The last month of the year - when leaden skies and dull short days prevail - is invariably that particular season when things horticultural are at their lowest ebb, in so far as they attain publicity. With the exception of the one meeting of the Royal Horticultural Society on the 21st ult., that was probably the only meeting of the character held throughout the kingdom. But there must be a state of repose as a necessary adjunct to a time of activity, and there must also be a period of preparation for the yet undeveloped work of the coming spring and summer.

It is not too much to say that considerable interest was felt as to the decision of the Royal Horticultural Society in regard to its great Summer Exhibition. Would it continue to follow the Royal Agricultural Society, as it has done for the past three years, or would it boldly stand alone, and on its own merits challenge provincial support? It has decided, - and in July next it will pitch its tents by the side of those of the Royal Agricultural Society at Oxford. It has done this despite the appeals of many of the Society's best advisers, and with nearly the whole of the horticultural press condemning such a course of proceeding. Rumour has it that some members of the council are in favour of the Society going alone to the country, probably in 1871. So there is hope in the future; and some sanguine ones predict that in 1871 the two societies will part company, and, taking opposite directions, each discharge its own peculiar functions in different localities. Report also states that the balance of gain derived from the Manchester Show will fall short of the somewhat modest sum originally stated.

In regard to its home work, there will be considerable modifications of the operations of the Society. All great shows, as such, are partially, if not wholly, abolished - there will no longer be exhibitions in the form in which they have hitherto been held; but while the same amount of prize-money will still be given, it will be in the form of prizes spread over all the ordinary meetings of the Society on the occasion of the assembling of the Floral and Fruit Committees; so that each of these meetings, which are always of an extremely interesting character, and have proved most successful, will now be doubly interesting, and it is hoped, successful even in a larger degree. It is these meetings that so much tend to reconcile to the Society - to some extent at least - that large and influential body of practical horticulturists who in times past had looked with much mistrust on some of the actions of the council, and not unfrequently given expression to this mistrust. The special exhibitions of Hyacinths and Roses will still be held, but superadded to one of the ordinary meetings of the Society. Naturally enough, exhibitors and others are anxiously looking for the issue of the Society's programme of arrangements and schedule of prizes for 1870, which has only come to hand at the last moment.

The delay is at least unaccountable, perhaps unavoidable.

The exhibition season may be fairly said to open in March next, when the Hyacinth shows will be held. That of the Royal Horticultural Society will take place on March 16, and the Dutch growers will again offer some of the special prizes they so liberally gave last year. Considering how close was the competition between Messrs Cutbush &, Paul in March last, when the former won the two principal special prizes, their meeting in 1870 will be regarded with redoubled interest. The spring show of the Horticultural Society of Liverpool, which yearly brings together a magnificent display of Hyacinths from the local growers, takes place on the same date as that of the South Kensington Exhibition, and the Royal Horticultural Society of Ireland announces a similar show on March 24th. In addition to the prizes given by the Irish Society, there are three silver cups of the value of five guineas: one of these is for the gardener who takes the greatest number of prizes, and is subscribed for by the gardeners themselves.

The Hyacinth, therefore, will be well looked after; and certainly no show can be prettier and more attractive than one of Hyacinths and other spring flowers.

From the 'Athenaeum' we derive the following curious passage relative to the change of colour in leaves. It is stated that "experiment has confirmed the conclusion that leaves turn red at the end of the season through the action of an acid, since one of the elements producing the green colour must be a vegetable blue. Autumnal leaves placed under a receiver, with the vapour of ammonia, in nearly every instance lost the red colour and renewed their green. In some, such as the Blackberry and Maple, the change was rapid, and could be watched by the eye; while others, particularly certain oaks, turned gradually brown, without showing any appearance of green".

An announcement has recently been made that Colonel Scott, the Secretary of the Royal Horticultural Society, had offered a prize of five guineas for the best essay on the Principles of Floral Criticism, to be awarded on the occasion of the first meeting of the Royal Horticultural Society on Wednesday, January 19, next. We now learn that the prize will not be awarded till Wednesday, May 4; and the 'Gardeners' Chronicle,' referring to the many complaints of the vagueness of the proposal made by correspondents, states that they are asked "whether an essay on the 'correct standard ' for florists' flowers be intended, or one on the proper method of judging plants in general at exhibitions. Perhaps," adds the 'Chronicle,' "some light might be thrown on the matter if the names of the judges were announced. The subject is one of so much importance, that we trust fuller information may be forthcoming, and for our own parts we should like to see the matter treated in a broad and catholic spirit." And we say, Ditto, and cannot help expressing our conviction that very much will depend upon who are to be the judges of the essays.

