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Chief among the Victorian flower garden plants, the hyacinth was ‘the best of domestic flowers’ and a favourite display at floral exhibits. Victorian England imported many hyacinths from Holland, but they could be cultivated just as well at home.

First, good bulbs (hard and heavy) should be purchased. They could be planted into a light, rich, sandy soil for pot culture, or a bed liberally dug over with sand and leaf mould in asheltered position. They needed to be planted early, and to be kept well watered. Bulbs tended to repeat flower poorly in English gardens, and Hibberd believed this was because of the lack of water on many gardens.

If raised in pots, then the hyacinths needed to be placed in frames once their flowering was over in order to protect their delicate leaves from the weather. If the bulbs were in the garden, then they needed to be planted in sheltered positions, perhaps close to hedgerows.

Information and image taken from F. Edward Hulme and Shirley Hibberd, Familiar Garden Flowers (Cassell, Peter, Galpin and Co.: London: c. 1890), 5 vols.

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