Scent Diary : Cornflowers

“Why do you want to take my picture?” “You look so beautiful with these flowers, and they are the same color as your eyes.” “Oh, bless you, you’re making me blush.”

I can’t pass by the sidewalk sellers without at least glancing at their wares, and almost always I leave with a purchase: wild strawberries that smell of caramel and orange blossoms, a bunch of herbs for tisane tied with a string, or plums covered with a mottled silvery patina. When I saw this cornflower seller on a busy street in Kyiv, I already knew I couldn’t resist the temptation. And you know, cornflowers smell wonderful–green, earthy, with a subtle peppery note.


Our 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.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin



  • Bea: What a lovely lady and it sounds luxurious to be able to buy wild strawberries. Here you have to pick them yourself in the forests and the berries are so small that it takes forever just to get one litre. I managed to find a handful last summer and it was a rare treat.

    Today’s scent diary: we are working on a building project in our apartment and the air is filled with the smell of freshly cut Norwegian spruce (Picea abies). It is very dry and fresh and rather subtle, not as overwhelming as pine.

    I realised that this smells just like my father who always has some kind of wood-related work going on in his spare time. I was quite happy to find out that I do have scent memories tied to my father. My mother is Chanel no 5, always, sprayed on to try to camouflage her secret habit of having a cigarette or two a day, but my dad doesn’t use perfume. Now I have found a scent that reminds me of him. I will try to find a suitable perfume that smells of dry wood. Any suggestions? July 11, 2014 at 7:56am Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: What about Fille en Aiguilles? Maybe too much pine? July 11, 2014 at 8:17am Reply

      • Bea: I haven’t tried it but will do! Thank you for the suggestion! July 11, 2014 at 10:19am Reply

    • Victoria: Dry woods and pine–how about Annick Goutal Nuit Etoilee? Have you tried it?

      I admit that I sometimes coincide my visits with the wild strawberry season, because back in Brussels they cost their weight in gold (in the US, I’ve never even seen them), but in Kyiv, you can get a kg for something like 10 euros. But I love to pick berries too, and I miss my family forest outings. July 11, 2014 at 11:39am Reply

      • Bea: I havent’t tried any of Annick Goutal’s perfumes (they are not sold here) but I plan to buy decants this fall. Nuit Etoilee will be one of them, thank you for the advice! July 11, 2014 at 1:36pm Reply

  • Kate: I’ve never been able to smell cornflowers — maybe you need to have a bunch together like that? I’ll try a deep sniff next time I see them. There’s a vacant lot in my city that has become an incredible weed/wildflower paradise — purple clover (honey smell), different grasses, Queen Anne’s Lace (also kind of an earthy smell, faint and not too sweet) with flowerheads as big as my palm. I bet there’ll be cornflowers later.

    Today I smelled the bitter rubbery smell of dandelion sap — I was cutting off the leaves of the ones in my garden before work. Apparently it’s good to do that and leave the roots in, because the roots draw up nutrients from deep underground and can enrich the garden when they rot.

    Then the garbage truck drove by smelling like a garbage truck, but I am so grateful to not have to haul my own garbage to the dump that I don’t mind! On the way to the bus stop, I caught a sharp metallic whiff of someone’s cigarette.

    Someone on the bus had washed their hair with Pantene shampoo. Added to the cool green morning smells, that gave me a powerful scent flashback to mornings summer camp, getting up for breakfast and smelling everyone’s freshly washed hair. Pantene was the teenage girl beauty product of choice.

    The woman in that picture has a beautiful face. July 11, 2014 at 8:31am Reply

    • Victoria: They definitely don’t have a heavy scent, but if you bury your face in a bunch of them, you notice the aroma. I also love the scent of poppies, which smell of potato peels. I can’t explain why this fragrance is so appealing, but it is. July 11, 2014 at 11:40am Reply

    • Nikki: Yes, the woman in the picture has a beautiful face, a kind face that weathered storms… July 11, 2014 at 4:34pm Reply

    • solanace: I was going to say that too, she still is beautiful, and must have been a true knockout! July 13, 2014 at 4:40am Reply

  • Michaela: I find this picture touching, as well as the whole scene. The woman is not used to be noticed and appreciated by a total stranger, and receiving unexpected compliments is probably quite an event for her, something to remember. Warm, kind, modest, a bit embarrassed, but radiant face makes her beautiful.

