Generosity of Spring

My barometer of spring is a large magnolia tree near my apartment building. It stands bare and craggy, with few leaves even in the summer, but the moment the weather warms up, it lets out a mass of pink blossoms. First, the buds appear, enclosed in furry brown wrappers. Then they lighten, swell and unfold into thick, waxy petals covered with sticky dew. When I walk past the tree, I notice these small changes, and even if a day has brought nothing particularly pleasant, the magnolia is a highlight. I pick up a fallen blossom and it smells of lemon detergent and vanilla. My coat pockets are filled with bits of petals that I stash away like the talismans of new spring. I open a notebook during a work meeting and dried flowers fall out of it. After several years of living in the same neighborhood, I think of the magnolia tree as an old friend.

mimosa-yellow cup

When people tell me that perfume is an expensive hobby, I always think of my magnolia tree and the immense pleasure it gives me, entirely free of charge. It’s crass to use the language of economics with regards to nature, but I would like to reinforce a point–a perfume hobby is as expensive as you make it. If you’re into collecting, yes, the costs will quickly add up, but as I described in my post How to Make Perfume Hobby Affordable, there are ways to appreciate scents and enrich our lives with them without running into great expense. Springtime gives many opportunities to do so–it’s a generous season.

The core of my scent appreciation strategy is simple–to give more exercise to my nose. Even in the fairly deodorized environment of Brussels, there are many aromatic gems to be discovered. In early spring I anticipate the smell of blooming plants. Those of you who live in different climates from mine will have their own examples, but in Belgium snowdrops herald the season, even before my beloved magnolia. They’re tiny white blossoms, but their earthy, sweet perfume is unexpectedly powerful. On a busy day, as I navigate the city traffic, the snowdrop fragrance is the best gift.

bluebells-1wisteria

After snowdrops and bluebells come magnolias, and I spot their locations throughout my neighborhood and do a so-called magnolia walk, a short detour designed to include as many blooming trees as possible. Brussels has several varieties of Asian magnolias, and while some are scentless, others have a delicious aroma of citrus and raspberries. During the height of magnolia season, I rarely wear perfume when I go out. It seems  superfluous. In your neighborhood you might have bird cherries, acacias or frangipani, all of which make for an intense perfume experience. In India, like many people, I would wear a jasmine garland in my hair or around my wrist. Let no one tell you that wearing flowers in the hair is only for children. It’s a beautiful tradition that needs to be revived on our shores.

magnolia

Belgian rain is a year-round affair, but in spring, it unlocks the headiest of aromas. In the morning as I make a cup of tea, I throw open the window to allow the loamy, salty and musky fragrance to enter my room. Not even the fanciest candle can replicate it. And spring gives such joys amply.

Cut flowers are an ephemeral pleasure, but forced bulbs are not. I bought a pot of hyacinth bulbs for 2 euros at my supermarket, and they’ve scented my apartment for several weeks with the perfume of an Indian flower market. Andy wrote an article on growing paperwhites, and even for someone like me who lacks gardening skills, his instructions were enough to create a miniature flower bed in my living room. This is perfect for days when you wish for spring to linger.

Please share your tips on enjoying spring and scents. If you’re in a different part of the world, I’d love to know what’s in bloom around you.

On Generosity and Bridges

The current period is one of great uncertainty and hardship for many. For me it has been a major test, which started with the war in Ukraine two years ago and culminated with the terrorist attacks in Brussels–within a short distance from where I live. The beauty of perfume, and the reason why I’ve devoted more than a decade to writing about it, is that it’s the best bridge. It has its own language. It blends numerous traditions, religious and secular. It contains the fingerprints of people from many parts of the world. Of course, perfume has already united many of us–readers from more than a hundred countries, with different experiences and viewpoints. I think it’s a wonderful thing.

I’m traveling and volunteering in a project for children, about which I will share more later. Bois de Jasmin’s posting schedule will be lighter on some weeks. To make sure you don’t miss my articles, you can subscribe to receive email notifications, follow me on Facebook or Twitter. For my photography and minimum commentary, you can follow me on Instagram

Thank you for reading and for your 11 years of support!

Photography by Bois de Jasmin, all rights reserved

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131 Comments

  • Michaela: I smell every spring flower I reach, from the first snowdrop to bluebell, paperwhite, daffodil, hyacinth, tulip, cherry plum, magnolia, white and purple lilac. I think linden is the last spring or the first summer fragrance. I often walk under trees in bloom or I go to flower markets.
    Some of my fragrant hoyas may bloom in spring, when I am lucky, and their perfume is a treat, especially at night.
    I am moved by your comment on generosity and bridges… Thank you so much for your great work and your dedication, and good luck with your project for children! April 8, 2016 at 7:36am Reply

    • Victoria: I miss the southern nights perfumed with hoya. It’s such a languid perfume, perfect for dreaming.

      When people ask “why perfume is so interesting to you?” I always reply that it’s because of such connections. April 8, 2016 at 2:42pm Reply

  • Sandra: Happy 11 years to you Victoria!
    Good luck with your endeavors, please keep us posted and let us (or me) know if you need any donations or support with your children project April 8, 2016 at 7:54am Reply

    • Hamamelis: Second your donation comment, I have some perfumes that need a new home and it would be great if that can be part of a donation round for Victoria’s volunteering project. April 8, 2016 at 9:51am Reply

      • Notturno7: I was just thinking the same!! I loved donating to Doctors without Borders thorough Victoria’s project recently💜. April 8, 2016 at 3:12pm Reply

    • Jillie: I second Sandra on both counts – congratulations on 11 years (where has the time gone?), and please let us know if we can contribute to your children’s project. April 8, 2016 at 9:57am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Sandra and anyone else! I’ll share more, and I’ll keep your kind offer in mind. It’s a fledgling project, and so far I’ve had a great response to it from the kids themselves. This is the best motivation to continue it. April 8, 2016 at 2:49pm Reply

  • Mer: I’m eagerly awaiting the lily of the valley to come up 🙂 April 8, 2016 at 8:10am Reply

    • Victoria: I can’t wait for ours! April 8, 2016 at 2:50pm Reply

  • Karen A: Spring is a generous season! Working in the the damp earth of the garden, watching the daffodils come up – I planted close to 500 last fall, and we’ve had blooms now for close to six weeks, some more fragrant than others. The somewhat bitter, almondy smell of a type of cherry tree. Waiting for one of the magnolias to open….

