Some one, of high standing in the gardening profession, has said that a great number of the gardeners of the present day require the erroneous ideas "pumped out" of them before they can be really useful and clever members of the profession. We will not attempt to discuss this question here, but rather proceed to notice what appears to be, if not an erroneous idea, a practical mistake of the greatest importance to those engaged in the plant-growing. Probably there is not one who reads these lines but knows it to be a fundamental principle, both of animal and vegetable physiology, that the chief means for supplying food to the system of either is by the agency of water. Just as nothing which is insoluble in water can be taken up by the absorbent system of the animal, so with the vegetable. Everything in the shape of plant-food must be first dissolved in water, and taken into the cellular tissue in a fluid state; hence the importance of keeping the soil in which the absorbent system or the roots of the plants are, continually in a moist condition.

If this simple fact were acted on, as a matter of practice, by all gardeners, there would be a marvellous diminution in the quantity of plants which, if not miserable, are most miserable-looking. Who does not remember the consumptive appearance of the different sections of Geraniums, popularly so called, at those places where this starving-for-want-of-water system is carried out? Peter Grieve would be apt to be overlooked as such by that gentleman, whilst Queen Victoria and Prince of Wales are like anything but themselves; Leonidas is shorn of his glory, the Clipper appears a misnomer, and Grand-Duke a caricature; the praises of Luna seem all moonshine; Sceptre d'Or's gold has become tarnished, and the blushes have vanished from Her Majesty's face; Victor Lemoine looks the shadow of himself, whilst all his brethren keep silently yet eloquently appealing for their "bread and water." They want their meals regularly, and in time, but they are regularly "put off" till they suffer for the want of it; then, when the roots are desiccated, and the spongioles for the time being annihilated, water comes in profusion, but only to make matters worse, for the large quantity required to thoroughly moisten the soil becomes hurtful, on account of the roots being unable to perform the functions of absorption - and thus they are treated, now with their roots in dust, and anon in a puddle.

Or turn to the Chrysanthemums, and those bare stems, leaves shrivelled up, and "growing points" seemingly undecided on remaining contentedly in the position they have gained or on trying to attain a higher, tell the same tale of faulty watering. Look at those Melons, with leaves eaten up with red-spider, and fruit which may rival a white stone Turnip in flavour, though not in juiciness, and "give me water, else I die," is silently repeated there. You may carefully inspect everything artificially grown in such a place, and, except in species where little water is required, there is evidently a struggle for life. Perhaps some one will say we are going too far: we can only answer with sorrow that it is simply the truth. We have seen the original of the pictures just drawn - we have seen Grape-vines checked time after time through want of water when required, crops of Grapes more like good-sized Currants than the name of the variety would lead one to expect, with thrip and red-spider constantly at work on the foliage, as the result of such treatment.

We have seen Verbenas "struck" in autumn, in quantity doubly sufficient for the wants of the place, and yet in spring a system of "cadging" has to be resorted to, in order to get as many as would barely fill the beds for which they were wanted, the simple reason for all this "labour in vain" being, that the soil was allowed to get dry before watering, and damping was the order of the day, and every recurring neglect left a continually diminishing quantity of plants for propagating purposes in early spring.

On visiting a garden last year once famous for its Pine-Apples, we saw a very striking illustration of the baneful effects of keeping Pine-Apples short of water. They looked a most wretched lot of plants, taken as a whole. The young man who had charge of them imputed the greater portion of blame to the construction of the pits; however, that could not be the "loose screw," as first-rate examples of Pine-growing used to be constantly seen there when we visited it in former years. We had our own thoughts as to the probable cause of this state of matters, so the inquiry was made as to how often they were watered. "Oh, it could not possibly be in the watering; he watered them regularly every eight days, so it could not be that." When told that we watered our plants two times for his once, he appeared rather sceptical about receiving it as quite authentic. He never had had anything to do with Pines before taking charge of these, and he seemed to have imbibed the idea, so very prevalent, that Pines do best kept dry at root, and thus made a mistake of the greatest importance for the successful growing of this fruit.

It appears, in our estimation, to be one of the grossest errors horticultural writers fall into - the continually advising of carefulness in watering, and being sure not to water plants till they are dry. This teaching is in direct opposition to that of nature. The rain does not wait till the earth is dried before saturating it - nothing of the sort: any one can find out this for himself by examining the soil at regular intervals during the year, and, excepting in the hot summer weather, no great depth need be gone to before finding moist soil. It used to be the most troublesome question we had to solve in former days, when, on looking over our plants, there were those which, though not dry, yet were not wet; and the fear of doing something terrible in its consequences debarred the plants from receiving the water they required, till drooping leaves caused a double-quick rush after the watering-pot. We feel no fear now, when we come across a plant in this condition of moisture, to supply it with water. We don't like to see the soil get dry before watering; and with a plant in growth, with heat, air, and light, the dread of killing it with too much water may be dispensed with, to the advantage both of plant and cultivator.

Of course it is quite easy to give too much; but judgment and a little experience will be the best guide to the time when water ought to be given. Generally speaking, when the particles of soil are in a state of non-cohesion, no harm will accrue from giving water, even though the plant does not seem to require it, only water ought to be withheld till the same non-cohesive property is noticed in the soil. Plants watered thus never suffer a check from want of water. In the case of fruits grown in pots, such as the Vine, Peach, etc, in flowers such as Cinerarias, Calceolarias, and others, unless treated thus, satisfactory results need not be looked for. We know perfectly well that plants extract moisture from the soil when to all appearance there is none in it; but this is only a power for the preservation of life, common to animals as well as plants. No one will say that it is impossible for animal life to be preserved for days without food, but as little will any one say that such a state is conducive to healthiness. It is just the same in the case of plants.

Allowing them to become dry deprives them of the means whereby they procure sustenance; and, though not killed, if this style of watering is persisted in, the penalty will be stunted plants, and flowers and fruit deficient in quantity and quality, besides an unlimited host of insect pests to keep under, and a larger quantity of water required to moisten the soil, besides what escapes between the shrunken ball and the pot. The quantity of water required at one time for a plant is well worthy of attention. When the soil is constantly kept moist, it will be found that very little is needed to thoroughly wet it. Any more is prejudicial, inasmuch as every drop of water which drains through the bottom of the pot has dissolved its share of the goodness in the soil, and carries it with it.

As to the rationale of supplying plants with manure-water, we always consider it full time to use it when a plant has well-nigh used up the soil in the pot in which it is intended for flowering or fruiting. A great many gardeners abstain from using it till the buds are set, and supply it to the plant one, two, or three times a-week. Why it should not be used for watering every time the plants require it, is not very clear to us. Giving weak manure-water continually when the soil is exhausted, appears, to say the least of it, a more reasonable mode of using it than the plan of using it stronger and occasionally. Some people make a point of faring almost sumptuously on Sundays, and going on "short commons" during the remainder of the week; and giving manure-water in this manner bears some resemblance to it. We know that the plant will not use more in one day than sufficient for its wants, leaving the remainder for future use; still, little and often we believe to be best. Our ideas on this part of the subject are, give manure-water as soon as a plant has filled its blooming-pot with roots; give it every time water is required, taking care that it is very weak at first, though it ought to be of a stronger nature as the roots increase in quantity and the plant in size.

Treated thus, there is a certainty of giving enough food; but as the buds expand and the flowers develop, feeding ought to be dispensed with, and water pure and simple used.

We hope it will be understood that these Notes do not apply to orchidaceous nor cryptogamous plants, nor to any species whose natural habitat is a dry one at root. R. P. B.