Tulips are impossible to resist. Certainly it was beyond me when I found a large escaped clump of bright scarlet tulips blooming in an out of the way corner of the lot, obviously former garden bed detainees who had decided on a prison break. Out came the secateurs, and now I have a bouquet sitting on my breakfast table, drooping ever so slightly – well, okay, quite a bit – as tulips do after a first day in water.
The revelation is their smell. They are large late tulips, which we used to call May tulips, with a correspondingly big scent: their smell is initially green with the freshness of ozone in it, then floral, a daffodil like scent with something powdery about it, presumably the pollen on those black pistils, and the base is honey, very warm and very golden, with a very faint component of dirty musk drowned in its sticky depths. It is a perfume complete in itself, and most unfortunately, I cannot think of any fragrance on the market that really tries to replicate it. Continue reading