As soon as I opened the front door I knew. A long-lost scent hit my nostrils, richly fragrant and unashamedly old-school floral. The hyacinths had opened. I smiled and shut the door against the dank and rainy night.
At the risk of losing whatever horticultural ‘street cred’ I may (or may not) possess, I’m going to say it loud and proud. I love hyacinths! They are so proud, so unashamed, so un-reconstructed you have to admire their nerve, like a mad aunty who wears floor length purple velvet and pearls to meet the milkman, and despite being nearly ninety won’t be seen dead outside without a bit of lippy.
It’s testament to how long they’ve been popular that they’ve been bred in every colour from pure white to almost black, with yellows, reds, blues and pretty much every colour in between. They’re all easy to grow, and every one packs an amazing punch (much like a certain aunty I can think of) in the fragrance department. Subtle they ain’t, but who needs subtlety when you have something as colourful, easily grown and fragrant – that flowers in JANUARY!
The only problem most people face with hyacinths is that the flowers can be so heavy that they have a tendency to flop over. This is easily overcome by inserting a few lengths of willow or other twiggy material into the pots as the flowers start to open. I went into the garden and cut some stems of pussy willow (which can also be bought in florists) – if you’re lucky the stems will root by the time the flowers have faded. Furthermore, both can be planted out in the garden to give years of pleasure to come. What’s not to like?
Bakker Spalding stock a fantastic range of hyacinths, both spring flowering and “prepared”(for flowering in the winter months. Fresh stock will be available to order from August.