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A Man Of Property
by [?]

One’s gardens get smaller and smaller. My third is only 11 ins. by 9 ins. The vulgar call it a Japanese garden–indeed, I don’t see what else they could call it. East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet, but this does not prevent my Japanese garden from sitting on an old English refectory table in the dining-room. A Japanese garden needs very careful management. I have three native gardeners working at it day and night. At least they maintain the attitudes of men hard at work, but they don’t seem to do much; perhaps they are afraid of throwing one another out of employment. The head gardener spends his time pointing to the largest cactus, and saying (I suppose in Japanese), “Look at my cactus!” The other two appear to be washing his Sunday shirt for him, instead of pruning or potting out, which is what I pay them for. However, the whole scene is one of great activity, for in the ornamental water in the middle of the garden two fishermen are hard at it, hoping to land something for my breakfast. So far they have not had a bite.

My Japanese garden has this advantage over the others, that it is independent of the seasons. The daffodils will bow their heads and droop away. The tulips–well, let us be sure that they are tulips first; but, if the man is correct, they too will wither. But the green hedgehog which friends tell me is a cactus will just go on and on. It must have some source of self-nourishment, for it can derive little from the sand whereon it rests. Perhaps, like most of us, it thrives on appreciation, and the gardener, who points to it so proudly day and night, is rightly employed after all. He knows that if once he dropped his hand, or looked the other way, the cactus would give it up disheartened.

It is fortunate for you that I am writing this week, and not later, for I have now ordered three more gardens, circular ones, to sit outside the library. There is talk also of a couple of evergreen woods for the front of the house. With six gardens, two woods, and an ornamental lake I shall be unbearable. In all the gardens of England people will be shooting themselves in disgust, and the herbaceous borders will flourish as never before. But that is for the future. To-day I write only of my three gardens. I would write of them at greater length but that my daffodil garden is sending out an irresistible call. I go to sit on the staircase.