The Honorary Secretary of the Horticultural Club has invited me to say a few words upon bulbs and bulb-growing in Holland, and feeling anxious to oblige the members I will endeavor to meet your wishes, but the subject has been treated upon so much before that I must request your kind indulgence.

Bulbs or flower roots have for over 250 years been grown and cultivated in the vicinity of Haarlem, and their cultivation has gradually increased in importance until it has reached its present position. Among the admirers and lovers of plants and flowers, bulbous plants have always found many ardent protectors. No doubt the great and constant advance which civilization has made in nearly all quarters of the world has greatly aided to extend the cultivation of flower roots and increase the demand, even in countries where, fifty years ago, there was not a single bulb, and where hyacinths and tulips were nearly unknown.

An advantage which bulbs have over plants in general is, that they have nearly all a yearly period of rest, when they can, without much fear of injury, be packed and exported to the most distant places. An advantage worth mentioning is that after they have done blooming and have grown to their full maturity they require only to be placed in a dry locality, and for a considerable time require no labor or attention. A further important advantage of such bulbs as hyacinths, tulips, etc., is that by artificial treatment they can be brought to grow and flower several months earlier than they would do when kept out of doors and left to their natural development, which for winter-blooming makes them unequalled by any other family among living plants.

I must mention first of all the much-beloved Hyacinth, as being not only one of the most esteemed among bulbs, but also one of the most beautiful, although at the same time the most difficult in cultivation and the most expensive to bring to perfection. The name of this genus originated with the writers of antiquity. Hya-cinthus, a beautiful boy, was the son of a Spartan king and the favorite of Apollo. Zephyrus, being envious of the attachment of Apollo and Hya-cinthus, so turned the direction of a quoit which Apollo had pitched while at play that it struck the head of Hyacinthus and slew him. The fable concludes by making Apollo transform the body of his favorite into a flower that bears his name.

The Hyacinth is a native of the Levant, and was first introduced into England in the year 1596; but it was known to Dioscorides, who wrote about the time of Vespasian. Gerard, in his Herbal published at the close of the sixteenth century, enumerates four varieties - the single and double blue, the purple and the violet. In that valuable book on gardening, "Paradisus in Sole Paradisus Terrestris,"published by John Parkinson in 1629, eight different varieties are mentioned and described. He tells us, " Some are pure white, another is nearly white with a bluish shade, especially at the brims and bottoms of the flowers. Others, again, are of a very faint blush; some are of a deep purple near violet, others of a purple tending to redness, and some of a paler purple. Some, again, are of a fair blue, others more watchet, and some of a very pale blue. After the flowers are past the stem bears a round black seed, great and shining, from which, after sowing and protecting, the new varieties can be obtained." During the 250 years that have passed since the above was published, there has been a steady improvement in the size, form and color of the flowers of this plant.

From the eight varieties of 1629 more than 4000 varieties have been produced, of which, however, the greatest number have become extinct or out of cultivation. Many have been thrown out to make room for the latest improved sorts, of which about 200 only are at present subject to extensive commerce., The Hyacinth is a general favorite in the most extensive application of the word, and the varieties in colors of different shades from the purest white to the deepest shades of scarlet, purple, black, yellow, and violet, are fully equal to that of any other florists' flower. The Hyacinths are usually grown for forcing into flower in the dull cheerless months of winter and early spring, when their delicately colored flowers and rich fragrance lend a charm not otherwise to be obtained. They are equally desirable for planting in beds or in the garden border.

When looking over the cultivation of Hyacinths in Holland, which I have studied practically all my life, I must say that very great changes have taken place during that period in the taste and opinions of what a good Hyacinth should be; and, as a matter of course, this change has considerably influenced the varieties which have been propagated and grown. About sixty to seventy years ago there was a taste in general for the double flowering varieties, and more particularly for the flowers with dark or other colored bold eyes or centres, and I remember the time that a few beds sold by public auction realized very high prices indeed, while the varieties thus sold are not to be found now. These double varieties were mostly very small bulb-producers, which fact contributed very much to their being neglected and to their loss of favor in public estimation; while the considerable increase of trade and, (in consequence of this) also increased competition among nursery and seedsmen abroad, stimulated by the feeling of revival in all branches of trade at the fall of Napoleon, brought on a gradual alteration in the Hyacinth fancy, as every tradesman - excited by the competition of his neighbors - was looking out for the largest sized bulbs among Hyacinths, basing their trade recommendation upon the general but erroneous belief of the general public that naturally the largest bulbs must also produce the largest flower spikes.

The small bulb-producing varieties, however beautiful they might be, could not at that time find buyers, and growers were then compelled to meet the alteration in public taste as quickly as possible, and as this alteration in taste came rather suddenly and much quicker than the slow growth and propagation of the desired sorts could meet, prices at that time rose wonderfully high.