This section is from the book "The Gardener V1", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
Subjoined is a list of the best Hyacinths exhibited this year at the London shows, and also at the Exhibition of Spring Flowers at the Crystal Palace by Messrs Downie, Laird, & Laing, of Forest Hill: - Alba Maxima, Grandeur a Merveille, Gigantea, Mont Blanc, Blanche, Formidable, in whites; Fabiola, Howard, Koh-i-noor, Cavaignac, Yon Schiller, Garibaldi, Solfaterre, and Veuirback, in reds; Lord Melville (new, dark-blue with white eye), King of the Blues, Charles Dickens, General Havelock, Marie, Grand Lilas, Prince of Wales (new, fine large bells), Prince Albert of Prussia (the finest black-blue in cultivation), in blues; Ida, fine yellow; Haydee, fine violet; Lady Twyll and Lord Cairns, promising new red flowers; General Pelissier, Macaulay, and A. Prinsen.
The above list includes only varieties that can be relied on. Of course, the new varieties want proving. There is great variety of colour, and great variety of price.
I think the Hyacinth is generally grown in a compost of too close a character; a rich and very sandy compost suits them well, - the grittier the sand is the better. It is also well to bear in mind the hardy character of this flower; keeping it too much shut up only produces lanky foliage. Never on any account allow the plants to become dry, but keep them well supplied with water: in forcing, a temperature of 55° to 60° suits them well.
Messrs Downie, Laird, & Laing are to be congratulated for the fine display of Tulips, Crocuses, Cyclamens, Primulas, etc, which, in addition to the large collection of Hyacinths, rendered the west transept of the Crystal Palace quite gay during the fortnight the Exhibition was held.
We considered it well worth a visit, and trust that this the first exhibition of spring flowers will be continued in succeeding years by the firm. R. P. B.