Green Perfumes : Spring Inside You

I grew up in the city, but every summer I traveled to Poltava to spend several months with my great-grandparents. In the Soviet Union, grandparents functioned almost like a second pair of parents and such an arrangement was normal. My great-grandparents, Asya and Sergiy, lived in a village near Poltava, and their parenting was down-to-earth, literally. From an early age I knew how to prune tomatoes, plant beans and trim rose bushes to grow one perfect blossom. Asya and Sergiy are no longer alive, but we still have their garden. When I return to their village, I find myself remembering how to do things I haven’t done for ages–planting, weeding, or pruning.

February is still a month when one can only talk about new planting projects, but I like to walk around the garden and see how it’s wintering. Lately, I’ve been reminded of a scent I always associate with spring–that of fresh buds. Cut a few branches and place them in warm water. A couple of days later, the buds start to burst and their scent of green leaves, bitter sap and sweet woods is the embodiment of spring.

One of the best perfumes to capture this dramatic and yet subtle aroma is Balmain Vent Vert. If you can find it, that is. The Different Company Tokyo Bloom and Les Nez The Unicorn Spell are likewise excellent, proving that spring can be bottled.

What evokes spring for you?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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75 Comments

  • Old Herbaceous: Penhaligon’s Ostara smells like spring to me, with its strong fragrance of daffodils. They are possibly my favorite flowers, followed closely by lilies of the valley (muguet). I also love hyacinths and associate their smell with early spring, because I put pots of forced bulbs in my house. One hyacinth pot can scent a whole room! February 21, 2020 at 8:39am Reply

    • Victoria: I also have hyacinths in pots, and I have a blue one blooming right now. One of the best springtime perfumes. February 21, 2020 at 11:06am Reply

    • Silvermoon: Hello Old Herbaceous! Absolutely agree that Ostrava smells like spring and specifically daffodils. I love daffodils too – and always look forward to seeing them tossing their heads on a sunny (and breezy) spring day. Like you, I also love lily of the valley and hyacinths. In terms of perfume notes, I like LotV best – with Diorissimo and Muguet Porcelaine among my favourites. February 22, 2020 at 5:50am Reply

      • Silvermoon: Ostara (sorry didn’t catch autocorrect) February 22, 2020 at 5:51am Reply

    • Carolyn Middleton: Such a shame Ostara has been discontinued. My best friend was never a Penhaligon fan, which she admitted after I’d given her one of their ‘sample boxes’ when the set comprised 10 samples for a mere £12, of course this was long before Puig took over the company & inflated the prices to a ridiculous level! However, when she & I were in Edinburgh some time ago she was really taken by Ostara, just after it was launched, so when I was there a few years later I bought her a bottle at a much discounted price, not knowing at the time it was discounted because it was about to be discontinued. My friend was the only woman in a team of men at her place of work & she was delighted to tell me this was the only perfume she wore in her years there that generated compliments from her colleagues. It was so unlike all the perfumes she wore over the years that I was very surprised she loved it so much – we’ve been friends since we were teenagers & we’re now in our early sixties. February 22, 2020 at 9:29am Reply

      • Silvermoon: Hi Carolyn, Ostara is special indeed. I loved reading your story about it. I happened to stop in at Penhaligon a couple of days before its launch. Once we got chatting about my perfume interest, the SA brought out a bottle to allow me to take a sneak “pre-sniff”. Unusually for me, I immediately loved it, and she kindly even gave me a sample. I went back to purchase a FB the following week. I was astonished when Penhaligon decided to discontinue it barely a year later. Really odd decision, because it is one of their outstanding perfumes, one of the very few of their line that repeatedly gets mentioned here. As soon as I heard they planned to discontinue, I rushed to buy a back up bottle. The only time I have done so. February 22, 2020 at 12:32pm Reply

