This year gardening knowledge is given to the public cheaper than ever. There is a new penny handbook on gardening to be got at any railway station (Ward, Lock & Co.). It is quite good, giving all the elementary instruction necessary.
The uses of petroleum tubs in a garden are endless. I get my oil now from London, and so do not return the barrels. Mr. Barr told me the other day he was knocking the bottoms out of some, sinking them one below the other with a pipe in between, and puddling them with stiff clay at the bottom; then he was going to plant them with specimens of the beautiful new French Nymphæas (Water Lilies), M. Marliac's hybrids being the most beautiful perhaps of all. A full, excellent, and detailed account of the cultivation of these Water Lilies is to be found in Mr. Robinson's last edition of 'The English Flower Garden.' As is natural at my age, I have a most elderly affection for types and parent plants, because as a rule they are less expensive to buy, and much more willing to be managed when one has got them. But I do not say this without from my heart giving all honour to cultivators of hybrid plants.
Tub arrangements can be made of endless use even in the smallest gardens and back-yards, if sunny - never forgetting the precious rain-water, which every slight slope in the ground makes it easy to collect if the tubs are sunk level with the ground. I mention things again and again, knowing well in our full modern lives how useful it is merely to remind. This year I have sunk a tub under every tap I have in the garden, as exposing the water to the sun and air prevents its being so hard and cold as when it comes straight out of the pipe.
We have just had, what we always feel to be doubly precious in our sandy soil, a good shower of rain. Mr. Stephen Phillips, in the 'saturday Review' last year, had a poem which describes this kind of shower beautifully and originally:
After rain, after rain,
Oh, sparkling Earth!
All things are new again,
Bathed as at birth.
Now the pattering sound hath ceased,
Drenched and released,
Upward springs the glistening bough
In sunshine now;
And the raindrop from the leaf
Runs and slips;
Ancient forests have relief,
Young foliage drips.
All the earth doth seem
Like Dian issuing from the stream,
Her body flushing from the wave,
Glistening in her beauty grave;
Down from her, as she doth pass
Little rills run to the grass;
Or like perhaps to Venus when she rose
And looked with dreamy stare across the sea,
As yet unconscious of the woes,
The woes, and all the wounds that were to be.
Or now again,
After the rain,
Earth like that early garden shines,
Vested in vines.
Oh, green, green
Eden is seen!
After weeping skies
Umbrage twinkling new
'Gainst the happy blue.
God there for His pleasure,
In divinest leisure,
Walking in the sun,
Which hath lately run;
While the birds sing clear and plain,
Behind the bright withdrawing rain.
Soon I shall perceive
Naked glimmering Eve,
Startled by the shower,
Venture from her bower,
Looking for Adam under perilous sky;
While he hard by
Emerges from the slowly dropping blooms
And warm delicious glooms.