28 DECEMBER 1945, Page 14


A courrrity gardener, who has a fondness for such censuses, cpunted..just fifty sorts of flowers in his garden and paddock in mid-December. Christmas is more often open than shut. The robin seldom shivers in the snow up against frosted holly berries till the New Year; but with all due allowance this December (which has seen the lowest glass' for a score of years) is more widely open than memory can readily parallel. Gardeners compete with one another as to which can pick the biggest sheaf of iris or fill bowls with more primulas and primroses. The songs of the birds are stimulated by plentiful feasts of insects, and many .a hibernator has come out to see what the matter is. These have included teirfoiseshell butterflies that had come to winter within doors. Our local poultrykeeper rejoices that he has been able to supply his hens continuously with a plentiful diet of young, fresh chickweed, and attributes his plentiful egg supply to the beneficent influence of this invincible weed, which still grows, and flowers and seeds along with the groundsel and the dandelions. In my garden a shrub of that pretty and useful bush, stransvesia, is just beginning to show off its autumn coloration. It is to the advantage of Christmas decorators that even the hungriest birds arriving from the north have found so much food that the holly berries, rather less numerous perhaps than usual, have not been touched. They are a last resort, as the bark of the tree almost begins to suffer from rabbits only when the snow is deep.