Daily Scents Spring Edition : What Do You Smell Around You?

What do you smell around you these days?

It is officially spring. The Bradford pear trees are draped in the foam of blossoms, its marine connotations echoed by the white petals’ fishy odor. The sticky red buds on maple branches smell sweet and acidic, a mixture of hot metal and honey. On most mornings I step outside and feel uplifted by the bracing freshness. It works better than a cup of coffee!

As I enter the subway, I realize that these days I smell more perfume. Since people wear fewer layers, the sillage can be overwhelming. The usual green apple and peach scents of hair products are now supplemented with the fragrances I recognize. On Monday, I sat next to a girl wearing Dior J’Adore. On Wednesday as I was heading back home, a guy wearing Thierry Mugler Angel and tight black jeans complimented me on my perfume–I also wore Angel. Yesterday, my friend and I had to navigate the sushi bar to avoid a lady wearing half a bottle of Chanel Coco Mademoiselle. And this morning I smelled the dewy gardenia and coffee at Starbucks. Not much of a scent revelation, but it made for a more memorable morning.

Image: Pear Blossom by kellygifford via flickr, some rights reserved.



  • Elisa: Hyacinths! In my neighborhood in Denver there are hyacinths blooming in everyone’s gardens. (And yesterday I wore AG Grand Amour in the morning and Paco Rabanne Metal in the afternoon.)

    I’m sure you know the street name for Bradford pear trees? 🙂 March 30, 2012 at 2:08pm Reply

  • Victoria: Aha, like the stuff that Lady Gaga threatened to put in her perfume! 🙂

    Grand Amour and Chamade must be my favorite hyacinth fragrance. Oh, and Cristalle EDP! March 30, 2012 at 2:11pm Reply

  • rosarita: I enjoy reading your spring impressions. 🙂 Here in the midwest, spring came all at once, riding the tails of a major heat wave. It’s cooler now, and raining. The wet green earth smells indescribably lovely. We have one tree, an enormous and ancient maple in the back yard. It badly needs to be trimmed, and one of branches practically comes in the back door! I love the smells that maple trees produce. Right now, it’s those bracelets of little green seeds all over that smell sappy and green and as you said, acidic. March 30, 2012 at 2:22pm Reply

  • Kym: I live on the west coast and in the past four weeks enjoyed the blooms of my neighbors magnolia, my own climbing jasmine in full bloom and most recently, another neighbors lemon blossoms. How I love the smells of spring. I hike my dog several times a week in an area full of sages and often pinch the blooms and rub them between my fingers as a walk by. Another neighbor has rosemary, which is always fragrant and I must confess, I almost always pinch a little for a sniff.

    Perfume-wise, I very rarely smell anything on women. On men, I am sometimes overwhelmed by ample applications of scents I cannot name – and do not care for. March 30, 2012 at 2:34pm Reply

  • Dionne: Give me three more weeks and I can tell you what spring smells like here. The snow has melted, but everything’s still brown. *sigh* March 30, 2012 at 2:38pm Reply

  • Janet: This has nothing to do with scent, but your use of the word “mademoiselle” brought back a memory to me…my father used to use that word but deliberately mispronounce it to me…as in, “After you, mad-ah-moy-sel.” Thanks for the memory!!! March 30, 2012 at 3:38pm Reply

  • cryptic: In my area people have begun to mow their lawns, so the predominant odor is fresh-cut grass. Also, we just had our flower beds mulched, and the black stuff they used looks fantastic but smells horrific. Seems like manure must’ve gotten mixed in. Naturally my dogs love it and want to roll in it. 😐 March 30, 2012 at 3:56pm Reply

  • Perfumista8: This is one of the most beautiful and fragrant Springs in recent memory. We have tons of Daphne shrubs, Jasmine, Mexican Sage, White Sage, Rosemary, Poppies, Eucalyptus Trees and wildflowers.

    Lately, when I have smelled perfume on someone, it’s been a white floral – I wrack my brain to identify the perfume but I’m usually not successful and then it bugs me for a while, like when I can’t recall the name of an author or a book. I did easily identify Angel a woman the other night. March 30, 2012 at 6:58pm Reply

  • Undina: We had spring here, in Northern California, for the last couple of months, some fruit trees are already past their blooming season. Recently (a day or two ago?) I smelled some flowers on a tree (I have no idea what it was – definitely not a fruit tree) and thought that that was one of those smells I wouldn’t want to come across in a perfume form. I’m not sure I can explain properly, but it was one of those unpleasantly bittersweet vegetal smells that aren’t pleasant even in nature surroundings. March 30, 2012 at 7:18pm Reply

  • Victoria: We have two types of maple trees near our apartment building. One produces the green bracelets you mentioned, the other–red clusters. Maybe, they’re different species or perhaps different genders. Either way, I love the smell of their sticky buds. March 30, 2012 at 8:16pm Reply

  • Victoria: Can I just say that your surroundings sound like a paradise to me? 🙂 Jasmine, magnolia, lemon blossoms… it just can’t get better. March 30, 2012 at 8:17pm Reply

  • Victoria: Our spring keep alternative with winter this year. There is no snow, but the weather keeps changing. One day it’s 70F, another 40F. March 30, 2012 at 8:18pm Reply

  • Victoria: 🙂 That’s sweet. I cherish the memories of my late father and the nicknames he had for me. March 30, 2012 at 8:20pm Reply

  • Victoria: Oh man, that stuff drives me nuts! The landscaping firm tending our area just deposited mulch all over the floor beds. Since we’re on the ground level, I get to enjoy the full blast of it whenever I open the patio doors. March 30, 2012 at 8:21pm Reply

  • Victoria: That sounds like a perfect perfume! Can you imagine putting all of those scents in a bottle? I think that it would be wonderful.

