IT is not only the hips and the haws, the holly and the honeystickle that this year have seemed to vie with each other in the splendour of their berries. Yews everywhere are alight with their tiny waxen fruits. loveliest of all Christmas decorations if the birds will leave some of them for our Cribs.
It always annoys me to hear yews referred to as dark and sombre graveyard trees. If they have become so through neglect, it is our doing. The yew tree needs care and pruning, as do other trees. and more than any other lends itself
gardener's as takes the ardener's mind To such caprice In topiary elaborate Of Pliny's Tuscan villa, or the state Of royal palace and of country Tortured to such conceit
As chessmen, dragons, elephants resigned carry howdahs; obelisk most neat.
ne Pyramids mocking Egypt, canonballs Forever static on their verdant
The poet may justly complain of such conceits, but trimming and shaping the yew need not go to the length of torturing it. We have. in our garden, two yew trees of equal age; one has been trimmed yearly until its close cone-shaped form rises to a fine point on which passing birds love to perch and from which they survey their surroundings; the other has been allowed to grow as it pleases, and its boughs are dark and shaggy. while the little pointed tree shines glossy and compact, its leaves smoothly perfect and nothing but the green cups left from its berries; the
birds have taken every one, while the larger unkempt tree still has fruit untouched.
mention this fact for what it is worth—and that seems to be that there is greater sweetness on the berry of the clipped tree than on that "left to Nature."
The soft waxen-looking flesh surrounding the seed of the yew is what the birds enjoy, and one day last week I watched a hen blackbird and a thrush having (not at the same time) large meals from one single yew branch. Their methods of approach were interesting.
The blackbird balanced herself precariously on the swaying branch and pecked at the downward growing berries, flying off from time to time with one in her mouth.
The thrush flew up from the ground: time and again he would flutter up, snatch a berry. fluster down, and start all over again.
Each in its turn was having so obviously uncomfortable a time that I concluded the berries must be particularly tasty, for the holly trees, usually at this time of year the centre of much competition, are not nearly so much in demand just now, when the yews have put forth such an unprecedented amount of berry. We have. perhaps, this to thank for the unusually loud, clear and prolonged song of the mistle-thrush, who started singing early in November and will continue, 1 hope. up to Christmas, for with that bold, triumphant song, and the sweeter lay of the robin, even the coming of the shortest day can be viewed with equanimity. Nordic mythology placed mistletoe under the protection of Freya, goddess of love. We of today hang it up in our homes to welcome Love Himself. born in the poor mangers of our hearts,