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Green Acre #366: The Problem With Hyacinths

iStock photo.

By Stephanie Cavanaugh

I NEVER GOT AROUND to planting the hyacinth bulbs. I was of two minds about them, and the other mind won out. 

They are in the fridge, in the bottom drawer in a plastic bag behind an aged salami and a pound of bacon. They showed up yesterday when I decided to clean the fridge, a long-overdue event. The vegetable drawer was particularly disgusting. Out went the limp and stringy celery, floating like Ophelia in a pool of brown murk, the spongy third of a green pepper, a carrot only I would know was a carrot. 

I was shocked at how many Parmesan rinds were in the cheese drawer—did you know you could add these to olive oil and let them marinate for a fine bread dip? I learned this from Stanley Tucci’s marvelous memoir, Taste: My Life Through Food. He did not mention how to cut the rinds; I think one needs a hatchet. 

The fridge was so immaculate afterward that My Prince called it unrecognizable.  Did you do this? he asked. Oh, did I glow. 

So, the hyacinth. They are in the drawer because I couldn’t figure out where to plant them. Their scent can be over the border of offensively sweet, and the flowers are tacky, all those frills upon frills in some candy color or other. I wrote about them last fall, when I was doing my spring planting of tulips and whatnots. As I recalled . . .

Last spring I passed a patch of hyacinths in a neighbor’s yard and bent over to sniff, my head filled with their overwhelmingly sweet scent, and I said to myself, Well. That’s quite enough hyacinth for this year, thank you. One sniff is delightful, a second is rather disgusting. The least-subtle scent in the panoply of garden scents . . . 

So I’m wondering why I bought them and where I’m going to stick them. Somewhere where someone else can bend over and say, That does it for hyacinth this year, my nose has drunk its fill, thank you very much.

One might ask why I bought them. I am scratching my head too. 

Meanwhile, the fridge has acted like winter soil: The bulbs are firm with little sprouts emerging, like green tongues sticking out at me. I thought, perhaps I’ll put one in a pot. Maybe two. I don’t think I could stand the scent of more. And they’ll go in the greenhouse, with the parakeets, who should be charming amid the lemons and jasmine, but are nasty and smelly. Perhaps the hyacinths will offset the bird reek, though nothing else has. Remind me never to get birds again. 

Maybe I’ll stick a few out by the garage, where one might catch just a whiff in passing. That might be pleasant, if they’re far enough away from the path. 

Maybe I’ll take some of our “one of” glasses—we’ve amassed a decent collection of these over the years—plant a bulb in each and foist them off on friends as gifts. Oh, how pretty, I imagine they’ll say. You’re so clever . . . and thoughtful. 

Maybe I should give the lot to Lydia, our neighbor. She’s eight. Hyacinth is the exact right scent for an 8-year-old, don’t you think? The Easter bunny hops, the cherry tree is in full bloom, and the scent of the hyacinth. . . . All you need is glitter. 

Remind me not to buy them again, please. 

Next week: I clean out the freezer. 

2 thoughts on “Green Acre #366: The Problem With Hyacinths

  1. stephanie Cavanaugh says:

    Still love Shalimar. Reminds me of my mom, dressing for dinner out with those minks chasing each other around her shoulders.

  2. Janet Kelly says:

    I think of hyacinths as I used to think about Shalimar. The first or second whiff is yummy but then it becomes cloying.

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