Datura metel in bloom
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
Datura in bloom.
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
Romantic elegance this girl in a hat from Pinterest
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
Rosa rugosa “Agnes”
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
The Darya e Noor Diamond
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
Bee and Pollen
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
Christmas tree cauliflower
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
Thomas Jefferson at the age when he was experimenting most in the garden at Monicello
Ever wonder what were the favorite scents of historical figures? In the case of Thomas Jefferson we know one of his: the Mexican tuberose. Jefferson was a gardener when he was not writing the Declaration of Independence or being president. Monticello was a sort of test garden for all sorts of plants and flowers that Jefferson had admired abroad, or that he thought might be useful or simply ornamental, in American horticulture. One such discovery for him was the tuberose.
He kept a diary which is how we know about his tastes and what he ordered. Like anybody else who gardens, he loved to look at plant lists from nurseries and dream of where he could tuck this or that little rarity into the spaces he had open. Continue reading
How many gardenias fall into the cold cream vat?
Gardenias are said to be the perfumer’s best bet at capturing the US feminine market. We in the Sates love our gardenias, and if you can just concoct us a good one, we’re your customers forever.
There’s some truth to the rumor. All sorts of niche perfume companies have tried to crack open the American feminine market with gardenias, but only Annick Goutal succeeded with Gardenia Passion*, and such venerable houses as Guerlain have struck out with non-gardenia gardenias such as Cruel Gardenia. C’est la Vie. Continue reading
La Liz was her secret violet eyes or lavnder oil?
You may have noticed the disappearance of lavender soliflores. In fact you may have noticed the disappearance of lavender essential oil from perfumes and soaps and other such products with some vague fake floralcy substituted for lavender. Why has this happened?
The explanation may be related to the findings in 2006 of Derek Henley and Edward Reiter of the National Institute of Environmental Health and Science concerning the strange cases of five young boys and “idiopathic prepubertal gynecomastia”. Translated into the demotic, these five boys had begun to sprout breasts when using otc tea tree and lavender oil containing soaps and shampoos. The effect went away when the boys changed products.
Bouquet from The metropolitan Museum of Art
Big honking lilies and not those tiny little lilies of the valley, that’s what I’m referencing. They’re not shy and they’re really not understated either, but the big lily’s smell can be beautiful.
They can also be great big honking hits with the public. Consider that billboard sized lily Cacharel’s, Anais-Anais. Cacharel let Anais-Anais loose on unsuspecting mortals in 1978 and the beginning was a heavenly whirlwind of florals: White Madonna Lily, black currant, hyacinth, lily of the valley, then a midsection crammed with even more flowers and woods. Everything was stuffed inside Anais -Anais’s delicate skin, jasmine, Grasse rose, iris, ylang-ylang, orange blossom, vetiver cedarwood, oakmoss, patchouli, finally an almost apologetic ending trailing behind this monumental arrangement, a few leather streamers and a tiny bit of musk as though Anais had stepped out of one fragile leather slipper and left it behind. Continue reading