    I smell lots of white florals and tuberose on women in NYC. There are trend reports saying that American women love white florals, and I believe them. March 30, 2012 at 8:22pm Reply

  • Victoria: Might be the Bradford pear trees. Are they covered with white blossom in the spring, and do they bear small hard fruit in the fall? They’re famous for their unpleasant scent. I don’t know if you remember smoked mackerel that used to be popular in Russia (kopchenaja skumbria,) but I swear they smell similar. Maybe, not quite as smoky. Some species of these pear trees smell like singed green peppers. March 30, 2012 at 8:26pm Reply

  • Undina: I’ll have to check what fruit (if any) that tree bears though I doubt it’s a pear tree on a parking lot.

    The smell you described sounds awful 🙂 March 30, 2012 at 9:13pm Reply

  • Musette: I have Rosarita’s weather (we’re not too far from each other) and what I’m smelling is drifting apple blossoms. The air is perfumed for miles with that beautiful smell. The cooler weather arrested the lilacs, for which I am grateful – they are just about to open but haven’t yet, which gives the apples a few days to reign supreme. It’s such a clean, perfectly natural scent. And the beautiful petals, drifting like snow, in the brisk wind…absolutely lovely!

    xo March 30, 2012 at 9:46pm Reply

  • Memoryofscent.wordpress.com: These days I smell bitter orange trees releasing their first blooms. Spring is definitely here! March 31, 2012 at 4:08am Reply

  • Laura: Enormous Star Magnolia with a scent of jasmine, first the petals open as a star, the fragrance lovely. Using floral tape I made beautiful sweetheart bouquets using purple muscari, lavender hyacinths, weeping cherry blossoms and white camellia. So charming. Hoping the muguet will bloom in time for its namesake holiday on May 1.

    XXXOOO March 31, 2012 at 8:25am Reply

  • Anne: Full spring here! (I am in the South of France). And I am loving the smell of the warming mediterranean sea in the morning, and the blossoms all around me. Although this morning I got nasally aggressed by a women in the market who seamed to have jumped entirely in a bottle of Chance by Chanel!!!!! TOO MUCH! March 31, 2012 at 10:07am Reply

  • nikki: We have the most amazing trees blooming: yellow Acacias, they look like Mimosas but are a little different. They line the streets here and everything is yellow and smells like Une Fleur de Cassie. The cacti are blossoming, too, in fuchsia buds. The orange and grapefruit trees are blossoming and the scent is so lovely! We are waiting for Texas Ranger to bloom, they are a bright purple. All in all spring has been wonderful so far. Tombstone roses and other roses are blooming as well as the Mexican poppies everywhere. March 31, 2012 at 10:36am Reply

  • skilletlicker: Outside it’s a profusion of jasmine, jasmine, jasmine. Inside it’s an armful of lilac that a friend brought me from the farmer’s market. Yesterday I wore SL Fleurs d’Oranger, today, I’m making strawberrry pies so I might just stay inside, avoid the rain, and luxuriate in an olfactory fruit bath. March 31, 2012 at 2:48pm Reply

  • Andy: The smells of Spring are what make me love the season most. Recently it’s been smelling like hyacinth (I especially love smelling the white ones) and the star magnolias smell lovely too. I anticipate the arrival of wild violets in a few weeks and the lily of the valley, honeysuckle, and wild sweetbay magnolia (which smell vanilla-like) later in the season. March 31, 2012 at 3:00pm Reply

  • carolyn Ericksen-Buss: Here in Maine, the crocuses are peeping up and daffodils are in a few south facing gardens. Few wear fragrance here except the high school boys with their “stank” of Ax. I wore some Hermes Un Jardin de Mediterranee and one student commented the room smelled like his 80 year old grandmother’s house. I told him her house must smell wonderful! March 31, 2012 at 3:05pm Reply

  • Andrea: As I understand it, Bradford pears are so named for their shape rather than producing fruit. I am looking at ours right now out of our front room window, I love to watch it change through the seasons. It is a reminder to me that life is in constant motion and the difficulties one may face today will not always be there… And I particularly love this season, as it is so abundantly lovely! March 31, 2012 at 3:06pm Reply