An essay of this character should be so conceived and constructed as that it should become an authority, and a work of reference to some extent, though the limits of an essay will probably help to mar its usefulness in this direction.

A "seed case," in the form of an appeal from the decision of a lower court, came before one of the Irish courts of law at Dublin a few weeks ago, presenting some features well worthy of a passing notice. The appeal was from a decision of the Recorder of the city of Dublin, who dismissed the claim of a small market-gardener, living in the neighbourhood of Donnybrook, for the sum of 13, being the amount of eighty-seven flaskets of Cauliflowers, which he alleged were not marketable, and that were a portion of the crop, consisting of an English acre, produced from 8 oz. of seed, which cost him 12s. The seed grew well, and the plants produced were enough to plant out an English acre. The evidence of the plaintiff and his witnesses went to show that the crop was deficient to the extent of the sum named, inasmuch as a portion of the crop was not marketable Cauliflowers, by reason of the discoloration of the flowers, and their starting to seed, thereby reducing the value of the crop. The defendant - Mr James W. Mackey, an alderman of the city of Dublin - attested that he had distributed 28 lb. of this seed between two and three hundred people, and only three complaints were made regarding it.

It was contended that the deterioration of the crop was simply the result of the effects and influences of season, and an abnormal growth, which continually characterises every description of vegetable and green-crop produce - points well known to intelligent gardeners and scientific men. The effects and influences of season were singularly illustrated in the case of one witness, who deposed, in August 1869 he purchased of Mr Alderman Mackey 8 oz. of Cauliflower seed, 4 oz. of which were sown, and produced an inferior crop of Cauliflowers, of which he complained; while the remaining 4 oz. sown the spring following gave a splendid crop, which paid the grower at the rate of 30 per acre. The variableness of crops was illustrated in the case of other evidence adduced; but as there happened to be something like a dozen plants of Brussels Sprouts in the acre of Cauliflower (respecting which no one was hazardous enough to swear they came from the Cauliflower-seed), yet the appeal was allowed by a common jury, on the ground "that the seed was not all Cauliflower-seed," and the costs and expenses had to be borne by the defendant.

In a letter published in the 'Irish Farmers' Gazette,' from the pen of Mr Mackey - the outcome of a straightforward honest tradesman, who felt that he had been wronged, and who nobly disdained any suggestions of compromise, preferring to stand by the broad principle involved in the decision - the defendant states, with much truth, that "in reversing the decision of the Recorder, the jury proclaimed to the public that a seedsman is to be held responsible for the result of crops that the grower is not satisfied with - a judgment that will not be endorsed by any practical man who knows that every year's experience proves, that while the crops of Mangold-Wurzel, Carrots, etc, are to be seen starting and running to seed in every well-tilled field, while the finest crops of Potatoes and Turnips are produced, yet, when the grower comes to lift his produce of the latter, he too often finds one-third, and sometimes one-half, rotten, and, as complained of in this case, "not marketable;" and the unhappy vendor of the seed, by the same parity of reasoning, would be mulcted in damages by the decision of a petty jury of the city of Dublin." As an illustration of the variableness of crops, and as affording an apt comment in the case just noticed, we may state that one of the London wholesale seed-houses, famous for the quality and purity of its stocks of round seeds, and the care with which it selects them, some time since sent to one of their growers a quantity of impregnated Walcheren Cauliflower, saved specially from some very fine selected heads for their unmistakable quality.

The produce of this seed planted a large piece of ground, and, singular to say, there was scarcely a plant but which was abnormal in growth, and went prematurely to bloom, and was utterly worthless for seed purpose. In all probability - if it is not reduced to a certainty - this self-same seed in another season would have produced Cauliflowers as fine in quality as those from which the seed was originally taken. Of late the seedsmen have had many detractors, and of these not the best informed or the least prejudiced. Those who know them best see less of their assumed culpability, and discover how rashly made were many of the utterances that have of late had publicity given to them.