Gorse thoroughly peeled and wedged (see first volume) lasts for weeks in water, and the warmth of the room makes the flower come out so well it is almost a different-looking plant.

In these light soils all the fruit-trees over-flower themselves so much, like pot-bound plants, that no one need scruple to pick branches of blossom to put in water in the house. The trees can never carry even the fruit that sets.

The evergreens are beginning their spring shoots. I think it must have been at about this time of year, when the young leaves on the Holly have no spines, that Southey wrote:

All vain asperities, day by day, would wear away, Till the smooth temper of my age should be Like the high leaves upon the Holly Tree.

A book published in 1857, called 'Curiosities of Natural History,' by Francis T. Buckland, is very interestingly written, and will be found full of information on all sorts of subjects - from the anatomy of the water-rat to Virgil's description of the death of Laoc÷on.

At this time of year, when the frame double Violets are over, which do so well for finger-bowl bouquets in spring, I find a plant or two of Nicotiana affinis sown in the autumn and grown in the greenhouse very useful. One flower cut off with a branch of Prince of Orange Geranium or a piece of Sweet Verbena - of which there ought to be plenty now, if they have been properly grown on - make charming little bouquets for this purpose.

The gardener of a friend of mine sowed some self-saved seed of Nemesia strumosa in September in a pan, pricking them off twice - the second time a single plant in a small pot. The result was some charming well-grown plants, which flowered beautifully in April, and the flowers were larger and finer than the summer ones out of doors.

The French 'Mange-tout' Peas (Sutton catalogues them as 'French Sugar Peas') are not yet sown generally enough in England. English cooks do not understand (and how should they without explanation?) that they are not shelled, but the pod and the pea are boiled together, and a little butter added before serving.

In the 'Westminster Gazette' of last spring there was an interesting article on the history of Tulips, called forth by the Tulip show at the Royal Botanic Gardens and the general revival of interest in the flower, which has as romantic a history as any plant all the world over. The article being too long to quote here entirely, I give a few extracts: 'In the seraglio of the Shadow of God, when the world was a few centuries younger, there was one festival in early spring which for dazzling splendour outshone the rest of the Eastern fairylike night scenes. Unnumbered artificial suns, moons, and stars lit up the Sultan's beautiful gardens, and in the mystic light which turned night into day tens of thousands of Tulips stood proudly up on their tall slim stalks, the goblet of each blossom perfect in form and in colour. Among this dazzling dream the Sultan and his harem, and whoever else was great and mighty at the Court of Constantinople, worshipped at the shrine of the Tulip, and the whole of the East echoed the praise of the thotliban, or turban flower, the corruption of which term has become our name for the flower.

'The West at that period knew nothing of the Tulip though it had been great in the East for more years than men remembered. India, Persia, and the Levant had in the course of ages woven around it countless legends of love and life and death; great poets sang its praises; the heathen laid it at the feet of his gods, and the early Christian of the East pointed to it as the "Lily of the field" which afforded to Christ the subject of a divine sermon to which the world has clung, and still is clinging, as to a never-failing help when the burden of life grows heavy.

'In the sixteenth century an ambassador of the Emperor of Germany to the Sublime Porte, going from Adrianople to Constantinople shortly after mid-winter, came upon a wondrous sight. On the roadside, among the weeds and grasses, there rose in glorious beauty clump after clump, bed after bed, of tall goblet-shaped flowers. As the sun shone upon them they blazed with the colour of fire and sunlight, and the smooth broad petals formed a deep cup classically simple and perfect, closing over a heart of gold.

'Before long a few Tulip bulbs reached Germany, and thence in 1577 came to England.'

We all know how Tulips were then taken up by Dutchmen. The article says that for the three years from 1634 to 1637 Holland was but a large asylumful of tulipo-maniacs. I have just been told how that in one vineyard in Alsace, and in one alone, the pretty wild tulip Tulipa reflexa flourishes abundantly. I think more might be done by planting in England the type Tulips, and leaving them to their fate, especially on chalky soils, which they seem to like.

