Scent Diary : Bulgarian Roses

Bulgarian roses smell of honey, cinnamon, cloves, lemon peel, green leaves and a hint of raspberry. It’s the rose damascena variety, but the unique terroir of the Rose Valley gives it a particular fragrance. Imagine what a whole field of roses smells like!

Please jot down any interesting observations in this thread. You can write about your favorite books, interesting scents you’ve encountered. For those who would like to use the Scent Diary to sharpen their sense of smell, I will give a short explanation. As I wrote in How to Improve Your Sense of Smell, the best way to do so is to smell and to pay attention to what you’re smelling. It doesn’t matter what you smell. The most important thing is to notice scents around you. It’s even better if you write it down. So please share your scents and perfumes with us.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin



  • Cynthia: I recently broke my ankle and I’m still not able to move much. The smell of coffee, a common one, but it has suddenly become important to me. I am normally the one to make it, but my husband is now in charge. That coffee smell drifting toward the bedroom is what helps me get out of bed in the morning and experience that momentary rush of pain as the blood rushes down. A common smell has suddenly become a lifeline. July 12, 2019 at 9:06am Reply

    • Tourmaline: Hi Cynthia,

      I’m sorry you broke your ankle. I can understand your increased response to the wonderful aroma of coffee. The thought of my morning cappuccino sachet coffee helps to get me out of bed in the morning. I hope your ankle heals in speedy fashion.

      With kind regards,
      Tourmaline July 13, 2019 at 1:16am Reply

  • Armando: I am obsessed with violets. They smell sweet, candied, but also slightly peppery with a hint of petrichor, somewhat cold I think, and wet. Like a cloudy afternoon, with candies and a cup of tea. They smell purple, but a bluish one, not warm like aubergine. Also slightly grey. Not as much as the leaf, but still grey. I do my best to focus on the note when smelling a perfume that has violets.
    I wonder what would happen if you put violets on top of cedar and amber, alongside a white flower and under ginger and black pepper. Maybe such thing would be a mess but I want to know! July 12, 2019 at 9:06am Reply

    • Tami: When I was a young teenager, Dior Poison represented everything I wanted to be as an adult: mysterious, stylish, and kind of dark & heavy. Just like the music I listened to (Depeche Mode, The Cure, etc). I don’t remember loving a specific note—just the feeling of sophistication. (Don’t laugh, I was a teenager 😉) Revisiting it, I realize that the notes I still don’t care for—strong wood, strong patchouli, strong “green”—either aren’t there, or they’re fairly muted, even on drydown.

      It’s funny that so many people view it as epitomizing the 80s, because it totally does for me!

      I recently purchased a small bottle to enjoy reminiscing. A little bummed that my allergies have been on high alert lately, so I can’t wear it! July 12, 2019 at 10:58am Reply

      • Tami: Sorry, didn’t mean fornthis to be a reply to Armando! July 12, 2019 at 10:59am Reply

    • Lema: How do colours smell? Isn’t it the attributes we attach to them that make them smell. So green is grass and so smells fresh (but not mossy), yellow is citrus (or immortelle)… July 12, 2019 at 11:18am Reply

    • Tami: Armando—I happened to be “sniffing around” and noticed that Jo Malone has a fairly new scent called Violet and Amber Absolut. Not totally the notes you’re looking for, but given that Jo Malone fragrances are so tailored towards layering, perhaps it’s worth seeking out if you can! July 12, 2019 at 11:01pm Reply

    • Tourmaline: Hi Armando,

      I, too, am obsessed with violets. Or at least – the scent of violets, for, unfortunately, I have neither seen nor smelled real scented violets. But I currently have 15 violet fragrances, and I have written a children’s novel (as yet unpublished) where the main witch in the story – a good witch – dresses in violet silk velvet and wears violet perfume.

      That ingredient combination sounds interesting. Maybe you could manage to try it yourself sometime!

      With kind regards,
      Tourmaline July 13, 2019 at 1:25am Reply

  • Deanna Wisbey: Dog’s feet smell of digestive biscuits.Why? ! So intriguing.
    Digestive biscuits go with coffee , surely there’s a new idea for a perfume……. July 12, 2019 at 11:55am Reply

  • Aromista: I love the idea of a Scent Diary! I haven’t started one yet but hope to do so… I’m commenting today to let you know, just reading your posts and even each comment is a wonderful olfactory experience in itself. I can bring the scent of familiar flowers, perfumes, coffee, etc., to mind in reading them. (Having a little trouble with the smell of dog’s feet – no experience with that one.) Thank you for the fragrant gifts you deliver to my inbox with Scent Diary. July 12, 2019 at 12:13pm Reply

  • Tourmaline: Hi Victoria,

    What a lovely photo! I would love to smell Bulgarian roses sometime; they sound wonderful.

