As Jo in Little Women might have said, January wouldn't be January without any hyacinths.
Mine never seem to coincide with Christmas. The bulbs I have forced in vases in a dark porch are only just beginning to flower now. But actually I really like this. Hyacinths are definitely more January than December, with their freshness of colour and scent and vivid green leaves. They are easy to grow in jars and bowls (although the Provincial Lady doesn't quite manage it) and the flowers are something to look forward to in the new year when they look particularly good with a backdrop of wind, rain and snow.
[Hyacinths Mary Ethel Hunter (1872-1947), Salford Art Gallery]
It would be a wonderful thing if art galleries brought out paintings of January flowers and displayed them for the month. They wouldn't have to upset the main display - they could be by the lockers or in the cafe or entrance hall, somewhere they could brighten a day and act as reminders that January is not totally flowerless and cheerless.
[Hyacinths Sally Ryan (1916-1968), The New Art Gallery, Walsall]
I have no idea if this lovely Sally Ryan painting is out (I know the Salford one isn't - they are sticking to a very dour display), but if I were visiting Walsall I would very much want to see it.
[Blue Hyacinths in a Winter Landscape 1950s, Winifred Nicholson (1893-1981)]
And I'm not sure who owns these blue hyacinths , but anybody who gets to see them every day in January is very lucky indeed.
I buy my prepared hyacinth bulbs from Peter Nyssen and start them off in November. But now is a good time to buy forced hyacinth bulbs in pots very cheaply in garden centres. They require no special care, the plastic pots can be easily hidden in bowls, and they last for quite a while.