"High over roaring Temple Bar And set in Heaven's third story."

"O, green is the colour of faith and truth."

When onecomes to write of roof and back-yard gardens the pen must run less glibly; such oases in the dust and drouth of towns are few and rare. The roofs of English houses are not shaped well for gardening, and if there happen to be a back-yard, it is often more like a well than a garden; not a dripping well lined with fern and soft with moss, but a well walled round with smoke-black bricks, and not much of a sky above it. Yet garden-lovers do make their little plots somehow, even in London's heart, and live there happily tending their flowers. In the broad City thoroughfare that leads from Blackfriar's Bridge to St. Paul's Cathedral stands a church among the shops and marts - an old church built by Sir Christopher Wren. Behind this building, up a narrow street - little more than a passage - is a Rectory-house hemmed in at back and sides with factories; yet, hidden away in this strange corner may be found a bower of greenery. Mrs. Clementi-Smith, the Rector's wife, shall tell the story of her City garden in her own words.

We must imagine it to be in the month of March.

"The foreground of our garden consists of a bank of rock work, interpersed by hundreds of the very finest Crocuses which one could find anywhere, mostly purple, bright mauve, pure white, and a few yellow. These were put in last autumn, and have certainly done splendidly, in spite of smuts and smoke. The only grievous thing about them is that, when the flowers are over, the bulbs will have to be pulled up and thrown away, as we have found that one season is quite enough for them; they would not flower again if left in for another year."

A Boat Shelter With Cerast1um On Roof

A Boat-Shelter With Cerast1um On Roof

In gardens such as this bulbs do better than anything else; they give back the treasure that was stored up by them when living in the air and sunshine. A little greenhouse between the wall and rock garden is full of ferns. Geraniums will not grow, but Cyclamen and Palms are well content, and Azaleas manage to bloom for one year - not more, as there is not enough sun to ripen the new wood. One fair-sized tree stands in the middle of the plot, a Lime; not a good town tree, because its foliage fades and falls so soon. This one is to come down and make room for an apple-tree.

The annals of another City garden are worth recording because so instructive. They were confided to the sympathetic ears of the editor of The Garden under the title of "Struggles in Smoke." Every reader sympathized. This garden, too, lay in the shadow of a cathedral, but in the north of England.

"Everything we touched was black, and how strong it all smelt of smoke and the mingled fumes of fried fish and burnt shoe-leather from the small shops that backed on to it! The garden was at the very edge of a wind-swept hill, the ground falling away so suddenly below it that the tops of the chimneys of the City beneath were just at the proper level to pour their smoke right into it. When the wind blew from the south, the thick clouds from the foundry and factory chimneys made it impossible to see across the garden. Then we had to set to work."

Nothing teaches so well as an object-lesson. Let us hear what flowers were persuaded to grow in this garden of difficulties, where cats and sparrows, we learn, were nearly as troublesome as the smoke.

"Tiger Lilies seemed to love us best. These grew and spread and triumphed, till at times the garden glowed with an orange glory. Their cousins, the White Lilies, would have nothing to do with us. Naturally, bulbs were the most satisfactory things, and Crocus, Narcissus and Tulip were joyful, but soot-coloured Snowdrops were not inspiring. We felt rich when the Lilies of the Valley were in bloom - there were always enough to give away. We revelled in the carpets of Woodruffe and white Periwinkle, from which sprang great clumps of the yellow Trollius and the silvery stars of Astrantia. Auriculas, Double Daisies, Violas and Pansies did their best to make up to us for the lack of Violets and Mignonette." A good list, and there is more to follow. "Christmas Roses did well, but very few bedding plants answered. Various Irises, Campanulas, Monkshood, Canterbury Bells, Lychnis and masses of Epilobium-Angustifolium made things bright. The old pink Cabbage Rose and Gloire-de-Dijon flowered well. Cornflowers and Larkspurs were happy, and one small Pear-tree yielded fruit." What love and toil must have gone to give such rich results, and how great the joy, can only be guessed by those who have had a like experience.

Roof-gardens are even rarer than yard-gardens. One that is full of interest may be seen in Bishopsgate Street, E.C., at the Home for Working Boys. Trees of quite a respectable size are grown in it; Sycamore trees twenty feet high, Limes from eight to ten feet, with Nut and Cedar, Chestnut, Holly, Fir, and Plane. Cats are, or course, a hindrance,, but the wire netting which keeps them out is hidden in summer by Virginia Creeper, and on the parapets and in tubs and boxes are Evergreens and Orange plants, and bushes of Rose and Lilac. Eight or ten sorts of flowers bloom freely, Petunias doing best of all. Gardening operations, as carried on by the boys and Superintendent, are an unfailing source of amusement to the children of the surrounding poor. A pond and fountain with spray rising sixteen feet high are crowning glories of this shady jungle, where, but a few years since there was nothing to be seen but a bare zinc roof, some twelve yards square. The place has now been pet-named "Pelham Park."

A private roof-garden at the back of a London house, four stories from the ground, is graphically described by an amateur gardener, who says he "fights for failure," but he does so cheerfully. There are some points, he says, on which the many-acred owner of a country garden might envy his rival on the roof. One is his personal intimacy with his garden kingdom and its subjects.

"Up among the chimney pots he has watched each plant through all difficulties struggling up into timid blossoms; he has washed away daily smuts and combated incessant sparrows with cotton entanglements, and now knows every flower, nay, every petal, with a personal love. He will tell you which day of the week the Pansy lost its second bud through the sparrows, just when it looked certain to be quite as good as the flower he got last year; or he will show you how the Canadensis, baffled by the same marauders last Friday week, has tried again with a second shoot which will be out before Wednesday; those Pansies were specially bought at Covent Garden; as for the Sweet Peas, they came as seedlings, not a tenth their present size, and they will be even better in a fortnight. The Solanum is a special prize, and comes from a country garden ; but dearer than that is the Geranium, grown from one of his own cuttings, a real scion of the family."

A Geranium among the slates and chimney stacks!

This was a triumph indeed; enough to make the Clementi-Smiths at St. Andrew's Rectory envious.

In these roof-gardens there are joys undreamed of by the stranger. A real honey-bee buzzing and working over the flowerbeds, even a spider - a real garden spider, with a shining web, a country-looking weed, a stinging nettle, - a lively one that knows how to sting, and on one bright still evening, when the sunshine lingered on the gas-work's chimneys, a humming-bird hawk-moth fluttering well-pleased among the flowers.

After these flights among the tiles and chimney-stacks it is tame work, talking of the City gardens of the level ground; but, after all, they are the commonest and most generally useful. The dreary churchyards now made into play-grounds, where a few simple flowers bloom, and there is a shrub or two; we may see such any day at St. John's in the Waterloo Road. And there are the old, old gardens about the Temple and the Law Courts; how many generations of lawyers they have cheered (not one space can be spared); and who has not felt a thrill of joy when nearing St. Paul's Cathedral, to see the fresh green of the trees and the indescribable beauty of the rustling, swaying boughs, so strangely sweet in such a spot.

Not the least good done by our City gardens is the welcome given by them to bird and butterfly; even the seagulls did not come to London till after we had planted trees on the Embankment and laid down turf. The more gardens we make, the more country visitors will come to them, gladdening the Londoner with rural sounds.

"A cuckoo cried at Lincoln's Inn Last April, somewhere else one heard The missel-thrush with throat of glee; And nightingales at Battersea."

A Roof Garden

A Roof Garden