It is always pleasant to note that just at the dullest season of the year, when of out-of-door flowers it may be truly said, "Through all the long dark winter time They mourn within their dreary cells," then is it the fitting time for some of the most magnificent of the Orchid family to appear in all their almost unrivalled splendour - the very aristocracy of the kingdom of flowers. Especially did this appear to be noticeable at the meeting of the Floral Committee on the 17th of November, when some grand Orchids put in appearance, several of them being new, and of great beauty. Messrs Veitch & Sons of Chelsea received first-class certificates for the following: for Pleione Keichenbachiana, a beautiful and perfectly distinct species of the Pleione group of Calogynes, from Moulmein - the sepals rosy lilac, the lip white, and marked on the disc with straight lines of deep magenta purple: - Mr Bateman has described the Pleiones as "the autumn Crocuses of the Himalaya Mountains," as they did not produce flowers and leaves at the same time: - for Phaius irroratus, a hybrid obtained by Mr Dominy, and resulting from a cross between Calanthe vestita alba and Phaius grandiflorus, taking the habit and growth of the latter, - the erect spike, when fully developed, being from 2 to 3 feet in lens;th: the flowers differ from those of the Phaius in having the spur of the Calanthe, the throat being also less deep, and having less of the trumpet shape than in the case of the Phaius: colour, creamy white tinged with pink, thus differing from either parent; the flowers also being further apart on the spike than in the case of the Phaius: - for Oncidium cucullatum Phalsenopsis, a very pretty variety, differing from the ordinary form of 0. cucullatum in having the labellum pure white instead of pink, richly spotted at the base; and for Oncidium Forbesii, with strong, dark-brown flowers and a yellow mottled edge, introduced some years ago, but since lost sight of, and now shown in fine condition.

It was also exhibited by Mr B. S. Williams of Holloway, under the name of 0. crispum marginatum, and received the same award. A first-class certificate was likewise awarded to Mr B. S. Williams for Oncidium holochrysum, with rich, bright yellow flowers, - a small but very fine species.

In addition to what has been here stated, Messrs Veitch & Sons had fine examples of the splendid Cattleya Exoniensis, and the equally valuable and beautiful Cattleya Dominiana - both illustrations of Mr Dominy's successful efforts at hybridising: the finely-coloured Calanthe Veitchii; a richly-coloured form of Sophronites grancliflora, and a noble example of Vanda ccerulea, the spike of flowers of which would consist of twenty-six blossoms when all were expanded, and, according to Mr Bateman, a longer spike than was ever exhibited before. A very fine-cut spike of the same magnificent species was also sent by Mr Thomson of Dalkeith: the tints of the flowers sent by Mr Thomson were decidedly better than those furnished by Messrs Veitch & Sons, but some Orchid-growers assert that this is regulated more by the age of the flowers than from any special mode of treatment adopted by the cultivator. As other growers of equal authority attach so much importance to methods of treatment, I have the pleasure to give the following extract from Mr Thomson's letter, which accompanied the spikes of Vanda ccerulea, V. suavis, and some fine varieties of V. tricolor: "The plants were grown in a large airy house, glazed with ground glass, and only shaded during hot summer weather.

The plants were growing in wooden baskets, in sphagnum and charcoal, and but rarely watered overhead, and occupied a wooden stage over a tank of cold water; and generally, as far as the varieties of Vanda tricolor and V. suavis were concerned, they flowered three times a-year, the Vanda ccerulea only once. The plant of V. ccerulea, from which the spike sent was taken, was 18 inches in height, and all its leaves, even to the bottom of the plant, were quite fresh." Mr Thomson further stated that the plant of Vanda ccerulea produced three spikes of flowers, the largest bearing twenty-five blooms.

Of Ferns, the following received first-class certificates: - Pteris seru-lata corymbifera, a very handsome crested variety, from Mr B. S. Williams; and to Gymnogramma laucheana corymbifera, with the terminal crests, as in the case of the foregoing, gathered in the form of a corymb.

The same award was made to Mr Green, gardener to W. W. Saunders, Esq., Reigate, for a well-grown pyramidal-shaped plant of a Cape species of Asparagus named decumbens, it being so distinguished as representing a light and handsome decorative plant.

Some more of the new seedling form of Coleus raised at the gardens of the Royal Horticultural Society at Chiswick by Mr Bause were staged, and first-class certificates were awarded to the following: - Duke of Edinburgh, the leaf surface reddish bronzy orange, slightly veined with purple, and slight margin of yellow, the under side of the leaves tinged with purple; Prince of Wales, upper surface of the leaves reddish orange bronze, with dark lines and blotches; Prince Arthur, the leaves parti-coloured, with dark maroon yellow, and irregularly distributed upon the surface; Princess Beatrice, bright greenish-yellow leaves, veined with dark claret; Her Majesty, reddish bronze dashed with purple and yellow, and yellow edge; and Albert Victor, the centre of the leaf dark orange red, with dark crimson markings and blotchings of yellow. On the 10th of December last, the foregoing, with others similarly certificated, but all representing the fine golden-leaved strain obtained mainly from C. Blumei and C. Verschaffeltii, were submitted to public auction by Mr J. C. Stevens, and somewhat widely distributed, as no purchaser appeared to take more than two kinds. The most promising, Princess Royal, was taken by Mr Turner, Slough, at 25 guineas.

One or two others fetched 10 to 15 guineas, while the remainder only realised smaller sums. The proceeds of the sale, some 75, is not much in excess of the sum paid by Messrs Yeitch and Son last spring for Coleus Bausei alone, which fetched some .58. It is now universally acknowledged that the prices paid for some of the first batch of hybrids were far beyond their actual value; and it is not too much to say that among the horticultural records of the year just closed must be placed that outbreak which may well be designated the Coleus mania.

First-class certificates were also awarded to Mr C. Turner, Slough, for the following Variegated Zonal Pelargoniums: Mrs Headley, very finely coloured, and excellent habit; Miss Putter, with rich high-coloured markings; and Mademoiselle C. Nillsson, a pleasing soft-looking variety. In addition Mr Turner had examples of Hayes Rival, Mr Hugh Berners, Grandmaster, Senior Warden, and Mr Putter. The plants were of unusual size, and splendidly grown; and the awards made were intended by the Floral Committee to stamp the particular kinds as eminently adapted for autumn and winter decoration. This is the proper function of a majority of these fine Variegated Pelargoniums, as their beautiful leaves are flowers and foliage in one, and that too at a comparatively barren season, when flowering-stuff is scarce. I hope some of the readers of the ' Gardener' will be induced to turn their attention to the cultivation of the Variegated Zonal Pelargonium, as a plant almost unrivalled for winter decoration when the grand leaves are finely developed.

Let any one so disposed obtain Mr Peter Grieve's excellent little book on the Variegated Zonal Pelargonium, as, apart from the mass of extremely useful and interesting information it contains as to the history of this tribe of plants, the cultural directions contained therein are of the utmost value to all who make a fancy of this exceedingly attractive plant. P. D.