The Grown Imperials are nearly over. They have not been as good as usual this year; the hard frosts in March blackened their poor crowns. A kind correspondent was shocked at my non-botanical language in speaking of the beads of liquid in the hanging flowers as water, not honey. I merely meant that they looked like pure water. He writes: 'I think on examination you will find them honey. As you do not mention it, you may not know of the legend in connection with this flower, which is as follows. Please forgive me if a twice-told tale: When our Lord in His agony was walking in the Garden of Gethsemane, all the flowers save this one alone bowed their heads in sympathetic sorrow. It held its head aloft in supreme disdain; whereupon our Lord gently rebuked it. Smitten with shame at last, it hung its head, and since then has never been able to raise it, and those who care to turn its face upwards always find tears in its eyes.' He closed his letter with the following practical hint: 'For protective purposes - shelters - you may find the bamboo baskets in which moist sugar is sent from South America, about three feet high and nearly six feet round, when split open on one side and flattened out make good light shelters.'

I am very fond of reading old 'Edinburghs' and 'Quarterlies,' and one is apt to find in them a helpful contribution to anything that one may have been thinking about. This happened to me the other day when, taking up the 'Quarterly Review' for July 1863, I came upon a most fascinating article, full of folk-lore and tradition, called 'sacred Trees and Flowers.' I should delight in quoting several of the stories, but room fails me. Working through all the older traditions of Europe, the writer gives full credit, as is due, to the monks, and says: 'To the Benedictines and Cistercians - the first great agriculturists of Europe and the first great gardeners, the true predecessors of the Hendersons and Veitches of our own day - we are indebted for many of the well-loved flowers that will always keep their places, in spite of their gayer, but less permanent, modern rivals. The Wallflower, that "scents the dewy air" about the ruined arches of its convent; the scarlet Anemone, that flowers about Easter-tide, and is called in Palestine the blood-drops of Christ; the blossoming Almond-tree, one of the symbols of the Virgin, and the Marigold that received her name, are but a few of the old friends, brought long ago from Syria by some pilgrim monk, and spread from his garden over the whole of Europe. ... In the cloistered garden, too, the monk was wont to meditate on the marvels of the plants that surrounded him, and to find all manner of mysterious emblems in their marks and tracings. Many displayed the true figure of the Cross. It might be seen in the centre of the red poppy; and there was a "Zucca" (fig) at Rome, in the garden of the Cistercian Convent of Santa Potentiana, the fruit of which, when cut through, showed a green cross inlaid on the white pulp, and having at its angles five seeds, representing the five wounds. . . . The Banana, in the Canaries, is never cut with a knife because it also exhibits a representation of the Crucifixion, just as the Fern-root shows an Oak-tree.' But the fame of the greatest of all such marvels arrived at Rome in the year 1609, when Bosio describes as maraviglioso fiore the Passion Flower of the New World. The first to describe the Passion Flower in England was our own Master Parkinson, who said that it should be assigned to that 'bright Occidental star, Queen Elizabeth, and be named in memory of her the Virgin Climber.' The Passion Flower, however, has retained its original name and significance. It is the one great contribution of the Western Hemisphere to the symbolical flowers of Christendom; and its starlike blossoms have taken a worthy place beside the mystical Roses and Trefoils of ecclesiastical decoration.

When I replanted the Ornithogalum pyramidale in September last year, I planted between them some pieces of Galega officinalis, so easily divided in the autumn. The fresh bright green makes a groundwork for the long spikes of the bulbs, and later it gives a succession of flowers of its own pretty white or pale lilac. In dry seasons it is most useful for picking. In one place I find it is growing quite successfully. In a more shaded corner under a wall - no sun reaching it in winter - every plant of the Galega has died. I merely mention this as one more instance of how the hardiest plants do well or not within a few yards of each other. I saw in a friend's garden to-day Alstrœmerias growing like weeds all over the place. I remarked on this. 'Yes,' she said, 'it's quite true. For five years I had never been able to get one seed to grow, and the plants I bought invariably died. Now I have so many that I must dig them out with a spade.'

I do not think I mentioned before that all kinds of Poppies travel beautifully if they are gathered in bud; and if on arrival the hard husk is peeled off from the buds, they revive and flower and last longer. Forcing open the buds exhausts the flowers, and then they open but to fade and die. The Shirley and Iceland Poppies are prepared in this way for the London market. Some of the Campanula tribe do best dry and starved; they flower well instead of going to leaf. This is especially the case with the little C. cŠspitosa and with C. grandis, which is so useful for covering the ground under shrubs and in bare dry places. C. pyramidalis, though it likes half-shade, enjoys a rich, rather moist place. The C. persicifolia is never quite so beautiful here as I have seen it on stiff soils.

It is well in spring and early summer to make constant cuttings of the white Swainsonia. It does well out of doors and in, and is a very refined, pretty little plant.