entertainingflowers a-zFood & Drinksarah from blossom and branch

flowers a-z: h is for hyacinth

by SarahB

“If, of thy mortal goods, thou art bereft, And from thy slender store two loaves alone to thee are left, Sell one and from the dole, Buy Hyacinths to feed the soul” — Saadi (12th Century Persian Poet)

“H” is for hyacinth! These fragrant, bulbous flowering plants are a sure sign that spring is on the way. I chose hyacinth for this week’s post, as I find them so hard to resist at the market — the month of March is when I start to really pine for spring flowers, and it feels like a miracle when hyacinths and other bulbs start appearing. The sweet, syrupy smell and the vivid blooms that range from brights to pastels make the hyacinth one of my all-time favorite flowers.

Hyacinths (like so many flowers grown from bulbs) are mostly imported these days from Holland. They are originally native to the Eastern Mediterranean, Western Iran and Turkmenistan(!). They are often associated (along with many spring flowers) with rebirth and are commonly used in the decor for the Persian celebration of Norouz, which occurs during the spring equinox. Hyacinth is colored in almost every hue of the rainbow, but you will primarily find the blues, purple and white shades in American shops.

The name “hyacinth” is derived from a Greek myth in which a beloved youth named Hyacinth met with his demise at the hands of the jealous god of wind (Zephyr). The story is that both the god of archery, Apollo, and Zephyr loved Hyacinth, but Hyacinth appeared to prefer Apollo. One day, Hyacinth was running to catch a discus, and a vengeful Zephyr kicked up his wind so the discus would hit Hyacinth, killing him. Apollo then created the hyacinth flower to spring from the ground out of his spilled blood. Quite a lot of drama in those myths :)

After the jump, we’ll dive into styling tips and more history on this beautiful flower! — Sarah

CLICK HERE for the rest of the post (and styling tips) after the jump!

For my own enjoyment at home, I almost never mix hyacinths with other flowers. They are too precious simply clustered in a vase! My love affair with milk glass just won’t quit, and it feels very appropriate for these darling buds. They require plenty of fresh, cool water, and they will last for several days as cut flowers.

Each of the tiny blooms traveling up the soft, thick stem of the hyacinth will eventually open!

I chose to work with a range of purples and pinks for today’s post. Let’s play with the spring theme and add a bit of whimsy . . .

Start with a flat tray of some kind that matches your containers. Here, I am using a plain, white all-purpose ceramic tray.

Pick up a raw flat of wheatgrass. You can order wheatgrass from most nurseries or plant stores. Many florists also carry it, but they might already have it prepped and displayed in a container, making it less cost-effective. Wheatgrass will last several days with a fresh daily misting of water from a water bottle.

This is what the underside of the wheatgrass looks like! It is a mass of twisted roots. You can pull the whole flat out of the plastic and work with it on its side or flat on a cutting board. Use a knife to cut through the roots and form it into whatever size and shape meets your needs. For this project, I measured the grass to fit the tray.

Wheatgrass sits proudly on the tray and smells so fresh! Let’s add a little something special . . .

If you tamp down the grass with your hand, you can flatten a little space that might be perfect for . . .

. . . an adorable little group of hyacinth! If the vase feels unsteady, you can actually cut out a chunk of grass right where you intend to place your vase. The rest of the grass will remain intact, even if you have cut-out pieces. Alternatively, you could also cut smaller chunks or strips and form them around your vase placement.

Spring vignette for the tabletop . . . done and done.

None of these arrangements require any complicated design work; it is all about selecting fresh flowers in great colors and using containers that you have on hand. Grouping elements always makes a great impact. Here, I am using a simple cake plate, the tray from our project (which doubles as an appetizer tray in the kitchen) and very inexpensive milk-glass treasures acquired online.

I go crazy for that soft, translucent pink.

Thanks, all! Please join me back here in two weeks when “i” will be for . . .

