The Heart of a Garden
By Rosamund Marriott Watson
The hoar frost and the snow have been weaving their white magic over the garden, a wonder that never stales, but would seem to hang out fresh signals to the sense at every visitation. When you awake in the clear shining of the sun to discovery of the night's enchanted work, wrought with such swiftness, in such silence, it is as though you walked in a new world, in some strange kingdom of faery with trees of silver and flowers and fruits of diamond and pearl. Every foot's pace bears you on to more revelations in this enchanted pleasaunce. Winter is indeed a rare artificer: there is not a leaf, or a blade, or growing spray or mass of plant-forms that he does not take pains to transfigure almost out of all knowledge. This is surely the apotheosis, the magic hour of every humble unblossomed herb and green thing the garden grows. Spring and summer may bring no largesse for these, autumn no splendid stains and dyes; but here is winter, another King Cophetua, one might say, scattering his jewels broadcast with so royal a bounty that each unconsidered twig, each sober leaf of evergreen, is clothed with glories as great as, or greater, than the rose. Where there is already, as in the clustered ivy or Portugal laurel, a fine grace of outline and of form, it is intensified and made manifest a thousandfold; while, so marvellous is this pure wealth of pearl and crystal set against the sun's clear gold, that it obliterates imperfection and exalts the commonplace. The scentless yellow jasmine trails upon the trellis like frosted amber, the dark leaves of the hellebore gleam all bediamonded about their pale roses. As I pass my herb-plot's bejewelled tangle, forgotten and left to wildness in the press of other work, I cannot find it in my heart to repent my omission, for had it been properly "redd up" and set in due order I must needs have missed this faint, sweet incense, the ghost of a perfume, that breathes from it to-day. How and why I know not, but some mysterious alchemy of sun and snow has drawn forth a fragrance of myrrh and thyme commingled, that sets you thinking of Solomon's Song and the beds of spices when the wind blew from Lebanon.
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