In a pot on your Christmas table or like rows of soldiers’ pastel busbys in a spring border, there’s something historically sweet about the hyacinth.
For this is a flower that rivalled tulip mania in the 1700s, with Louis XV filling his gardens with this fragranced socialite. The creation of some new exciting double flowering versions was partly to blame for the fascination and you can see why with blossoms such as ‘Hollyhock‘. Thousands of new cultivars were bred in days gone by and British Victorians hosted shows to boast of their prime blooms. Today far fewer varieties are available to us, however this needn’t prevent us from sharing a passion from the past.
But let’s wipe the fusty dust of history away for a while and concentrate on the lusty musk instead! Each star shaped floret blows the most perfect of perfumes in a 360 degree direction filling every corner of your room or plot and that, my friends, is not a skill to be ignored.
At this time of year during my childhood, I would start filling the airing cupboard with pot after pot of bulb fibre containing a spherical promise of joy to come. For October is the time to get your prepared hyacinth bulbs ready for Christmas. Keep in the dark until the bud appears and then place on a windowsill, wait and watch. Growing in water filled bulb glasses is a fun alternative to see your hyacinths take shape – as they send their roots down in search of water with all the spreading joy of a bubbling pan of pasta!
My favourite are the blues – ‘Delft Blue‘ in particular – they offer the most scent and an appropriate nod to the blue of the true Asian species. The word hyacinth does in fact refer to blue water (the wet stuff not a large shopping centre in Kent)! A black was introduced in 2005, but to be honest, it’s more of a rich dark purple. Pinks and whites abound, with the odd yellow and red thrown in.
Moving outdoors, plant the non-prepared bulbs in the ground to create a spring time tapestry to tickle your senses. Yellow Queen and Gipsy Queen give a fabulous warming glow or keep it pastel with the good old favourite: Pink Pearl.
Visit www.spaldingbulb.co.uk to look at their amazing range of bulbs!
Written by: Camilla Bassett-Smith