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The First Of Spring
by [?]

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“Just painting the roots with iodine,” I said, “to prevent the rhubarb falling out.”

“To prevent what?”

“To keep the green fly away,” I corrected myself. “It’s the new French intensive system.”

But he was suspicious, and I had to leave two or three stalks untreated. We had those for lunch that day. There was only one thing for a self-respecting man to do. I obtained a large plateful of the weed and emptied the sugar basin and cream jug over it. Then I took a mouthful of the pastry, gave a little start, and said, “Oh, is this rhubarb? I’m sorry, I didn’t know.” Whereupon I pushed my plate away and started on the cheese.


Asparagus wants watching very carefully. It requires to be tended like a child. Frequently I wake up in the middle of the night and wonder if James has remembered to put the hot-water bottle in the asparagus bed. Whenever I get up to look I find that he has forgotten.

He tells me to-day that he is beginning to think that the things which are coming up now are not asparagus after all, but young hyacinths. This is very annoying. I am inclined to fancy that James is not the man he was. For the sake of his reputation in the past I hope he is not.


I have spent a very busy morning potting out the nasturtiums. We have them in three qualities, mild, medium, and full. Nasturtiums are extremely peppery flowers, and take offence so quickly that the utmost tact is required to pot them successfully. In a general way all the red or reddish flowers should be potted as soon as they are old enough to stand it, but it is considered bad form among horticulturists to pot the white.

James has been sowing the roses. I wanted all the pink ones in one bed, and all the yellow ones in another, and so on; but James says you never can tell for certain what colour a flower is going to be until it comes up. Of course, any fool could tell then.

“You should go by the picture on the outside of the packet,” I said.

“They’re very misleading,” said James.

“Anyhow, they must be all brothers in the same packet.”

“You might have a brother with red hair,” says James.

I hadn’t thought of that.


Grafting is when you try short approaches over the pergola in somebody else’s garden, and break the best tulip. You mend it with a ha’penny stamp and hope that nobody will notice; at any rate not until you have gone away on the Monday. Of course in your own garden you never want to graft.

I hope, at some future time to be allowed–even encouraged–to refer to such things as The Most Artistic Way to Frame Cucumbers, How to Stop Tomatoes Blushing (the homoeopathic method of putting them next to the French beans is now discredited), and Spring Fashions in Fox Gloves. But for the moment I have said enough. The great thing to remember in gardening is that flowers, fruits and vegetables alike can only be cultivated with sympathy. Special attention should be given to backward and delicate plants. They should be encouraged to make the most of themselves. Never forget that flowers, like ourselves, are particular about the company they keep. If a hyacinth droops in the celery bed, put it among the pansies.

But above all, mind, a firm hand with the rhubarb.