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  • My grandmother used to quote that Saadi passage to me all the time. “Hyacinths for the soul” became our shorthand for her principle that anything worth doing was worth doing beautifully.

    I love milk glass and now want to rush out and get hyacinths after work!

  • I just bought hyacinths this week! They are by far my favorite flower. Loved learning the history behind this fragrant beauty. Thanks Sarah!

  • I am a sucker for the scent of hyacinths, too. Milk glass and hyacinths are almost made for each other. I’ve got some in my bathroom right now!

  • I love the smell of hyacinths! One little bunch scents my whole apartment. Plus they make me think of my favorite hyacinth, Ms. Bucket (that’s Bouquet, thank you very much) :).

    I’ve read that you’re not supposed to cut off the bulb before you put them in water – any truth to this?

  • Hyacinths are beautiful flowers …but equally beautiful is the legend of its origin….myths are often far more interesting than facts! have a great weekend, Grace! xx meenal

  • I love Hyacinths so much, the color, the smell, even the flower shape screams spring! Must add Hyacinths to my weekend shopping list.

  • So gorgeous!!!!! This would certainly add a giant POP of color to my otherwise all brown/tan boring dining room!!! Thank you for the beautiful idea!

  • i’m really so happy you featured hyacinths! they were one of my nanas favorite flower, and they always make me think of her. i absolutely love these arrangements, too. i definitely need to go buy some pretty white cups to put them in.

  • Hi All!

    LOVE all the hyacinth love.

    @Kate: The growers always instruct that you are not supposed to cut off the bulb when you put them in water. In theory, they last longer this way. In my experience, they last about the same amount of time either way…and if you cut them, you can arrange them as you please. But do note that cutting them often causes the lovely sprouting leaves to fall away.

    See you back here in 2 weeks!

  • This was such a refreshing and inspiring post! Thank you! I love spring flowers and arranging them too. Makes me long for the days of photo shoots again. I miss styling!

  • Love hyacinth! The smell is heavenly. If you’re dealing with planting the bulbs themselves, they can cause an allergic reaction in some people, myself included. It’s known as “hyacinth itch.”

  • I do love them, but – I had a summer job in Holland once, sorting and packaging flower bulbs. Arrival of hyacinth bulbs was always greeted by groans, moans and curses from all the crew. In big quantities they cause a most awful itching; the more you scratch, the more you itch. Wearing long sleeves, turtleneck, a bandana around the face and a hat helped a bit. The only known remedy was a long, luke-warm shower.

  • I’ve got to get to the very beginning of your flower series – this post is amazing! Hyacnth is one of my favourite flowers over all and my number 1 among spring blooms. I buy a few bulbs every winter and let them grow and surprise me with unexpected colours, although I love the white ones the most. And the fragrance… So wonderful, strong, fresh, beautiful aroma.

    By the way, never knew hyacinth was originated from Kazakstan. I was born and lived in Russia for over 20 years, including the times when Kazakstan was still a part of USSR, but we never ever knew about hyacinths!


  • Hi dear Sarah! thx for sharing my country’s culture with friends :) I am from Iran and became so happy when i read ur post! great design idea ! God willing This new year I will try this for our “Haft-Seen”, our traditional installation for the new year(Norouz)! that green weat sprout is one of the most important things we put in our Haft-Seen every year(symbolizing rebirth
    )! thx again! :)

  • I love that you included the Greek myth with your description for this post. It’s official… your flower features have brought out my desire to work in a flower shop full-on. I am dying to know more about flowers and I’m so happy about this feature. Thank you, Design*Sponge!

  • so fresh and gorgeous! i grew up with hyacinth in my family’s garden and they always make me happy. saw them in the market for the first time this week! thanks for the styling tips: simple and very pretty!

  • These are beautiful! I think I’ll be adding these to my tea party birthday. I absolutely love the vibrant colours and they will make excellent pieces on the table. Love.