We are benefiting now by the extraordinarily dry autumn and no early frost. The number of flowers in the garden is quite surprising. I picked this morning a large bunch of Nemesia. The Lavenders are flowering a second time, and there are plenty of Tea-roses.

The following instructions for growing the Tropćolum speciosum, which has failed here so often, were sent me by a lady: 'The two great needs seem to be moisture - but not great moisture - at the roots and dampness of atmosphere round the foliage when in summer growth. These objects are best obtained by - first, in England, or at least in the southern counties, a north wall; second, by being planted about two feet deep in a trench properly prepared for it; third, by frequently syringing in the summer. I have found a trench a foot wide and a foot and a half deep suit it best. But if the subsoil is clay or a tenacious soil the trench should be made two feet deep, the bottom six inches being filled with drainage - pieces of broken stones or brick. The soil with which it is next filled should be peat and ordinary loam in equal proportions, with a little sand and leaf-mould thrown in and thoroughly mixed with the whole. Sphagnum cut and chopped into small bits - this retains the moisture, which is as essential as that it should not be stagnant. The young plants should be put in in the autumn preferably to the spring. It is important that the soil in which the roots are growing should vary as little as possible in moistness, never getting dryer at one time than at another.'

The two Japanese grasses, Eulalia Japonica (variegata and zebrina), do not throw up their flower panicles here quite early enough to come to perfection, but I learnt last summer that if the cane containing the flower (this is easily distinguished by feeling a certain fulness near the top) is picked and brought into the house the grass will dry; it should then be peeled off and the feathery panicles will display themselves (see illustration in 'English Flower Garden'). They make a pretty and refined winter decoration, and they are just the right size to mix with the red-berried pods of Iris foetidissima. The seed-branches of Montbretias are also a pretty addition to a dry winter bouquet.

Plumbago rosea is a very pretty autumn-flowering greenhouse plant. It wants to be grown in a fairly warm house; but, once in flower, a cool greenhouse seems to suit it well. Its growth is very different from the other Plumbagos, and the pink of its flower is of an unusually beautiful hue. It is not difficult to strike.

I have two amusing little books by the same author - kind of 'Pot-Pourris' of the early 'sixties - one called 'Dinners and Dinner Parties' and the other 'The Gentlewoman.' They are full of good advice and receipts, some of which I think are worth copying, but the chief amusement is to see how the advice they give has grown and spread, and is so much less really wanted than it was thirty-five years ago. The anonymous writer is extremely sarcastic about the neglect of household duties by women of all classes. Now, perhaps, the absorption in domestic arrangements and refined luxuries is almost carried to the extreme. Most newspapers have menus, and the cookery books are innumerable. One paragraph in 'The Gentlewoman' is headed 'The Great Evil in England,' and runs as follows: 'The great social evil is not that which is talked of by gentlemen in black at midnight meetings; but it is the great evil that besets the English from the highest to the lowest. Every man, woman, and child suffers from it, and thousands die or only experience a lingering existence from its neglect. The great social evil is the want of persons of education and practical knowledge worthy to be entrusted in the preparation of food with that care and nicety that is practised in every nation in Europe except England, whereby health would be no longer jeopardised, and twenty millions of money would annually be saved. There would be ample employment for every poor lady who, for the want of domestic knowledge, is doomed to life-long misery.' The writer further complains that ladies do not go to market, that young gentlewomen do not look after their own wardrobes, and is full of compassion for the poor father who has the task of providing a sufficient dowry for each girl. His language must always have been exaggerated, and it is certainly untrue in our day. The 'stores' have replaced the old markets, and without doubt ladies, and even gentlemen, do go to them - tiresome places though they are - and the girls of the present day are very few who do not look after and think about their clothes. Fathers still find the same difficulty in providing dowries for their daughters; but the girls themselves - among them those who have every right, from the way they have been brought up, to look for dowries - are now always striving to do some work of their own. The over-strained gentility that my author speaks of does still and must always exist. He touches on too many subjects for me to go on quoting him. But the employments he recommends for women, laying especial stress on nursing, do make one realise the changes and the improvements of the last thirty years. All his advice about stores and cooking utensils and general management of the kitchen is excellent. It is carried out far more in the beautiful kitchens of modern Germany than anywhere here. He is as strong as even I could wish about the use of earthenware casseroles and fireproof dishes. But both servants and mistresses hate them because of the breakage, which of course is very troublesome; and the excessive heat of our fireplaces makes them more difficult to manage. English servants, too, are so conservative that it is extremely difficult to interfere in any way with their method of work. They only like to do things as they have always been done.

On looking over these two books I find the receipts so good and so unlike those in the ordinary cookery book that I shall copy several of them to disperse through the months as they seem to me seasonable. It is often difficult to remember how each generation requires to be told the same things over again. Among other good and useful hints, one is to keep a supply of corks for putting into any bottle that has been opened, so that it can be turned over on its head in the store closet and thus prevent the air from getting to the contents. This ensures your not having to buy a fresh bottle of oil for every third salad, or a fresh bottle of anchovy when you require only a teaspoonful. I am afraid the modern cooks are rare who will take the trouble to attend to such details.

This dressing of two chickens in different ways for one dinner party is rather original, so I copy it out of 'The Gentlewoman' just as it is: