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Written by JulieW
(4/20/2006 10:11 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Is there something more..., penned by Reeba
From my researches ,I can’t find anything significant in the history of the hyacinth or the tales that surround it ,to make it particularly poignant here.
Let’s have a look at its history.
The wild species hyacinth( Hyacinthus orientalis) was first recorded as being grown in the eastern Mediterranean, and seems to have been widely distributed throughout Asia minor to Syria and from the Euphrates Gulf into Iran and Iraq.
It was grown in gardens in Turkey from the mid 15th century, but did not appear in European gardens until 1554 when Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq, the Flemish Diplomat sent them to Vienna along with varieties of Crown imperials, Tulips and Anemones .
The fist picture of a hyacinth appears in Rembert Dodoen’s Herbal of 1596.
By 1780 hyacinths were widely planted in England, but earlier, in France, they were popularised by Madame de Pompadour , who impressed by the flowers virtue of being able to be “ forced” into flowering early.
The Dutch took up a breeding programme and they imported them into England, where a more restrained version of Tulpiomania surrounded the introductions of the new coloured varieties( the original wild plant is blue).
There is a Greek myth surrounding the creation of the flower. Hyakinthos, the beautiful son of the Spartan king Amyclas was loved by both Apollo , god of the sun and Zephyrus, god of the West wind. Hyakinthos preferred Apollo. One day when they were playing a game of quoits together the jealous Zephyr blew a quoit at Hyakinthos and killed him. Where his blood feel, the first hyacinth grew.The son of a king, Hyakinthos was naturally blue –blooded and consequently all wild hyacinths were blue.
Dangerous chaps these gods…..
It became was what was termed a Florists Flower,and is the only one of that group that Jane Austen mentions.
Let me explain.
Around the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century a large number of what were called Florists' Societies were formed. A florist was defined as a gardener who grew a limited range of flowers to a strictly defined set of rules or standards. ( note: how different this is from the modern use of the word which more commonly refers to a retail shop selling cut flowers.)
Amongst these Florist Flowers were the auricula, anemone, carnation, laced pink, ranunculus, hyacinth and the old English or broken tulip.
The old florists' societies were concentrated in the North and Midlands with a smaller number in East Anglia and the London area. Shows were also held in the West Country in small towns like Taunton.
When Henry remarkes that:
And though the love of a hyacinth may be rather domestic, who can tell, the sentiment once raised, but you may in time come to love a rose?”
perhaps he is referring to these rather plebeian societies, who grew this type of flowers?
So, not much there for us, is there?
I feel that the emphasis in Catherine’s conversation with Henry should perhaps be put on the verb “ to love” as it seems to me that someone is glad to receive the information that a certain someone has now learned how to love a …thing….;-)
“At any rate, however, I am pleased that you have learnt to love a hyacinth. The mere habit of learning to love is the thing; and a teachableness of disposition in a young lady is a great blessing.
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