About this period last year we referred to the comments made frequently by the press on the unfavourable character of the season. It was then thought tilings could hardly be worse; but if 1877 was unusually late and cold, 1879 has, up to this date - the middle of July - proved even more so. A winter of unparalleled length and severity, extending quite through the spring, has been followed by an equally unfavourable summer. In many districts crops are reckoned to be quite six weeks late, or more; and even in the south fears are beginning to be entertained that there will be no harvest. As the Archbishop of Canterbury observed recently, the "inclement weather we have had lately amounts to a national calamity. It is like war or pestilence, or any other devastating agency, and so terrible in its consequences that people are impelled to appeal direct to all merciful Providence for speedy deliverance and succour." It is stated that the rain one day last week damaged the hay crops to the extent of five hundred thousand pounds.

Towards the end of June snow fell in some parts of the midlands; and on the first of July, as the local papers recorded at the time, " a large number of lambs were literally starved to death " on the low-lying lands near Edde, in Derbyshire; and in other districts, on the hills, lambs were frozen to death. And records of weather hardly less severe come from many other parts of the kingdom. At one time, before the passing of the Corn Laws, such a season as the present would have produced a famine in the land, especially in depressed times like the present; but as it is, the bad harvest prospects have hardly affected the price of food. Foreign importations have lately been enormous, and best flour does not exceed two shillings per stone. The harvests in Germany are reported to be almost unprecedentedly excellent, and in America the crops are up to the average, and in some instances they exceed it. The "cold wave " seems to embrace an area of which England, France, and Italy occupy the centre, while other countries lying to the right and left of the current have only felt its eddy.

A friend of ours lately returned from Rome informs us that the season there was causing the greatest uneasiness; the rains had not been so frequent and heavy since 1819. Another correspondent, writing from Paris on the 4th of July, says, "The weather is just the same here as in England - wet and miserable." The habitues of Rotten Row, in London, are loud in their lamentations. One paper says, " All. fetes or enjoyments seem to be put off indefinitely on account of the weather, and we never knew so many people leaving London in search of a better climate. Can there be anything amiss with the great oceanic currents that influence our climate? It has been noticed that in America the Atlantic seaboard has felt the cold most, and that in this country the winds have been unusually cold from whatever quarter they blew.

Is Asparagus spoiled by the process of blanching? This question has been discussed more than once in ' The Garden,' where a correspondent has lately answered the same in the negative. The prevailing notion among English gardeners, however, certainly tends the other way: whether they are right or wrong, we offer no opinion. English Asparagus is usually cut about 6 or 7 inches long; of that length two or three inches of the top only is tender and well flavoured in a raw state. The top is brittle, and snaps like a tender French Bean, but the bottom part is tough and stringy, and is usually cut off in cooking. This is undoubtedly a regrettable waste, which, your contemporary says, need not occur if the heads are properly cooked. Asparagus-roots, when forced in this country, either in the beds or the forcing house, are always covered with about 6 inches of light soil in order to blanch the heads partly, which are cut when they have pushed about two inches or more above the surface, and become slightly green on the top. In cutting, the operator cuts close to the crown, or nearly so, and of course the greater portion of the stem is perfectly blanched and white. In this condition it is sent to the cook, who cooks it as he knows how.

This is the practice in private gardens, as described by the most competent authorities on the subject. The thickness of the heads, of course, depends upon the strength and age of the roots, but the produce is always the same in appearance and flavour. Plenty of the fine French Asparagus does not differ from the English-grown samples, except that it is blanched throughout, or nearly so, and is thicker. In a raw state the tops of the French Asparagus are also the most tender portion, while the bottoms are comparatively tough. Now, if these can be cooked so as to be eatable, English Asparagus can certainly be cooked in the same way, allowing for the difference in the thickness of the stalks. The correspondent of the ' Garden' thus describes how French Asparagus is cooked: " The cookery which suffices for common small green Asparagus will not do for these large and fine specimens. They require to be boiled, and are boiled by all cooks who know how to treat Asparagus, standing erect in the water with the tops just out of it, all the stems being cut exactly the same length.

The stems are then boiled till tender, and in this process the tops, exposed for about 1 inch of their length, are also cooked tender".

