WE CAN TELL better now what the winter did in damage, and I am glad to notice less harm than most gardeners feared.

No camellia here was killed, though some lost all their leaves. They are now sending out new leaves from the bare branches.

The varieties of C. sasanqua are less hardy to extreme cold than the larger-flowered sorts of C. japonica are. This commonly surprises gardeners, who automatically think the more opulent and gorgeous members of a plant will prove the most tender.

If anybody has gardenias that came through the winter outdoors I would like to know of it, along with details of exposure and mulching, if any. I am reluctantly concluding that gardenias are too tender to grow outdoors here. People on the Tennessee-Mississippi border, however, tell me gardenias there were killed to the ground also.

It gets no colder in Washington than in northern Mississippi, though we have less in the way of summer here. Our warm season starts later and stops sooner, and for many plants hardiness is not fully a matter of extreme cold, but of prolonged cold.

People here do not generally grow such tender roses as 'Marechal Niel,' the great butter-yellow climber of yesterday.But there is no reason an adventurous gardener should not try it on a wall that faces south, especially if it can be given good protection for the first 18 inches of its trunk.

A California nursery kept muttering (when I ordered some roses derived from R. chinensis) that it was too cold here. It seems to me that such roses as 'Mutabilis' are as hardy as the ordinary hybrid teas. This winter I had less damage on my two R. chinensis roses than on 'Cocorico,' a floribunda, or 'Helen Traubel,' a quite vigorous hybrid tea.

In some years figs are badly damaged, and many were killed to the ground this year. Mine was. It is often late May before the new growth comes out, and that was true of mine this year.

The young pomegranate was killed to the ground but sent up plenty of new shoots in May. I have the variety modestly named 'Wonderful.'

Some azaleas were killed, though none at my place. Since mine were unscathed, I like to hint that those that were killed were not properly grown. But sometimes azaleas die in the winter for no good reason, and in any case the gardener gains nothing from reproaching himself. In general, the standard Kurumes, Glenn Dales, Gables, Exburys, etc., were untouched.

Such plants as the China fir, or Cunninghamia, did not lose a needle even on a young plant, and the creeping fig, which is more at home in Savannah than here, pulled through in one place against a shady east wall, though the same vine with a north and a west exposure died. A night jasmine died, even with a heavy mulch of excelsior, against a north wall. My oleander died in a large pot in the unheated garage, though in ordinary winters it manages if given an unheated enclosed shed.

I think I see young oleanders sprouting from seed outdoors.

The Carolina jasmine sulked and refused to bloom, but was not killed back. It grows on a shady west wall.

The old white climbing rose, 'Madame Alfred Carrierre,' did not lose a twig; neither did the thornless Bourbon, 'Zephyrine Drouhin.' I did not expect wither to be damaged, but you never know.

It is almost always said that such usual water-lilies as the hardy 'Chromatella,' 'James Brydon' and so forth will not survive being frozen in a block of ice in the winter. I have noticed repeatedly that 'Yellow Pigmy' endures being frozen solid - with ice 12 inches below its roots as well as 12 inches above them.

The other two proved equally hardy. It is probably not true in general that the usual hardy water-lilies cannot stand freezing about their roots. On the other hand, many quite hardy water-ilies will be killed outright if they are planted as late as September, since the cold comes before they are well anchored and established. The moral, of course, is to plant them in the spring or early August at the latest.

Some gardeners - I heard from three - got their yellow Banksia roses through the winter without woe.

The blue hydrangea with white-variegated leaves did not suffer against a north wall, but the hardy fuchsias died. I should have mulched them.

Lavendar in many gardens lost its leaves, but put out new ones and was not killed back. With me the santolina was killed outright, a real annoyance since I had given it the dry sandy sunny slope it likes.

The only tafetta daffodil I try outdoors is 'Grand Soleil d'Or,' and it perished. It had managed two winters, however, without trouble in a southwest corner.

'I never saw the rue book so bad - it turned yellow and gray and was the deadest looking plant I ever saw, yet burst forth with new leaves when spring finally came. Many of these south European plants can be miffy about prolonged cold and damp.

An uncommon purple-black thinleaf sort of lily turf died and so did the beautiful evergreen blue-fruited Viburnum davidii.

Both these demises put me in a foul humor. Neither one was authorized to die last winter, and I regard it as an unfortunate accident.

In general, however, the winter did no damage to speak of even in the coldest extremity of northwestern washington, apart from anxiety among gardeners. Evergreen magnolias grown in brick planters in some cases died. I always thought it singularly stupid to grow them that way in the first place. They are great forest trees and have no business in a tub.

Finally, I should say that the kerria, which is quite hardy but which has an irritating way of losing twigs here and there in ordinary winters, came through without the loss of even the smallest twig. On the other hand, the aquatic pickerel weed, which grows virtually to the North Pole at the margins of lakes appears to have been killed outright. It is possible the carp ate it, though, and that it was not the cold at all. Thus far they have left the water-ilies alone, though the goldfish used to a certain amount of damage to the leaves in later March.