naso's song

that naso’s song may flower for all time

Ovid’s Garden: Planting Narcissi & Hyacinths


Over the last few weeks we’ve been working on the hard landscaping of the garden: digging out the paths and filling them with a sub base of gravel, as well as putting edging around the beds and preparing them for planting.IMG_6442Today we were able to move onto the more exciting task of planting the narcissus and hyacinth bulbs, which will be the first plants to flower in the spring next year.

As described in my first blog post, each plant in this garden has been chosen for its significance in Roman poet Ovid’s works Metamorphoses and Fasti, where plants and landscape are interwoven throughout mythological narratives.Planting BlogThe bulbs we planted today represent two well-known myths of young men doomed to premature deaths, who were transformed into flowers which stand as lasting images of their fleeting lives and youthful beauty:

Narcissus poeticus – After spurning the love of all others, Narcissus is punished by the goddess Nemesis and falls in love with his own reflection, wasting away for love of himself and in death is transformed in a flower:

The body, however, was not to be found – only a flower with a trumpet of gold and pale white petals.

– Metamorphoses 3.509

Hyacinthus orientalis – Hyacinthus was a young man beloved of the sun god Apollo who was tragically struck down in his youth by a discus thrown by the god himself that rebounds and kills him. As a tribute to Hyacinthus’ youthful beauty, Apollo causes a flower to spring up from his blood, which bears the markings of his mourning.

…the blood which had spilled from the wound to the ground and darkened the green grass suddenly ceased to be blood; and a flower brighter than Tyrian purple rose rose the earth and took the form of a lily – except that its colour was deepest red where the lily is silver.

Metamorphoses 10.211-13

More of these flowers, whose heritage can be traced back to classical mythology, will be planted in the new year, including saffron croci, anemones, sweet violets, madonna lilies, opium poppies, damask roses and more, each with their own story to be told…IMG_6388

2 thoughts on “Ovid’s Garden: Planting Narcissi & Hyacinths

  1. That looks like quite a big job, but it will be well worth it as that garden will surely be stunning next spring

  2. Thanks! You should drop by and see it in the summer when all the plants are in.

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