"Hyacinth, with sapphire bell Curling backwards."
"The youths whose locks divinely spreading, Like vernal Hyacinths in sullen hue."
The Hyacinth 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, receive their annual supplies, and, in fact, all parts of the world. 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 bell 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 peduncle, or foot-stalk, in a horizontal position, so that the whole may have a compact pyramidal form, with the crown, 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, it must be confessed, 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; 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: "One third river or sea sand; one third fresh, sound earth; one fourth rotten cow dung, at least two years old; and one twelfth of earth, 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, well rotted; or, if that is not obtainable, 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 :
a: RBWRBWRBW WRBWRBWRB
b: RBWRBWRBW WRBWRBWRB.
c: 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 substances; 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 many there are, sold every year by thousands, at auction, which are generally the refuse of the Dutch gardens. A good root is 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.
In about one month after the bloom is over, and the foliage begins to turn yellow, the bulbs may be taken up, cutting 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 one fortnight, when they may be taken up, and, after they have been dried, cleaned from the fibres, soil, etc., then 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 dried down, and then taken up, dried and cleaned, as before stated.
The Starry Hyacinth, or Scilla Peruviana, is a very pretty bulbous-rooted plant, with dark blue starry flowers in May and June, worthy a place in the border in large collections of plants, - nine inches high.
The Grape Hyacinth, Muscari mosckatum, is a pretty, hardy, bulbous-rooted plant, with dark, light blue, or white lowers, having a strong smell of musk. M. monstrosum, or Feathered Hyacinth, is a most ornamental, hardy border flower; the bulb is large, ovate and solid; the leaves narrow, a foot long, with obtuse points; the flower-stalks rise nearly a foot and a half high; they are naked at the bottom for about seven or eight inches, above which the panicles of flowers begin, and terminate the stalks. The flowers stand upon the peduncles, which are more than an inch long, each sustaining three, four, or five flowers, whose petals are cut into slender filaments, like hairs; they are of a purplish-blue color, and, having neither stamens nor germs, never produce seeds. M. botryoides is another pretty species, with varieties of blue, white, and flesh-colored flowers, all small, bulbous-rooted plants, obtained from Holland as species of Hyacinths, with solid bulbs, producing spikes of pretty, bell-shaped flowers a foot high, flowering in June. All are hardy, and may be planted in any good garden soil, about three inches deep, five or six roots in a group; they need not be taken up oftener than once in three years, and then should not be kept long out of the ground.