There is seldom anything which appears in the gardening periodicals in the way of notes or memorandums but is read by all classes of horticulturists, and we often wish that we could have opportunities of learning more of the doings of our great growers through the press. Some time ago, when there was a sharp discussion in a contemporary on the advancement of gardening in Scotland compared with England, many readers who know the equality on which northern and southern skill are placed, must have smiled at the far-fetched arguments used on that occasion by some "would-be" authorities. Vegetable-growing was the principal topic: my opinion was, that quite as much as was due to Scotland was advanced, while England was in a great measure underrated. I would say from my experience in the two countries (and that has been considerably more in the south than in the north), that Scotch gardeners gave more attention to the production of late vegetables than the English, while the latter were far in advance with the forcing of early vegetables, and that one may visit a dozen places in the north where there was no exception to good kitchen-gardening, and little or no early forcing whatever.

But not so in the south - you might there see in a dozen places more than a third of the kitchen-gardens almost neglected, while early forcing was in every place carried on with spirit. In Scotland there is greater intercourse among gardeners, and each county stands more on a level; while in the south, gardening almost varies as much in each county as do the provincial dialects, so that a casual visitor can give little intelligence on the relative positions in regard to the horticultural skill of the two countries. In Kent the best and worst gardening in England are to be found. The same may be said of the valley of the Thames through Middlesex; and I think, as far as I have observed, in about half of the English counties the same remarks could be made. But leaving this subject, I will give brief notes from memory on my seventh drive round a portion of a Scotch county, Fife. Leaving the picturesque village of Markinch early on the morning of the 2d August, where I picked up three most agreeable gardening friends, and (as the Rev. Mr Hole would say, all gardeners carry this character with them) with a sturdy nag, strong vehicle, umbrellas, and waterproofs, we faced the southeast to make the day as profitable and pleasant as best we could.

The weather having for weeks past been the wettest and coldest known for many years at that season, gave us little hope of external comfort. While driving rapidly towards the River Leven (which is an agent in supplying bread to thousands of people by the use to which its water is turned by manufacturers) the sun peeped out, which gave a brighter hope of the weather, and I could at the moment have sung -

Morn amid the mountains,

Lovely solitude; Gushing streams and fountains

Murmur God is good.

Balgonie Castle, now a ruin, was passed, and in a few minutes afterwards we were driving through the grounds of Balfour House (the seat of Admiral Bethune), which may be classed as one of the most beautiful in the county. We met Mr Dewar, the gardener, at his house, who was waiting to welcome us. We at once proceeded towards the pleasure-grounds, which lie around the mansion, which is famous as having been the residence of Cardinal Bethune. We have said the grounds are beautiful, and we never saw them to better advantage than on this occasion. The beautiful shrubs and Coniferae with which this place abounds have grown very freely and luxuriant this season. Conspicuous were handsome specimens of Wellingtonias, Douglas Firs, Araucarias, etc. The secret of their great luxuriance and health is, not only that the soil in which they are growing was prepared with great care, but they receive every season a good supply of manure on the surface, which is neatly covered with earth, thus keeping the grounds always in "full dress," as well as supplying the needful to the roots of the trees. There is a neat flower-garden, on grass, in front of the mansion, well filled with the usual gay bedding-plants, only waiting for a little sun to make them as gay as in former years.

A little further on is another flower-garden on grass, formed by a multiplicity of squares and circles, filled with artistically-arranged plants; and, encircling this garden, are beds of unusually well-grown Roses, coming, as it were, between the bedding-plants and the trees and shrubs. The collection of Roses has long been a source of attraction at Balfour, and this season they have been remarkably fine. Two borders, which run the whole length (north and south) of the kitchen-garden, contain the principal selection. The finest and most useful sorts only are grown, regardless of mere novelty. A walk divides the borders, and the vegetable ground is shut out from view with a wire fence, covered with fine plants, an arrangement not always sufficiently kept in view where flowers are planted in kitchen-gardens. There is an archway of Roses at the north end of the walk, and to stand there and look over these borders when at their best, is a sight which is not easily forgotten. The system of culture, after thoroughly preparing the ground with manure, mulching, etc, is this: the Roses are planted in rows, and the strong wood is pegged down, the smaller growths are cut out; liberal mulching is given in winter, and forked in after the Roses are pruned in spring (priming is generally performed in April). Any one who has never seen the "Queen of Flowers" in her true grandeur would do well to visit Balfour in the season.

