There seems at the present time nothing less understood by a great number of practical gardeners than the properties of fruits. Seldom do we visit a show, but we find the opinions of exhibitors and others as varied as the articles on the exhibition tables. The standards by which the decisions are given change almost as often as fresh judges are brought into the field. We had proof strong enough last year, when Grape-judging was so freely discussed, that there seemed to be no real standard by which their merits were decided. That question, I believe, still remains open; and while it does so, can we be surprised at the rise and fall of Horticultural Societies'? It is impossible that they can have that support by growers to which they are entitled. If a young exhibitor, for the first time, brings for competition fruit which both his employer and himself believe to be of the best quality (all the necessary points having been duly considered), and finds the censors give their verdict in favour of fruit which said exhibitor would consider unfit for his employer's table, he would begin to inquire by what "points" they decided? A bitter pill would of course have to be swallowed, with a resolve to make up his mind next time to exhibit by the standard of what he might consider to be that of the society.

But "many men, many minds." A change of judges gives a change of "points," and the second case is as unfortunate as the first, as then genuine quality, perhaps, would be considered and understood, and a verdict given accordingly. If the standard of quality had been adhered to in the first case as it was in the second, the hopeful exhibitor would probably have become a successful competitor and warm supporter of the society, instead of withdrawing his name from the list of members in disgust. From such facts (and many of them have come under my notice of late years) it is not to be wondered at that complaints are made about so few entering as competitors for such tempting prizes as are offered by some of the great societies. We read in a contemporary that many of the articles at the great show held in Manchester were barely a competition, but the prizes for them were taken almost without opposition. People in the country must know what they should take, and what to leave at home, before they spend money and time exhibiting. What is wanted would be a proper standard, which would meet the wants of all the societies in the country.

The properties of fruits and vegetables in print, and recognised by the leading authority as being correct, would be one of the most valuable additions to our garden literature extant. Glenny's work on the properties of flowers is universally recognised by our most enthusiastic amateurs as being a safe guide, and it is most extensively used throughout the country; indeed, some societies have a margin in their schedules giving the points for each article; and the satisfaction this gives is most astounding.

The tasting of Grapes is a rock which many growers have split upon. Though we go in for good flavour as being of primary importance when judging, at the same time we would like to be certain that the censors know what good flavour is; and on no account would we submit to having men whose palates were continually saturated with tobacco juice, as we have frequently known to be the case, and the "chew" had to be pulled out to admit the fruit. With such palates the Duchess of Buccleuch and Muscat would be brought down to the level of Trebbianos and Black Prince, and vice versa. Sweetness alone with Grapes (although the flesh was of a raisin texture) is all that is required by some censors, and they decide accordingly. If proprietors could believe in this standard, there would be few Grapes home grown (comparatively), as raisins could be bought from 8d. to Is. per pound, instead of being at the expense of forcing them under glass. Besides sweetness there should be vinous juice, melting pulp, small stones, and thin skin, and an absence of disagreeable acid. Shrivelled dry berries should be shown no quarter any more than bad colour and loose stringy bunches.

Mostly every fruit and vegetable has to meet the same difficulty at exhibitions as Grapes, and thus we often see vegetables judged by a standard which would not entitle them to a place on the dinner-table. The points which decide a good Cucumber are given in the Journal of Horticulture (page 77), which I think will be generally admitted to be all that is desired; and if all judges and exhibitors were guided by that standard, there would be few Cucumbers exhibited with yellow ends as long as cigars, seedy, and pliable as india-rubber. Crisp, fresh, handsome fruit would not be passed over as they often are, at provincial shows especially. At the forthcoming "International" to be held at Edinburgh, great justice in awarding the honours may be relied on. The names of the judges warrant this. They are well known as men of high standing, and many of them have led the van as growers and exhibitors for years. We would strongly advise those who are to appear in the competition list for the first time to give quality the leading position while selecting their articles, as mere bulk will only be telling when quality is present.

First-rate kinds will easily "throw" inferior kinds, however well the latter may have been managed; as, for instance, with Grapes, Black Prince will have no chance with good Muscat Hamburg, or White Nice and its varieties will be insignificant beside good White Muscats, except when weight only is desired. M. Temple.