My principal flower-table in summer is in a cool hall away from the sun. In winter, now that I live here all the year round, I have it in the sitting-room, close to a large south window. The sun in summer quickly kills flowers that are cut and in water, but in winter this is not so. On the contrary, it seems to cheer them up and make them open out and look happy. I will describe this flower-table as it stands before me. At the back, in a pot, is a baby Araucaria (Puzzle-monkey). These trees, so ugly when growing on a lawn, are charming in the baby stage. They can be grown from seed, and they do very well in a room. This little tree is raised on a Japanese stand. Beside it is a pot containing a small orchid, Odontoglossum picturatum, one mass of flowers like yellow Violets. Various Cypripediums are in front in a glass, and Imantophyllums that have stood out all the summer and thrown up a few late autumn flowers; they are always most effective picked. There are also pieces cut from a bright yellow Coronilla flowering out of doors against a greenhouse wall, a bunch of white Paris Daisies that were left out to be killed by the frost and are still flourishing, and a bunch of the black berries of the common Privet, which contrast well with a few bright orange Gazanias, also left out to perish early in the year from cold and dryness, but of which we always take cuttings, as it has this great merit of late flowering out of doors. Finally, there is a precious bunch of Neapolitan Violets. For the first hour or two after they are picked I always put a small bell-glass over them, as the warm moisture from condensation under the glass very much increases their sweetness.
I do not find it recommended in any of the modern gardening books that I have, but I am sure, if you want your Lilacs to flower well and never assume that weedy choked appearance that they generally have in gardens, it is most important to remove, every winter, the numerous suckers that surround Lilac bushes. When this is done, it is as well to introduce a little manure round the roots.
An excellent winter salad is made by mashing potatoes as if for a purée, and beating them up with a little lukewarm weak stock or warm water instead of milk, and no butter. Then dress them with a little chopped chive, oil and vinegar, pepper and salt. This is good with braised meats or boiled salt beef, and can be endlessly improved and varied by covering it up after it is dressed with chopped hard-boiled eggs, beetroot, cucumbers bottled in vinegar, anchovies, etc., etc. In fact, with these kinds of salads one can give hardly any rule, as imagination and experiments are everything. The ordinary red cabbage makes a very good salad. It must be cut into very fine shreds, then scalded by pouring a large kettle of boiling water over it. When cool, but not cold, it should be dressed with oil and vinegar, like ordinary salad, covered up, and allowed to stand for two or three hours.