    A couple of days ago I received a second-hand book that I had ordered from an online company. The book is “Scent in Your Garden” by Stephen Lacey (Little, Brown & Co., 1991). To my surprise, inside it was a card with a handwritten love note. On the front of the card was a photograph of yellow monkeyflowers from Trail Creek in Sawtooth National Forest, Idaho (according to info on the back of the card).

    The message inside reads, “My Dearest Lovey, Thank you for bringing me to Sun Valley. Idaho is beautiful. I hope we return & have more time to bike, walk & laugh together.

    I love you very much. I am always true, always have been true and always will be true. It is your decision to believe or not believe. If you do not believe, we must change. Think about this – it is our future.

    On a lighter note – I bought this book for you. Flowers are very beautiful and add so much to life – just like you. Flowers are special but not as special as you. Enjoy the book. Pick out our fall flowers and remember I love you very much.

    Love Always & Forever,

    The dedication written inside the book reads, “To Mick, my Life, my Love, my Garden. From Michelle – Always. 8/28/93, Sun Valley”

    What a heartfelt but somewhat unsettling message! As the card was written 26 years ago, I can’t help but wonder what happened to the couple. Did they overcome any obstacles and stay together? Did they marry and/or have children? If they are both still alive, are they STILL together? I’ll probably never know.

    On the off-chance that Michelle (or Mick, for that matter) is a Bois de Jasmin reader, it would be great to hear how things turned out. Clearly, neither the card nor the book is still with Mick.

    My goodness, I could write a story about this book and card. I just had to share the tale with Bois de Jasmin!

    With kind regards,
    Tourmaline July 13, 2019 at 1:09am Reply

    • Deanna: What an intriguing story.
      I’ve just ordered the book you mentioned, “Scent in your garden” by Stephen Lacey, wonder if I’ll find any letters inside it!
      I’m trying to plant more scented plants in the garden. At the moment two varieties of jasmine are flowering, and also a really wonderfully scented evergreen climber with white flowers held in clusters. Unfortunately have lost the label!
      Matthiola incana a biennial plant, has a very powerful scent that I don’t remember ever seeing listed as a perfume ingredient. July 13, 2019 at 2:19am Reply

      • Tourmaline: Hi Deanna,

        Yes, the story is indeed intriguing. I think it is going to haunt me!

        I’m sure you’ll enjoy the book; it has many beautiful photos, all in colour. I looked up Matthiola incana in it, and found a description and a lovely picture of the pink variety. The spiel says of it, “The clove fragrance is delicious both by day and by night.” Yes, I’m sure that many scented plants are still to be used in perfume. My very first comment on Bois de Jasmin, back in 2014, was about Chocolate Cosmos. I wonder whether it has ever been used in a fragrance.

        Jasmine is wonderful. My dad used to have a white variety climbing up our veranda railing when I was a child, and the scent was unforgettable. Sometimes I used to pick a few at a time to give to mum.

        Good luck with your gardening!

        With kind regards,
        Tourmaline July 13, 2019 at 4:42am Reply

        • Deanna: Hi again Tourmaline, Well thanks for reminding me of Chocolate Cosmos, I used to grow it, and apart from the scent it’s a very attractive growing plant. Have just ordered some from
          eBay, together with the book!
          I’m also growing Heliotrope, got excited when I read it was a note in L’heure Bleu, though it’s not always listed.
          You have a very unusual name, it does sound like the name of a perfume! July 13, 2019 at 8:49am Reply

          • Tourmaline: Hi Deanna,

            Wow – you grew Chocolate Cosmos! Did it ever make you feel hungry?!

            I hope your Heliotrope grows well; I can certainly understand your inspiration, because L’Heure Bleue is my all-time favourite fragrance, as I’ve written in BdJ previously. Simply divine.

            Tourmaline is my pen name, but it is one of my favourite stones, and I have several items of tourmaline jewellery. I think it would make a very pretty girl’s name, though – wouldn’t surprise me it has been used already. It would also make a fine perfume name. Unfortunately, I’ve heard that some cosmetic manufacturers have used powdered tourmaline in a face products as it’s supposed to have some positive effect. I have my doubts!

            Let us know if you find any interesting notes in the book!

            All the best,
            Tourmaline July 13, 2019 at 10:26pm Reply

            • Deanna: Never the urge to eat chocolate from smelling chocolate cosmos! But you have to get up close to smell Same with heliotrope, and it has to be at certain times of day. Time wise Jasmine starts to perform at around 6.0 pm (am in London) Lilies are about to open and they will have specific a time too to blast out their scent. Makes me think I must start a scent diary to start more closely observing when plants perform.
              Actually first thing I would note in the diary is that I received a bottle of Narcisso EDP (Rodriguez) from All Beauty,(Rave reviews from L Turin) and I couldn’t smell anything at all. It’s like water. Has anyone else found this with this perfume? It mystifies me. They did agree to accept its return though.
              I think you should change your name to Tounaline! July 14, 2019 at 3:40am Reply

              • deanna: Typo. Sorry!
                Tourmaline July 14, 2019 at 3:41am Reply

              • Tourmaline: Hi Deanna,

                I’ve read that heliotrope is alternatively known as “cherry pie”. Do you smell that at all?

