20 DECEMBER 1935, Page 16


December Blessings December is a month of cheating and envy ; and in case that should sound like the statement of a misanthrope I must add that I mean only that one begins to cheat oneself and to envy the gardens richer than one's own. It is an old game to tour the garden in the dark days and count one's blessings in terms of spring, to bend down the hazel boughs and make believe that the catkins are already softening and loosening— as in fact they are—and to catch the sallow buds against a background of cypress or yew or rain cloud and believe that the purses of the buds are bursting and showing an edge of silver—as in fact they"already do. It is a process of cheating that exhilarates and delights. It may be played indefinitely. So at the moment, as I write, though the autumn has been wild and bitterly unkind and in no way at all comparable with the milky winter of 1031, when bluebells were six inches above ground in January, it requires only a breath of cheating to make the deuces of December seem like April aces. Already the primroses are out, the blue most precocious, and odd stars of aubretia; daffodils are up, with Tulip Turkestanica and T. Korelkowi showing brownish shoots by the Daphne Cneoruna buds, hard olive little buttons that are a long, long way from bursting. Daphne Mezereuni is out, • and above it, on the bleak heights of the pergola, many roses. Viburnum Fragrans is in bud, and ought to be out by Christmas. The list goes on. My own is quite modest, and not the less precious for that. The rich, the fortunate and the expert will point to yellow forests of witch hazel, mauve acres of iris stylosa. I envy them, but not more than I envy the owners of old camellias, those exotic and now for some reason neglected evergreens—perhaps their vogue passed out with that of Dumas fits—with their dark brilliant leaves and December buds and pink and white February blossoms of Southern, almost unworldly loveliness.