Several weeks ago we hosted a wonderful family gathering at our home. Because of this, we were the lucky recipients of beautifully potted, forced hyacinths.
A Hyacinth, aka Hyacinthus, are bulbous, perennial plants, native to the eastern Mediterranean from the south of Turkey to northern Israel.
Here in Canada, we plant these hardy bulbs in the fall. Come springtime, they grow to a height of 6-8 inches, appearing in our gardens after the snow and (hopefully) any frost has gone.
The Hyacinth was so popular in the 18th century that more than 2,000 cultivars were grown in the Netherlands, its chief commercial producer.
I enjoyed the heady aroma of these spectacular spring flowers very much over the course of the following week. When heading upstairs to our kitchen where the flowers were on display, I could smell them before seeing them. Admittedly, I could get used to that!
After such a long winter, (hopefully behind us now, but with today’s weather, that’s questionable), it was a pure feeling of joy to experience the sight of those blooms and their exquisite perfume.
‘The Death of Hyacinth’ by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. – Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid. Public Domain
These lovely, highly scented Hyacinths earned their name to honour a youth, accidentally killed by his friend and lover, the Greek god Apollo.
Homer wrote that the flowers appeared when the drops of blood from this fallen fellow met the ground.
Many floral enthusiasts like me are curious about botanical symbolism and the history behind flower names.
Any legendary correlations, little known details, quips, lore and tales about the natural world, linking all of it together, are usually a delight to discover!
I suspect any plant one could name, be it flower or tree, has a yarn spinning behind it!
With relation to the natural world, classical literature linked flowers to the gods via epic poems and tales that Homer, Ovid and others have spun, explaining beauty and the creation of so many botanical species.
Others fairy tales include life lessons that even today point out human frailties. Our contemporary society can still learn from these relatable plots as we still manage to trip over our own egos from time to time, not unlike the characters from many a fable.
With that in mind, it’s no wonder to this day we still offer floral tributes honouring people in our lives, marking every event from birth to death, and everything in between, or just because!
As you can see, cats aren’t immune to botanical beauties either. Even my cat Luna likes to stop and smell the flowers!
Have a good weekend, and Happy Gardening!