I find it very difficult to preserve tulip bulbs when they are taken up out of beds in order to admit of planting for the summer. The best way is to take them up and put them, with their leaves still on them into a pail of water for half an hour, and then lay them in a shady open trench; cover them up and water, mark the place, and when ripe and dry, dig them up and put them in boxes for autumn planting. To my mind the most attractive are the type, or species, tulips. They are beautiful both in form and colour, but they like warm sunny situations, a rich loamy soil and to be left undisturbed for years. That is the great difficulty in small gardens, as it means a great dry patch all the summer, and no turning over of the earth for other plants I saw last year, at Wisley, T. linifolia, a bright scarlet, and, as the catalogues truly say, 'magnificent'; but at present it seems to be scarce, for even in the cheaper Dutch catalogues it is marked 3s. a bulb, which I consider very expensive.
One of the June plants which gives me the greatest pleasure, and which I strongly recommend for increase in both small and large gardens, is Dictamnus fraxinella. The white variety, D. /. alba, is much the most beautiful, I think. It is a slow grower, and at one time I despaired of making it do well. Now it is quite satisfactory. Last June, in a schoolmaster's house in Wiltshire, the whole of a large dinner-table was decorated with this handsome sweet-scented flower, and the blooms were the finest I had ever seen. As I sat down next my host I thought to myself, 'Now I am going to find out the real secret of cultivating the white dictamnus.' His answer to my inquiry was, ' I really don't know ; I think it was here when I came twenty years ago. We will ask the gardener to-morrow.'This I accordingly did, and he said it had never been moved. He increased it by sowing the seed directly it was ripe - the seed must be watched or it quickly disappears, either by being eaten by birds, or through falling out, bursting open in the hot July sun ; but he said the quicker way of increasing it is by taking off pieces in the spring without disturbing the parent plant. Both of these methods I tried on my return home, and both answered. The moved pieces look healthy this year, though they have not flowered, and I have a fine crop of young seedlings. This is one of the many plants worth growing, but with which quick effects are not attained and patience is required.
For years I failed in what I call the satisfactory cultivation of a favourite vegetable - the globe artichoke. Of course, I grew them, but they were few and hard. Many people said, ' Oh, they don't do in this light soil.'
I never like that answer, as the merit of a light soil is that it can always be made. I have now mastered the cultivation through the kind assistance of a French neighbour. The seeds came from Vilmorin, in Paris, and if sown in heat in January, and planted out in May and well watered, they will produce some artichokes the first autumn. The good plants are then selected and marked, or the bad ones pulled out, for the seedlings vary considerably even with the best seed. They require slightly protecting in winter with straw or bracken, and in March pieces are taken off the best plants, leaving only about three shoots on the parent plant, without disturbing it. The holes must be filled in, and the plants mulched round with good manure. The pieces taken off are planted in a row in good soil, and these produce a succession crop of artichokes in the autumn, the main plants bearing their crop in June and July. In dry soils and hot weather copious watering is essential. Another great charm of the globe artichoke to me is that its leaves are so beautiful and goats are very fond of them.
On Monday, the 4th of June, I came down and opened the papers in the ordinary casual way, and there in big letters was the long-expected and scarcely-to-be-believed-in news that peace was declared. It had been known in London on the Sunday, but no echo had reached us here. A large crowd went to cheer the King at Buckingham Palace; but, on the whole, the great news seems to have been taken soberly and quietly, very different from the reception given to good news during the war, when the London populace seemed to rejoice with savage rage and almost the lust of conquest. What the news must have meant in many homes one can well imagine. Here it could only accentuate for a time one huge personal sorrow and regret, so then I tried to think what Peace with a big P meant to the country at large- the coming back to happy homes, both rich and poor, of those that were left - and then to realise what it meant out there on the ruined and devastated veldt. However much one may blame the obstinacy and ignorance of the Boers in not understanding the temper of this country, and in not realising that the struggle for their freedom was useless and hopeless, one could not help pitying the contrast, and it was a relief at any rate to feel that now pity and sympathy were possible without the perpetual and silly reproach of being called a pro-Boer. It recalled to me the end of the Crimean war, and yet what a strange and different war this has been! - in a sense more like the conquest of Scotland and Ireland hundreds of years ago, and yet in another sense unique and modern. And, with all its failures, the effort certainly was towards making war more humane; for I suppose never before in the world's history have wives and children been sent into an enemy's lines for protection from famine and death as they were sent into ours. Living as I do so much alone, I have been struck by the amount of barbaric and sentimental superstition still afloat in the popular mind. The daily newspapers rang with the fact that a little pigeon had got into St. Paul's, and was noticed as an omen during the thanksgiving service for peace. A popular poet wrote of it: -
When suddenly lifting my eyes To the glooms half discovered above,
I marked with a start of surprise The white wings of a hovering dove.
Blest messenger come to your home !
It is peace, blessed peace once again I And thou, spirit ineffable, come!
As at Pentecost, come and remain !
How little we know what the future of this peace will be, and what the gain will be to England or South Africa!
The best hope, and perhaps the most beautiful of possibilities, was expressed anonymously in the following lines in the 'spectator': -