THE UPSHOT of it all is that 'February Gold' opened one day late.

This admirable early daffodil usually opens March 17 as I grow it, and this it dawdled until March 18. So the outrageous late winter storms made no great difference in the long run.

Also, fortune favors those (sometimes) who do things when they can, not when they should. In mid-December I planted some young hollies, about waist high.

Now everybody knows hollies are best planted either in late March or early September, not the middle of December. I was horrified, but not especially surprised, when four-fifths of the leaves turned black, then withered to a crisp brown.

But I have been patiently cutting them off, one by one, and it seems to me that even the smallest twigs are supple and green and will leaf out in a few weeks.

It is odd the way things in a garden move about. I have some crocuses I am sure I never planted. A great favorite of mine is the one called 'Whitewell Purple' which I read somewhere is sterile. Nevertheless, several crocuses that look like seedlings of it have popped up a few feet away.

Once in Virginia I was told that bulldozers and other earth-moving equipment account for thousands of daffodils appearing along roadsides there. The bulbs are simply caught up in earth-moving operations. Something of the kind must account for a tulip springing up in a path, doubtless from a tiny bulb offset riding free on a clump of grass that was pulled from a flower border and somehow surviving.

One of these years I hope to get a photograph of Clematis texensis , which is not "rare," and is an American native, but which is exceedingly rare in gardens.

Clematis specialists sometimes list it, but tend to be sold out when you order it. I foiled them.

The only source of this plant I could find in America wrote to say he only had a tiny plant, too small to sell. But I said send it along and it would be my fault if it died.

It arrived with four tiny leaves.It lived in a pot for a year and did nothing much except retain its leaves and send forth a feeble second shoot.

Not to go on forever about it, I see it has sprouted through the earth on March 19, though it will possibly be another year or two before it blooms. This is the clematis that has nodding flowers like cherry-rose-scarlet thimbles.

Years ago I bought it for a few cents at a North Carolina wildflower nursery. Now you have to go through hell to find it.

Assuming there may be some preliminary questioning (if not outright refusal) when nurserymen approach heaven, I expect the first question to be asked of clematis nurserymen will be:

"And why, exactly, did you not keep a stock of C. texensis coming along for gardeners?"

'Lady Betty Balfour' is a dark blue-purple clematis that blooms a few weeks later than most, and I like it chiefly because it is the only survivor of several sorts I planted at the same time.

I love to reread, therefore, the sentences in clematis articles and books that say she is rather chancy, possibly a bit more difficult than others.

She is in rather too damp a spot, which is probably why she is alive and the others not. We have much to learn about damp spots.

Once in a fit of haste I stuck the old iris 'Cream Chiffon' in a virtual clay bog where the earth never died out at all.

And you know how one's attention is easily diverted in a garden and how easily one gets far behind. So instead of moving it, I let it stay there several years.

During this time I had one of those occasional visitations of rhizome rot, in which virtually every clump in the garden was strangely affected. But 'Cream Chiffon,' which is an easy rotter (it often rotted when others did not) sat there like a green bay tree.

In the course of centuries, I did move it to a better spot where, needless to say, it developed rhizome rot within the year.

I notice the peach tree buds are swelling. This may be the place to say I do not know where they get those pictures of dwarf peach trees that you see in garden catalogues, in which a woman who suggests Marilyn Monroe is languidly reaching her hand out to pluck peaches from her dwarf tree which is mature and no taller than she.

I have not noticed much difference between "dwarf" peach trees and standard ones. On our rich deep heavy soils, the trees grow large.

I grow a peach called 'Dawn' because it was supposed to have large rich pink flowers, and it certainly does. Nothing, to my mind, is as beautiful as peaches in flower, except maybe pears.

But I could not remember whether 'Belle' or 'Belle of Georgia' as it is usually called, had fine flowers or not. It doesn't. The tree can be in full bloom and yet not be very handsome. The fruit, needless to say, is superb, but I grumble that it doesn't have splendid flowers as well. They do not bloom unit April, of course.

Where I grew up it was too warm for apples, and I always thought them rather exotic trees, like spruces and hemlocks and (on a lesser scale) tundra. I see they are beautiful in flower, but they never move me by their beauty as peaches do.In gardening, as in much else, our response to beauty depends a good bit on the conditioning of childhood rather than on any objective gorgeousness.

A flatlander, I do not admire mountains. If I see an Alp, I cannot help thinking how much work it would be to level it off for cotton. CAPTION: Illustration, Detail from a 15th-century Persian tile panel-Courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art