THE EFFECT OF TREES

Of the pleasure and affect of trees no one speaks so wisely as Bacon.
Although those who have a feeling for garden literature know his essay
on Gardens as the classic of its kind, still many do not recall his
thoughts when the planning of a garden is on hand. Too much, I think, is
given by the man who is about to make a garden, to his own particular
hobby, and many a man wonders why his garden gives him not all the
pleasure he expected. You will hear of a man talk of his new Rose beds,
of the nursery for Carnations he is in the process of making, of the
placing of his Violet frames, of his ideas for a rock garden (I think
the distressful feeling for a rockery of clinkers is dead), but you will
seldom hear of a man who deliberates quietly for effects of trees, or
who thinks of planting fruit trees as ornaments, but always he places
them in his kitchen garden, and ignores their value in their other
proper places.

Bacon rejoices in his arrangement of gardens for every month of the
year, and dwells, rightly, just as much on the pleasure of his trees as
in the ordering of his flower beds. Naturally he had not such a large
selection of flowers from which to choose as we have to-day, but to-day
we neglect the beauty of many trees, and especially the beauty of
hedges.

Are there sights in any garden more beautiful than the Almond tree and
the Peach tree in blossom, or the sweet trailing Sweetbriar? Bacon would
have us notice these, make a feast of these. Also he recommends the
beauty of the White Thorn in leaf, the Cherry and the Plum trees in
blossom, the Cherry tree in fruit, the Lilac tree, the wonder of the
Apple tree, and the Medlar.

Then, again, Bacon touches on a point all too little counted: the
perfume of the garden. He says: “And because the breath of flowers is
far sweeter in the air (where it comes and goes like the warbling of
musick) than in the hand, therefore nothing is more fit for that delight
than to know what be the flowers and plants that do best perfume the
air.

“Roses, damask and red, are fast flowers of their smells; so that you
may walk by a whole row of them and find nothing of their sweetness;
yea, though it be in a morning’s dew. Bays likewise yield no smell as
they grow; Rosemary little; nor Sweet Marjoram.

“That which above all others yield the sweetest smell in the air is the
Violet, especially the White Double Violet which comes twice a year;
about the middle of April, and about Bartholomew-tide. Next to that is
the Musk Rose; then the Strawberry leaves dying, which yield a most
excellent cordial smell. Then the flowers of the Vines; it is a little
dust, like the dust of a Bent, which grows upon the cluster, in the
first coming forth: then the Sweet Briar, then Wallflowers, which are
very delightful to be set under a parlour or lower chamber window. Then
Pinks and Gilly-flowers, especially the matted Pink and Clove
Gilly-flower: then the flowers of the Lime tree; then the Honeysuckles,
so they be somewhat afar off.

“Of Bean flowers I speak not, because they are field flowers.

“But those which perfume the air most delightfully, not passed by as the
rest, but being trodden upon and crushed, are three, that is Burnet,
Wild Thyme, and Water Mints. Therefore, you are to set whole alleys of
them to have the pleasure when you walk or tread. I would add to these
one or two more flowers whose perfume is easily yielded. The Heliotrope,
which at night will scent a garden; and Stocks, very rich and sweet
scented; Tobacco Plant, a heavy sensuous smell; Madonna Lilies, seeming
almost to breathe; Evening Primroses; and, after rain when the sun is
warm, the leaves of Geraniums, a faint musky smell, very attractive. But
of all these the garden holds one perfume more delicious, a scent that,
to me at least, is the Queen of Garden scents since it is the breath of
the whole garden herself. After a Summer’s day when it has been hot and
the lawn has been cut, and the Sun has well baked the earth, if there
should come rain in the evening, a soft warm rain pattering at first so
that it seems each leaf of flower and tree becomes a drum sounding with
rain beats, then it seems the garden breathes deep and draws in great
draughts of the delicious coolness. Then after the rain the night comes
warm again, and all warm earth smells, and the new cut grass smells
also, and every tree and flower join force upon force until the air is
filled with a perfume which for want of better names I would call the
Odour of Gratitude.”

