Sunday, January 10, 2010

Spring in Advance
"Now I shall go and buy hyacinths" says a sweet little spring song. The scent of hyacinths is wonderful. It is just like standing in the middle of spring a long time before the sun begins to give us some warmth, and one of the best ways to survive the long and dark winter. The hyacinths are for sale in December and in January they mark the transition from winter to spring.

In Greek mythology Hyakinthos was a young man admired byApollo andZephyr,but killed by a discus in a jealous fight between the two gods. The flower was allegedly named after him when it sprang from his blood.

It has a long history of cultivation as an ornamental plant, grown across the Mediterranean region and later France(where it is used in perfumery), the Netherlands(a major centre of cultivation) and elsewhere. The Garden Hyacinth flowers in the early spring. They grow best in full sun to part shade in well-drained, but not dry,soil. It requires a winter dormancy period, and will only persist in cold-weather regions. It is grown for the clusters of fragrant, brightly-coloured flowers. Over 2,000 cultivars have been selected and named, with flower colour varying from blue, white, pale yellow, pink, red or purple; most cultivars have also been selected for denser flower spikes than the wild type, bearing 40-100 or more flowers on each spike.

The plant is pollinated by different insects such as honey bees. The flowers are very fragrant and attract the insects as rewarding them with nectar.

H. orientalis contains alkaloids and is toxic if eaten in large quantities. The bulb, however, is the most poisonous part and should not be ingested under any circumstances.

And now it is high season for tulips - not in the garden but in the gardeners' hot houses. It's a luxury to buy a large bouquet of tulips and bring it back home.

The tulip origins from Turkey and Persia (Iran) where it was a popular and cultivated plant long before it came to Europe. Tulip bulbs and seed arrived to the European countries in the late 1500s. Those lovely flowers are in so many colours and shapes that it must have been wonderful to experience the first unknown bulbs in bloom. The history says that an Austrian envoy in Constantinople sent tulip seed and bulbs to Vienna in the middle of the 1500s. From here the tulip spread to Germany, France; Netherlands and England. The colourful bulb-plant became quickly popular by the European nobility, but it was rare and very expensive. Tulips became an investment object with no parallels and beyond reason.

In an old garden lexicon is an example of a trade with tulips: For one bulb of the sort Viceroy is paid two load of wheat, four loads of rye, four fat oxen, two fat pigs, 12 sheep, two hogshead wine, a bed with linen, a suit and a silver cup - all valued at 2500 guilden. This was crazy and called "tulipomania" - and this disease raged first of all in the Netherlands in the period 1630-37. Then the prizes rattled down - the tulip was willing to reproduce.

The tulips came to Denmark after 1900,but it has become one of the most popular cut flowers in this country.

Have a Nice Day!

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