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Hyacinth-mania

 

The name for this lovely bulb flower comes from Greek mythology. Hyacinthus was the name of a handsome athlete who was loved by Apollo. To Apollo's dismay, Hyacinthus was mortally wounded by a discus hurled during contest. From the blood of Hyacinthus arose the flowers that were later called hyacinths.

The hyacinth is also the flower that proves that the tulip was not the only subject of mass hysteria. In the early 17th century, tulip bulbs were of almost priceless value. "Tulipmania" even reached such heights that an entire canal side property in Amsterdam was traded for just one tulip bulb!

What happened with the hyacinth was not less spectacular indeed, although this is hardly known. In the middle of the 18th century, Madame de Pompadour, the mistress of the French king Louis XV, decided that the gardens of Versailles should be embellished with Dutch hyacinths. Of course, the French elite could not be outdone: "hyacinth-mania", an enormous craze in hyacinth bulbs, was a fact. Though they never got traded for castles.