    I can hardly wait to smell some cornflowers. Their color is wonderful. An infusion is wonderful in cosmetics, as far as I know (around the eyes, for the face…)

    I’m glad I discovered the red clover scent. Never paid attention until someone marked it in the scent diary. Chamomille, crushed leaves and clove buds, indeed 🙂 My early morning walk was rewarded, too, by white nicotiana flowers, very fragrant.
    Fresh green cucumbers made my day. And the dry beautiful vetiver of Lalique Encre Noire. July 11, 2014 at 9:36am Reply

    • Michaela: …and ripe apricots! July 11, 2014 at 9:48am Reply

      • Victoria: We have ripe apricots here too. They look mottled and not very pretty, but the scent is out of this world. July 11, 2014 at 11:43am Reply

        • Kat: Ah…yes! I grow my own apricots. Ripe from the tree, they have an incredible taste and aroma! Pretty or not, they are always preferred over what is available in our local markets. July 11, 2014 at 12:59pm Reply

          • Victoria: The perfect ones are the most tasteless, in my experience. The sweetest apricots I’ve tried were tiny, mottled, but they smelled like heaven and tasted like honey. July 12, 2014 at 2:21pm Reply

    • Victoria: Your observation is spot on. In general, people around here are easy to talk to, and it takes only a single remark to launch into a full conversation with someone. If you have time, it can be fun and you can meet so many interesting people.

      Speaking of clover, our yard is overgrown with them, and once I read your comment, I went outside and picked a small bouquet. Now, I’m enjoying its sweet, honeyed fragrance too. July 11, 2014 at 11:50am Reply

  • Figuier: Great picture! And the flower-seller looks very like someone I know. But more to the point: I had no idea cornflowers smelled of anything, they never do here in the UK.

    Things I’ve been smelling: wet everything – it’s been raining since this morning. Also Arancia di Capri, which is great sprayed fresh but dries down like concentrated orange juice dries down – not so good. Also: fresh carrots, cardboard, hot milk. July 11, 2014 at 10:43am Reply

    • Victoria: If Arancia di Capri lasted on that exhilarating top note for even 15 minutes extra, it would have been great! July 11, 2014 at 11:43am Reply

  • Nancy A.: The beauty that is Europe by this sweet flower lady. I love all of that! Never knew that cornflowers had a scent and those displayed by this vendor have a depth of color and lush unlike what I’m seeing at the farmers markets these days. Wild strawberries you say — jam time. July 11, 2014 at 12:06pm Reply

    • Victoria: I contemplated making jam, but then I decided that eating them out of hand is the best way to go about it. 🙂 July 12, 2014 at 2:19pm Reply

  • Kat: Thank you for the lovely picture! Cornflowers will always remind me of the scene in the film ‘A Room With A View’, where father and son are putting cornflowers in the ladies’ hair and about their room!

    As far as scent diary: today I am sampling Miss Dior Orginale…and I absolutely love it! The creamy dry-down is intoxicating–will have to purchase a bottle, eventually. 🙂 July 11, 2014 at 1:03pm Reply

    • zari: I came to the comment section simply to say the same thing! That is one of my favorite scenes from that movie (which is also a favorite movie in itself). There are wild blue flowers growing on the highway on my commute, and also makes me think of cornflowers, that scene, etc.

      Scent diary – today I am wearing Alien, as well as Collette (Tocca), and just had a secret smoke with a co-worker. I must smell very interesting right now. ;p. July 11, 2014 at 4:05pm Reply

    • Victoria: Lucy Honeychurch! Oh, you’re making me want to see A Room With A View again. And not just for the cornflower scene. 🙂

      Cornelia also commented once that she’s enjoying Miss Dior Orginale, and I’ve been revisiting it time to time and learning to like it the way it is today. The drydown is so beautiful. July 12, 2014 at 2:22pm Reply

      • Kat: Yes! I ended up nearly drenching myself in it and enjoying it all day. (I usually only brave a hint of perfume–I am a light wearer) And today, I am finding myself doing the same with Magie Noir–it’s like a blanket of warm, dark honey. Perhaps like something Lucy would wear while playing Beethoven. 😉 July 12, 2014 at 3:15pm Reply

        • Victoria: A blanket of warm, dark honey is the best way to describe this perfume. 🙂 July 14, 2014 at 3:35pm Reply

  • Polly: My morning coffee. The tomato plants that brush my fingers as I water them. The odd smell of the geraniums. The earthy, sweet smell of my worm composter. The Aleppo soap I use in the shower, all bay-leafy and clean smelling. So, so much to enjoy and it is barely ten o’clock.