Furthermore, Bacon speaks of the garden—“The garden is best to be
square, encompassed on all four sides with a stately arched hedge.” One
rich hedge is there at Bishopsbourne, which it is traditionally supposed
was planted by Richard Hooker, of whom Walton writes: “It is a hedge of
over one hundred feet in length, from twelve to fourteen feet in height,
and some ten feet thick. It is one of the finest Yew hedges in England,
a wonderful colour, an amazing strength and beautiful, when it is
clipped and trimmed, to look upon.” Of the pleasure and comfort of such
hedges, of the health to be gained by regarding them, many people have
spoken. There is, surely, something in the tough green life of the Yew,
something in its staunchness that conveys a feeling of strength to the
mind. I feel this in different degree with every kind of tree, partly no
doubt from moments of particular association, from memories that become
attached to scenes as they will (curious how scents, arrangements of
colour, outlines against a sky, will call up things and thoughts which
for the moment have no connection with them. I never see Oranges but I
think of a dark passage lined with books, and a cupboard built round
with books in shelves. In the cupboard are dishes of fruit, and shapes,
all tied up in linen, of fruit cheeses, as damson cheese, and crab-apple
cheese, and a cheese made of Quinces and Medlars).

I remember a graveyard in a little Swiss village where every grave had a
tiny weeping willow bending over it. It had, for us, infinitely more
pathos than the sombreness of many English graveyards. There was a
rushing torrent below, for the church and its graveyard was on a height
over a river, and the voice of the river sang in the quiet graveyard,
like a strong spirit singing in the pride of vigour to those asleep. The
little willows bent and shivered in the breeze, looking small and
pathetic against the strong small church. Outside the church, all along
one wall was a seat very smooth and worn, it faced the graves and the
tiny trees, and behind it, on the wall of the church, was a great
Wisteria with clusters of pale purple flowers. There were no other trees
there, or to be seen from the seat, but these little bending weeping
trees. And close by, a hundred yards from the church gate, was the
undertaker’s shop, part farm, part garden, part stocked with elm planks.
As I passed by the son was making a coffin out in the middle of the road
on trestles. Looking back one could see the young man bending earnestly
over his work, the sound of his saw ripping the air. Behind him was the
grey stone of the church and the forest of little shivering trees over
the graves. A little below, just across the river over a covered bridge,
was a beer-garden where a family was sitting drinking beer out of tall
mugs. They sat, father, mother, sons and daughters, all dressed in
black, under Chestnut trees cut down very close and clipped to make
alleys of shade. And a little behind them was a forest rising on a hill
with great masses of trees all shades of green, and glowing in the light
of an afternoon sun. But of all this I carry mostly the memory of those
little trees, quiet weeping sentinels, very pathetic.

* * * * *

Trees, especially isolated groups of trees, in towns and cities have a
wonderful fascination. The very idea that they burst into bud and leaf
in the midst of all the smoke and grime, and the noise and hurry, is
health-giving. It brings repose, it brings hope. I believe the trees in
town squares get more love than any country trees. They mean so much. It
seems so good of them to fight, and to come out year by year clean and
fresh and green, and in Winter when they are bare they make a delicate
webwork of twigs against the background of soot-covered houses. Then in
the Spring when they turn faintly purple there is a haze across the
square, and it seems that even the pigeons and the horses on the cab
rank feel it, but cannot scarcely believe it. Then, perhaps there is an
Almond tree in the square and it will suddenly break out into the most
exquisite finery, like the daintiest of women, making the square gay and
full of joy. The Spring has come. It is almost unbelievable. And people
passing through the square who have forgotten all about the Spring look
up suddenly and smile, and say: “Look at the Almond tree. Spring is
here.” Those who know the country turn their minds inwards and remember
that the brown owls have begun to hoot, that the gossamer is floating,
that, here and there yellow and white butterflies are flitting, looking
strangely out of season, that the raven is building, and the rooks too,
and that all sorts of birds they had forgotten are seen in the land.

