FARRER'S buddliea did not lose a leaf in the terrible winter, and is sitting there splendid and I am highly suspicious of it.

Tropical fish often color gorgeously just before they die, and humans often look better and ruddier than usual just before they come down with pneumonia.

I would feel better about this half-tender shrub (it is more tender than the usual garden buddleias, which are showier and hardier and which most gardeners would choose) if its leaves were discolored and a few twigs had died back.

Then I would know it had survived after a struggle, but as it is, this display of blooming health bodes ill, surely.

Not that gardeners very often have to worry about things looking overly satisfied. I have an uncommon pyracantha, the only plant I possess whose name I have forgot, that sulks.

For several years it has operated on the theory of waste not, want not, and has added about eight new leaves in four years. It flowered once, grudgingly, and bore half an ounce of rather ordinary berries. I could not say, if anyone asked me, why I grow it or what I expect it to do.

Almost any vine, to mention another anxiety, is highly tempting to me and I thank God we do not have a Vine Shop in the neighborhood or I'd have planted hundreds before now. Whether I have a place for a particular vine or not, appears to make no difference.

Back of the fish pool I set up four posts connected with arched panels and thought, rightly, a vine would be nice to reflect in the water.

So first I planted a lovely rose, "Felicite et Perpetue," which sends out long thin utterly pliable (until you try to bend them too sharply) canes and for about 10 days a year bears clusters of vaguely fragrant white pompom blooms. They look rather nice against the black arches.

But then I got carried away one day with the early fall blooming vine, Polygonum aubertii, the fleece vine, with a foam of tiny white bloom all over the leaves around Labor Day. It is both common and weedy and likes to grow 40 feet or so. Surely that would be no problem, I reflected, as I planted it at the base of a pole where it would have a good 12 feet to flourish in.

On a third pole I planted a rose I raised from seed, a recurrent thorny creature with clusters of fragrant single blooms somewhat like blackberry flowers only pink. Both the fleece vine and the other rose have surreptitiously slunk along the ground and tried infiltrating the pink rose; indeed, one summer I whacked back the pink rose, thinking it was a weed and greatly encouraged the rose stems going up the pole, only to discover it was F&P that had invisibly crept along the ground from its own pole and was now heading for the stars.

This was corrected, of course.

The fleece vine, if nibbled on by shears, responds by sending out vigorous shoots elsewhere, and it is rather a chore to keep clipping it all summer. It is even a greater chore to cut it back to a main stem in March, since it makes a glorious tangle and you can hardly see (tottering on a ladder) which stem leads where, and you commonly cut through the stem you wanted to lead along a wire. Et cetera.

But if you persist -- noticing the interesting effect when the tangle of fleece vine is threaded through with the thin thorny shoots of the rose -- you lose less than a gallon of blood, after all, and wind up in only four hours with the rose and fleece vine fairly neat and trim. It will take at least four weeks of warm growing weather to create an insoluble tangle again.

The problems of spring growth may never touch me, of course, since I am about to plant seeds of Australian flowers and do not know whether death by boiling or frying is preferable.

With Thysanotus multiflora, the fringe lily, you sow the seed in a pot, then cover with a thin layer of gravel. On top of this you make a little pile four inches high of dry leaves, then set the leaves on fire.

"Experiments have shown that this method ensures good germination in approx. 30 days," the directions say.

The other seeds, Clianthus speciosus, of the Sturt Pea, are not set afire but have boiling water poured on them.

I had not realized, during the happy days I once spent in Australia, that life was so rugged for seeds there.

I guess it is, everywhere.