    Thank you for keeping BdJ running through all the tumultuous times. And enjoy your work with the children, looking forward to updates! April 8, 2016 at 8:22am Reply

    • Victoria: Do you know what varieties have most scent? I love daffodils, and thanks to a Dutch friend, I’m bringing my grandmother lots of different types.

      Loved your description of the cherry blossoms. April 8, 2016 at 2:51pm Reply

      • Karen A: Ohhh, a research project, as I don’t know which are most fragrant! I will check around and let you know. A generalization would be the older, heritage varieties – but that isn’t much help!

        My sister noticed a honey she got having an almondy taste and I said the bees may have been collecting from a cherry grove, and that turned out to be the case. I’ve been told that cherry and almond trees are related – took it on faith and never investigated further. But, that would explain the (rich, intoxicating) almond-like aroma and taste that mahlab imparts.

        One of the most exquisite fragrances is from the Burkwood viburnum, which is a very early flowering shrub. Weeding near it was very enjoyable! April 8, 2016 at 3:39pm Reply

        • Victoria: I should be working, but instead I want to go out and find all of these scented varieties. April 9, 2016 at 3:12pm Reply

          • Karen A: But it’s related to fragrance, so it is work! April 9, 2016 at 5:15pm Reply

      • Monoatomic: Try the poeticus varieties – the most common in the U.S. is probably Actaea. I think they are very elegant looking as well. However, the trade-off is that they bloom rather late comparatively. April 8, 2016 at 10:42pm Reply

        • Victoria: I will check which varieties made it into my package. I believe there were the poeticus bulbs there too. Thank you for your advice. April 9, 2016 at 3:22pm Reply

  • rosarita: Yes, happy eleven years! Your writing has been a lovely enhancement to my scented life. Here in the US Midwest, the smell of hyacinths is heavenly in grocery stores and everywhere the are sold. They are just coming out in flower beds but we are back to snow and cold at the moment so they are taking their time. One of my favorite smells of early spring is the buds of maple trees; when they shed, you start to smell the sappy scent of leaves just beginning. Maple trees are wonderful in all seasons in my opinion 🙂 April 8, 2016 at 8:33am Reply

    • Victoria: Whenever I pass by a florist, I can tell if they have hyacinths or not. It’s such a lush, rich scent. When mine are in bloom, I can smell them on the landing, before even entering the apartment. April 8, 2016 at 3:46pm Reply

      • Victoria: And the smell of maple buds is one of my favorites too. That’s what my early memories of spring smell like. April 8, 2016 at 3:46pm Reply

  • Kat: It’s snowing outside my windows so spring is taking a break, not that I mind… over the past few days every farmer around my house was on manuring duty. So much for sweet spring fragrances. Spring in the mountains is always a bit subdued but I saw the first cowslips last week. I used to collect the buds for tea – nowadays they’re an endangered species and you have to leave them alone. To be honest I enjoyed collecting them more than drinking the tea. They have a beautiful sweet scent – I know cowslip perfumes exist but I’ve never sampled one.
    For me the appreciation of scent and perfume you teach in this blog (and of beauty in general) is an art-form and art is the ultimate bridge-builder and an occasional life-saver when the darkness surrounding us threatens to become overwhelming. Many thanks! April 8, 2016 at 8:40am Reply

    • Victoria: Sometimes it’s very small things that make a difference, and finding an outlet in art or something beautiful often helps. You put it so well.

      Now, I need to find some cowslips to smell. April 8, 2016 at 3:48pm Reply

  • Lizzie: Your blog is as delightful as Spring itself! It is my ‘go to’ place for when the world feels too much and I would like to thank you for creating this space where so many of us can stop by to appreciate some of the more beautiful things in life – perfume, art, books, food, travel and friendly words with like minded people from all over the world. I learn so much here from you and other reader’s comments and it is always a joy! April 8, 2016 at 8:43am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Lizzie! I also learn a lot from all of you. April 8, 2016 at 3:48pm Reply

  • rainboweyes: As much as I hate long periods of rain we so often have in our part of Europe, I can absolutely relate to your feelings about spring rain. I agree – it’s an entirely different thing. I love to inhale the aroma of spring on a rainy day.
    I also grow hyacinths in my living room every spring, recently I had a variety that smelled exactly like Bas de Soie. What a treat to the nose!
    I’ve just returned from Spain where spring is in full swing now. It was such a pleasure to smell all the scents we don’t have here in Germany – orange and lemon blossoms, mimosas and immortelle.
    Your new project sounds interesting, I can’t wait to hear more details. If there’s any way for us to support you, please let us know! April 8, 2016 at 8:50am Reply

    • Victoria: I didn’t realize until recently how easy it is to grow bulbs, and hyacinths are so richly scented.

