Welcome to part two of our saucily named Blue Bloomers series. For those of you who missed it; part one, about violets, can be found here.
Having decided to dedicate the garden to pollinators, we have allowed a good crop of grape hyacinths to flourish in the cracks of our paths. They are not actually hyacinths, but are of the genus Muscari, from the Greek muschos referring to a musky scent. They are also called baby’s breath as those fanciful Victorians felt that their delicate odour was reminiscent of the milky burp of an infant.
The bulbs can be boiled to produce starch which used to be used in ironing to get a good crease or a nice stiff collar. It was also considered to be a plant that could help with urinary disorders. The Shanidar Cave in Kurdistan, Iraq which was excavated 1957-1961 contained the buried remains of Neanderthals from approximately 60,000 years ago. Information gleaned from the skeletons demonstrated that Neanderthals cared for their long term sick and disabled. It was thought that the site also demonstrated burial rituals as the bodies were found with the remains of medicinal plants, including grape hyacinth. However, there is some debate as to whether the plants were introduced by burrowing rodents. Well, we do like to stash …
Stay tuned for part three.