'White Pearl' Hyacinth

"If, of thy mortal goods, thou art bereft,
And from thy slender store two loaves
alone to thee are left,
Sell one & from the dole,
Buy Hyacinths to feed the soul"

-Muslihuddin Sadi,
13th Century Persian Poet

"If I had but two loaves of bread
I would sell one of them
& buy White Hyacinths to feed my soul."

-Elbert Hubbard


I used to have a slight mild dislike for Oriental Hyacinths, because my tastes run toward the subtlties of woodland gardens, wherein spring flowers big as footballs sitting on the ground are the very opposite of subtle.

But that rich beautiful scent that fills a garden, & does not require the nose to get down & inside the bloom to notice it is there, won me over to having hyacinths. And now I look forward to their big flowers returning every March & April, though I do tend to tuck them in locations where their bright presence will seem more subdued.

The standard white hyacinth is 'White Pearl,' a 1954 introduction. It is a fine thing to bring light to locations near the shadowed driplines of large shrubs or small trees. These are locations that have full sun either in the morning or afternoon, but are rather dark when the sun is to a shrub's or tree's further side.

In their wild state, Oriental hyacinthus are native of Greece & Turkey. Their blooms (florets) resemble lilac blooms, but upright on short stalks, & are invariably strongly scented.

Granny Artemis finds the perfume of the more redolent daffodils & of hyacinths a bit too overwhelming to bring in the house, & it's true that a flower that can fill the open garden with pleasing perfumes can in a closed room be too much. A single hyacinth in a large bouquet of mixed spring blooms can be more than enough.

Hyacinths do force very easily for anyone who wants to see spring flowers while it's still winter, & who are fond of very flowery scents. There are several methods but one is to keep the bulbs in the bottom of the refrigerator until you're ready to start potting them up. Pot them serially through autumn, then place the pots in a cool dark area such as the garage or unheated basement, & when budding shoots start to poke out about eight weeks later, bring them to a well lit window in a warm room.

By this method the bulbs will be tricked into thinking it's spring & the flowers will develop rapidly. If this is done in a staggered manner it will be possible to have hyacinths flowering indoors from October through January.


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