus culture. In this country they require a kind of double treatment, according to whether you want them to grow or to flower. If you want small pieces to grow quickly, you must keep them most of the year in heat and well watered. If, on the other hand - and this especially applies to the hardier kinds - you want them to flower, you must starve them well through the winter. But I am sure that allowing them to shrivel from want of water is wrong. To prevent this, once the year is turned, I find occasional syringing better than much watering at the roots. Over-watering in winter generally means death, as they then rot at the crown. Sun they must have all through the summer. They are apt to be affected by a fungus blight; this must be cleaned off, of course. Like all the distinct plant families in Nature, the more we know about Cactuses the more interesting they are. I have a new sunny window which I am looking forward to filling with Cactuses this summer. I have there, now in a small pot, a red Phyllocactus (see Mr. W. Watson's 'Cactus Culture'), which has upon it two or three flowers in bloom and fifty-two buds. One of my correspondents was exceedingly sceptical about the same bloom of my night-flowering Cereus (see page 121 of my first book) having lasted in a cool dark hall for two nights; but it certainly did. Last year I was away from home all the precious summer months, so I do not know what happened to the 'bright-blooming Cereus, grand and glorious.' My correspondent adds that some years ago he got into a controversy with experts in 'The Gardener's Chronicle' about these flowers, and one correspondent said that his Cereus remained in bloom six weeks. That must have been a very large plant with many blooms. Some of the most beautiful Cereuses are so large they only seem to flower well if planted in the open ground under glass. I think more than ever that it is worth while to grow Cactuses - for anyone who spends the summer at home. I am obliged to add this, as one says 'Do you take sugar or cream?' at teatime, for hardly anyone now does stay at home. Cactuses have a way of flowering when they choose. They will not wait for you if you are away, and their blooms only last a short time; but when they do condescend to flower, the beauty of them is exquisite - far more rare and lovely than any Orchid that I know. I have lately been able to procure a book for which I have waited a long time, 'Blühende Cacteen,' by Dr. Pfeiffer and F. R. Otto. It was published in Cassel (Germany) in 1843, and is a monograph on Cactuses, in two volumes bound in one. The prints are very well drawn, and the flowers hand-coloured. The text, unfortunately perhaps, is written only in German and French.

For all who wish to increase their Phloxes, Michaelmas Daisies, and hardy Chrysanthemums, it is quite possible in this month or early in May not only to divide them, as I said before, but to take off the shoots and stick them in the ground. This gives you the plants much less tall than if allowed to grow on the original root. Many of the herbaceous things will root in this way in spring. Cuttings of the white Everlasting Pea certainly do.

Cerasus pseudo-cerasus, as sold by Messrs. Veitch & Co., is very like Cerasus watereri in Mr. Robinson's book. The whole family, and especially this one from Mr. Veitch, seem to me as well worth growing as anything I know among spring-flowering shrubs.