Thank god for hyacinths



It's so dreary today that I don't have enough light for a decent iphone picture of these, but their looks aren't the thing, anyway. Their fragrance is what keeps my spirits lifted during this most wretched of all winters. (I know some can't handle fragrance; luckily I've never had a problem.) At least my office smells like spring, even if spring itself seems years away.

They even make feel a little bit better about the economy. A bit.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. Sigh. Every year I try to force hyacinths and every year I seem to fail. The roots of mine stopped growing after about 2.5 inches. Could my fridge be too cold?

  2. We’ve had a bit of spring here in North Carolina — daffodils down at the coast; flowering apricot, winter daphne, camellias and hellebores here in the Triangle. I saw my first quince bloom today, too.

    Stay warm, stay happy — Spring is coming! 🙂

  3. Lovely. We’re having an unseasonably warm and dry winter in California. My daffodils are popping up one to two months early (old orchard European plum trees are a whole month early!). I’d gladly sacrifice the warmth for a lot of rain and cold. At this rate, lawns will be outlawed or will cost a very high fee for water usage this year.

  4. Glad to hear that spring is on its way up from the south! 12 degrees outside my northern Virginia window this morning, with a wicked wind. No snowdrops, no hellebores, no corylopsis, not even an aconite yet, but … there are 6 fat white Carnegie hyacinths in bud in the sunroom, ready to pop opent at any minute.

  5. Thanks for the tip. I actually keep my fruit in a hanging wire basket but I do have some veggies in there and some of them are old. I guess I’ll take it out and see what happens. My house is pretty cool while I’m at work or asleep.

  6. Has anyone else had the experience of growing paper whites and then to have someone think the fragrance is that of your computer hard drive frying? I forced some paper whites indoors and then placed them on the desk next to my husband’s computer. I then came home to find them out on the front porch with my husband complaining that the smell is just like a hard drive before it’s about to fry and crash, which made him freak out until he found that the source of the smell.

  7. I have heard that comment before–did you make it on a paperwhite post I wrote, Elizabeth? Or maybe it is a common comparison.

    But I think some paperwhites do smell a bit acrid. I buy special cultivars that take longer but have a milder scent. Brent and Beckys and Old House have a good selection of those.

    Early Pearl and Grand Soleil are 2 that have nicer fragrances.

  8. Yes, I made that on the paper white post before. However, every time my husband smells paper whites, no matter what variety, he still shudders then gives me a playful glare. I have grown Grand Soliel before and still get the “it smells like my computer is dying” rant.

  9. My hyacinths are just starting to poke through the ground this week in NC. I planted them on each side of the front door when I bought the house. This way I can smell them coming and going during their season.

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