      I’m so envious of your fragrant trip to Spain. April 9, 2016 at 8:12am Reply

  • Phyllis Iervello: Victoria, what a lovely post! Spring is my favorite season (very closely followed by Summer). With Spring comes hope and the beauty of nature awaits all of us. April 8, 2016 at 9:17am Reply

    • Victoria: I like spring and autumn best of all, since there is something about seasonal changes that I find appealing. And in spring, as you say, hopeful. April 9, 2016 at 8:13am Reply

  • Elisa: Travel safe V! I think of you often when I read the news these days. I’m sorry you’ve been close to so much hardship. But I deeply appreciate your perspective. April 8, 2016 at 9:45am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much! I still don’t know how exactly I’m going to be traveling (so much is closed!), but somehow I will manage. April 9, 2016 at 8:14am Reply

  • Hamamelis: I think we may well use William Blake’s Auguries of Innocence and not only see, but also smell heaven in a wild flower! I have the great fortune of a magnolia tree in my garden, but it always flowers later than its ‘friends’ in the city. The wild daffodils produce a heady scent, as is the viburnum which has a jasmin like fragrance. The ribes is almost out and she smells of catpee! But I don’t mind that at all.
    The waking up of my nose, and the world it has opened has enriched my life tremendously. Without your blog I doubt it would have happened, or at least not in this way. Thank you all. April 8, 2016 at 9:58am Reply

    • Karen A: I wonder if your viburnum is the Burkwood I just wrote about above. It’s a very early blooming viburnum with a beautiful fragrance. April 8, 2016 at 3:42pm Reply

      • Hamamelis: Hi Karen it is indeed the Burkwoodii, do you smell a jasmine note as well? Wonderful. April 8, 2016 at 3:48pm Reply

        • Karen A: Very cool! Honestly, I’d never thought much other than yum yum yum yum….. And unfortunately we got hit with a hard frost the other night which killed off most the wonderful blossoms – but, I will go out and see if there are still some fragrant ones and have a bottle of A la Nuit in my hand to compare it with!

          It’s such an amazing shrub, isn’t it! I realized that you could plant so many different varieties of viburnums and have flowers from early spring through summer, then the beautiful red berries. They are one of my favorite plants (besides witch hazel, of course!!). April 8, 2016 at 4:15pm Reply

          • Hamamelis: If I have the time and energy I am going to try to use enfleurage to extract some witchhazel scent next year. I just shopped in my own bookcase 😉 and found a book on scented plants I may have had for 20 years or more, totally forgot about it, and it has a paragraph on how to do this. Now let’s hope I don’t forget.
            I hope your viburnum picks up again, is it an amazing shrub and big family! April 9, 2016 at 11:12am Reply

            • Karen A: Very fun! Every year when I cut back my witch hazel (it gets enormous and is by the house) I say I will make some astringent, made simply by soaking branches – after removing the bark – in alcohol.

              And yesterday in the name of research, I took my A la Nuit out to the viburnum and did smell comparisons. You are right! There is a strong Jasmine note. There’s also that “round” rich base, what I refer to as the “Pinch me where there’s fat” note (from the song Be Italian that Fergie sings) that I keep trying to figure out. Any ideas? April 9, 2016 at 11:32am Reply

              • Hamamelis: I am going on a sniffing expedition immediately! But it may be already too chilly (it is 17.30 here) for me to smell it in all its fat glory, then I do it tomorrow and will report back promptly. April 9, 2016 at 11:36am Reply

              • Hamamelis: O.k. back from my garden. Might it be ylang-ylang? I think Victoria described its scent as ‘buttery’. Both jasmine and ylang contain benzyl acetate so they are on the same scent spectrum so to speak. I don’t have an ylang solifore but it is a big part of no 5.
                On another note, is A la Nuit your favourite jasmine? April 9, 2016 at 11:57am Reply

                • Karen A: Hmmm, trying to remember ylang ylang essential oil, and I don’t think that’s the note in burkwoodii – and now am trying to think of what other plants have that same yumminess. I pulled out a bunch of my samples trying to see if anything had the feel of it, but no luck.

                  A la Nuit is really the only jasmine that I own. It was a purchase to recall some of the places we’ve visited that had night-blooming jasmine. I’ve come to love it, but it wasn’t a perfume note that I really cared for prior to smelling so many fresh blooms (and the connection of the scent to the gorgeous places).

                  Another example of fragrance transporting you to a wonderful memory! April 9, 2016 at 12:19pm Reply

                  • Hamamelis: I bought a jasmine polyanthum and have it in my home office. It scents the whole house (it has mixed reception). I wore A la Nuit in Spain, from a sample, and it may be the reason for me to buy it at one time.
                    Tomorrow I will go back to the Viburnum and smell some more! April 9, 2016 at 12:46pm Reply

                    • Victoria: That’s the type of jasmine I have, although it hasn’t bloomed after the first year. I’m not sure if I like the scent, since it’s so indolic as to stray into the moth-ball category. Moth balls and apricots. April 9, 2016 at 3:48pm

                    • Hamamelis: No wonder my husband requested for me to keep my office door closed! I will let him know your verdict 😉
                      It is always difficult to get these to flower a second time. April 9, 2016 at 3:51pm

                    • Victoria: We don’t get enough sun, I think. In the US, I haven’t had problems with making them bloom again, but I also kept my jasmines outside from spring to early fall. April 9, 2016 at 3:54pm

                • Karen A: Was just looking up perfumes on luckyscent and thought maybe the elusive fragrance has kind of a heliotrope vibe? Or at least my memory of heliotrope from years ago when I had a scent-your-own lotion with heliotrope.

