For anyone seeing yesterday’s Wordless Wednesday picture of anaemic hyacinth flowers breaking out of their leafy buds you may be surprised to hear that this is far from a regular occurrence. Every year for perhaps ten years or more I place maybe a dozen hyacinths in my collection of hyacinth vases with some water and a wing and a prayer – but with very poor results. They need to start off in the dark, these having been put away in a cupboard at the end of October, and not brought out until the shoots were at a certain stage of development – one of the reasons for my past failures. They shouldn’t be too warm at this stage and even when they are ready to come out it is best to keep them in a cool light place for a week or two so leaf growth isn’t accelerated too quickly; once exposed to light the leaves quickly gain their normal greenness.
This year I kept them in an easily accessible cupboard so I could keep an eye on them, but when a friend said she wondered if our kitchen might be too warm for them I moved them to the shed – only to bring them back a couple of weeks later when I realised some were going mouldy. Clearly too cool, and damp as well, and I fully expected the bulbs to continue to rot – but no, of the ten planted this year only one has failed to develop and the others all have flower buds pushing through, although the four less advanced ones have been put back in the cupboard for a while. I am convinced this is the first year I have had such a clear indication that they were ready to come ‘out of the closet’ and for once it seems as if success may finally have been achieved – ironic then, that after so many comments from others who have struggled to grow them this way, I had almost decided that after this year I would enjoy the charm of the hyacinth vases as they were, without hyacinths!
Monitoring the various witch hazels on my rambles around the garden I was pleased to note that ‘Harry’ has now begun to show his lovely orangey yellow shreds, their tardy appearance after the first hint of colour perhaps permissible when one recalls how long he hung onto his leaves. Also, ‘Diane’ is showing more than just a hint of her red frillyness (if you can make her out against the in-focus muddy grass!), pleasing to see as she was moved from the woodland last year before she met an untimely and dry end, and after saying there was no colour on ‘Arnold Promise’ there he is on the right, the one speck of yellow I spied yesterday now having become three or four. Many of the witch hazels I can see from the house, and what a lovely sight they are!