After that the big trees in the square become hazy with bursting bud,
and one morning, as if some message had been whispered overnight, the
far side of the square is only to be seen through a screen of the
tenderest green. Bit by bit the leaves comes out, get bright, clean
washed by showers, get dingy with the soot. Then comes the fall of the
leaf and the crisp curl of it as it changes colour, and the far side of
the square begins to show again through bronze-coloured leaves. At last
the Winter comes and all that is left is the tracery of boughs and
twigs, and heaps of dead, beautiful-coloured leaves beneath the trees.
These still provide an interest, for the wind comes and picks them up
and whirls them right up into the air in all sorts of amazing dances and
games.

[Illustration: THE SEAT BENEATH THE OAK IN THE POET LAUREATE’S GARDEN.]

In the Winter one last beauty comes. The day has been leaden,
sad-coloured, bitterly cold. All the cabmen on the rank stamp with their
feet, and swing their arms to keep themselves warm, and there is a
little mist where all the horses breathe. And people coming through the
square have forgotten the Almond tree, and the look of the big trees
when the hot sun splashed gold on their leaves, and they say, looking at
the sky, “See how dark it is, it is going to snow.” The snow comes; the
sky is darker; the trees stick up looking black, like drawings in pen
and ink. Flakes, white flakes, twenty, forty, then a rush—a thousand;
the sky full of tiny white flakes, the air full of them whirling down.
All sounds begin to be muffled. Horses hoofs beat with a thud on the
ground. The sound of voices in the air is deadened. The voices of men
encouraging horses sound sharp now and again, or a whip cracks like a
shot. The square is covered with snow, every twig is outlined in white,
black patches of bark show here and there, and emphasise the dead
whiteness. When it has stopped snowing and a watery light comes from the
sun all the trees gleam wonderfully, looking like fairy trees. And
people passing through the square making beaten tracks in the snow
saying, “It is Winter.”

* * * * *

In a country garden there is a tree stands on the end of a lawn. It is
an Acacia tree, old, gnarled, and twisted, with Ivy round it, deep Ivy
in which thrushes build year after year; there is a stone near by on
which the thrushes break the shells of snails, the “tap, tap,” of the
birds at work is one of the peaceful sounds that break the silence of
the garden.

Under the tree is an oblong mark of pressed grass greener than the rest
of the lawn, where the garden-roller rests. And there is a seat under
the tree, and a wooden foot-rest by it.

Touch the tree and you go back at once to a picture of a boy, the boy
who helped to plant it over a hundred and fifty years before. If you
look from the tree across the lawn to the house you will see the very
door by which he came out with his father to plant the tree.

The house and the tree have grown old together, both of them have
mellowed with the garden and wear a look of old security and calm, and
have an air of wise old age.

Up and down the five white steps from the garden path to the house more
than five generations have passed, men in wide-skirted coats and full
wigs hanging about their ears in great corkscrew curls, men in powdered
wigs, rolled stockings, square buckled shoes, men in stocks and immense
collars, and big frills to their shirts making them look like
gentlemanly fish, down to the man who comes out to day who looks a
little old-fashioned, and is square-built like the house, and who parts
his hair like the men in Leech’s pictures, and who wears a rim of
whisker round his face. And troops of ladies have passed out by that
door into the garden in hoops, and sacques, and towers of hair, and
crinolines. But no lady comes out now to cut the Lavender hedge, or snip
at the Roses. The man is alone. But when he sits alone under the tree,
with a spud by his side ready to uproot Plantains from his lawn, he can
see troops of the garden ghosts sitting round him under the Acacia tree.

Sometimes there seems to be a sound of the ghostly click of bowls on the
lawn, for it is a bowling-green banked up on three sides (the fourth
bank has been done away with long ago), and there is a company of
gentlemen in their wide shirt sleeves playing bowls. Above them, on the
raised terrace next to the house where there is a broad path, a group of
old people sit by little tables and drink wine, and smoke, and gossip.
And behind them are tall Hollyhocks, and Roses and a tangle of
old-fashioned flowers such as Periwinkles and Sweet Williams, and Pinks.
The Acacia tree, which grows on the lawn beyond the bowling green, is
quite small.