                  Have you tried either La Religious or La Vierge de Fer? (apologies for spellings) I’m curious about them, but am trying to stick with a no-buy for a while longer. April 11, 2016 at 5:38am Reply

                  • Hamamelis: I think you got it Karen, heliotrope & jasmine=virburnum burkwoodii.
                    I haven’t tried the ‘other’ Lutens jasmines, but I think I have a sample of the Religeuse, will try.
                    Good to stick with the no buy, till when have you decided for it? April 11, 2016 at 11:55am Reply

                    • Karen A: Isn’t it funny, the power of scent – the heliotrope lotion was over 30 years ago, and what I remember is the feel or sensation of the scent. Not sure why it popped in to my mind – then went on a luckyscent exploration of heliotrope fragrances…
                      My no-buy plan has been easy to adhere to, as one BdJ regular and I have been swapping samples/decants – I’ve expanded my fragrance library quite a bit! Plus I had gift certificates that were due to expire, so I used them to get Bronze Goddess, which has been a fun discovery.

                      I did read a comment on another site that said Vivienne Westwood utilized the fragrance of Burkwoodii for one of her perfumes, but don’t know which. Am curious, but think I will wait for a purchase of a heliotrope sample and try layering with A la Nuit.

                      Post your thoughts on La Religeuse – I’d love to hear how you like it! April 11, 2016 at 12:37pm

    • Victoria: I think that it’s because in the city it’s warmer, and the large magnolia tree I mentioned is right next to a big apartment building. It flowers before anything else. Of course, this winter has been very mild.

      Thank you for your kind words! Being able to exchange thoughts on scents and other topics with all of you is a pleasure. April 9, 2016 at 8:18am Reply

  • Scented Salon: Beautiful photos. Looking at them I feel instantly lighter.

    Here Spring time is warm and sunny with not too much rain. My favorite part is watching the leaves sprout from their buds from the lush woodland behind my house. They develop so quickly and within a week are fully grown leaves.

    I don’t know much about what is blooming and smelling around here since we are always in cars. Around my school there are a bunch of small blue and yellow flowers in the tall grass. Magnolias also bloom here at night but not in my immediate vicinity.

    On my balcony I have hyacinths from last year peeking out. They grew on their own. Also small white flowers and weeds from where the squirrels “plant” their findings.

    Hopefully this year the wrens will come back and make their nest in my pot like they did last year. They laid their eggs and fed their chicks till it was time for them to move on. I have already seen two adult birds scoping out the pot so I am hopeful.

    In trying times like the ones you describe, I have to remind myself of my mantra to go on living and enjoying even while I know suffering goes on: “I can only deal with what is right in front of me.” April 8, 2016 at 10:21am Reply

    • Victoria: Last year we had a black bird that came to sing on our balcony. It was such a treat! I hope he will return this year. April 9, 2016 at 8:19am Reply

      • Hamamelis: I hope so too. A singing blackbird is incredibly special, as is a song thrush which sings in the evening. At the moment I am woken up by the dawn chorus, and the warblers are back, in Dutch they are called tjiftjaf a great onomatopoeia. April 9, 2016 at 11:16am Reply

        • Victoria: What a great name!

          We have these large black birds, I guess they are really called black birds, that at one point descend upon the city and start singing in the evening. April 9, 2016 at 3:46pm Reply

          • Hamamelis: Do they have a yellow beak and yellow eyeliner around the eye? Then they are indeed called blackbirds in English. In Dutch they have a nice name too: Merel (which is also a girl’s name). April 9, 2016 at 3:54pm Reply

            • Victoria: Yes. Ours sat right next to the window, so I could observe his makeup closely. 🙂

              I like Merel much better. April 9, 2016 at 3:56pm Reply

  • spe: Thank you for the lovely post and best wishes for a successful project.

    These days, I’m smelling lots of wood (home improvement projects with doors and cabinets). A lumber yard is one of my favorite smells! April 8, 2016 at 10:53am Reply

    • Victoria: Good luck with your home changes! The hassle of such projects aside, I also love the smell of wood. Even sharpening pencils is a pleasant task. April 9, 2016 at 8:20am Reply

  • Susan McCallister: Yes, thank you so much for creating this wonderful space and keeping it going throughout all the craziness in the world. Its beauty is a solace, and we would miss your voice. I learn a great deal here from you and others in the community. I cherish it. Please let us know how we can support your work with children. April 8, 2016 at 11:10am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much for visiting. Also, thank you everyone for being so open to support my children’s project. Once I figure out where exactly we need help and what anyone else can do to support us, I will let you know. Again, I appreciate all of these comments and your support. Children respond so well to art, beauty and scents. April 9, 2016 at 8:28am Reply

  • OnWingsofSaffron: Dear Victoria, a profound thank you for your creative website, for the passion for beauty and goodness which is felt in each post! It is very, very inspiring indeed. April 8, 2016 at 11:16am Reply

    • Victoria: It means a lot to me. Thank you very much! April 9, 2016 at 3:00pm Reply

  • Patricia: Safe travels! I look forward to hearing about your project upon your return. xx April 8, 2016 at 12:06pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Pat. On my last visit I met a woman running a children’s group, and I ended up participating. It was a big success with kids, and they were so into learning about perfumes and blending their own compositions. There is also another initiative with the local art college that tries to attract children (especially from disadvantages communities) and offer them learning opportunities. So, I decided to return, focus some time on these projects and take it from there. April 9, 2016 at 3:04pm Reply

  • Elizabeth: Gardens and gardening have been my biggest passion for many years – long before I became interested in bottled fragrance. The garden here is about three weeks earlier than usual. The hyacinths are finished, tulips in full bloom, bluebells are almost open, there are a couple of buds formed on a few roses. (Yikes, way too early.) I can see the buds on the lilacs. With the change in our climate, spring is arriving earlier and earlier each year.
    Next fragrant blooms to come out will be clematis Montana and the flowers on the horse chestnut trees. I could go on and on………