    Thank you for this lovely idea of a scent diary. And I just realized that the house smells of Cristalle which means my husband (a closet perfumisto?) sneaked a spritz before he left for work. July 11, 2014 at 1:05pm Reply

    • Victoria: You definitely notice so much when you start paying attention. And isn’t the scent of tomato leaves exhilarating? July 12, 2014 at 2:23pm Reply

      • Polly: I’m not even sure that I like the smell of tomato plants, but I’m certain that I can’t live without it. July 13, 2014 at 9:39pm Reply

    • spe: Cristalle on the closet perfumisto! Love it!
      What a glorious photo – the cornflowers are far more intensely colored than I imagined. And the lady reminds me of my relatives (ukranian on my Dad’s side). July 12, 2014 at 5:54pm Reply

    • solanace: My perfume name is Solanace because the first time I commented here I had just watered the tomato plants and their leaves were smelling luscious. July 13, 2014 at 4:24am Reply

  • Joanna: This photo and personal exchange touches my heart. Thank you for sharing this beautiful moment.

    P.S. She looks so lovely. July 11, 2014 at 3:15pm Reply

  • Austenfan: Great story and wonderful picture (again).
    On my first visit to Poland in 2000 I remember being enchanted by all the meadows and fields with cornflowers and poppies and chamomile flowers. I cannot remember the smell though.
    I do use cornflower water quite a lot on my face and it has a lovely smell, a bit like hay.
    Yesterday I finally localised one of the smells in my garden that had been puzzling me for days. It was a warm, slightly herbal smell with a bit of hay in it. It turned out to be produced by my phloxes. A nice surprise.
    Another fragrance that lingered was my lavender scented washing. I had added some drops of lavender oil to the detergent and it is such a nice simple treat. It doesn’t last, but while it’s there it is wonderful. July 11, 2014 at 6:30pm Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: My grandfather used to say: the fields are of the same beauty all over the world. Maybe he was right! Same in Poland as in Limburg. Cornfields, green woods, poppies, cornflowers, chamomile. I remember the smells very well. Victoria’s ”milky” for cornflowers is imo. the right description, and poppies don’t smell strong, but they have a musty smell, refreshing when it is warm in the summerfields. And chamomile is wonderful.There are more flowers in the fields: ”leeuwenbekjes” (yellow, like little orchidees, sweet smelling), ”wolfmelk” (white little flowers, only open in the evening, no smell that I remember). July 12, 2014 at 4:59am Reply

      • solanace: He didn´t know Monsanto. July 13, 2014 at 4:26am Reply

        • rainboweyes: How true…And very very sad… July 13, 2014 at 5:54am Reply

          • Cornelia Blimber: No, of course not..he was speaking of the beautiful cornfields still existing at the time, and still existing here and there. In Limburg many of them vanished (factories, maisfields, apartments, etc.).
            Monsanto, what a shame. July 13, 2014 at 6:25am Reply

            • Solanace: I’m angry I’ll not be able to show my kids the fields where I spent my childhood, with all its unnamed (for the white folk) colorful and oddly shaped little flowers. We should have thought of something else to export, other than transgenic soy.

              Congratulations to Holland for the third place. At least we can count on Argentina to put a smile on our faces… July 14, 2014 at 5:26am Reply

              • Austenfan: You are very magnanimous. The Dutch team apparently never expected to get this far. I haven’t watched a single match but according to other people Louis van Gaal did a good job. July 14, 2014 at 5:56am Reply

    • Victoria: Speaking of phloxes, that’s what I smell every morning as I step outside. We have big bushes growing around the house and garden, and I just love the scent–spicy, clove-like, sweet. It’s the essence of summer for me. July 14, 2014 at 3:37pm Reply

      • Austenfan: We must have different phloxes, mine have a very soft hay like smell. They are big and white. July 14, 2014 at 5:37pm Reply

        • Victoria: Ours also smell like hay, but there is something spicy too. We have several different colors–dark purple, pink, lavender, orange and white with pink centers. I will post some photos later, since I have been photographing them nonstop. July 15, 2014 at 12:12pm Reply

          • Austenfan: Mine are past their best. I clearly need to do some additional smelling to see if I can get some spice. July 15, 2014 at 1:53pm Reply

  • silverdust: My woohoo! scent of the day was receiving my blind buy of Paco Rabanne “Metal” in the mail today. LOVE it! I have BdJ to thank, as it was one of the co-bloggers who mentioned she liked it more than the original No. 19. I don’t know if I’d go that far, but Metal is one of the best I’ve tried in a long time. July 11, 2014 at 8:43pm Reply

