The word hyacinth comes from the Greek Hyakinthos, a handsome young man who in Greek mythology was loved by the sun god Apollo. One day they were practising throwing the discus but the jealous god of the West Wind, who was also in love with Hyakinthos, blew the discus back and it fatally wounded him. From his blood grew a flower which the god Apollo named after him.
It was brought to Western Europe in the 16th century and was first cultivated in Austria in the 1500's. During the 17th and 18th centuries, like the tulip, it was to be found only in the collections of very rich flower collectors. Because of the hyacinth's pervasive perfume, the bulbs were exorbitantly expensive. The bulbs are now grown in Holland and Great Britain.
Usually white, pink, peach and blue. More unusual colours to look for include dark wine purples , rosy reds, navy, egg-yolk yellows and soft oranges.
November to April
Hyacinthus orientalis belongs to the Liliaceae family and so grows from a bulb.
Varieties come in all colours including pure white "Carnegie", salmon "Anna Marie", delicate pink " Splendid Cornelia" and baby blue "Delft Blue
Nowadays the cut flowers are sold with roots intact at the bottom to make the flowers last longer. Don't cut these off, but just give the stems a good rinse.