    For scent, I have pots of pansies and violas and a bright yellow wallflower, near the door out to the garden. April 8, 2016 at 12:12pm Reply

    • Victoria: Your garden sounds like a true paradise with all of those flowers. April 9, 2016 at 3:04pm Reply

  • limegreen: Thank you, Victoria, for continuing BdJ for all of us! I like thinking of the community you have engendered here as having a common scent memory, ever ongoing. 🙂 April 8, 2016 at 12:23pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much. We all share it! April 9, 2016 at 3:05pm Reply

  • Aurora: Thank you very much for a lovely post on the wonders of spring, Victoria, with beautiful photos. Best wishes on 11 years of BdJ, it is truly a marvellous blog, and for your volunteering work. If we can contribute in some way let us know! Here the bluebells are succeeding the daffodils, the primroses are going strong and I feel full of hope in this new season. Nothing beats simple pleasures like your magnolia tree. April 8, 2016 at 12:46pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m really touched by all of these offers to contribute. Thank you very much. I’ll definitely keep all of you posted.

      We have primroses at the florist right now, and the colors are so vibrant. April 9, 2016 at 3:07pm Reply

  • claire: Dear Victoria, thank you for the reminder to enjoy the wealth of fragrance that surrounds us! I think that is what drew many of us to seek the mysteries of manufactured scent in the first place. My father planted a Magnolia tree (and several roses) when I was born, and it’s blooming time often heralded my May birthday. Maybe I have a special relationship with flowers and scent because even with some of the longest winters, the flowers were reliably blooming in May. A miracle! I now also live in the West, also in a place where rain is a year round affair, but of course the benefits are wonderful, especially if you enjoy gardening, as I do. I have tried to fill my garden with year-round scent, the earliest being two varieties of winter-blooming Daphne, my favorite being the Daphne odora, which can begin blooming here as early as January. I have a shrub planted just outside the front door and the fragrance is apparent well before you round the corner. Next come two types of Edgeworthia, which I like the looks of more than the fragrance (very sweet with honey) but they bring the hummingbirds to the garden early. Now the magnolias are in bloom, and my favorite, lily of the valley (the May birthday flower), has just begun to unfurl. I brought three slender stems in to scent the room yesterday. So tiny and so powerfully fragrant! Yesterday evening, which was unseasonably warm, my daughter and I took a walk through the neighborhood enjoying everything in bloom. As we strolled home, someone was testing the irrigation system for their lawn and and the odor of moisture coming off of the edge of the damp pavement smelled so good! And all of it for free…. April 8, 2016 at 1:12pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes! Isn’t it splendid? At this time such pleasures are so easy to find. And of course, later in the season there will be fresh fruits and vegetables at the market, asparagus, peas, strawberries. April 9, 2016 at 3:11pm Reply

  • claire: V: Congratulations and thank you for 11 wonderful years of shared wealth! Thank you, thank you, thank you for providing this invaluable forum. April 8, 2016 at 1:21pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for reading and visiting, Claire! April 9, 2016 at 3:12pm Reply

  • Connie: Scents are such a wonderful way to enjoy our life and bring happiness to it. I recently found a supplier that has French Lavender plants and I have purchased many since they have it in. Ah, the fragrance of French Lavender rivals no other. It is Spring here in Atlanta, Georgia and every thing is in bloom. The Wisteria covers many trees around and they have a heavenly fragrance. I also Accrued some Rue Flowers from this same supplier and although, they do not have what some call a pleasant smell, when you mix the oil with other oils, it can become quite perfume like. I can say that I totally am in love with oils and perfumes and the like and would not be able to live without them. April 8, 2016 at 4:35pm Reply

    • Victoria: Are you growing lavender in a pot or outdoors? Yes, the scent when it’s warmed by the sun is luscious–licorice, honey, green twigs, camphor. April 9, 2016 at 3:14pm Reply

      • Connie: I am growing my Lavender and several other herbs and plants in my Patio Container Garden in large pots. To date I have 3 types of Lavender, Rue, Basil, Rosemary, Lemongrass, Hot Lips Salvia, Thyme, Ococea Rose, Rose Attar, English Garden Roses, Lemon Verbena, Sage and I am adding to my collection each year. I make oils from The Lemongrass, etc to make my products and soaps. April 10, 2016 at 11:27am Reply

        • Victoria: Do you use your other herbs for making oils and tinctures too? April 11, 2016 at 2:24pm Reply

          • Connie: Yes, I have White Willow Bark that I make an oil out of and put in a soap. I have Hemp Seed, Hibiscus,Calendula, Chamomile . All of these go into oils to make tinctures. All of these plants will be used for this process to make some kind of potion to put into my products. 🙂 Thanks for asking! April 11, 2016 at 2:36pm Reply

            • Victoria: All of these in your garden! It’s impressive. Your willow bark soap sounds very interesting. April 11, 2016 at 3:34pm Reply

              • Connie: Thank you! April 11, 2016 at 3:45pm Reply

  • SilverMoon: Here in England snowdrops, crocus, daffodils, hyacinths, tulips and magnolia – roughly in that order herald spring at ground level. I am less sure about the order of bigger flowering trees, even though they are wonderful to behold.

    Three of the houses on my street have magnolia trees weighed down with blooms and glowing in the morning sun – such a delight to behold the generosity of spring (as you put it Victoria). However, I have never had the courage to simply walk up to one of the trees to smell the blooms.

    Many thanks Victoria for the thoughtful comments, beautiful photos; I would like to echo the appreciation expressed by so many others too. As you say, appreciating scent is a great strategy for exercising the nose, but also a wonderful way to build bridges in this multinational community sharing the many dimensions of beauty. And congratulations on your 11th year! How time flies. April 8, 2016 at 4:54pm Reply

    • Victoria: Please try it! Magnolia is one of the most perfumed trees (although, to be sure, there are unscented varieties too). I miss the southern magnolias in this climate which have such large and waxy blossoms that they almost look unreal. Or magnolia champaca, a single blossom of which can scent the whole room for hours.

