In my youth what I called aloes I now know to be agaves. Agaves come from South America, and die when they have flowered, whereas the aloes come from South Africa and do not die after flowering. These agaves used to grow wild and uncultivated on the tops of walls, thickly crowded together - mothers, children, and grandchildren. The offsets were of all sizes, and the largest plants only occasionally flowered as the last supreme effort, probably when the nourishment from some well-cultivated neighbouring field drained down on to the wall top. Now these agaves are, in a way, cultivated. That is to say, they are taken up and divided and planted along the roads as we do with our Saxifraga pyramidalis when we want to make them flower better on our rockeries. This causes the much more frequent blooming of the larger plants by the side of the roads, and does away with the tradition that they only bloomed once in a hundred years. But the death of the plant is much more pathetic and apparent than it used to be. Alone it throws up its enormous flower stem, unsupported by all the young growth which, when left to nature, would be around it. It prematurely falls over and is cut off with its seeds scarcely ripened and the spot is empty, no young plants being there to hold it up and to flourish round the decaying stem. Anybody wishing to grow agaves in pots for ornamental use had better take off the young growths every year as this immensely increases the rapid development of the principal plant.

There are fine old specimens about Valescure of the cork-tree, Quercus suber. They have a quaint picturesque-ness all their own from the removing of the bark once in about six years for the making of cork, which is one of the old industries of the country. This treatment, that would kill all other trees, does these no harm. 'Chambers's Encyclopaedia' gives the following details about cork-trees :- 'spain and Portugal chiefly supply the world with cork, and in these countries the tree is often planted for the sake of the cork. . . . The acorns are eatable, and resemble chestnuts in taste. The bark in trees or branches from three to five years old acquires a fungous appearance, new layers of cellular tissue being formed, and the outer parts cracking from distension, until they are finally thrown off in large flakes, when a new formation of the same kind takes place. Cork intended for the market is generally stripped off a year or two before it would naturally come away, and the process is repeated at intervals of six or eight years. The bark of the young trees and branches is either useless or of very inferior quality ; it is only after the third peeling that good cork is produced. The removal of the cork, being not the removal of the whole bark, but only of external layers of spongy cellular tissue, all or greater part of which has ceased to have any true vitality, and has become an incumbrance to the tree, is so far from being injurious, that when done with proper care, it rather promotes the health of the tree, which continues to yield crops of cork for almost 150 years. . . . Besides the use of cork for stopping bottles, casks, &c, it is much used, on account of its lightness, for floats of nets, swimming-belts, &c.; and on account of its impermeability to water, and its being a slow conductor of heat, inner soles of shoes are made of it. All these uses are mentioned by Pliny; but the general employment of corks for glass bottles appears to date only from the fifteenth century.' The process of trees casting their bark can be seen every autumn in London from the plane-trees on the Embankment or the Parks. This is the reason why plane-trees flourish in cities where other forest trees die. In these days cork carpet is most useful and made from the refuse cork for protection against cold and damp from stone or brick floors. I think, as with ordinary oil-cloth, it would probably produce dry rot on wooden floors.

My friends knew Valescure well, and were always taking me to spots where, in ordinary years, the wild flowers grew - iris, anemones, and many others. I had to console myself by looking at books, and when I came home I bought Moggridge's 'Contributions to the Flora of Mentone; the Winter Flora of the Riviera from Marseilles to Genoa.' The 'winter' I had had, but the 'flora' was denied me. The book is a charming one for anyone spending some time along that coast. The illustrations, though not up to the level of those in old books (it was published in 1871), are far superior to many botanical coloured illustrations of a later date. I know two novels which treat of this part of the world: ' The Individualist' by Mallock, and one of the stories in Bourget's 'Homme d'Affaires.'

Frejus can be seen from the hotel windows. The Roman remains give a great interest to the countryside, and had I remained longer I should certainly have bought a book called 'The Romans on the Riviera,' by W. H. Bullock Hall (Macmillan, 1898). Roman ruins are always very attractive to me. Those about Frejus are of a late date, and not unlike the specimens found in England, having evidently been built for utility, and because Frejus was a seaport in those days. Now the sea has receded for several miles.

One garden I did see which had an interest all its own, not for its flowers, which were not out, but for the fact that Miolan Carvalho, manager of the Paris Opera-Comique during the Second Empire, had built this villa, and brought to the garden many fragments from the ruins of the Tuileries after the burning in the time of the Commune. They were dotted about the garden without very much purpose, and the tall, white, beautifully-carved stones looked rather sad, I thought. So classical are they that many people who know no better mistake the garden for a villa of the Lower Roman Empire, so pagan are the ruins and so picturesque. I particularly liked the Avenue where a lion by Cain looked disdainfully down upon the tourists. These remains seemed out of place in this garden, and accentuated to me the everlasting regret I have always felt that the great and rich French Republic did not have the courage, in spite of their depressed condition after their reverses, to rebuild the beautiful fire-scarred ruin of Catherine de Medicis' palace and use it for the chief of their State, with all its historical recollections behind it, including among these the wild despair of the destructive Communards. I believe many people have thought that the Tuileries gardens looked much better without the tall palace. That may be; but the Elysee, which is now the official residence of the President, is certainly not a sufficiently large and handsome palace for the head of the State in a country like France. The fragments of ruin in this Riviera garden were full of carving and ornamentation, and one wondered to whose hand they belonged of the two builders of the Tuileries, De l'Orme or Bullant. Mrs. Mark Pattison, in her 'Renaissance of Art in France,' says that, at the death of De l'Orme, Bullant was called upon by Catherine de Medicis to carry on the construction of the Tuileries (1570). 'But it must be remembered that when De l'Orme died he had nearly completed the centre pavilion with its crowning dome, as well as the two wings to right and left. It is difficult to say precisely what was contributed by Bullant, but most probably the whole or a part of the pavilion, which originally terminated these two wings on the north and south. In their erection he followed, we must suppose, the plans left by De l'Orme, for in the main the two pavilions were of a piece with the rest of the building. The Ionic order, the "ordre feminin," specially affected by De l'Orme, ranged below; and above, along the first floor, ran the Corinthian. The proportions and character of the general features he left unaltered, but in the decoration and adjustment of parts, Bullant took a certain license. ... To his eyes the polite elegance of De l'Orme's work, the refined inspiration of Lescot's design as expressed in the neighbouring courts of the Louvre, seemed wanting in fervour and meagre in enrichment. De l'Orme had panelled his surfaces with delicate pilasters; Bullant detached along the front innumerable columns, and niched between them royal coats-of-arms. De l'Orme had pointed blank spaces here and there by the application of a highly-outlined frame, a touch of ornament, a scutcheon faintly profiled. Bullant cut bravely and unsparingly broad sweeps of decorative line inhigh relief. Theornament which encircled every blazoned niche was burdened to the utmost with elaborate details. Wreaths garlanded the sides of the windows: crowns filled the spaces above them; crowns, surmounted with points of fleur-de-lis, were again repeated at the summit of intermediate shields, uplifted by the outstretched arms of accompanying figures.