The old man who dreams of these ghosts in his garden recognises them
readily because they have stepped out of pictures on his walls, and when
they are not haunting the garden are demurely hanging on the oak panels
in the old rooms.

Then he can see, if he chooses, a picture of the garden when the acacia
tree is quite tall, but still elegant and slender, and in this picture
an old, old lady walks down the garden paths. She is dressed in a large
hooped skirt with panniers, and has high-heeled shoes, and a perfect
tower of hair on her head, and over that a calash hood like the hood
over a waggon except that it is black. She carries an ebony stick in a
silk-mittened hand, a hand knotted with gout and covered with the
mourning rings of her friends. She it was who added largely to the
garden, and took in two acres more of land, and planted a row of Elms
and Beech trees. She kept the garden as bright and gay as the samplers
she worked herself. She had a mania for set beds, and her Tulips were
the talk of the county. A long bed of them ran from the house along one
bank of the bowling-green to the orchard, and it was arranged in pattern
of colours, lines, squares, interlaced geometrical designs of flaming
red and scarlet, pink and yellow and white and dull purple. She it was
who caused the sundial to be placed in the garden and who found the
motto for it, and designed the four triangular beds to go round it, and
placed a hedge of Lavender and Rosemary all about it in a square.

The tap of her stick on the paths is one of the ghostly sounds that
haunt the place, and sometimes it is difficult to know whether it is a
woodpecker, or a thrush breaking open a snail, or her stick that makes
such a sharp crisp sound on the Summer air.

There is another sound, too, that the Acacia tree knows well. It is the
click of glasses under its boughs. On a table placed under the tree is
an array of beautiful cut-glass decanters and a number of glasses which
reflect in the polished mahogany surface. Round the table four gentlemen
sit with white wigs and elegant lace falls at their throats, and ruffles
at their wrists. It is a hot Summer afternoon, and so still that not a
Rose leaf of those spread on the lawn stirs. A large white sheet lies on
the lawn covered with thousands of rose petals left to dry in the sun,
and when they are dry, and have undergone a careful mixture with spices,
and have herbs added to them by the mistress of the house, they will be
placed in china bowls in all the rooms, and will give out a subtle
delicious odour.

The man who is dreaming in his garden can see the four gentlemen as
plain as life raising their glasses and touch them before drinking the
silent toast. And it is difficult to tell whether it is the gardener
striking on his frames by accident, or the chink of glasses that sounds
so clearly under the Acacia tree.

Now, in another picture the garden holds, things are somewhat altered.
Instead of the big Tulip bed on the lawn there are a number of small cut
beds with long beds behind them on either side of a new gravel walk.
Instead of the older fashioned borders there are startling colour
schemes of carpet-bedding in which the flowers are made to look more
like coloured earths than anything. In the long beds, instead of the
profusion of Hollyhocks, Sunflowers and bushes of Roses, a primness
reigns. A row of blue Lobelia backed by a row of white Lobelia, then
scarlet Geraniums, then Calceolarias, then crimson Beet plants, every
ten yards a Marguerite Daisy sticks up out of the middle of the bed.
Only one rambling border remains, and that is hidden from the view of
the house windows, but can just be seen from the seat under the Acacia
tree. In it Phlox and Red-hot Pokers, Asters, Anemonies, Moss Rose, and
French Marigolds grow profusely, and some merciful sentiment has allowed
an old twisted Apple tree to remain there.

The old bowling-green is still beautifully kept, the grass is smooth and
fair, not a Daisy or Plantain is there to mar the splendour of the turf.
The Acacia tree, now grown old and venerable, spreads out fine branches,
and gives delightful shade. Here and there new arches of rustic
woodwork, in horrible designs, stretch over the paths, their ugliness
partly hidden by climbing Roses of the Seven Sisters kind, or Clematis,
or Honeysuckle, or Jasmine. Many trees in the garden are old enough to
exchange memories of a hundred years ago; the orchard alone boasts a
venerable congregation of old trees, some grey with lichen, some bowed
down with the result of full crops.

New ghosts walk the garden paths in crinolines and Leghorn hats, and
side curls, talking to gentlemen with glossy side whiskers, peg-top
trousers, and tartan waistcoats.