Many have come a long distance to see these Roses, and, I am certain, none go away disappointed. There are the usual "bedding" in suitable parts of this compact kitchen-garden. The quality and luxuriance of the vegetable crops showed that there was depth of tilth and all other requirements necessary to produce them. Grapes have done well here for a great number of years. Two span-roofed houses, planted chiefly with Muscats and Hamburg, have produced enormous crops without failure in any shape. There are other features of interest which might advantageously be noted, but we intend only to strike at particulars. After leaving Balfour, with another worthy son of the spade added to our number (Mr Dewar), we pushed on our way, and were soon on the direct road to Wemyss Castle. Passing Cameron Bridge distillery (where famous toddy-whisky is said to be manufactured), we soon had a fine view of the Forth. To the left of the road stands the village of Methil Hill, where cholera made such fearful ravages a few years ago. The place (by no means attractive) retains a melancholy interest.

A sudden turn to the right brings us in full view of the ruins of Macduff's Castle, and further on the towers of Wemyss Castle are observed peeping above the trees; and in a short time we arrived at the garden, where Mr Neil was waiting to conduct us through the well-managed place. The range of houses (which is a modern one, about 230 feet long, and finely finished) is gone through first. Fruit is plentiful, chiefly Grapes and Peaches. The Vines have mostly been replanted of late years, and are all in promising condition. The crops of Muscats, Lady Downes, and Hamburg are very fine, and all are either well finished, or appearing to do so satisfactorily. A large house in the centre, which was some years ago modernised, was full of the usual occupants, such as Zonale Geraniums, Lobelias, Coleus, Ferns, Fuchsias, etc, as gay as they could be. The flower-garden was gay and well filled; Calceolarias, extra-fine Geraniums, waiting for the sun. Borders in the kitchen-garden were very chaste; Pansies, Imperial Blue, and Cliveden Yellow, were very telling.

Cooper's Defiance Tropoeoleum very brilliant, and Ageratum Imperial dwarf was among the number of useful things.

Numbers of young Apple and Pear trees in the kitchen-garden were doing well; on the walls many had been recently planted. The vegetable crops were good, Peas unusually tall - some twice as high as described in the seed catalogues. There is little, in a gardening point of view, outside the garden-walls. The castle stands boldly fronting the Firth of Forth: behind the building are large empty squares of grass. The grounds would require a fortune expended on them to furnish, the space with trees, shrubs, etc. We had almost forgotten to mention that a long border of Roses, not yet filled up, bids fair to tread on the heels of those at Balfour. Mr Dewar, by the way, was Mr Neil's apprentice master, and it is true that the pupil often comes up to the level of the preceptor. Wemyss was in years gone by known as a leading place in Fife, under the management of Mr Simpson, who now lives in a cottage in the village. His knowledge as a fruit-grower was as a household word among the gardening fraternity, and, judging from his vigorous intellect and manly visage, if he were again to take the field (the garden), he would yet prove a very "Von Moltke" among his compeers; and it appears, from Mr Neil's industry and skill, that Wemyss is not yet to lose her position among the gardens of Fife. We left Wemyss much gratified with what we saw, and took the road westward to Dysart, the seat of the Earl of Rosslyn, anxious to make hay while the sun shone (but it was extremely cloudy then), as we had yet much ground to get over before the close of the day.

M. Temple.

Balbirnie. (To be continued).