    • Victoria: Metal is an underrated gem, and it should be up there with YSL Rive Gauche and other classics in the same green-floral, mossy spirit. It also has a big dose of aldehydes, which give it a champagne like fizz on top. Happy to hear that you’re enjoying it. July 14, 2014 at 3:48pm Reply

  • Brenda: Due to my discovery of this blog, I am now enlightened to the enjoyment of paying attention to scents. It is quite amazing just how many are encountered during one day! I started the day by baking a fresh blueberry pie….which, with a freshly brewed coffee, was breakfast for me and him. Come dinner hour, I chose Anais Anais and my husband wore Coach….and off we went to smell the lovely smells of a homey, Greek restaurant. Yes, that lovely lady reminds us that true beauty is usually right there before us….. July 11, 2014 at 11:58pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for sharing all of these scents! I’m envious of this delicious breakfast. 🙂 July 14, 2014 at 3:46pm Reply

  • Shei: Right now I’m testing a brand-new sample of Escale a Portofino, and there is something in it that takes me back to midnight dips in the Calapooia River in the dead of summer many years ago – it’s almost marine-salty, but not quite, and a little bit vegetal. Does anybody know which note (or combination of notes) might be giving that effect? July 12, 2014 at 12:41am Reply

    • Sheri: Just noticed my own late-night typo – that name should have been “Sheri”, although “Shei” would be a cool name. 🙂 July 13, 2014 at 3:28pm Reply

      • Victoria: Shei does sound pretty unique! July 14, 2014 at 3:44pm Reply

    • Victoria: It could be the marine note like Calone, but I don’t remember if Escale a Portofino contains it or not. It definitely has a fresh, salty note. I need to try it again. July 14, 2014 at 3:45pm Reply

  • Danaki: So…this weekend I’m in Newcastle. The city smells of diesel fumes. I cannot ignore the smell of wood – or really nice wood polish, at the pub we head to. Walls downstairs are lined with old books that smell musty and warm.

    The indoor herb garden we find has a restaurant serving pizzas. The place smell of fresh baked dough and then, before we leave, toasted sesame. My partners pizza smelled of the peppery rockets it was covered with.

    My mother-in-law’s garden is blooming with wild geraniums, which I can’t smell, wisteria, mint and lavender – and then cut grass.

    I smell of suntan lotion. July 12, 2014 at 11:21am Reply

    • Victoria: If I had to pick the most evocative scent, it would be a tie between old books and baking dough. 🙂 July 14, 2014 at 3:43pm Reply

  • iodine: This morning: Mitsouko from one of my vintage minis and Un Lys from a decant a sweet perfume friend gave me as a birthday present. Then the wonderful rich smell of cakes and coffee at pasticceria Marchesi, the aromatic- mint, thyme- grassy smell that arises from the remains of the Imperial Palace and the gardenias planted in the courtyard in front of Museo Archeologico in Milan… 🙂 July 12, 2014 at 12:36pm Reply

    • Victoria: Based on these scents alone, I’m guessing you’re having a lovely day. 🙂 July 14, 2014 at 3:42pm Reply

  • rickyrebarco: My day began with the wonderful aromatic scent of fresh coffee beans being ground. Then my Trussardi that I sprayed on, warm and vanillish. Then the soft fragrance of the perfect soft boiled eggs. I smelled the funky slightly musty and woody smell of cardboard as I boxed up some things to send back from whence they came.

    Later on, my husband brought me some boiled peanuts, a South Georgia, North Florida staple. They smell like beans that have been cooked so you realize through scent that peanuts are truly part of the legume family. I keep sniffing my arms to get the lovely Trussardi aroma and I may light a tuberose candle later on. July 12, 2014 at 3:34pm Reply

    • Victoria: I want all of your scents and snacks. I tried boiled peanuts for the first time at a Chinese friend’s house, and I was hooked on them instantly. The flavor is more subtle than when they are roasted. July 14, 2014 at 3:41pm Reply

  • rainboweyes: I love the lady’s face, she reminds me of my Ukrainian aunt.
    And I’ve just discovered the cat tail plants beside her and it made me smile. We played with them using them as swords when I was a kid.
    I’ve just pitted 3 kgs of sour cherries and cooked some cherry amaretto jam. The scent was divine and pitting them had an almost meditative quality. I was considering spritzing Dzongkha on my wrist to intensify the meditative feeling but I eventually decided to test Iris Prima as a possible summer rainy day scent (it works!).
    I’m baking a cake called Donauwellen (Danube waves cake) to use up all the cherries. I’m taking it to the World Cup party at our friends’ home tonight. I’m not a big football fan but I must admit I’m a bit thrilled. July 13, 2014 at 6:11am Reply

