Wednesday, 27 April 2011


Yesterday morning, wrapped like it was mid-Winter (the temperature is ten degrees colder today), I replanted all this winter's hyacinths. I always fill the house with bowls of pink, blue and white hyacinths because I love the smell and I love their way of never letting you down. They always flower on time and produce a lovely show. But one flowering in this forcing situation and they have done their best. But it always seems a shame to throw them on the compost heap, so I put them into the garden - into the bottom of the hedge with the primroses and the cowslips.

They flower again for a few years, but what happen is they flower like their wild brothers and sisters - they revert back to becoming little more than blue bells. Nothing wrong with that - they retain their brilliant colours and look really pretty.

When I came indoors I spent half an hour looking up hyacinths and finding out a bit about their name. This is what I found. In mythology, Hyacinthus was a handsome youth much-loved by Apollo. He was killed by a jealous Zephyrus, who diverted a discus to hit him. As he lay dying on the ground the hyacinth sprang from his blood. A three day festival was thereafter held in his honour at Sparta. And the petals of the hyacinth are marked with AI, AI - the sound of grief. The wild bluebells don't have this mark. Next year I shall look carefully at the petals!

I then found that Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote about bluebells in one of his poems - about the sound that they make when they grow in such profusion in our native woodlands. He says that they rub together in the breeze, "making a brittle rub and jostle, like the noise of a hurdle, strained by leaning against it." I now need to go to a nearby blue bell wood to listen for that too.

This morning, whilst eating my porridge, I watched a curious ritual between two house sparrows on the hedge, just outside the kitchen window. I can only assume it was a mating ritual - this being the time of year when the birds seem to think of little else. One of the pair held a feather in its beak. They did a bit of dancing about and then the other bird took the feather and repeated the whole process. This went on for some time until somebody walked into the farmyard and they flew away, leaving the feather on top of the hedge.

Someone in this morning's paper says that throughout life one is rushing from pillar to post, working, housekeeping, bringing up children and ferrying them from A to B. It is only when one retires that one has time to look into the little things. Reading the above I say "amen" to that.


Dinesh chandra said...

great post.


dinesh chandra

mrsnesbitt said...

Hyacinths - truly lovely!

Reader Wil said...

What a lovely post! Hyacinths and mating sparrows are parts of a very romantic scene. I love bluebells. And to my surprise I saw them outside my garden. I think I am going to dig them up and put them in my back yard.

Heather said...

What a fascinating myth about the hyacinth Pat. We are amused by the amorous antics of wood pigeons which clatter up and down our roof in hobnailed boots! Among my mother's papers was a handwritten poem - 'Leisure' by William Henry Davies - which my father had copied down. You will know that the first two lines are -
'What is this life if full of care
we have no time to stand and stare?' I always try to make time to stand and stare.

angryparsnip said...

What a wonderful post today. I did not know any of that about Hyacinths. I am so surprised about the the fact that when you plant them outside they revert to Bluebells. I must Google that.
"I put them into the garden - into the bottom of the hedge with the primroses and the cowslips."
What a beautiful sentence.
I so agree with your last paragraph.

cheers, parsnip

H said...

I love the smell of hyacinths. We have quite a number in our garden too; indoor bulbs planted out after their winter showing. They still retain some of their scent.

Rarelesserspotted said...

Like many of your readers, the smell of winter hyacinths in the house is beautiful. My three pots with nine bulbs have been out on the patio for a few weeks now and I'm waiting for the leaves to die down and you have inspired me to plant them up; I couldn't decide whether or not to recycle them.

Jane Moxey said...

I have several hyacinths too, near a path and steps to our front gate. When they start to bloom, I always say: "Hiya! Cynth!" in greeting. Every year their flowers are so heavy and the stalks so short that they fall over like fainting soldiers on a parade ground! Thanks for all the research and interesting details!

Pomona said...

It's important to take time to stand and stare ... I always plant out my hyacinths in the garden after flowering - I just can't bear to waste them, and it's amazing how long they do go on looking pretty at a time of year when there isn't much else around.

Pomona x

Hildred said...

Eyes to see and ears to hear and a soul to appreciate! Love your story of the little birds, Pat.

Cloudia said...

I suppose grave markers say "Rest in Peace" to make death seem more palatable to us tired folks!

Warm Aloha from Honolulu

Comfort Spiral




Dartford Warbler said...

We too have little groups of "retired" hyacinths in the garden. Some were from bowls that my late mother had in her bedroom and are a poignant reminder of her. She loved flowers and the scent of indoor winter bulbs.

Dave King said...

Lovely post. Curiously, I saw two house sparrows recently with a feather, passing it back and forth. Even more curiously, it didn't strike me at the time that it might be a mating ritual, but I see now that it very well might have been. Once again, I am so pleased to have visited.

Midlife Roadtripper said...

I think what I love about blogging is that those I read take the time to notice such treats of nature and beauty. That they've taught my eye to slow down and notice. Even slower I must go.

I, too, love the scent of the hyacinth.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thank you for replying.