Scientific name: Hyacinthus orientalis ‘Jan Bos’, Hyacinthus orientalis ‘Carnegie’ or Hyacinthus orientalis ‘Miss Saigon’
Country of origin: Eastern Mediterranean
Location: Conservatory, Walled Garden and Lower Garden
The hyacinth is a lovely flower, with bursts of petals. The name is derived from the ancient Greek huakinthos, following the ancient Greek myth of Hyacinthus, which tells the story of the origin of this flower. The story goes that the god Apollo fell in love with Hyacinthus, a beautiful man admired by many. One day the pair were throwing discus when tragedy struck. In some versions of the myth, Hyacinthus tried to impress Apollo by running to catch a discus that Apollo had thrown. Another version has Zephyrus, the West Wind, overcome by jealously of the two lovers, blowing the discus off course. In both tales, the discus struck Hyacinthus in the head and killed him where he stood. Rather than let Hyacinthus travel to Hades, Apollo gathered his blood and used it to create a new flower, thought to be the hyacinth.
The gay association with the name hyacinth has continued. In the 1980s, the Polish secret police documented around 11,000 men thought to be homosexual, as well as their friends. This was known as Operation Hyacinth.