On the bowling-green the new game is laid out, and ladies and gentlemen
talk learnedly of bisques, and the correct weight of croquet mallets.
There is a fresh sound for the garden, the smack of croquet balls.

And now nearly all the ghosts vanish, and the old man who is sitting
under the Acacia tree looks around and sees his garden as it is to-day,
fuller of flowers than ever it was, with the hideous set borders done
away with, with the little rustic arches pulled down and a pergola,
properly built, in their place, and all of the horrors of Early
Victorian gardening gone for good, the plaster nymphs and cupids, the
tree called a “Monkey Puzzler,” the terrible rockery of clinkers and bad
bricks. Here, as in the house, taste has triumphed over fashion. Inside
the oak panels that had been covered over with hideous wallpapers are
brought to light. The wool mats have vanished, the glass domes over
clocks, the worsted bell-pulls, the druggets and the rep curtains all
gone for good.

Outside, wonders have been worked in the garden. New beds filled with
the choicest Roses and Carnations. Water is now properly conveyed by a
sprinkler. The old water-butt, slimy and falling to pieces, gone to give
place to a well filled concrete tank of water, kept clean and sweet.

One more ghostly sound left, a sound the lonely man unconsciously
listens for as he sits under the tree. On one bough, low growing and
strong, shows the marks deep cut where once depended the ropes of a
swing. In his ears he can sometimes hear the shouts of children and the
creak of the swing ropes, sounds he used to hear in his childhood. And
mingled with the children’s laughter he can hear, very faintly, a boy’s
voice, his own.

Such is the story of an hundred English Gardens, where trees will tell
secrets, and the lawn holds memories, and the paths echo with footsteps
out of the past.

* * * * *




The influence literature has on the mind is nowhere more traceable than
in a garden. A dozen thoughts spring to the mind gathered out of the
store cupboards of remembered reading at the sight of flowers, trees,
sunlit walks, dark alleys. Trees call up romantic meetings, hollow
trunks where lovers have posted their letters, dark shades where vows
have been made, smooth trunks on which are carven twin hearts pierced by
a single arrow and crowned with initials cut into the bark. Gloomy
recesses under spreading boughs remind one of the hiding places of
conspirators, of fugitives.

Sometimes, on a winter’s night, to look into the garden and see the
trees toss and shake with an angry wind, or stand bare, bleak, and black
against the sparkle of a frosty sky, some written thing comes quickly
into the brain almost as if the printed letters stood out clear. There
is one scene of winter and trees comes often to me very full and clear.
It is from the beginning of “Martin Chuzzlewit,” and heralds the
entrance in the story of the immortal Mr. Pecksniff.

“The fallen leaves, with which the ground was strewn, gave forth a
pleasant fragrance, and, subduing all harsh sounds of distant feet and
wheels, created a repose in gentle unison with the light scattering of
seed hither and thither by the distant husbandman, and with the
noiseless passage of the plough as it turned up the rich brown earth and
wrought a graceful pattern in the stubbled fields. On the motionless
branches of some trees autumn berries hung like clusters of coral beads,
as in those fabled orchards where the fruits were jewels; others,
stripped of all their garniture, stood, each the centre of its little
heap of bright red leaves, watching their slow decay; others again still
wearing theirs, had them all crunched and crackled up, as though they
had been burnt. About the stems of some were piled, in ruddy mounds, the
apples they had borne that year; while others (hardy evergreens this
class) showed somewhat stern and gloomy in their vigour, as charged by
nature with the admonition that it is not to her more sensitive and
joyous favourites she grants the longest term of life. Still athwart
their darker boughs the sunbeams struck out paths of deeper gold; and
the red light, mantling in among their swarthy branches, used them as
foils to set its brightness off, and aid the lustre of the dying day.

“A moment, and its glory was no more. The sun went down beneath the long
dark lines of hill and cloud which piled up in the west an airy city,
wall heaped on wall, and battlement on battlement; the light was all
withdrawn; the shining church turned cold and dark; the stream forgot to
smile; the birds were silent; and the gloom of winter dwelt in
everything.

