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.

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



  • Danaki: Wearing SL Santal Majescule today, perfectly pitched for the weather today which is starting to usher in Autumn.
    Just bit into a nice Roma tomato and it smelled and tasted like grapes! So juicy, sweet and ripe.
    I go to Oxford this week and will be writing down the scents – I’m more reminded to sniff when I’m away from home. September 1, 2014 at 7:42am Reply

    • Victoria: I read an interview with some chef who explained how he used tomatoes as fruit, accenting them with vanilla and rose. I also copied down a recipe for a pear-tomato compote with vanilla, so I will have to try it sometime. A perfectly ripe tomatoes is one of nature’s greatest gifts. September 2, 2014 at 11:27am Reply

      • Kate: My father and sister make a jam with tomato, ginger and lemon, and a little cinnamon. It’s incredible and makes the whole kitchen smell incredible, and it’s great on a savory sandwich or over vanilla ice cream. September 3, 2014 at 9:00pm Reply

        • Canadianpetite: That jam sounds very delectable. I’ll have to google and find a recipe to try. September 4, 2014 at 12:53pm Reply

        • Victoria: This jam sounds wonderful. Would you mind sharing a recipe? I would love to try making it. September 4, 2014 at 1:03pm Reply

  • Sandra: This morning so far, I had a glass of orange juice- citrusy and sour. My husband makes homemade granola- it smells de-lish and this batch he chopped up dates. Salty, sweet and nutty aromas and the smell of honey. The hair toward the back of my neck smells like No 19 poudre from yesterday’s spray. Very comforting and musky. September 1, 2014 at 8:54am Reply

    • Phyllis Iervello: Sandra, I know that Chanel No. 19 Poudre is not praised by a lot of perfumistas, but I happen to love the scent. That and L’Hiris are my go-to fragrances when I am in quandry as to what to wear but they are also my comfort scents. September 1, 2014 at 11:10am Reply

      • Sandra: Great! I am happy to know there is a No 19 Poudre fan out there 🙂
        I will have to try L’Hiris September 2, 2014 at 6:24am Reply

    • key change: Oh! I love smelling the hair towards the back of my neck the day after wearing a perfume. Memories of the day before, plus all the feelings associated with the perfume in general, just come flooding in first thing in the morning and it’s one of my favourite things about perfume. Or sometimes during the night, when I turn over in a half-awake state, I’ll catch a whiff of my perfume from earlier on and just be happy that I’m still there. September 1, 2014 at 7:33pm Reply

    • Victoria: At first, I didn’t like No 19 Poudre, because I kept comparing it to No 19, which was a mistake. Smelling it on its own terms, I’ve discovered a delicate, elegant, and yet memorable perfume. It’s now one of my favorites, and I even upgraded my decant to a full bottle. September 2, 2014 at 11:25am Reply

  • Kat: Oh dear – I immediately recognize their scent when entering a room with a bouquet containing phloxes. I always say that they’re beautiful to look at but should definitely stay outside. Not a fan of their scent at all. September 1, 2014 at 9:13am Reply

    • Victoria: I suppose, it is not the most instantly alluring scent, but the more I smell phloxes, the more compelling it becomes. Now, it smells like summer to me. September 2, 2014 at 11:24am Reply

  • marini: I just discovered Tobacco Tuscano on a recent trip to Denver. It smells a bit like hay, to me. Then, I decided to really play with it and added a spritz of Dzing! to it. Hay added with a bit of horse barn poo to it. Fabulous. A handsome gent in a barn, waving his pipe around while holding forth about the Godolphin Arabian, or however it’s spelled, and a team of French draft horses from the Alsace region wag their stubbed off tails while munching oats. That’s my image of the day. September 1, 2014 at 10:31am Reply

    • Victoria: Sounds fantastic, Marini! I admire people who know how to layer perfumes and can come up with interesting ideas. Yours is the one I will try myself. September 2, 2014 at 11:23am Reply

  • Phyllis Iervello: I am going to the Orioles/Twins baseball game today and will wear something light but bright–perhaps Andy Tauer’s Cologne du Maghreb or Imaginary Authors Yesterday Haze. September 1, 2014 at 11:06am Reply

    • Victoria: What is Yesterdays Haze like, Phyllis? September 2, 2014 at 11:22am Reply

  • solanace: Smelling jasmine flowers is good for the soul. September 1, 2014 at 12:23pm Reply

  • Austenfan: If I’m stressed, which isn’t rare, I smell my teas. My favourite Yunnan smells of tobacco and hay and has this instant soothing effect.
    Most of the flowers in my garden do not have a strong smell. Even my phloxes no longer seem to carry any scent.
    I’m currently planning my next order of bulb flowers; it will include plenty of fragrant daffies. September 1, 2014 at 12:39pm Reply

    • Victoria: I need to try it, especially since I have so many teas. I try to remember to smell the tea leaves once I’ve brewed the tea. It’s amazing how much the scent changes from dry to wet.

