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Hyacinths: Lost Forever?

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Though preservation is our mission, bulbs drop out of our catalog every year.

Sometimes it’s because the harvest was too small. Sometimes it’s because they’re widely available elsewhere and don’t need our help. And sometimes it’s because we’ve lost our only known source due to severe weather (cold, drought, etc.), health problems (a debilitating stroke), or economic woes (small farmers are always at risk).

The good news is that, in time, we’re often able to return these bulbs to our catalog. So here’s a list of many we’ve offered in the past. For an alert the moment they’re available again, subscribe to our free email newsletter. Or to find a similar bulb, try our easy Advanced Bulb Search.


Fall-planted:     Crocus       Daffodils       Hyacinths       Lilies       Peonies       Tulips       Diverse

Spring-planted:     Cannas       Dahlias       Daylilies       Gladiolus       Iris       Diverse


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AMETHYST, 1950

The subtle, intriguingly different color of this 1950s gem isn’t pink or lavender but something beautifully in-between. Unusual colors have little place in the mass market, though, and its acreage has been plummeting. To help, just grow it! Zones 5a-8a(10bWC). Last offered in 2007. We lost our grower and haven’t found another who offers authentic stock. If you’d like to be notified the next time we offer this treasure, sign up for an email alert.


APPLE BLOSSOM, 1910

Can “obsolete” be a good thing? We think so! Dropped from the International Register in 1954, this “obsolete” beauty is well-named. It’s an ethereal soft pink, paler than ‘Lady Derby’ and brimming with the dawning light of spring. Alan Shipp of the UK National Collection dates it to the early 1900s, but its history is obscure and if you find it in any old books or catalogs, we’d love to hear from you. Zones 5a-8a(10bWC), from England. Last offered in 2006. If you’d like to be notified the next time we offer this treasure, sign up for an email alert.


BISMARCK, 1875

We were shocked when the last Dutch grower abandoned this great Victorian favorite, because in our garden it returns and reblooms better than any other hyacinth. Now thanks to Alan Shipp, the Noah of hyacinths, it’s back! 10-12”, zones 5a-7b(9bWC), from England. Last offered in 2016. If you’d like to be notified the next time we offer this treasure, sign up for an email alert.


BLUE DIAMOND, 1920

After the fall of the Iron Curtain, a few bulbs of this horticultural refugee came to the UK National Collection from a beleaguered public garden in Lithuania, a garden that despite all sorts of difficulties had managed to preserve a remarkable collection of antique hyacinths. Tough and vigorous, it sports blue-purple petals that are deeper in the center shading to almost silver at the edges. Russian records date it to 1920. Zones 5a-8a(10bWC), from England. Last offered in 2006. If you’d like to be notified the next time we offer this treasure, sign up for an email alert.


DISTINCTION, 1880

One of our all-time favorite hyacinths, ‘Distinction’ has dark maroon, “beet-root” blossoms that are stunning amid spring’s pastels. Its small size — about half that of most hyacinths — reflects its age and makes it especially well-suited for forcing. 8-10”, zones 5a-8a(10bWC), from Holland. We were heart-broken when this unique hyacinth suddenly went “commercially extinct” in 1999, and we long for the day when the small supply being nurtured for us by Alan Shipp of the UK National Collection is ready for sale.


DOUBLE YELLOW, OPHIR, 1827?

The rarest hyacinth we’ve ever offered, this extraordinary relic was preserved by a small botanic garden in Lithuania. Although its name was lost ages ago, it looks a lot like ‘Ophir’ pictured in Robert Sweet’s The Florist’s Guide and Cultivator’s Directory of 1827-32, and it’s tall and late-blooming like ‘Ophir’ was. “I can’t be 100% certain,” expert Alan Shipp told us, “but as yellow hyacinths didn’t appear until about 1770, and there were never more than a few double yellows, chances are this really is ‘Ophir’.” Whatever its name, we’re thrilled to have a very few to offer you! 11-12”, zones 5a-8a(10bWC), from England. Last offered in 2016. If you’d like to be notified the next time we offer this treasure, sign up for an email alert.


double DREADNOUGHT, 1899

With long outer petals that swoop back and curl like those of a turk’s-cap lily, and shorter inner petals crimped into a squiggly rosette, this is one of the most interesting – and rarest – of the Victorian doubles. 10-12”, zones 5a-8a(10bWC), from the British National Collection. Last offered in 2016. If you’d like to be notified the next time we offer this treasure, sign up for an email alert.


GIGANTEA, 1859

Extinct? That’s what the experts thought. But then Alan Shipp of the UK National Collection got a surprise phone call from the Lithuanian ambassador’s wife and before long a box full of old hyacinths arrived that had been preserved by a botanic garden behind the Iron Curtain, including this Victorian beauty. With a “large truss of delicate rose,” ‘Gigantea’ — which no longer seems very giant — was the most expensive single hyacinth in the 1870 catalog of the Olm Brothers of Springfield, MA. Zones 5a-7b(9bWC), from England. Last offered in 2016. If you’d like to be notified the next time we offer this treasure, sign up for an email alert.


GRAND BLANCHE IMPERIALE, 1798Rarest

Although far from showy, this is the oldest traditional hyacinth available today. Sold in the US by 1830, it was praised in 1894 for its “large thick bells” of “charming rosy or blush white.” By the 1950s it was thought to be extinct but it survived in a small botanic garden in Lithuania, and after the fall of the Iron Curtain a few bulbs made their way to Alan Shipp at the UK National Collection – and eventually here. 10-12”, zones 5a-7b(9bWC), from England. Last offered in 2017. If you’d like to be notified the next time we offer this treasure, sign up for an email alert.


GRAND MONARQUE, 1863Rarest

The embodiment of spring’s silvery blue skies, this heavenly hyacinth is old enough to have been grown by Florence Nightingale and Charles Dickens. 10-12”, zones 5a-8a(10bWC), from our English friend Alan Shipp, the Noah of hyacinths. Last offered in 2017. If you’d like to be notified the next time we offer this treasure, sign up for an email alert.


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