Garden Diary - March 2018

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Hyacinths for Nowruz
Tuesday, 20 March 2018

March 20th is the first day of Spring. It is also Nowruz, New (Year's) Day in the Persian calendar. A cloth draped table is set with seven traditional, symbolic items, whose names all begin with seen. There are other items that may be included, among which is sonbol, the hyacinth. Spring flowers with the scent of heaven.

Haft-Shin was initially comprised of shahd, shir, sharab, shikkar-e nab, sham, shamshad, shaya, meaning honey, milk, wine, pure sugar, a candle, branches of box-tree, and fruits. Later, these were replaced with Haft-Chin, meaning seven natural items picked or derived from plants, denoting the germination and blossoming, albeit recycling of life in spring.

How did I learn of this? Once upon a time (and for a number of years) I used to teach a required certificate course about bulbs for School of Professional Horticulture students at the New York Botanical Garden. And one year, when I was talking about hyacinths and their sweet fragrance a student spoke up and told us all about nowruz and hyacinths.

A rainbow array of heirloom hyacinths at
the Hortus Bulborum in the Netherlands.
This was in April, which is when they flower.

But hyacinths are easily convinced that winter has come
and gone. Chill them for 12 to 14 weeks to vernalize, and
hyacinths are ready to wake up and start into growth.

Inside the hyacinth bulb is a flower bud, ready to awaken.

When purchasing bulbs to plant in the garden, in autumn,
just buy some extra to pot up. Then just keep them cool
(but not frozen) until the turn of the year, moving them to
somewhere sunny and less chilly for out of season bloom.

What a wonderful way to welcome Spring.
A fragrant welcome to nowruz, new year.

Hyacinths are excellent for formal bedding
schemes such as this pattern at Keukenhof.

Even a simple handful of fall planted bulbs
enhance BelleWood Gardens, in April.

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