Another beautiful afternoon. Such clear yellow skies! To me the top twigs of Holly bushes against a primrose sky recall, oh! so many winter days in the past; long walks through bare woods and rustling brown leaves beneath our feet; the closing-in of curtains in the warm fire-lit rooms where we grew up, which in old age I see as plainly as if I had never left the house where I was born. But to return to the weather of this year, the following was in a newspaper a day or two ago: 'A beautiful yellow butterfly was seen disporting itself in the sunshine of yesterday.' I did not see a butterfly here, but Chrysanthemums still linger, Violets are out, and the yellow Jasminium nudiflorwn is in unusually full flower.
I have no Mistletoe here, but I presume I might have it if I cultivated it. It no doubt has become so much rarer from being always cleared out of orchards, the pretty pale-fruited parasite being no friend to the Apple-trees. If one wishes to cultivate the Mistletoe, select a young branch of Willow, Poplar, Thorn, or an old Apple- or Pear-tree, and on the underside slit the bark to insert the seed. The best time to do this is in February. One may merely rub a few seeds on the outside of the bark, but that is not so safe as inserting them actually under the bark. Raising Mistletoe from seed is better than either grafting or budding.
This is a good time for planting Ivies. There are many different kinds, and they will grow in such a satisfactory way in such bad places. In London gardens or back-yards Ivy can be made into quite a feature. As Curtis says in his 'Flora Londinensis': 'Few people are acquainted with the beauty of Ivy when suffered to run up a stake, and at length to form itself into a standard; the singular complication of its branches and the vivid hue of its leaves give it one of the first places amongst evergreens in a shrubbery.'
My Lancashire friend sends me a list of a few Eoses and annuals. Lists are always so useful to all gardeners, as it is interesting to know what one has got and what one has not, that I give his list as he wrote it: 'To begin with Roses. Kaiserin Augusta Victoria; Allister Stella Gray, climber; Gustave Regis; Maman Cochet, have done best with me. Adonis autumnalis; Alonsoa Warscewiczi; Kaulfussia amelloides, are three annuals new to me. Acis autumnalis is a small South of Europe bulb, rare and supposed to thrive out of doors in sandy soil. Cimicifuga racemosa - I think all borders ought to have this tall-growing, handsome herbaceous plant; Dictamnus fraxinella and its white variety; Eupatorium purpureum; Gypsophila prostrata; Phygelius capensis; Polemonium Richardsoni; Rudbeckia purpurea; Spigelia Marilandica; Styrax japonica; Thalictrum flavum. Withenia origanifolia is a new, very highly praised creeper which I shall try.' I cannot find this creeper mentioned in any of my gardening books. Phormium tenax (the New Zealand Flax) makes a very handsome tub plant for a bare entrance drive or large terrace. If treated like the Agapanthus in full sun it flowers.
Two or three years ago, when I knew nothing about Roses, a very clever Rose grower, who had devoted his life to them, wrote me out the following list, with the assurance that every one of them was worth having: 'A selection of Roses which, in ground well dug and liberally fed with farmyard manure, sheltered but not overshadowed, like Phyllis, "never fail to please." Hybrid Perpetuals: Duke of Edinburgh; Etienne Levet; General Jacqueminot; Her Majesty; Jules Margottin; Marguerite Dickson; Mrs. John Laing; Merveille de Lyons; Paul Neron; Ulrich Brunner. Hybrid Teas: Captain Christy; Grace Darling; Gustave Regis; Lady Mary Fitzwilliam; La France; Vicomtesse Folkestone; Caroline Testout. Teas: Anna Ollivier; Bouquet d'Or; Homère; Madame de Watteville; Madame Falcot;
Madame Hosté; Marie Van Houtte; Perles des Jardins. Polyantha: Cécile Brunner; Perle d'Or.'
I have a near neighbour who is a most successful Rose grower. Walking through his beautifully kept beds the other day, I noted that the centre parts of the plant, both in standards and dwarfs, had some bracken twisted into them. This is a great protection against the coming frosts. For anyone who cares about the choicer Ferns it is a protection to them, too, to have their own leaves twisted round them in the shape of a knob of hair on a woman's head, firmly tucking in the ends so that the winds of March may not untwist them.