      Do you think your flowers have little scent is because the summer was relatively cool? I noticed that once again the lindens this spring weren’t as heady as they usually are. September 2, 2014 at 11:22am Reply

      • Austenfan: I think it was too cold the past couple of weeks. My phloxes are fragrant again as of today.
        My geraniums are not fragrant, at least the flowers are not. The leaves are. September 2, 2014 at 1:29pm Reply

        • Victoria: Lucky you to have your own garden! 🙂 September 2, 2014 at 1:48pm Reply

          • Austenfan: It’s not big but it keeps me occupied and I love growing flowers! September 3, 2014 at 12:07pm Reply

  • Annie O: Before this humidity descended, we had cool winds from the North West. For us, that means the sweet hay smells picked up as the salty Cape Cod Bay winds press over the marsh and through our house. The marsh is a symphony of flowers and grasses which married to the ocean smells is about the closest thing to heaven I know.
    Today, southern airs, humidity and a breathy wind make for earth smells, pine needles, sweet fern and light notes of roses from my garden. These are the essential smells of this ocean bound peninsula. September 1, 2014 at 1:16pm Reply

    • Victoria: I visited Cape Cod only once, but I have such strong scent memories of that stay–salty air, driftwood, pines, cooked lobster that smelled of seaweed and black pepper, sand after the rain… September 2, 2014 at 11:19am Reply

  • limegreen: Had a craving for oranges, put on FM Noir Epices first thing just to see how it feels in the early morning humidity when walking the dog. The orange and rose blooms more than the cloves, quite nice. After a shower, the fragrance still lingers. Layered on Jo Loves Orange Tulle, and boy does the orange blossom explode in this heat. I enjoy the JL reinterpretation more than her original Orange Blossom (too fleeing on my skin). September 1, 2014 at 1:43pm Reply

    • limegreen: I meant “fleeting” not fleeing, though sometimes it feels that fragrances flee!
      A new scented product discovery as a special gift to ourselves — we’re treating our home to FM Marius and Jeannette, an refreshing and unusual anise and mint fragrance. September 1, 2014 at 2:58pm Reply

      • Victoria: Yum! It’s one of my favorite scented candles. It smells so much like pastis, I crave a glass whenever I burn M&J. September 2, 2014 at 11:16am Reply

    • Victoria: What a great perfumed day you’ve had! I often wear several different fragrances throughout the day, mostly because of work, but they rarely work well together. September 2, 2014 at 11:18am Reply

  • Domestic Goblin: Thank you for the post. This reminded me of a certain brand of cigarettes, when unlit, smelt of hay. However, smelt dire when lit and smoked.

    🙂 September 1, 2014 at 2:34pm Reply

    • key change: domestic goblin, I just wanted to say that I love your username! September 1, 2014 at 7:35pm Reply

      • Domestic Goblin: Thank you 🙂 September 2, 2014 at 3:16pm Reply

    • Victoria: Unlit tobacco really smells nice! September 2, 2014 at 11:17am Reply

  • rainboweyes: I just returned from my vacation in Spain and brought lots of fragrant memories back home: the scent of the sea and beach, the fig trees in our garden, jasmine and roses and – a new experience – the scent of passion flowers. I was surprised that they smell like the fruit – a tangy and very intense scent. September 1, 2014 at 3:21pm Reply

    • Victoria: And the flowers look so beautiful, don’t they! September 2, 2014 at 11:15am Reply

  • Kate: Today’s most unfortunately unforgettable smell: A whiff of excrement traced to rotting potatoes forgotten in a cupboard — they smelled exactly like someone had taken a dump and left it in a plastic bag — and the vinegar I used to clean it up.

    But also: Grapes ripening, and fallen ones fermenting a bit, under our back arbor, mixed with the almost cedarlike smell of the bee balm / melissa; the sandalwood (? I think) that’s all that’s left of yesterday’s Bottega Veneta; musty smell of the basement when I went to do laundry and empty the dehumidifier. Hot smell of the dry street with a little dry green leafiness coming in the window. Garlic, potatoes, maitake mushrooms, greens, olive oil, thyme, rosemary and cooking eggs from the frittata I made for lunch — a lingering savoriness. Now my husband’s making coffee, but I don’t want any.

    Later, we’re having a barbecue and I anticipate the smells of smoke and grilling sausages, tomatoes, onions, eggplant, and the particular summer smells of all of my beautiful friends. September 1, 2014 at 4:07pm Reply

    • Victoria: I know that rotten potato smell so well, because I discovered a few in a cupboard after being haunted by this awful odor. Yes, not the best scent experience. 🙂 September 2, 2014 at 11:15am Reply

  • stina: Hot steamy late-summer weather here in the Upper Midwest today. There’s a storm front just west of us and the wind has died down ahead of the rain; you can sense the weight of all the moisture in the air above and around you.

    In the backyard it smells like a hot steamy shower (sans soap, but with a tinge of green plant leaves). If I stand still, the scent of clean cotton rises from my t-shirt (everything *emanates* in this humidity!).

    The garage smells like hot damp concrete, acrid metal (from the gardening tools), and a trace of dirt (tracked in on the car tires).

    The air indoors smells desiccated in comparison, but beautifully cool (thank you A/C!).