“An evening wind uprose too, and the slighter branches cracked and
rattled as they moved, in skeleton dances, to its moaning music. The
withering leaves, no longer quiet, hurried to and fro in search of
shelter from its chill pursuit; the labourer unyoked the horses, and,
with head bent down, trudged briskly home beside them; and from the
cottage windows lights began to glance and wink upon the darkening
fields.

* * * * *

“It was small tyranny for a respectable wind to go wreaking its
vengeance on such poor creatures as the fallen leaves; but this wind,
happening to come up with a great heap of them just after venting its
humour on the insulted Dragon, did so disperse and scatter them that
they fled away, pell-mell, some here, some there, rolling over each
other, whirling round and round upon their thin edges, taking frantic
flights into the air, and playing all manner of extraordinary gambols in
the extremity of their distress. Nor was this good enough for its
malicious fury; for not content with driving them abroad, it charged
small parties of them, and hunted them into the wheelwright’s saw-pit,
and below the planks and timbers in the yard, and, scattering the
sawdust in the air it looked for them underneath, and when it did meet
with any, whew! how it drove them on and followed on their heels!

[Illustration: IN THE BOTANIC GARDEN, OXFORD.]

“The scared leaves only flew the faster for all this, and a giddy chase
it was; for they got into unfrequented places, where there was no
outlet, and where their pursuer kept them eddying round and round at his
pleasure; and they crept under the eaves of houses, and clung tightly to
the sides of hayricks like bats; and tore in at open chamber windows,
and cowered close to hedges; and, in short, went anywhere for safety.
But the oddest feat they achieved was, to take advantage of the sudden
opening of Mr. Pecksniff’s front door, to dash wildly down his passage,
with the wind following close upon them, and finding the back door open,
incontinently blew out the lighted candle held by Miss Pecksniff, and
slammed the front door against Mr. Pecksniff, who was at that moment
entering, with such violence, that in the twinkling of an eye, he lay on
his back at the bottom of the steps. Being by this time weary of such
trifling performances, the boisterous rover hurried away rejoicing,
roaring over moor and meadow, hill and flat, until it got out to sea,
where it met with other winds similarly disposed, and made a night of
it.”

* * * * *

Is not this wonderful and immortal passage as much a part of the Charm
of Gardens as the most delectable poetry on the perfumed air of a summer
night?

Often, when the logs are crackling on the hearth, one hears those hunted
leaves come banging on the window panes, those gaunt trees tossing in
the wind. When all the garden lies cold and bare and stripped of green,
the trees roar out an answer to the wind, an hundred garden voices swell
the storm, and you sit happy by your fireside and dream new colours for
the garden beds; and where a white frost sparkles on the earth, and
trees lift up bare fingers to the sky, you see deep wealth of green, and
jewelled borders brim full of spring flowers, and there a set of bulbs
you have nursed, come out sweet in green sheathes, and here a tree, now
naked, clothed in young green.

That for the night. For the morning, trailing clouds of mist over the
trees like fairy shawls alive with dew-diamonds, each dew-drop
reflecting its tiny world. The trees, the world, the garden still
asleep, or half asleep, until the sun throws off the counterpane of
clouds and springs into the skies.

It is at that time, before the sun is awake, the trees look strange as
sleeping things look strange, with a counterfeit of death, so still are
they. And in the Spring when the orchard is a pale ghost before the sun
is up, a man would swear it had been covered up at night in silver
smoke, or gossamer, or fairy silk that the sun tears into weeping shreds
that drip and drip and give the grass a bath.

