[A name from ancient Mythology.]
"Hyacinth,' with sapphire bell Curling backwards."
"The youths whose locks divinely spreading, Like vernal Hyacinths in sullen hue."
Is a highly esteemed florist's flower, of easy culture, of which more than one thousand varieties are cultivated in Holland, forming quite an important item in the exports of that country, and from whence, Great Britain, the United States, and all Europe, and, in fact, all parts of the world, receive their annual supplies. Hyacinths are double and single; of various colors, embracing every shade of red, from a deep crimson pink, down to white; of blue, from white to almost black, and some few yellow and salmon color; but the shades of yellow are not very brilliant, and appear yellow only in contrast with the white. Some of the white, and other light varieties, have red, blue, purple or yellow eyes, which add much to the beauty of the flower; and others are more or less striped or shaded; and some are tipped with green. The double varieties are generally considered the finest, but many of the' single sorts are equally desirable, as what is deficient in the size of the bells, is made up in the greater number of them; some of the single sorts are the richest in color.
The stem of a fine double Hyacinth should be strong, tall, and erect, supporting numerous large bells, each suspended by a short and strong pedicel, or foot-stalk, in a horizontal position, so that the whole may have a compact pyramidal form, with the crowning, or uppermost bell, perfectly erect.
The bells should be large and very double; that is, well filled with broad petals, appearing to the eye rather convex, than flat or hollow; they should occupy about one-half the length of the stem.
The colors should be clear and bright, whether plain red, white, or blue, or variously intermixed, or diversified in the eye; the latter, when it occurs, gives additional lustre and elegance to this beautiful flower.
Strong bright colors are, in general, preferred to such as are pale; there are, however, many rose-colored, pure white, and light blue Hyacinths, in high estimation. Hyacinths begin to flower the last of April in this climate, and, if shaded by an awning from hot suns, may be kept in perfection the greater part of a month. They never require watering at any season. Keep them free from weeds, and as the stems advance in height, they should be supported by having small sticks, or wires, painted green, stuck into the ground back of the bulb, to which they should be neatly tied; otherwise, they are liable to fall down by the weight of the bells, and, as the stem is very brittle, it is sometimes broken, off when exposed to storms.
The most suitable time to plant Hyacinths is in October and November. The finer sorts will appear to the best advantage in beds, while the more common varieties may be distributed about the borders where most convenient.
The dimensions of the bed should be marked out, and the soil taken entirely away to the depth of two feet; the earth on the bottom should then be dug and well pulverized, and the space above filled with the following compost:-
"Four parts of river sand; four of fresh, sound earth; three of rotten cow dung, at least two years old; and one of decayed leaves, or decayed peat. The fresh, sound earth of the compost should be of the best quality of what is called virgin soil, or that obtained from pastures or the roadside; or, if that is not attainable, the best garden mould, free from noxious vermin of every description. These ingredients should be well mixed and incorporated a considerable time before wanted. About ten days before planting, the bed should be filled up with the compost, even with the path, or so as to be even when the roots are set. The surface of the bed should be raked perfectly smooth before planting, and the exact situation for every bulb marked on it as follows:-
WRBWRBWRB RBWRBWRBW WRBWRBWRB
The letters R, b, w, denote the color of the flower to be planted there, viz.: red, blue, or white; under these heads, all Hyacinths may be comprehended, except a few yellow sorts, which may be classed with the white." The bed should be four feet wide; the bulbs to be planted eight inches distant from each other in the rows, and to be covered four inches deep. First, place about one inch of fine sand where each root is to be placed, then press the bulb into the soil nearly its whole thickness, and cover it completely with fine clean sand. ' Having completed the planting, the whole may be covered with sound, fresh, sandy earth, four inches deep. Before winter sets in, Hyacinths should be covered a few inches deep with leaves, straw, meadow hay, or any other light substance; they are, however, perfectly hardy, but the bloom is more perfect when thus covered. In selecting bulbs, be careful to procure good sound roots; for an imperfect root is not worth planting, and there are many sold every year, by thousands, at auction, which are generally the refuse of the Dutch gardens. A good root is perfectly hard, and bright, without specks of rot upon it, and one that has not pushed a bud. Roots of the finest varieties can be purchased for fifteen to twenty dollars per hundred, with their names and colors; and very fair sorts for less; and mixed sorts, with colors distinct, from six to ten dollars a hundred.
In about one month after the bloom is over, and the foliage begins to turn yellow, the bulbs may be taken up; then cut off the flower stems, but not the foliage, and, having prepared a sloping bed of light earth, the bulbs may be laid upon it, so as not to touch, with the foliage downwards, covering the roots and fibres with earth. Here they remain till the bulbs are sufficiently ripened, which will be in about a fortnight, when they may be taken up,, and, after they have been dried, cleared from the fibres, soil, etc., they are wrapped up in papers, dry sand, or dry sawdust, and kept in a dry place until wanted for use. Or the roots may remain in the bed until the foliage has completely died down, and then taken up, dried and cleaned, as before stated.