  • Emma: Generally speaking I don’t smell perfume on women anymore. I think white women are very fragrance-shy in America even here in New York, most just spritz perfume in the air and walk through it. I do smell stronger perfumes on ethnic women, like 80’s perfumes. Straight men either wear nothing at all or too just much (cheap) cologne, those who wear more refined fragrances are intellectual and/or “metrosexual” guys who live in the nicest parts of Manhattan, they go to Barneys where they can find Le Labo, Serge Lutens and Frederic Malle. Gay men love sweet (cloying) perfumes, Mugler A*Men and Tom Ford Black Orchid. March 31, 2012 at 3:40pm Reply

  • Victoria: The fruit is not edible. It is tiny, the size of small cherry. For some reason it is a very popular ornamental tree. Our parking lot is edged by them. March 31, 2012 at 5:46pm Reply

  • Victoria: Does yours smell unpleasant, the way mine does? When I was looking the name online, I discovered that not all varieties smell like fish! March 31, 2012 at 5:47pm Reply

  • Victoria: We’re apparently too far south to have abundant lilacs, that’s what I’ve been told. 🙁 March 31, 2012 at 5:48pm Reply

  • Victoria: Everyone is surrounded by such great scents! I would be tempted to spent all of my time outside if I had any bitter orange trees in bloom. March 31, 2012 at 5:49pm Reply

  • Victoria: My mom is hoping that her lily of the valley will bloom soon. Her patch has overtaken the entire backyard! March 31, 2012 at 5:49pm Reply

  • Victoria: Chance is another fragrance I smelled last week. Or at least, that’s what I thought it was. There are so many copycats that it’s hard to tell them apart. March 31, 2012 at 5:50pm Reply

  • Victoria: Are you in the South of the US? A friend who lives in Texas just reported that she found a tree that smelled like Une Fleur de Cassie, which must be the same tree you are talking about. March 31, 2012 at 5:51pm Reply

  • Victoria: That sounds like paradise to me, all of that jasmine! And lilac! March 31, 2012 at 5:51pm Reply

  • Victoria: I notice the scent of star magnolias when I go for my evening walk. They smell rich and heady, a bit like a lemon scented furniture polish mixed with someone’s jasmine perfume. During the day, the scent seems to be more delicate. March 31, 2012 at 5:52pm Reply

  • Victoria: LOL! When I was teaching as a grad student, one of my students told me that I sounded like his grandmother (she was originally from Russia). He was in fact trying to give me a compliment. 🙂 March 31, 2012 at 5:55pm Reply

  • Victoria: I didn’t make any demographic connections so far, and sometimes in a crowd on the subway it is hard to tell who is the scented source. March 31, 2012 at 5:57pm Reply

  • Sherri M: The smell of Spring this week in Tennessee is lilacs and fresh cut grass (we’ve already had three mowings with Spring coming so early). I brought a bunch of lilacs in to enjoy and smell them each time I walk past the table.

    As far as smelling perfume on others, since I have five teenage girls, I smell a lot of Taylor Swift Wonderstruck and every Victoria’s Secret Pink/Hollister/Rue 21 etc. candy fruity thing ever made. Even on adult women, I smell a lot of fruity florals (most very chemical) along with J’Adore and Viva la Juicy and Flower Bomb in my everyday suburban life.

    Now, when I go out with my husband in the evenings, especially if it is to a play or the symphony, I will smell No. 5 , Fracas, and Shalimar. Oh, and Angel! I guess it has risen to classic status! April 1, 2012 at 8:25am Reply

  • Victoria: J’Adore and Flowerbomb are what I smelled at the coffee shop this morning. Both are super powerful, and they filled up the whole space. I like these fragrances, but I was glad that the weather was nice enough to sit outside. 🙂 April 1, 2012 at 10:32am Reply

  • Erin T: I love Métal and thought I was the only one who wore it anymore. Such a springy scent! (Paco Rabanne Pour Homme is great this time of year, too…) April 2, 2012 at 12:42pm Reply

  • monkeytoe: Our yard in South Florida is a riot of gardenia, jasmine, plumeria, and the champacas are beginning to bloom. The smell in the relative cool of morning is amazing. April 2, 2012 at 2:36pm Reply

  • Anne: Me too! I have a planter of hyacinths in my living room and they smell devine. They are in my favourite lilac-blue. April 3, 2012 at 8:58pm Reply

  • Elisa: PR pour homme is one of my boyfriend’s signature scents. I love the drydown on him! April 4, 2012 at 12:29pm Reply

  • Victoria: I can only imagine! I also love the smell of champacas when they start wilting. They smell leathery and sweet then. April 4, 2012 at 3:26pm Reply

  • [email protected]: Coco Mademoiselle & Aqua di Gio all the time on the streets. Irish Spring. Cool Water on the commuter train back home- though the person that had left the smell behind wasn’t there. And most pleasantly of all, Jeux de Peau on a woman I passed by very quickly on the streets. April 5, 2012 at 1:03am Reply

  • [email protected]: About nature though, here in SF, it is Jasmine, Hawthorne now. Waiting for when Orange Blossom will be dominant in a few months time. April 5, 2012 at 1:05am Reply

  • Blue Jeans: i plant mint and lavender it reminds me of spring April 5, 2012 at 3:34pm Reply

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