Irish Independent Weekend Magazine 4 April 2015
There are not many plants that lend themselves to both indoor and outdoor use. One of the flowers most associated with Spring is the highly scented Hyacinth. This pretty plant is available in many colour variations and grows happily both indoors and shows it’s face from early to late spring in the garden. The common garden Hyacinth-Hyacinth orientalis- originates in Anatolia and was first brought to Europe in the 16th Century by a German Doctor named Leonhardt Rauwolf, who collected some Hyacinths in Turkey.
The slender stems and leaves emerge first from the bulb, forming a teardrop shape at the top. This can be watched closely when the bulbs are forced indoors, particularly in small vases which you can get specifically for this purpose. It’s fascinating to place the bulb into a glass vase and watch the roots grow into the water and the fleshy green leaves rise day by day. When the flower finally raises its colourful head the growth seems to pick up dramatically and you will see changes every day. The fascinating thing about forcing the plants indoors is that you can do this even in the winter, the Hyacinth being able to withstand the warmth of our indoor temperatures on a windowsill and they are a wonderful plant to create an indoor display in the months when there is not a lot out there bar florist planting.
I love any stories and myths associated with flowers and this one has a fascinating one attached to it. In Greek mythology Hyacinth is a beautiful youth and divine hero who was the lover of the radiant God Apollo. He was also admired by Zephir, the west wind. In a game of flying discus, Hyacinth is struck by a flying disk which Zephir has blown off-course in a fit of jealousy. Apollo then made a flower out of the spilled blood of the dying Hyacinth, his tears staining the flower with signs of his grief. You have to love the drama!
The Victorians loved this plant for scent and early colour and planted them in rows of colour. In the Victorian language of flowers the plant is said to symbolise sport and play and the blue hyacinth is said to symbolize honesty and sincerity.
Growing naturally in the garden the flowers of these scented beauties will be later. The natural flowering time being March/April. In my own garden the Hyacinths have just started to show their colourful spires and some are staring to open fully now. I planted them in autumn in a small border near the house and chose a colour scheme of dusty pinks and deep magenta purples.The spacing of plant to plant should be about 10 cm apart and 10 cm deep. I have planted them in a scattered pattern and interspersed them with some evergreen Saxifraga x urbium, which give the scheme a little structure. For these pictures I have planted a triangle of them into a ceramic Raku bowl. Simple and elegant but striking in effect and colour.
There are not many perfumes that really pick up on the true scent of the Hyacinth: the green foliage, the soil and the intense, heady flower. Tom Fords Ombre de Hyacinth is a stunning yet earthy scent which represents all these and makes you feel like you have stepped right into a field of Hyacinths.