      Time does fly, although it doesn’t feel this long. When you enjoy something, you don’t notice the passage of time quite as much. April 9, 2016 at 3:17pm Reply

      • SilverMoon: Victoria, just to let you know, I went into the front area of one of the houses and sniffed the flowers on the tree and picked up a petal on the floor. It was very windy and cold so did not smell much outdoors. Once home, I could smell the petal. First impression was a soft banana like smell, but then out came the more vanilla and indolic aspects – a spicy warm scent that I associate with many white flowers. Weirdly, as the petal lies rotting here this morning, it smells better! April 12, 2016 at 3:40am Reply

  • parker scout: It really is a wonderful thing, like a room of one’s own. Thank you so much for this space. Reading your post and the comments is a great routine. As many notice, spring rain is so much different, that sometimes I forget on purpose the umbrella. And soon, my mother’s lilacs will bloom!

    Of course, let us know if we can contribute in some way to that project. April 8, 2016 at 5:36pm Reply

    • Victoria: How lucky! There is nothing like the smell of wet lilacs. When I’m at my grandmothers, I can’t wait for the rain to bury my face in the drenched blossoms.

      Thank you very much! April 9, 2016 at 3:17pm Reply

  • Jeanne: I love spring here in Denver. Because of our high altitude, we wait until mid May to plant the garden, but some bulbs are blooming and the smell of damp earth is wonderful-it’s one of my favorite spring scents.

    Thanks for such a lovely blog. Your interesting articles and your generous spirit make it such a pleasure to read! April 8, 2016 at 8:22pm Reply

    • Victoria: Mine too. I can’t wait to do some garden work at my grandmother’s.
      And thank you, Jeanne. April 9, 2016 at 3:19pm Reply

  • Surbhi: We have a sudden spurt of snow again but before that We had daffodils, some tulips and cherry blossom. I would just go near them and just smell. Recently developed allergies from all spring flowers so I don’t go near them as much and hence I am always looking for fragrances that smell like actual flowers.

    Favorite scent memory: tuberose in flower market. I Could smell it like 1/4 of a mile away. April 8, 2016 at 8:55pm Reply

    • Victoria: The first time I visited a flower market in India, I remember being stunned by the scent of tuberose. It almost had a tangible presence.

      Did you end up finding any tuberose perfume that satisfied your cravings? I remember you were asking for advice in one of the threads. April 9, 2016 at 3:20pm Reply

      • Surbhi: I got fracas.

        Victoria,

        Everyone already mentioned how grateful they are for the space you have created and the efforts you put in it. The only thing I Would like to add is that I feel so much joy reading your posts and sharing fragrance experiences with a global audience that I check this blog almost everyday now. I learn so much. April 9, 2016 at 7:26pm Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you for sharing. It’s really a nice experience to follow someone’s explorations and discoveries, so I love hearing your impressions as you try new things (or revisit old favorites.) That goes for all of you, of course. April 11, 2016 at 2:13pm Reply

  • Alicia: Victoria, what a lovely post! For the photo I believe that yours is magnolia soulangeana. I have one just like it in my garden here, but it will not flower yet. Before soulangeana my spring will start with magnolia stelatta, with pure white flowers of many petals (thus the name, star magnolia). At its foot I planted many snowdrops and another bulb which flowers about a week later, the pale blue pushckinia. My soulangeana has indeed a lemony smell (I have to pay more attention to reach the vanilla). I like so much the smell of snowdrops that years ago I bought a bottle of what was sold as its essential oil. I doubt that snowdrops produce any such oil, nevertheless I cherish that little bottle, which together with Diorissimo is able to create spring in the midst of winter. Three days ago I saw the faithful snowdrops and a couple of pushckinias announcing spring. The star magnolia was obviously about to twinkle its first stars. But Upstate NY weather is treacherous. The next day everything was covered by five inches of snow. Looking through the window at all that whiteness I remembered The Wasteland’s line on April, “the cruellest month.” I looked at the potted hyacinths on the sill of my breakfast room, and decided that it was no time to give way to melancholy. After all my bottle of Chamade was waiting for me. April 8, 2016 at 8:59pm Reply

    • Victoria: I googled soulangeana, and it does look like the tree we have.

      Chamade, snow, snowdrops, cold sunshine–it already sounds like an exquisite vignette. April 9, 2016 at 3:21pm Reply

  • Mia: Just yesterday it was ten :). Happy 11th and big thanks! Because of BdJ I have learned to trust that there still can be civilised spaces to discuss even in social media.

    Great that you have an opportunity to do new important and meaningful things for a while. April 8, 2016 at 10:44pm Reply

    • Victoria: I know! Since 2005, and I can hardly believe it.

      Thank you, Mia! April 9, 2016 at 3:23pm Reply

  • zephyr: Best of luck, Victoria, on your new project with children!

    I should plant some hyacinth in my garden, just for the scent. Right now in my garden and on my block, we have nothing growing yet that smells nice! And here by the lake in Chicago, it looks like a blizzard outside, windy and cold! I’m afraid the frost will nip the heads off the jonquils and daffodils I see around the city.

