They are what happens to hyacinth when they are allowed to come back year after year instead of being pulled up and thrown away--the flowers seem to revert to a more wild, open type. These plants are probably 15 years old. My friend Gloria happened to come along at the right time one day, when the gardeners for the Smithsonian were pulling up the spent bulbs and getting ready to throw them away. Over the years she and i have both had this discussion, that it seems so very wasteful, but the gardeners say that there's no place to store the bulbs from season to season, and they (the gardeners) are expected to provide constant blooms all season and the only way to do that is pull out the bulbs when the flowers go by and plop something else in their place. For some reason they can't sell the bulbs either, something about them having been bought with government funds? (of course, that was 15 years ago...maybe now they'd be happy to raise some revenue!)
Anyhow, Gloria came along as the guys were pulling the hyacinths and tossing them aside. She got 6 bulbs for herself and 6 for me. Each of the bulbs has made 3 or 4 new plants. I suppose i should divide them but i like the clumpy look and i haven't really had place for more hyacinths.
And this week is the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC! It was grey and misty this morning and this picture was taken from a moving car (i wasn't driving this time!). It's of the reflecting pool in front of the Jefferson Memorial and all around it are Yoshino cherry trees in full bloom (sorry that the guardrail takes up the whole foreground of the picture). Even at 7 this morning there were tourists walking around under the trees, striving to get the best picture of the lovely blossoms close up or far away. Lots and lots of big cameras and tripods!
The National Park Service has an excellent site all about the cherry trees, including an illustrated history of how they originated in 1912 as a gift of friendship from the people of Japan. Some of the trees are descendents of trees in Japan that are said to be 1500 years old! http://www.nps.gov/cherry/cherry-blossom-history.htm