I am always being asked about greenhouse plants, and how to get variety both for picking or for ornamenting a small greenhouse next a room. It has been rather the fashion of late to say: 'Oh! I don't care for greenhouse plants; I only like hardy things.' This surely is a mistake. Cowper, that now-neglected poet, says:

Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.

Unconscious of a less propitious clime,

There blooms exotic beauty, warm and snug,

While the winds whistle and the snows descend.

The spiry Myrtle with unwithering leaf Shines there and flourishes. The Golden Boast Of Portugal and Western India there,

The ruddier Orange and the paler Lime,

Peep through their polish'd foliage at the storm,

And seem to smile at what they need not fear.

The Amomum there with intermingling flowers And Cherries hangs her twigs. Geranium boasts Her crimson honours, and the spangled Bean,

Ficoides, glitters bright the winter long.

All plants, of every leaf that can endure The winter's frown if screen'd from its shrewd bite,

Live there and prosper. Those Ausonia claims,

Levantine regions these; the Azores send Their Jessamine, her Jessamine remote Caffraria. Foreigners from many lands,

They form one social shade, as if convened By magic summons of the Orphean lyre.

Yet just arrangement, rarely brought to pass But by a master's hand, disposing well The gay diversities of leaf and flower,

Must lend its aid to illustrate all their charms,

And dress the regular yet various scene.

Plant behind plant aspiring: in the van The dwarfish; in the rear retired, but still Sublime above the rest, the statelier stand.

In spite of what I consider the excellent gardening spirit in these lines, how curiously non-poetical they are according to the ideas of our day! In my edition of Cowper there is a footnote to the word'Ficoides,' explaining it as 'Ice-plant,' which is an annual Mesembrianthemum; whereas he probably meant some of the perennial flowering Mesembrianthemums, which, I think, are beautiful things in a winter greenhouse, in a pot, and hanging from a shelf. All the same I imagine it would be possible to sow the Ice-plant so late that it might go on growing through the winter in a pot, though its beauty can never be so great as on a broiling-hot summer's day.

I agree with every word that Cowper says, and his lines suggest what I want specially to urge on those who pass the winter in the country. Greenhouses were new in Cowper's time and the pleasure of them has probably been wiped out - or, at any rate, greatly diminished - by the way people who can afford such luxuries are now always rushing away in search of sunshine in other climes, and are content to come back in June and find their flourishing herbaceous borders, that have been asleep under manure all the winter, surpassing in luxuriance of colour and form the gardens of the South. One of the least helpful volumes of the large edition of Mrs. Loudon's ' Lady's Flower Garden ' is the one called 'Ornamental Greenhouse Plants' - so many things she recommends to grow are now proved to be hardy, and so many others that we now know to be well worth the trouble of cultivation for flowering in the winter are omitted altogether. I know no modern book that quite tells one enough how to keep a small conservatory furnished all the year round.

Greenhouse flowers can be most interesting and various, and I propose each month through the winter to name fresh things as they come on and are brought into the small conservatory next my sitting-room. I am too ignorant to speak of any plants except those I grow. The conservatory faces east and south, so it gets what sun there is to be had in winter. I removed the stages that were there, except two shelves close to the glass on the east side. I took up the tiles and dug a bed close to the north wall, which is against the drawing-room chimney, and another bed on the west side of the small square.

These beds make the difference between a greenhouse and a conservatory. When I speak of a bed I mean that, though the floor of the greenhouse is tiled, the plants are planted in the ground. This is very essential in any conservatory, whether large or small. On the north side, facing south, is planted out what has now grown into a huge plant of Henry Jacobi. It has been there some years, and is cut down very severely about this time every year. Next to it is a quaint plant, one of the Platyceriums, growing on a piece of board hung on the wall, which requires nothing but occasional watering. Below that are two French flower-pots that hang flat against the wall and are filled with Maidenhair. A plant of the sweet yellow Jasmine and a plant of pale Heliotrope, both in the ground, are all the wall will hold on this side. In the middle of the other bed next the west wall, and also planted out, are a large sweet-scented double-white Datura; a white Niphetos Rose, which runs up a pole to the glass roof; a common Passion-flower, to make shade in summer; and a blue Plumbago capense. By the side of the door, growing up a wire, is a dark green Smilax, that has been there for many years and gives no trouble. The other things are in pots, and are constantly changed and moved. I grow both Pancretiums and Crinums; they are indeed worthy of every attention, and ought to be in all carefully selected collections. They are so sweet, so delicate, and so lovely! - all that we prize most in single flowers. There are a great many kinds of both Pancretiums and Crinums. (See Johnson's 'Gardener's Dictionary.') Even the hardier Crinums in pots require heat at the growing-time, and they often have to be grown for several years after they are bought before they flower at all; but, once started, they seem to flower each year. I have a Crinum moorci out of doors which makes its leaves every year, but has not yet flowered.

I try to arrange the plants in groups in this conservatory. Whether there are ten plants of one kind, or only two, they are placed together; and if there are different plants more or less of one colour, they too are massed together. I think this makes the most immense difference in the pleasure to be got out of a greenhouse, and increases the colour-value of everything grown in it, as the power of one plant to kill or injure the colour of another is far more felt in a greenhouse than even in the open border. I have, now flowering, my usual number of the protected Chrysanthemums. They are less good than last year, the wet June and dry August not having suited them. Last year the hardy early outdoor Chrysanthemums were very good indeed; this year the season has been even harder on them than on the pot-plants. All the same they should be very much grown in all gardens. They transplant quite easily from the reserve garden at any time from August onwards. I have yellow, orange, pink, white, dark red, and a very dark yellow, which seems to last the longest and be the hardiest. Some few cottage gardens have better varieties than I can boast. The great secret for the late-flowering hardy Chrysanthemums is to get them against walls and, still better, under the protection of shrubs. Many of the greenhouse Chrysanthemums will also flower perfectly out of doors, if only planted late in the summer under shrubs, as I have just said. In this way they get a natural protection on cold nights. The last two years I have grown for the greenhouse, in pots, a Michaelmas Daisy that is new to me, called Aster grandiflora. It has a stiff, pretty growth, and is quite hardy; but it flowers so late that it does not come to perfection out of doors. It looks very well under glass in front of a group of white Chrysanthemums. The flowers are as large as Aster amellus, and of the same colour, which is so different in tone from that of any of the Chrysanthemums. It reminds me a little of Stokesia cyanea, which I used to grow in the same way; only that did not stand the moving and potting up nearly so well as this Aster does. I dare say I did not manage it rightly.