    We look forward to hearing from you again when you have the chance. Be safe! April 8, 2016 at 11:42pm Reply

    • Victoria: They usually are sturdy enough to withstand these cold spells, so I hope that you will enjoy them later this month. Weather in Chicago is the only thing I don’t miss about the city, but since it was my hometown for many years, I still have a soft spot for it. April 9, 2016 at 3:24pm Reply

      • zephyr: I didn’t realize you spent time here in Chicago, Victoria! So you know how it can be here! I’m a native. I spent my teenage years up through my mid-twenties on the east coast, but have been back here for almost thirty years now. Yes, winters here can be miserable, though this past winter wasn’t that bad at all.

        I’m going to plant some hyacinth bulbs this coming fall! April 12, 2016 at 11:17pm Reply

        • Victoria: It’s milder than it used to be, but of course, next to the Belgian winters, it’s Siberia. Still, I love the city in whatever weather. April 15, 2016 at 3:57am Reply

  • Alicia: I just realized that your post didn’t end in the description of the arrival of spring. Victoria, wherever you are and wherever you go in your new enterprise on behalf of children, may God bless and keep you. These are dark days, increasingly so. It is the existence of people like you that sheds light, warmth and beauty through the darkening clouds towards our uncertain earth. Dear Victoria, keep safe. April 9, 2016 at 2:16am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much for your warmth and kindness, Alicia.

      I’m re-reading Borges The Library of Babel and thinking about the other thread in which you shared about him. April 9, 2016 at 3:35pm Reply

      • Alicia: Each time I read that splendid story I ask
        myself if Borges was not thinking of Pascal, who once said that the universe was an
        infinite sphere, whose center can be found anywhere, but its circumference can never be found. For many years Borges was the Director of the National Library in Buenos Aires, in the end he was nearly blind. As he walked its many long galleries along the many floors and reading rooms, enveloped in his blindness, he must have been reshaping his library in the mathematical infinity of this library of Babel, and making of it a metaphor of the universe. I feel some tenderness for this timid man, who was my teacher, and contained in himself all the books of the world, those he could no longer read and those he created, and built for us, his readers, the infinite universe in the shape of his library of Babel. April 10, 2016 at 3:38am Reply

        • Victoria: I found a list of his recommended books, and it was interesting to see the range of his reading, from detective stories to Japanese medieval literature. I don’t remember if I mentioned this before or not. From his list, I discovered for myself The Intelligence of Flowers by Maurice Maeterlinck. A delightful work. April 11, 2016 at 2:23pm Reply

          • Alicia: Indeed, Victoria, indeed. Since he was a child, Borges read voraciously (as did his closest friends, Bioy Casares and Victoria Ocampo). Not surprisingly one of the books he frequented the most was the 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. With Bioy Casares he was the editor for many years of detective mysteries, an editorial where they published the best of the genre, splendidly translated to Spanish. That series was called El Séptimo Círculo. All of his students became avid readers of detective stories. His favorite sleuth was Chesterton’s Father Brown. I have read Maeterlinck, of course, but not The Intelligence of Flowers. Now, thanks to you, I will. April 11, 2016 at 10:17pm Reply

  • Notturno7: I LOVE this blog!! And it’s the first blog for me that I happen to find just few months ago. Thank you for your beautiful writing and inspiration, dear Victoria. Happy 11th anniversary. All the best with new projects and plans for children. Let us know if we can help.
    And thank you for creating such a lovely, sunny and comforting world here, despite of what’s recently happening in your neighborhood in Brussels,- so much so that I didn’t realize till recently that you live there.
    We’re thinking about you and yours.
    Safe and fragrant journey💜 April 9, 2016 at 4:23am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! It’s been an adjustment period, but in the end, difficulties also refocus one’s priorities. And one has to carry on. April 9, 2016 at 3:39pm Reply

  • Solance: Dear Victoria,

    Congratulations, 100 nationalities! Thank you for creating this place of tolerance, peace and cosmopolitism in our troubled times. As you know, things have not been smooth in my country either, which makes me believe ever more in values such as those fostered here, in this caring community. Your ‘perfumism’ has always been focused on finding the beauty of the smell of a flower, a crayon or a cup of tea, and not on feeling faulty because one can’t afford the latest Roja Dove. Thank you for that, for never leaving anyone out of the game. Very happy to know you’ll be working with children again. So great for them, the kind of experience many will remember forever. Have fun, and stay safe! April 9, 2016 at 4:59am Reply

    • Victoria: I realized shortly into my perfume school tenure that the best part of being interested in scents is how rich it made my life day to day. Before I couldn’t imagine leaving for vacation without an arsenal of perfume bottles, but now I don’t even think about it much. And also, it doesn’t matter how much something costs if it doesn’t touch you. That was my other important lesson from those days. April 9, 2016 at 3:42pm Reply

  • Old Herbaceous: What a beautiful post, and best of luck with your project! I dearly love the scent of those pink magnolias too (and yes, Alicia’s comment above is right — they are probably magnolia soulangeana; some people call them “saucer magnolias”). My college had a huge courtyard planted with dozens of them and whenever I smell one now, my mind goes back to that lovely courtyard. I recently discovered that Phoenix Botanicals on Etsy sells a set of magnolia perfumes, which I had been seeking, so I’ll post about those when I get them. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the scents of my Southern garden. Happy spring! April 9, 2016 at 8:33am Reply

    • Victoria: Grandiflora Magnolia comes close for many, and Michel Roudnitska also has a nice magnolia perfume. Then, there is Frederic Malle Eau de Magnolia which I love less for its magnolia resemblance than for its being a modern take on chypre with a great floral note. April 9, 2016 at 3:44pm Reply

      • nozknoz: There are many magnolias in my northern Virginia neighborhood, and I can vouch for Grandiflora’s Magnolia Grandiflora Sandrine smelling almost just like the huge Grandiflora flowers. It’s a surprisingly light and lemony scent, and she didn’t try to sweeten it up or make it heavier. It’s very nice to wear in early summer. April 9, 2016 at 8:50pm Reply

        • Victoria: Yes, the more I wear Sandrine’s magnolia, the more I enjoy it. When I first tried it, I don’t think I understood it. I need to update my review. April 11, 2016 at 2:15pm Reply

  • Karen 5.0: Thank you for this beautiful post! I, too, love the spring and look for its arrival in whatever part of the world I happen to be living or travelling. For me, the fascination is finding the flora and fauna that signal the change of seasons and learning their names and how to recognize them. In addition to different people, languages, buildings, food and music, it is yet another way I like to get immersed in other cultures.