    And indoors and out, I get lovely bursts of mossy citrus and greens from Christopher Street (SotD). September 1, 2014 at 5:54pm Reply

    • Victoria: This scent before the rain is so evocative, and your description is so vivid. I can almost feel the heft and humidity in the air. September 2, 2014 at 11:14am Reply

  • Aurora: The nutty scent of seeds on top of my breakfast bread. The sharp aromatic cloud of pepper (a mix of black, green and pink) as I prepare my cheese and tomato sandwich to take to work.

    In the park the scent of vegetation after the rain, noticing a bigger amount of dead leaves than last week. It feels as if fall is approaching: the sky is a cerulean blue and there is a cool breeze.

    I can smell now and then the scent of Cabochard I applied this morning. It is from 2008, hardly vintage, but lasts well and the dry-down is like no other perfume I own. I understand Aramis is quite similar but as long as I have this version I won’t have to chase after replacements. September 2, 2014 at 6:34am Reply

    • Victoria: Aurora, you’re making me hungry, and I still have a couple of hours to go before heading home. 🙂 September 2, 2014 at 11:03am Reply

  • Andy: I love the scent of phloxes. At first, I didn’t notice their scent either. For me, it’s one of those flowers, like Four O’Clocks (mirabilis), that sometimes can and sometimes can’t be smelled. September 2, 2014 at 8:07am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, the ones around here are pale lilac and not very noticeable. My grandmother’s, the one above, are dark pink, and their scent is very strong and much spicier than what I smelled in Brussels. September 2, 2014 at 10:59am Reply

    • Michaela: Thank you for mentioning mirabilis! I never thought they could be fragrant. I found the scent is faint, but so beautiful! One evening, I could feel the perfume of mostly white flowers, while the purple ones were absolutely scentless. Strange. But when you finally smell them, it feels like a great discovery. September 9, 2014 at 6:12am Reply

  • Sarah: Oh – phloxes! I never thought to notice their scent either, until one day it just clicked in my brain: The smell of phloxes is the smell of going back to school. Our august garden was full of them, and it’s their scent that perfectly embodies that mix of melancholy of a summer having come to its end and the anticipation of a new school year. I love phlox. September 2, 2014 at 8:36am Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, so true! They bloom so profusely in August. All of the flower gardens are full of them. I love them too. September 2, 2014 at 10:58am Reply

  • Ariadne: Fabric woven from raw silk smells like hay to me. I love it! It must come from using the entire cocoon not just the finer inside filament.
    My daughter’s dog just got slammed by a skunk’s spray this weekend. With the hot and humid turn in the weather the odor left in the garage where we attempted to clean her is migraine inducing but I still feel way more sorry for the dog! September 2, 2014 at 1:31pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m so sorry for you and the poor dog! The same thing happened to my father’s dog once, and it was an awful experience for all. I hope that he is ok, since the spray can irritate their eyes and nose. September 2, 2014 at 1:49pm Reply

  • Michaela: I love the scent of phloxes, but I thought only some of them are scented. Cloves seem to be present in many flowers scents: for me, red clover, carnation, petunia have all more or less clove buds scent.
    I checked the few aromatic plants in pots that I grow, and, besides the well-known and beautiful scents of mint, rosemary and basil, I discovered some surprisingly nice new ones. Crushed chilli pepper leaf smells fresh and sour, like sour dock tastes. Cresson sprouts smell nutty.
    I am currently trying Eau des Merveilles, wonderful salty brilliance in a perfume! For an early autumn day, cloudy and cool, with very rare drops of rain, it seems the perfect choice. September 3, 2014 at 3:45am Reply

    • Michaela: Yesterday I found a hosta flower amazingly scented: like garden lily, but lower volume, with a hint of rose, which rounds the perfume, making it more gentle. Most hosta varieties are scentless, I think, but they compensate by their beautiful leaves, painted in yellow and green nuances.
      Hydrangea in full bloom is not scented, but it smells fresh, green, lush.
      Now I smell some fruits. Enveloping, delicious ripe pears scent is so autumnal for me. September 3, 2014 at 4:35am Reply

      • Victoria: All of these scents sounds wonderful! In my mind, I’m imagining a combination of hosta and pears, and this seems good enough to be a perfume. September 3, 2014 at 11:56am Reply

    • Victoria: Ah, interesting. I didn’t think about it, but it makes sense. My grandmother’s pink and fuschia pink phloxes have the most scent. The pale ones are much milder. September 3, 2014 at 11:56am Reply

  • Hamamelis: I smelled the heather, in full bloom now where I live. It smells of honey…aromatic honey, especially the one that comes from the bees that collected nectar from the heath. The bee hives are temporarily placed so the bees can collect as much heather nectar as possible. The honey they produce is delicious.

    In the next Recommend me a perfume post I hope to come back on my Orange Blossom perfumes recommendations! September 4, 2014 at 12:08pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, good that you’ve reminded me. I need to run the next Recommend Me a Perfume thread soon.

      And heather! What a great scent it has, especially at the height of its blooming season. It’s as if someone spilled hot honey all over the place. September 4, 2014 at 1:23pm Reply

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