But of the effect of trees as a spiritual support no man is at variance
with another. That they give courage, and help and hope, that the green
sight of them is good as being reminder that Heaven is kind, and that
the Winter is not always, no man doubts but, perhaps, fears to voice,
feeling his neighbour will call out at him for a worshipper of Pan and
of strange gods. But to the garden dweller, or to him who must perforce
make his garden of one tree in a dusty court, and of one glass of
flowers on his desk, these things have voices, and they are kindly
voices, saying, “Despair not,” and “Regard me how I grow upright through
the seasons,” and also “Give shade and shelter to all things and men
equally as I do, without distinction or difference, and if the grass
gives a couch, fair and embroidered with flowers, so do I give a roof of
infinite variety, and a shade from the sun, and a shelter from the
wind.” And again, “If a man know a tree to love it he will understand
much of men, and of birds, and beasts and of all living things. And of
greater things too, for in the branches is other fruit than the fruit of
the tree. Just as the rainbow is set in the sky for a promise, so is
fruit in a tree set there; and the leaves show how orderly is the Great
Plan; and the branches show the strength of slender things, and of
little things, so that a man may know how Heaven has its roots in earth,
and its crest in the clouds. And a man who holds to earth with one hand,
and reaches at the stars with the other, in that span he encompasses all
that may be known if he but see it. But men are blind, and do not see
the sky but as sky, and do not see the stars but as balls of fire, or
the green grass but as a carpet, or the flowers but as a combination of
chemical accidents. But over all, and through all, and in all is God,
Who still speaks with Adam in the Garden.”

These things are to be learnt of trees both great and small, withered
and young, sapling and Oak of centuries. And they are to be learnt also
in the dust on a butterfly’s wing; or of a blade of grass; or of a hemp
seed. But men are deaf, and hear no voice but the voice of water in a
rushing stream; and no sound but the sound of leaves stirring when the
wind rests in a tree; and no voice speaking in a blaze of flowers who
sing praises night and day in scented voices.

A tree is not dumb, and the Creeping Briar is not dumb, and the Rose has
a voice like the voice of a woman rejoicing that she is fair. But men
are dumb, for though their hearts speak, all tongues are not touched
with fire.

So may trees be a solace in trouble, and secrets may be whispered to
bushes of Rosemary and Lavender, who will yield their secret solace of
peace, as the tree yields strength. All these things are written in a
garden in coloured letters of gold, and green, and crimson, in blue and
purple, orange and grey, and they are written for a purpose. And a man
may seek diligently for the secret of this great book and find nothing
if he seek with his head alone. He will tell of the growth of trees,
their years, their nature, their sickness. He will learn of the power of
the sap which flows down from the tips of leaves to the great tree roots
all snug in the soil; and he will learn of the veins in the leaves, and
the properties of the gum of the bark, yet will he never learn that of
which the tree speaks always, night and day—praising.

Of what is the colour of green that the earth’s best page is made of it?
Of what is the colour of young green that it brings, unbidden, tender
thoughts? It is more than the gold of Corn, and the brown of ploughed
earth, and the glory of flowers. By it comes peace to the eyes, and
through the eyes to the heart of man, so that men say of youth and the
times of youth that they are salad days; and of old age, if so be it is
a fine old age, that it is green. It is the colour of the body as blue
is the colour of the soul. The sky and the sea are blue, and they are
things of mystery, deep and profound, and because of their great depth
and profundity they are blue. The grass and the trees, and the leaves of
flowers, and blades of young Corn are green. They are mysterious things
but they are nearer to man, and he has them to his hand to be near them,
and get quick comfort of them.

And Daisies are the stars of the grass, as stars are the Daisies of
Heaven; and if a man look long at the stars set out orderly in the sky
he may become fearful, for God may seem far off and difficult; yet if he
be near he may pick a Daisy and take his fill of comfortable things, for
God will seem near and His voice in the Daisy.

Yet many a man will walk over a field of grass pressing the Daisies with
his feet, and take no heed of them, or of the stars over above his head;
and the night and the day will be to him but light and darkness, and the
stars but lanterns to show him home, and the Daisies but flowers of the
field. But if he be a man who sees all, and in everything can feel the
finger and pulse of God, his staff will blossom in his hand, and he will
go on his way rejoicing.

In this way can man regard the trees in his garden, and speak with them,
loving them, and learning of them, for learning is all of love. And he
may yet be an ordinary man, not poet, or artist, but he must be mystic
because he has the true sight. Many a man, stockbroker, clerk, painter,
labourer, soldier, or whatever he seems to be, has his real being in
these moments, and they are revealed through love or sorrow, but not by
hard learning or text-books.