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Wish You Were Here – Hyacinths in Lisse

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Hyacinth

From Easter to May Day, many US gardeners enjoy Dutch bulbs blooming in springtime planters, beds and borders. Here in the growing fields of Lisse, in the Netherlands, merchants and growers are seeing the blooms of those same bulbs. Hyacinths, with their tall stalks spiked with fragrant flowers in jewel tones, are the stars of the show!

The name of the hyacinthus is rooted in stories from Greek mythology, and its origins lie in the Mediterranean. These bulbs were brought to England and the Netherlands by 16th century diplomats travelling to the Ottoman Empire. European botanists cultivated these wild hyacinths for brighter colors and more blooms. Hyacinths became a signature flower of the French court, and were popular among aristocratic gardens in Victorian England. However, even a century ago, hyacinths were smaller than today’s hyacinths, and grew in only blue, pink and white. In the 1930s, George van Veld, a horticulturalist from Lisse, crossed Roman hyacinths – a dainty cousin of big-blooming garden hyacinths – with a garden variety, creating hyacinths that bloomed early and long, with bigger-than-ever blooms in a wide variety of bright colors.

These showy, multi-flora hyacinths were a hit with gardeners – and secured Lisse’s place as the hyacinth capital of Holland.  Lisse has been a center for bulb growers since the 1700s, when farmers discovered that its sandy soil to be highly suitable for bulb cultivation. Lisse is located at the center of Holland’s Duin-en Bollenstreek (Dune and Bulb Region), and is a major tourist destination for those looking to see tulips, daffodils, and, of course, hyacinths in bloom!

Today, Dutch hyacinth plants are a favorite in gardens and flowerpots worldwide. At Breck’s, we source our flower bulbs directly from Holland, and love seeing the newest varieties our directeur, Ben, discovers on his trips to the bulb fields. Take a look at our hyacinth varieties here, and be sure to enter to win our trip to visit the Duin-en Bollenstreek!

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April 5, 2015
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