  • solanace: Beautiful picture, and the story is lovely.
    At the street market yesterday, mandarines were overpowering all other smells, to my delight. I wanted to smell different banana varieties, but the lady looked at me in a funny way. The spice vendors here are enchanting. I spent a while at their stall, smelling a few blends, and ended up buying fresh garlic and nutmeg. LOVE nutmeg. Then we ate pastéis. 🙂

    Wearing Chamade. A few months ago, when I first tried it, I didn´t get it at all, thinking it smelled bland and soapy. But now half my decant is gone and my heart is beating faster for it. I´ll need a FB, eventually. Such green perfection, I can´t wait to try the parfum concentration. July 13, 2014 at 8:15am Reply

    • Victoria: Your market excursion sounds like my idea of fun. 🙂

      And you do need a full bottle of Chamade. It’s a beauty! July 14, 2014 at 3:40pm Reply

  • Kaleigh Bickleman: In New Jersey today, the air is so thick and humid, you can practically swim through it. You can smell the hot pavements, the moisture and the smog that envelopes us all. The faint smell of the lightning that should be upon us at any moment. Lolita Lempicka Elle L’aime is my perfume of choice right now, it’s the epitome of summer. July 15, 2014 at 3:38pm Reply

  • moi: This post reminds me of why I’ve been reading your blog consistently for, oh gosh, I think maybe five years now? You gave this woman a wonderful gift. And you give your readers one by sharing your experiences like this—and by reminding us that the attempt to live life as much as possible through out senses, including our sense of smell, is a worthy undertaking in a world cluttered with information competing for our attention.

    I’ve been wearing a lot of beachy scents (Bronze Goddess, Bobbie Brown Beach), as well as white florals like PdN No. 1 and EL Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia. Also, another scent I recently discovered during a trip to New Orleans at Hové: Belle Chasse, which reminds me so much of Balenciaga’s mournfully discontinued Michelle. July 18, 2014 at 7:54am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much! I was just so moved by how this lady looked with her beautiful bouquets and how timidly she was selling them. The other ladies were basically grabbing passerbys by the arm, but she was just sitting on the side. And her flowers were beautiful. She also had some other bouquets of cornflowers and wild flowers. I will post them later.

      A beachy perfume is what I need on this hot, sticky day. I chose Casmir, which was fine as far as indulgence goes, but it was a bit much today. July 18, 2014 at 2:50pm Reply

  • M: I was searching for information on cornflowers when I stumble upon this site. The first thing I thought when I saw this picture of a woman with cornflowers I thought to myself about how much this reminded me of Ukraine!
    And then I read your story and it was my dear Ukraine.

    I was doing research on Ukrainian scents (well, good ones) and not as much food (but of course fresh baked bread and other wonderful foods are important to Ukraine). I was looking more for flowers, herbs and plants important to folklore and folk songs. Specifically I wanted to find flowers that I could grow indoors (a grow light is fine if needed). Also I was looking for types of incense that utilizes Ukrainian ingredients or ingredients historically imported to Ukraine tgatbwould be good. Some sources say the Orthodox Church uses frankincense (which I love although I’m not Orthodox) and others suggested labdinum (not real familiar with it). Neither are native to Ukraine and most people said it isn’t something Ukrainians would really identify with. One of the more unusual plants suggested by one source was wormwood (Artimesia annua), but not sure exactly what it smells like or if it can be grown indoors. However, it was said that the smell traditionally reminds Ukrainians of home. I love growing thyme in my room because it has a nice woodsy, herbal scent. Some people said they remember the smell of thyme growing wild in Ukraine and others said it is popular at monasteries and churches.

    Anyone have any suggestions for aromatic plants and incense that remind one of Ukraine? August 5, 2018 at 6:25pm Reply

    • Victoria: What a fun project! The Orthodox incense is a blend of frankincense, benzoin and myrrh (mostly, the first two). While neither ingredient is native to Ukraine, they have always been imported, and they’re essential during the services, so yes, for Ukrainians, they’re familiar scents.

      Among herbs and aromatic plants, thyme, and specifically, the variety called Thymus serpyllum. Also, yarrow, chamomile, tea rose, linden, philadelphus, calamus (used once to cover the clay floors), dill, black currant leaves, guelder rose berries, elderflowers, cherry leaves. Hope that this helps! August 6, 2018 at 4:58am Reply

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