    The best of luck to you on your volunteer activities and congratulations on 11 years of inspiring thoughts about perfume and beyond~ April 9, 2016 at 10:09am Reply

    • Victoria: Definitely! I dry flowers in between pages of my books when I travel, and sometimes one comes across varieties that really preserve the scent. April 9, 2016 at 3:45pm Reply

  • maja: Dear Victoria, thank you for creating my favourite place on the web. Your wonderful and poetic writing, the community of supportive people reading this blog and a continuous source of inspiration for all senses are what makes this page awesome. Keep safe in your travels, and enjoy another round of spring in your homeland.
    You already know my garden smells of mimosas in bloom, but my orange trees have flowers too as well as my fully recovered apricot tree with its honeyed and soft apricot blossom. April 9, 2016 at 4:56pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much! Your garden is already my personal vision of paradise, and your mention of an apricot tree makes it even more so. It’s such a delicate but distinctive perfume, and no bottled version comes close. April 11, 2016 at 2:12pm Reply

  • Calvados: Elizabeth must be from Seattle. -)

    Spring is very early here, everything, like, writing is blooming. Magnolias, rosemary, daffodils, tulips, bluebells, ground covers in my garden, and today one of my lilacs just bloomed. Many buds on my roses, too.

    The weather has been gorgeous and I immensely enjoy being outside – and smelling.

    I find your blog to be my happy place. Warmth, elegance, refined taste, kindness, knowledge, radiance – and much more.

    Will also want to be part of your project if you find it beneficial for it.

    Happy 11 and to many more! April 9, 2016 at 8:59pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! I appreciate all of these comments very much, and once again, I’m touched by these warm words (and willingness to help!)

      I can’t wait for my grandmother’s lilac garden to start blooming. April 11, 2016 at 2:17pm Reply

  • Austenfan: Just a brief comment as I’ve just returned from my holiday. Congrats on the 11 years! I’m hoping you’ll have a safe trip to Ukraine. And sending you my best wishes for the project! All else has already been said; BdJ is a great place. April 10, 2016 at 11:33am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much!

      There are so many blooming daffodils around, although this spring has been very warm and I missed some of the early blooms. April 11, 2016 at 2:25pm Reply

  • Alice: I work near Quai Branly Museum in Paris and every year, I like to smell the different types of magnolia in it’s garden. Thank you for your blog Victoria and for the love of smells and books April 11, 2016 at 3:39am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Alice. I also love the garden around Quai Branly Museum, and its vertical garden is also impressive. I haven’t been there recently, so I need to visit and smell its magnolias. April 11, 2016 at 2:27pm Reply

  • Katy McReynolds: I recently purchased a small Star Magnolia and while working the roots noticed the most heavenly odor wafting from them. Like a wetter echo of the lemon custard blossom. Fascinating! April 11, 2016 at 10:27am Reply

    • Victoria: I had no idea that its root have a smell. Which is why it’s always great to have gardeners around. Hmm, where do I find some magnolia roots to smell? 🙂 April 11, 2016 at 2:30pm Reply

      • Austenfan: Dig up some trees 😉 April 11, 2016 at 3:39pm Reply

  • Teresa: All the best on your project with children, Victoria!

    Here in tropical Singapore we have no spring, alas, as it is my favorite season. Instead, it is now as hot as summer in a desert! 🙁

    There are still fragrant flowers which I enjoy, like the frangipani, and some jasmine-like plants which I can’t indentify.

    When I was staying in Delft, I loved the many different varieties of daffodils. I had a hyacinth plant too, and it scented our little apartment! April 11, 2016 at 11:25am Reply

    • Victoria: The tropical jasmines are some of the best scented flowers, and the variety of fragrances is astounding. When I ask my mother-in-law about jasmine, she always asks me “what jasmine” I have in mind. 🙂

      Do you wear perfumes on such hot days? April 11, 2016 at 2:34pm Reply

      • Teresa: As I’m pregnant now and my sense of smell is too acute, I don’t wear any perfume. Usually, when the weather is so hot, I like light, refreshing perfumes like AG Le Chervefeuille, sprayed with a light hand. Or sometimes I don’t put on any perfume when it is too hot! April 24, 2016 at 1:29am Reply

        • Victoria: Teresa, congratulations! April 25, 2016 at 9:29am Reply

  • kate: i love this post 🙂 since i was a little girl, i’ve always loved flowers. my maternal grandmother who lived in the central valley of california (where i was born/raised) had a yard full of trees and flowers and she’d encourage me to pick bouquets. the flowers i remember most clearly were various types of roses, hydrangeas, gladiolas, irises and snapdragons.

    now i live in oakland, CA and my neighborhood is blossoming with roses, jasmine and angel’s trumpets, which smell amazing at night. there are also several blossoms but i’m not all that great at identifying those! April 14, 2016 at 4:53pm Reply

    • Victoria: Bay Area, Oakland, etc are some of the best scented parts of the country. I still remember stepping outside in SF and smelling jasmine and sea breeze. April 15, 2016 at 4:23am Reply

  • Carla: Beautiful post April 25, 2016 at 11:18am Reply

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