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I* Divide.





AMONG THE CHERRY ORCHARDS. They who have never been down iB flowery Kent during the spring and early summer can have but little idea how perfectly well bestowed is its title of the Garden of England." It is not merely that every hedge-row of its winding lanes, all the mossy turf that carpets its hazel copses so richly, is vivid with countless wild flowers; but that all the sunny orchards, stretching mile after mile along the eastern division of Kent, are white with scented blossoms, murmurous with the hum of myriad bees. And of this far-stretching tract of flowery beauty every individual tree is like an enormous nosegay, every gnarled bough and slender twig being enwrea.thed so closely by the snowy blossoms as to be invisible. Not even the famous hop-gardens of East Kent are kept more trimly, or are lovelier in their day, than the orehards of the fruit district; and if the hop-grower at the end of a successful season occasionally clears large sums the cherry grower is probably as great a gainer by his more moderate returns, since, while the ex- pense of hop cultivation is in all seasons heavy, comparatively no outlay is required for that of fruit. The trees are planted in rows, with alleys wide enough between them to admit air and sunshine freely. They are of rapid growth, and begin to bear early; long-lived also, since many a stately ornament of the orchard has put forth those myriad blossoms for nigh upon a hundred springs. After the first weeks of May, their lovely garniture is shed rapidly; and now the rich turf beneath the trees is white as if with December snows; but the trees themselves are green with a peculiarly soft and lustrous foliage, and the young fruit already clusters thickly among them. If the season is favourable the fruit swells rapidly, and towards the end of June the cherry season commences. And now begins, also, the harvest work of the rural population of Kent. The cherry season, usually lasting six weeks, is succeeded by the grain harvest and kopping, which ends for the year the healthful days among the orchards and sunny fields of fertile Kent. The oherry picking, like the hopping, is performed almost entirely by women, and these not the class de- nominated field women, but wives and daughters of the respectable labourer and small shopkeeper, who look forward to the season as one of healthy recreation as well as of remunerative employment. Each woman has a ladder, which a man, told off for this particular service to a certain number of women, moves into position as she requires. Many of the trees are thirty or forty feet in height, but into its wilderness of boughs and leaves she mounts1 fearlessly, and stands perched aloft while she robs the slender topmost boughs of their burden of shining fruit-delicate amber, deep coral, or lustrous black, as the case may be. The plucked fruit she deposits in a basket suspended round her waist; the contents of these baskets are after- wards collected into those called sieves, in which they are sent to Marl-et.-The Quiver. —

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