Mr D. T. Fish, within a brief period, has published three voluminous treatises on horticultural subjects, and now "The Peach and Nectarine" by the same author has lately been issued from the press (" The Bazaar Office, Strand"). The volume consists of close upon three hundred pages of small type. The culture of the Peach is a subject which can be, and which has always been, treated at considerable less length than the Pine or the Vine, for the simple reason that there is not so much to be said about it; but Mr Fish does not seem to be of this opinion, and he has produced a book on the Peach and Nectarine which contains, we should say, at least twelve times as much matter as Thomson's book on the Pine-Apple - about six times as lengthy as that work and W. Thomson's ' Culture of the Vine ' put together. If to these two books you were to add all that has been said on the Peach in Robinson's 'Parks and Gardens of Paris' and ' Thomson's Gardener's Assistant,' you would have about an equal quantity of matter to that produced by Mr Fish on the Peach alone. Mr Fish's list of vermin and diseases that afflict the Peach amount to the moderate number of thirty-five, and they are disposed of in a matter of fifteen columns.

This list includes dogs, fowls, birds, rats, mice, butterflies, snails, slugs, squirrels, hornets, jaundice, and gout. The two first are certainly an addition to the list, and we have doubts about some of the others. As for " dogs," we are sure it suggests rabies. A vitiated appetite is one of the first and surest signs of hydrophobia; and when a dog forgets its carnivorous instincts, and consumes indiscriminately "Peaches, Nectarines,Apricots,Plums, Grapes, Pears, and Gooseberries," it wants to be taken care of, without doubt. Mr Fish has known " at least four pet dogs that ate fruit greedily; " and his "present house mongrel" appears to have an exceptionally depraved appetite in this respect, for it devours all the above fruits, and is a thief as well. For these reasons dogs have been included in the list of enemies of the Peach. From this imperfect notice we hope the reader will be able to form some idea of Mr Fish's labours - for the rest we must refer him to the book itself. If he can find time to peruse its contents, he will find, of course, much good advice regarding the culture of Peaches and Nectarines out-doors or under glass.

It was asserted some time ago that the introduction of St Michael's Pine-Apples would not affect the sale of home-grown fruit except during the winter and spring months. This hope, however, seems likely to be dispelled. Mr A. Garcia, of Covent Garden, writing to the 'Gardeners' Chronicle' in July, says, " I have just received from the Island of Madeira a consignment of fifty Pines, which are larger and much superior in quality to any that we have received from St Michael's. They average in weight from 6 lb. to 9 lb., and rank amongst the finest examples that we have had in this market. They have come in very conveniently, too, just after the St Michael's are done." If their fruit are superior to the general run of St Michael's, which are, many of them, quite equal in size and quality to the best English-grown samples, they must be very superior indeed. Madeira being considerably nearer our shores, it may, however, be expected that the Pines will be imported from there in a riper state than those from the Azores; and it is probably in this respect that they are superior.

A correspondent (a learned one) of a contemporary has made a rather extraordinary discovery relating to the Apricot disease. The branches, he tells us, die through "a temporary paralysis of proper action between root and branch." No doubt ! When death occurs in any aspect there is generally something amiss with the "proper action." The juryman who ventured the opinion that the deceased "died for want of breath," was equally shrewd in his surmise. It is also observable that the branches are killed through a temporary fit of paralysis, which is another extraordinary circumstance. Doctors of human patients distinguish between "fatal" and "temporary" attacks, but according to this discursive correspondent of your contemporary, Apricots die of a disease that is not fatal. Understandest thou what thou writest? is a question which might be often and with advantage put to some writers.

Mr Wills is "neither to haud nor to bin'." The Committee of the Royal Horticultural Society had decided that it was inexpedient to hold an International Exhibition in 1880, owing to the depressed state of trade and other reasons; but Mr Wills decided otherwise, and tried to drive the Committee into his way of thinking and acting also. In this, as might have been foreseen, he failed, and he is wrathful, while the public laugh provokingly. Mr Wills had a motive for getting up a great international exhibition in which himself, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, the Lord Mayor, and a number of other dignitaries might probably have shone as principal luminaries, and his motive was patriotism - a burning devotion to his country and to horticulture. Seriously, people do not as a rule believe in patriotism that expends itself in fits and bursts, more especially when a distinct element of self-interest appears to be involved, or which quarrels and sulks when it is thwarted. In horticulture, as an industry worthy of fostering in its lowest and highest spheres, there are plenty of opportunities for enthusiasts who are anxious to do something in its behalf besides fitting up a great exhibition, the influence of which would at the best be doubtful except in so far as it be a means for tradesmen to advertise their goods.

Reader.