Witchhazel Witchcraft

Witch hazel "Primavera" from gardendesign.com

Witch hazel “Primavera” from gardendesign.com

March has come and with it high winds and unpredictable weather.  In my neck of the woods the witch hazels are in bloom.  They are one indispensable part of this very early spring season, a harbinger of the end of winter. They give  a touch of color to nearly bare flower gardens.  Once you see a well grown little tree festooned with its party blowout flowers, you are intrigued, but when you smell their  fragrance you are hooked.

Yesterday I drove some twenty miles to a specialist nursery in Hamden CT.  (Broken Arrow Nursery, and no, I’m not affiliated) which has quite a selection of witch hazels.  I wanted to see them in bloom and breath in, because I knew that the fragrance was going to be a big part of my decision. Continue reading

Non Rose Perfumes that Smell of Roses

From The dailymail.com.uk A reconstruction of Arcimblodo's Spring

From The dailymail.com.uk A reconstruction of Arcimblodo’s Spring

It appears that I have not done a “list” post in a very long time.  I really hate to do these at the end of a year, but once in a while there is a little space and time to do one and if you can’t re-live rose perfumes in February-when can you?

They do some pretty good best of lists over at Perfume Posse, but I am a fuss pot about roses because I grow so many, and like my perfumes to be really evocative of the real thing, thorns and all. So no Stella, no Diptyque Eau de Rose (only rosy for five minutes anyway- subsequently dryer sheets) and I find the Early Roses of Teo Cabanel to be too timid .  If you want exhaustive lists of the real thing  Undina’s Looking Glass has a really long one. Continue reading

Violets for Valentine’s Day

Fragrant blue violets from pinterest.com

Fragrant blue violets from pinterest.com

So I realized I had been remiss here.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all my readers and a bouquet of violets to mark the day.  I hope it is a fragrant one for you all!

I would also love to know what everyone decided to wear for Valentine’s Day?  I stuck with an old  formula Jasmin de

Double White Violets from Logees'. com

Double White Violets from Logees’. com

Corse a Coty perfume that has a violet beginning and then

is a solid, sunny and rather rural jasmine with a distinct hay note to the fragrance.

What did you choose?  Did everyone decide to stick to roses?

Cats and Rose Trees

Charcoal at about the time we adopted her.

Charcoal at about the time we adopted her.

Cats seem to be the inevitable partners of those who love perfume,but I’m not sure how often they are the partners of gardeners.  I have had memorable dog friends and currently have a cat associate who I came to know in a singular way involving a rose.

When I first met Charcoal she was living on the street in New Jersey.  The particular street she lived on was the same one we lived on  but our paths had not crossed often because we had an aged dog, and she was wary of him.  Mr Tang detested cats with all the energy a veteran Shih Tzu can muster, and used to curse her out roundly when she came into view, but he was in the twilight of his years.  Inevitably we lost him and when we did my daughter announced that she wanted a cat. Continue reading

A Gold, Gold, Winter

Aconites from The DailyMail.com

Aconites from The DailyMail.com

Sometimes I forget how much of my time is not taken up by things in bottles but by plants.  When we first moved here in June of 2015 we were disorganized and preoccupied by schools, and skating teams, and all the other things that come along with moving when you have a family to settle into place.

Then there was the house.  This house is a Connecticut house, which means that it has been built onto at different dates, and sits in the middle of a very large garden.  At last count I had ten garden beds and have now added another very large space for planting.  What was I thinking? Continue reading

The Smell of American Holidays

Northern Bayberry

Northern Bayberry

These days it seems to be synthetic holly or vanillin, or sugar cookie, but once in my childhood it was the scent of bayberries. Now this no doubt seems very old fashioned indeed to people who may still be in their twenties, but the time was when candles were made up and down the eastern seaboard of the colonies using the berries of this one shrubby plant, Myrica pensylvanica.

Continue reading

What the Bees Smell

Squash bees at work

Squash bees at work

My heliotrope was a big disappointment to me this year.  The seeds were ordered from Monticello and when they germinated and grew to plant-hood what did I find?  A great big bush the height of my waist with  feathery heads of purple and then lavender flowers that did not have any scent.

Color me disappointed.  But although I may have been cheated of my almond and sugar and cherry perfume, the bees were in heaven.  The bees and the butterflies were all over my heliotrope practically from the very first day it came into flower in July.  The bees evidently don’t care what human noses smell, they have their own standards of attractiveness.  Which makes me wonder what is it really that bees smell? Continue reading

Green Eggs and Vetiver

Green Eggs and Ham

Green Eggs and Ham

Vetiver is like comfortable old shoes to me.  Ahh…vetiver, it’s relaxing and there are relatively few versions of vetiver I’ve ever come across that I didn’t like.  I love Terre d’Hermes, though perhaps it’s not as good a vetiver as in its salad days.  I also love Guerlain’s wonderful old Vetiver.  A marvelous scent, and the tobacco in there is a brilliant touch.

I’ve always crossed the aisle and so wore Givenchy’s Eau de Vetyver and I loved and briefly wore Maitre Parfumier et Gantier’s Racines.  One was very masculine and comfortable- kind of like borrowing your boyfriend’s hacking jacket- and the other was more refined, good to wear in fall with woolens.  Naturally I also had Guerlain’s Vetyver for a long time.  The square bottle with the wave pattern on the glass was sublime but gave headaches, so I sprayed it in my shoes or on my feet.  I still managed to get my vetiver fix and discovered along the way that the Guerlain Vetiver killed moths. Continue reading

The Sweet Breath of Horses

Horse and Hay

Horse and Hay

My sister as a teenager spent some time working in stables, and says that what she misses most from that period is the smell.  Actually I’m pretty sure she meant something specific, not for instance the smell of mucking out- which is never the best odor in stables-and in fact she was thinking of the scent of the horses.  Horses while they were being groomed.  She liked the brushes, and the whiff of a healthy horse, and their sweet breath, and also she loved to clean tack.  Murphy’s Oil Soap was what they often used, and she enjoyed the smell of that too.  Murphy’s made her downright nostalgic. Continue reading

The Smells You Hate to Love

Cumin in the garden

Cumin in the garden

Every perfume enthusiast has them, scents that really ruin a fragrance.  Sometimes it’s the dreaded melon note, other times it’s the oceanic note ( no less a perfumer than Jacques Polge has kept that out of Chanel perfumes.  He says it never actually smells like the seaside.)* Others can’t bear the animalics, the stinky civet or sweaty palmed musk notes, and then there are people who really detest woods like cedar or vetiver.

One of my worst aversions and for years was cumin.  I thought it smelled like sweat, and not clean sweat either, but coming off a three day bender sweat, the sort you whiffed inadvertently on the New York Subway, usually on the local No 1, generally below 14th street.  When I ran across perfumes simply crammed with cumin- like Alexander McQueen’s Kingdom- I would practically hold my nose.  I knew it was interesting and had something to say for itself but that cumin! The stuff just knocked you sideways.  It was Eau de Grit. Continue reading