What’s in a name?
As I write great swathes of the Wilderness here at Adlington are being covered with a heavenly scented flowering plant. This plant although well known has more synonyms than any other I can think of. The Heavenly Scent is most appropriate considering Linnaeus names it Hyacinthus non-scriptus after the ancient gods. Hyacinthus was a beautiful youth, beloved by Apollo and Zephyrus.
He preferred the Sun-God to the God of the west wind; but as he was playing at Quoits with God Zephyrus, out of jealousy, caused the Quoit of Apollo to strike the head of the youth and kill him on the spot. From the blood of Hyacinthus there sprang the flower Hyacinth, on the leaves of which appeared as exclamation of woe, Ai Ai. as our native Hyacinth has no trace of these mystic letters, early botanists used the epithet non-scriptus or ‘not written on’.
This old myth was common currency in Elizabethan times when the plant was called ‘Jacinth’ . They also harvested the plant in those day to use the extract as substitute for starch to maintain the stiff ruffs then in fashion. The glue like character of this extract was also used as bookbinders gum and for setting feathers upon arrows. Today the plant has legal protection to prevent unnecessary disturbance and we all appreciate the sight and scent of a carpet of Bluebells as one of the great joys of Spring.
By Anthony O’Grady, Head Gardener
To view our Bluebells in all their splendor please visit our gardens today Monday 4th May and next Sunday 10th May (which is also the Plant Hunters Fair) from 2pm -5pm where we are open to the public.
Thanks to Mr and Mrs W for our photos… www.mrandmrsw.com