GOLDEN GATE PARK is about five miles from the heart of San Francisco. It comprises a large, mountainous tract of country, covered with native and foreign trees and shrubs. Excellent carriage-roads and walks wind around the hills in every direction.

My attention was principally attracted by a large conservatory, covering an area of about an acre. This building contains a variety of tropical plants and flowers. Among other curiosities I saw a cactus twelve feet high and eighteen inches in diameter; also the ginger plant from the Sandwich Islands. The blue lily of the Nile, called the rose of Egypt, with many other plants mentioned in the Bible, interested me very much. Visitors are strictly forbidden to touch the plants, but through the courtesy of Mr. Monroe, the superintendent, I received several choice flowers, with much interesting information concerning them.

At the time of my visit, on the evening of September 11, the conservatory was lighted by forty Chinese lanterns, and three headlights, such as are seen on locomotives, making it nearly as light as day. A public announcement had been made that at 8 p. m. it, the Victoria Regia would be in full bloom. It is said that there are but three of these plants in the country, and I gladly availed myself of the opportunity to see so rare and beautiful a specimen of the vegetable creation.

On account of its size, beauty, and rich fragrance, the Victoria Regia is called the queen of lilies, and also of all aquatic flowers. It was first discovered about seventy years ago, in Central America, and was afterward found in different parts of South America. In 1849 it was carried to England and placed in the royal gardens.

The habits of this plant are somewhat singular. It will grow from the seed, and begin to bloom in about four months from the time of planting. The seed should be planted in April, and the flowers appear in August and September. A single plant bears, the first year, from twenty-five to thirty blossoms, on separate stalks; it has fewer the second year, and ceases to bloom after the third year, although it has been known to live on for twenty years. The flower is in full bloom in forty-eight hours after it begins to unfold. It opens in the night, and partially closes during the day. When in bloom, it rises on its stem about nine inches above the water, as if to say, Behold, the beauty with which the wisdom of God has clothed me!

When examined under a microscope, this flower surpasses in richness all others, which I ever beheld. The full-blown flower is about fourteen inches in diameter, and in form and color resembles the white water lily. On the third day the petals change to pink, and on the fourth day the flower closes, and sinks below the surface of the water, nevermore to rise.

The leaves of the plant are round, tough, very large, and flat, with a rim around the edge. In its native country the leaves are said to be twelve feet in diameter, and are sometimes used instead of boats for a short ride on the water. The plant, which I saw had seven leaves, the largest about seven feet in diameter. They supported the weight of a person weighing one hundred and ten pounds. The upper side of the leaf is green and smooth; the under side is dark crimson, and covered, along the veins, with strong prickles. From the time the leaf makes its first appearance it is fourteen days in reaching its full size.  As I looked upon this magnificent plant I could but think, if this earth, which for six thousand years has groaned under the curse, can now produce flowers of such beauty, what will the new earth bring forth, after having received the finishing touch of the Divine Architect!