                Are you in the USA? I’m in Brisbane, Australia. I can imagine the smell of your lilies – very heady and just a little hammy. I think a scent diary is a great idea.

                That’s a read shame about the Narcisso. Having just read LT’s review, I wonder whether you have difficulty smelling lactones.

                I have no garden, only a balcony, which is currently devoid of plants as I had to have the tiles re-waterproofed a while back. I have always longed to smell real scented violets – Viola odorata – and I have just been on Amazon and seen that I can order some of the seeds. Now might be a good time to plant them, as they are cold weather plants and it is the middle of winter here. I once grew a fabulously-scented crimson Mr Lincoln rose bush in a pot, and I should try that again – this time using white oil so that aphids don’t suck the life out of it again. I also once had about ten pots of different coloured miniature parade roses, which grew very well. I think I should try those again too.

                Hmm, Tourmaline might not go well with my middle name: Ann, besides which my father, now aged almost 91, would be aghast! It would be a lovely name, though.

                Good luck with the gardening – and the scent diary!

                Tourmaline July 14, 2019 at 5:25am Reply

  • Federico: Hi Victoria,
    I may visit this summer Bulgaria. Do you believe I would be able to find any fragrance based on Bulgarian roses ? Do you have any suggestion ?
    Many thanks,
    Federico July 13, 2019 at 6:28am Reply

  • OnWingsofSaffron: Yesterday, I bought an enormous bunch of fresh peppermint. Then I entered a bakery to buy some meringues for Eton Mess as dessert. When I had payed and packed away the meringues, one could smell a blast of sparkling peppermint. The saleswomen said: “Oh peppermint! How lovely. We used to have those in our garden.” I said, “So did we. So unruly.” She agreed laughingly. We spoke a bit more and I left.
    Nothing earth shattering obviously, but a scent changed the scene from an impersonal business transaction to a brief personal meeting at eye level: sharing a mutual scent experience; a reminiscence of gardening; a smile. July 14, 2019 at 4:30am Reply

    • Tourmaline: Hi OnWingsofSaffron,

      What a lovely encounter! You have reminded me that I have a packet of spearmint seeds that I intend to plant in a pink pot that I bought especially to put on my kitchen windowsill. I wonder whether spearmint has any of the nutrients of green vegetables!

      With kind regards,
      Tourmaline July 14, 2019 at 5:27am Reply

      • OnWingsofSaffron: Hello Tourmaline, spearmint, I think, has a really invigorating scent. As it is used in tooth paste a lot, or chewing gum, I would rather choose say the nana (Moroccan) mint for eating: in salads or smoothies. But a whiff of spearmint on the kitchen windowsill sounds great!
        By the way: I find the dark green tourmaline gemstones wonderful! Many of them come from the country in which I was born: Namibia. Therefore, when I read your posts, the name triggers memories… 🙂 July 14, 2019 at 6:00am Reply

        • Tourmaline: Hi OnWingsofSaffron,

          As a child, I loved the taste of Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum, which came in sticks rather than pellets. Whenever I’m in a restaurant and the desert has a garnish of strawberry with a few mint leaves beside them, I always find the flavour of whipped cream and spearmint leaf delicious. But I suppose a lot more would not necessarily be better, and might give one a stomach ache! However I like the idea of freezing mint leaves into ice cubes and using them in drinks. And yes, the aroma of spearmint on the kitchen windowsill should be great (and will match my Trix spearmint dishwashing liquid!).

          I love tourmalines in all their colours – which I understand are pretty much all the colours of the rainbow. I have tourmaline jewellery in pink, red, light green, dark green and deep blue. I haven’t seen much in orange or yellow. My dark green is a large rectangular pendant, which I wear with a smaller, square, deep rose-coloured one above it; they complement each other.

          I hope the name triggers happy memories for you.

          With kind regards,
          Tourmaline July 14, 2019 at 7:28am Reply

  • Aurora: Surprised by the scent of the river when I was walking in Greenwich today. Eau de Neroli dore today, soon becomes a skin scent but I can then use a big perfume in the evening.
    You make the Rose Valley sound magical. July 14, 2019 at 3:18pm Reply

  • Silvermoon: This weekend, we visited a lavender farm (Yorkshire Lavender) in the Howardian Hills area. As one walked from the car park to the entrance, the breeze carried the most wonderful smell of lavender (really strong and an amazing sensation). Walking among the lavender rows brought the perfume experience closer. They also had a range of herbs, especially mints. If one touched the leaves of a mint variety called “after eight”, your fingers smelled of chocolate and a delicate mint (exactly like the sweet). Wonderful!

    The cafe had lavender scones, lavender cheesecake, and lavender ice cream. A great experience for all the senses! July 15, 2019 at 4:02pm Reply

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