Fragrant Pleasures: 322 posts

Essays on scented pleasures: collecting and enjoying fragrance, building perfume wardrobe, growing aromatic plants and more.

Scent Diary : Flowers That Smell Like Hay

Phloxes smell like hay and cloves. These flowers are so commonplace that I don’t think I ever bothered to smell them before. They merged into the summer cityscape of dusty chestnut trees, yellowing grass and tiny marigolds that dot the lawns around here. Occasionally, I spotted them at the florists, but since I knew that they don’t keep their freshness well, I rarely bought them. Not smelling phloxes was a mistake, because if I were to have lowered my face into the mass of soft petals sooner, I would have added another beautiful fragrance to my scent palette.
kb-phlox

This little discovery encouraged me to smell things I often take for granted–walnut leaves, chestnut shells, potato peels. When boiling chickpeas for a salad, I noticed that they smell meaty and nutty at once. Moss covered clay pots on the patio had a vetiver like odor. I also tried Jovan Musk from my box of “perfumes to try later” and liked its creamy drydown.

Scent Diary is a place where we can share fragrances we encounter, good and bad, perfumes we wear and the scents around us. It’s a way to sharpen our sense of smell, but also just to enjoy the fragrance hobby in a different way. Whether you write down 1 recollection or 10 matters less than simply reminding yourself to smell. You can add as many comments as you wish. You can comment today or over the course of the week; this thread will always be open. Of course, do share what perfume you’re wearing or what particularly good scented products you’ve discovered.

Wishing a great Labor Day weekend to my American readers!

Photography by Bois de Jasmin, phloxes

Best Lavender Perfumes : My Financial Times Magazine Column

In my new article for the Financial Times Magazine’s fragrance column, The Best Lavender Perfumes, I talk about some of my favorite lavender blends as well as fragrances that use lavender notes.

lavender

Lavender is a much misunderstood perfume ingredient. “Too simple” is a common response from many who’ve long associated it with aftershaves and soaps. Among perfume materials, lavender may not have the femme-fatale allure of jasmine or tuberose, but in terms of versatility, the essence of its tiny violet flowers often outranks more exotic blooms. It can be found in fragrances from all corners of the perfume map. Please read the rest by clicking here.

Climate change and the spread of disease are creating pressures for the production of lavender in France, and I also touch upon this issue in my article.

If you have favorite lavender perfumes, I would love to hear what you enjoy and wear. 

Photo via FT

Perfume and Poetry: The Book of Scented Things Review

Patricia on perfume and poetry.

For me poetry first meant the limericks and nursery rhymes in The Golden Treasury of Poetry, edited by Louis Untermeyer and containing lovely illustrations by Joan Walsh Anglund. The pages of this book became dog-eared and torn over the years, and the cover finally fell off. Once I could read, I graduated to the longer poems within, such as “The Highwayman” and “Paul Revere’s Ride.” But it wasn’t until high school, when I was introduced to a wider range of poetry, especially modern verse, that I felt the power of poetry to take one on an incredible journey within the space of only a few verses. As a teenager, the poems of e e cummings were early favorites, and I still have a copy of Poems 1923-1954, my name written on the flyleaf in loopy handwriting I hardly recognize.

book

The Book of Scented Things: 100 Contemporary Poems About Perfume, edited by Jehanne Dubrow and Lindsay Lusby, is a collection of one hundred original poems about fragrance written by American poets. These poets were sent perfume vials, all different and carefully chosen by the editors, and asked to “…write a poem that engages with or responds to the fragrance that we have sent you.” The editors go into detailed explanation of the book’s inception in the Introduction, and Alyssa Harad, author of Coming to My Senses, provides her thoughts on scent and literature in a well-written Preface. A very useful Contributors’ and Matchmaking Notes section appears at the end of the book and gives biographical information on each poet as well as the name of the assigned perfume.

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Recommend Me a Perfume : August

Bois de Jasmin will return on Monday. Today we have our “Recommend Me a Perfume” thread. You can use this space to ask any questions about perfume, including fragrance recommendations. If you’ve asked for a recommendation before, please let us know how your search went and what you’ve discovered.

poppies olives

How does it work:

1. Please post your requests or questions as comments here. You can also use this space to ask any fragrance related questions. To receive recommendations that are better tailored to your tastes, you can include details on what you like and don’t like, your signature perfumes, and your budget. And please let us know what you end up sampling.

2. Then please check the thread to see if there are other requests you can answer. Your responses are really valuable for navigating the big and sometimes confusing world of perfume, so let’s help each other!

To make this thread easier to read, when you reply to someone, please click on the blue “reply” link under their comment.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin, Sicily

When Every Buy is Blind Buy

“Being almost completely blind, I have always used my nose as a means to investigate and love my world, so it is no surprise that I became a perfume addict at an early age,” says Shermeen, our guest author today. She shares her experience of using her nose instead of her eyes. “Although I would have loved to have pursued a career in the fragrance industry, I enjoy indulging in it as an obsessive hobby. I studied law and live in Southern Ontario, and when I’m not using my legal background to persuade myself into buying more perfume, I enjoy reading, writing, singing, drinking loose-leaf tea, and travelling when I’m able.”

When people first learn that I’m almost completely blind (which is often instantaneously, since I’m often accompanied by a gigantic yellow dog), one of their first questions is invariably along the lines of “So are your other senses, like, heightened?”

geranium

Yes, I can hear, smell, and taste things you probably didn’t even know existed. I know you had garlic bread yesterday morning, that your kid spilled a bowl of cheerios on your pajamas last night, and I bet you can’t even hear that fire engine blasting its way down your street as you read this (how many of you looked out your window to check?)

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