Do you like green flowers? They seem a bit peculiar it’s true, like the green rose, Rosa viridiflora which has sepals instead of petals and a rather specific peppery smell that is like its China rose cousins. Still this peculiar little rose has a number of advantages. It grows very well and is a excellent subject for containers, rarely suffers from disease, and is even a long lasting cut flower. But would you want to smell it? If someone came up with a perfume called “Green Rose” would you be interested or would you decide to stay far away? Continue reading
Once upon a time I knew that Tabac Blond was the first tobacco scent ever introduced to perfumery. This turns out to be a canard. In fact it was the third. The first was a perfume called either Cigalia or else Les Cigales by the old firm of Roger et Gallet, with a remarkably beautiful bottle done by who else but Lalique. Here it is. Lovely no?
You do end up finding out all sorts of odd things as time goes on, but the story of the first tobacco perfumes does not end with Cigalia. In fact there was also a Coty perfume. You knew there had to be one? It seems that whenever anyone had any kind of new material or base or idea in the perfume world of the early twentieth century there was Francois Coty already set to market his version of whatever it happened to be. As far as I can discover Coty introduced his tobacco perfume in 1912 inside a Baccarat bottle topped with a crystal cut stopper. According to Edmond Roundnitska L’Or was in the air a lot in Continue reading
If you’ve been to an Ivy League college or live near one, you’ll know what I mean. Walls covered with ivy, ivy growing all over library walls and down dean’s offices. Ivy really can be ubiquitous.
The kind that climbs and creeps and is all through one of my front garden beds is Hedera helix aka English Ivy. That stuff eels in everywhere, currently it has one pieris and two rhododendrons by the throat and is threatening to throttle both of them. I had to take the loppers to it, and then there was a fearsome battle with the ivy that had crept underneath the siding of the house and along the main electrical connection as well. That involved careful use of the secateurs and a good deal of undignified tugging during which yours truly landed unceremoniously on her backside in the undergrowth not a few times. When Ivy sets out to claim territory it does so for keeps. Continue reading
Of course I was willing to write a post about Malta, but since I write about smelling and gardening for smells, I needed some whiff, or huff, or some sort of olfactory in for me to write about.
The Hub’s book deals with some fairly hair-raising events which occurred 450 years ago (The Great Siege of Malta: The Epic Battle between the Ottoman Empire and the Knights of St John, Bruce Ware Allen, Fore Edge Books, there it is!), but not so much with agriculture on Malta. The island has traditionally been a source for world class honey (the Greeks referred to Malta as Melite, “honey sweet”), which would suggest a rich lode of blooming flowers – but for whatever reason, this has not translated into perfumery as it has in, say, Grasse.
The one unquestionable perfume contribution of Malta, however, is cumin.
Poisonous plants are an unhealthy draw. Oleanders and Daturas are high on my list of flowers to be grown with caution. They’re death to the cat if she’s foolish enough to gnaw at the branches, but my cat is a wise cat, and has become an indoor cat since we moved, which seems to be ok by her. I think I can grow Datura next summer, and say, isn’t Datura that old Jimson Weed we grew up regarding as nothing in particular? Well, actually yes, yes it is, and liable to seed itself as far North as Boston. What I wonder is so exclusive and delicate about that?
I think of Jimson as being a Mark Twain plant, something to lay hold of at midnight and conjure to rid you of warts, kind of like spunk water. The reason most people grow the Jimson Weed is for its large downward facing trumpet flowers and their scent which is very strong particularly after sunset. They are real vespertine garden plants, releasing their narcotic perfume after dark and while some
people find it a soapy scent others liken it to the smell of lilies, the plants that fester worse than weeds according to Shakespeare. One has to wonder what he would have thought of Daturas? He probably didn’t know them as they are native to Cuba Continue reading
Daintiness is not something that perfumers necessarily consider in the making of a perfume. However the perfumer of Teo Cabanel, Jean Francois Latty has created a series of perfumes in wonderful taste.
Now I don’t feel very comfortable writing such a thing, because in the end the perfume that is in perfect taste for you is the one you love and wear, and I know from personal experience that choice often doesn’t fall on the chic import but on the old reliable sometimes found on the shelves of your local pharmacy. My aunt for instance swore by Yardley’s Lavender. Continue reading
Do you like Japanese gardens? You know, those serene landscapes with raked pebbles and a single maple tree pruned into perfect profile in the middle?
I do. They’re marvels of restraint, which I’m not, but tranquility is a major hallmark of the Japanese style and desirable in a harried world.
All of which is not to say that I can actually manage to pull off a Japanese garden here in Connecticut since, for a start, I’m not Japanese; but I can have a stab at growing a number of Japanese plants. All except roses, I read, because according to at least one major garden designer who shall remain nameless, roses play no part in Japanese gardening. Continue reading
Once the name Golconda was associated with only one thing: pink diamonds. At the end of the 17th century during the great age of the Mughal Empire in India Golconda was mined out and the sparkling vein of rose petal diamonds dried up.
Golconda is also the first of the Joel Arthur Rosenthal fragrances, and if you have never heard of him, that may be because you are not a jewelry collector of very high net worth. Also you missed the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s retrospective of JAR jewelry which I curse myself for missing, because the pieces are so lovely that seeing them just makes your day. Continue reading
Spring this year is unusually pollen heavy, everywhere I go in New Jersey people have watery eyes and running noses. My Hub is apparently in competition for the greatest number of recorded sneezes during any twenty four hour period, and even the check out people at Shop Rite can barely see out of their swollen eyes.
What is causing all this misery? Pollen, pure and simple, but also remarkably plentiful this year. Our car is covered in a powdery chartreuse veil of the stuff. I can’t help but wonder, how many more floral smells can we actually endure? Continue reading
There are some smells that all of us have a visceral dislike of, some people hate boxwood with its pungent slightly cat pee odor. Others love it and have all sorts of happily associated memories of parks, gardens and playgrounds triggered by boxwood. Eau Illuminee from Parfums Delrae is said to feature boxwood as part of the sensory landscape of San Francisco. Then again some people love the scent of cumin while for others cumin (especially detectable in the revamped Femme from Rochas or old Alpona from Caron) can put off a lot of people who only smell sweat and stale takeaway curries. Even roses can be controversial, although most of us love them. Anne of Austria (Louis the XIV’s Mum) so hated them that reportedly she couldn’t stand to see a rose in a painting and who knows what happened when she spotted one in a vase…* Continue reading