Old House Gardens
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Page 2 of Heirloom Hyacinth Bulbs       << Previous 1 2
double HOLLYHOCK, 1936
Small and cute, with double, pug-faced florets of vivid rose, ‘Hollyhock’ is unmistakably antique. Always last to bloom, it extends the fragrant season. 8-10”, zones 5a-8a(10bWC), from Holland. Chart to compare.
HY32Add to basket:3/$11.505/$18.5010/$3425/$77.5050/$144
KING OF THE BLUES, 1863        Rarest
Although most hyacinths today are a bit stout, this fabulous ‘King’ retains the narrow, pillar-like shape that was the norm long ago. Its amazing color, though, is what has preserved it — a deep, rich, dark purple that’s as satisfying as the darkest choclolate. 10-12”, zones 5a-8a(10bWC), from the UK National Collection. Although we hope to offer this rarity again in 2014, availability can’t be confirmed until June. Please check back then or subscribe to our email newsletter.
LADY DERBY, 1875
This grandmotherly soft pink mingles happily with everything in the garden, and it’s so easy to force that everyone should try it. Our impossibly easy, paper-bag-in-the-fridge instructions will show you how. 10-12”, zones 5a-8a(10bWC), from Holland. Chart to compare.
HY20Add to basket:3/$6.505/$10.5010/$19.5025/$4450/$81
double MADAME SOPHIE, 1929
An intricately carved ivory relic, a flurry of fat snowflakes, a bed piled high with down pillows – that’s double ‘Madame Sophie’. How can white look so voluptuous? 10-12”, zones 5a-8a(10bWC), from Holland. Chart to compare.
HY23Add to basket:3/$10.505/$16.5010/$3125/$7150/$131
MARIE, 1860        Rarest
Our customers love ‘Marie.’ A deep, rich indigo purple, it’s the oldest traditional hyacinth still grown in Dutch bulb fields today – and superb. Of the 84 hyacinths offered in Vaughan’s 1897 catalog, only two survive: ‘King of the Blues’ and even older, darker ‘Marie’. 10-12”, zones 5a-8a(10bWC), from Holland. Chart to compare.
HY25Add to basket:3/$85/$12.5010/$2425/$5450/$100
QUEEN OF THE BLUES, 1870        Rarest
Although this soft, silvery blue charmer went “commercially extinct” in 2009, our friend Alan Shipp of the UK National Collection has been nurturing a small supply of it for us ever since. You’ll be glad you helped him save it! 10-12”, zones 5a-7b(9bWC), from England. Although we hope to offer this rarity again in 2014, availability can’t be confirmed until June. Please check back then or subscribe to our email newsletter.
ROMAN BLUE, 1562        Rarest
One of our most sought-after bulbs, this graceful, cinnamon-scented wildflower multiplies happily year after year. It’s been passed along since colonial days, and though counterfeits are rife, ours from the Hortus Bulborum are 100% true. Slightly less cold-hardy than regular hyacinths: zones 6a-8a(10bWC), 8-10”. Chart to compare.
HY31Add to basket:1/$8.753/$245/$37.5010/$7025/$158
ROMAN PINK, 1573        Web-Only & Rarest
Cinnamon-scented and multiplying eagerly year after year, this pale pink cousin of our ‘Roman Blue’, is equally wonderful. Like all Romans it’s a little less cold-hardy than other hyacinths, but its wildflowery grace and rich fragrance can’t be beat. And did we mention it multiplies? 8-10”, zones 6a-8a(10bWC), from the Hortus Bulborum. Chart to compare.
HY37Add to basket:1/$9.503/$265/$4110/$7625/$171
VUURBAAK, 1948        Rarest
Favorites of the Victorians, “red” hyacinths are actually an impossibly deep rose, the Tyrian purple of ancient times. ‘Jan Bos” is the standard today, but this radiant ‘Fire Beacon’ is much rarer, and thrilling. 10-12”, zones 5a-8a(10bWC), from Holland. Chart to compare.
HY35Add to basket:3/$95/$14.5010/$2725/$6150/$113

HISTORY – Hyacinths came to Europe from Turkey in the mid-1500s, and by 1730 some 2000 varieties were reported. From about 1780-1880 they were more popular than tulips. First grown as mixed collections of choice specimens, they later starred in the 1800s rage for forcing and were planted en masse in Victorian pattern-beds.

For the whole fascinating story, from their wild beginnings to the Ottoman Empire, Mme. de Pompadour, and beyond, see our Hyacinth History page.

HYACINTH ARCHIVES – For customer tips and raves, the stories behind the bulbs, links and books, history, news, and more, see our Hyacinth Newsletter Archives.

HYACINTHS AS CUT FLOWERS – Hyacinths are fabulous in bouquets. For tips on making them last, see our Bulbs as Cut Flowers page.

EASY FORCING – Forcing hyacinths into winter bloom became a great rage in the 1800s, and it’s a pleasure you can easily enjoy today. For simple instructions, see our Forcing Bulbs page.

TIPS FOR SUCCESS OUTDOORS – Hyacinths like rich, well-drained soil that’s dry in summer and full sun. Best in zones 5-7, they can succeed in zones 4 (well-mulched) and 8, too. Most grow 10-12 inches tall. We send 15-17 cm bulbs, the best size for gardens.

Some people are allergic to hyacinth bulbs, developing a localized itch, so you may want to handle them with gloves. Plant in mid-fall. If necessary, store till then in open bags in a cool, dry spot.

Hyacinths do best when DRY (but not hot) in summer. Choose a sunny site with well-drained soil, avoiding or improving clay or damp soil, or plant in raised beds. Plant bulbs with base 6-8 inches deep and 5-7 inches apart on center (or closer for a lush look). Scratch a tablespoon of bulb fertilizer into the surface soil (slow-release 10-10-10 is ideal). Water.

A light, airy winter mulch such as straw, oak leaves, or pine boughs is helpful in colder zones to minimize root damage from soil repeatedly freezing and thawing.

For best results, re-fertilize lightly spring and fall, and assure even moisture then. After bloom, strip off spent florets but allow foliage to yellow (to feed the bulbs for next year’s bloom) before removing. Close the hole left in the soil by the withering foliage to deter pests. And keep those bulbs dry!

Five-Second Staking – All hyacinths – even wild ones – topple eventually. Usually it’s no big deal, but if the weather is unseasonably warm it can be disappointingly premature. To counter this, take a thin green bamboo stake about 12 inches long and run it along right next to the stem from the top of the bloom-spike down into the soil a few inches (but not so deep that you hit the bulb). The florets will clasp the stake and you’re done!

To return to the beginning of Hyacinths, click here.

Page 2 of Heirloom Hyacinth Bulbs       << Previous 1 2
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