        • Carolyn Middleton: Hello Silvermoon – glad you enjoyed my tale! I’ve mentioned before (either on this site or on Now Smell This) about chatting to the ladies in a London branch of Penhaligon’s not long after the Puig takeover & they were deliciously indiscreet about how they felt re the change of ownership & the multiple new fragrances in the ‘British heritage’ line (& the accompanying dreadfully tacky bottles – their words, not mine!) being launched to target a specific market to the detriment of traditional long-time customers’ tastes. Apparently there had been a considerable backlash from said long-time customers which was going to be addressed, & this has been confirmed to me in chats with staff in a couple of other branches since. On a different note, I have worn Bluebell on & off for many years, & the friend I mentioned in my previous post admitted very recently that she didn’t like it at all – we’d probably consumed too much wine at the time & she felt emboldened enough to tell me! – in fact she used a Scottish word, ‘minging’, which means foul smelling/very bad/unpleasant to describe how she felt about it!! I still love it, though I’ll never wear it again in her presence… February 23, 2020 at 9:30am Reply

  • Stephanie F.: Bel Respiro and En Passant are my early spring favorites.

    We’ve had a warm winter and the hyacinths I planted last fall are starting to emerge! February 21, 2020 at 9:35am Reply

    • Victoria: I want to wear Bel Respiro again. February 21, 2020 at 11:07am Reply

    • Klaas: Hello Stephanie, Bel Respiro is spring in a bottle to me, too! So is Muguet Porcelaine. February 22, 2020 at 5:26pm Reply

  • Bibi Maizoon: Diorissimo!
    Green, clean. & serene.
    The best muguet fragrance I’ve ever tried. February 21, 2020 at 9:37am Reply

  • Heidi Czerwiec: I love vintage Vent Vert for spring — some other favorite green scents include Jacomo’s Silences and Chanel No 19. I also love Frederic Malle’s En Passant for that ephemeral spring lilac smell. February 21, 2020 at 9:41am Reply

    • Victoria: All of these are among my favorites too. February 21, 2020 at 11:07am Reply

  • Matty1649: Tom Ford
    Violet Blond
    Black Violet
    Ombre de Hyacinth
    Jonquille de Nuit

    Looking forward to other suggestions. February 21, 2020 at 9:43am Reply

    • Victoria: Tom Ford’s collection has many excellent green florals. February 21, 2020 at 11:07am Reply

    • ClareObcure: Reply to Matty1649. I too, love Violet Blonde. Do you know if it’s been discontinued? July 24, 2020 at 9:39am Reply

      • Matty1649: I’ve just ah a quick Google ….. it seems to have been discontinued July 24, 2020 at 5:55pm Reply

  • RMF325: Chanel No. 19 is my favorite green fragrance. I wear it a lot in the spring, but plenty in the other seasons as well. I’m a Northern California native, so it’s rather spring-like all winter here. February 21, 2020 at 9:44am Reply

    • Victoria: Same here. It’s been a very warm winter. February 21, 2020 at 11:08am Reply

  • Tara C: La Danza delle Libellule and Chamade smell like spring to me. February 21, 2020 at 9:47am Reply

    • Victoria: La Danza delle Libellule is on my list. February 21, 2020 at 11:08am Reply

  • Patricia Devine: I love Vent Vert. I have the original Cellier version and the Calice Becker version, which I slightly prefer. They are beautiful scents. I also love Jacomo Silences, Chanel No 19, Lauder’s Azurée and Alliage, Piguet’s Bandit and Carven’s Ma Griffe. I think of all these as ‘green’ but for spring I also love Penhaligon’s Ostara, fresh colognes based on lemon or lime, and green tea scents. February 21, 2020 at 10:00am Reply

    • Victoria: Reading these lists reminds me how much I like green florals. February 21, 2020 at 11:08am Reply

      • Gina P: Green florals are the only florals I really like on me.

        With the exception of Carnal Flower.

        Having said that, No. 19 and Ninfeo Mio are my favorite greens. February 21, 2020 at 11:54am Reply

  • John Luna: Spring is really almost here on the west coast of Canada… And many gardening tasks will want looking after!

    The cool side of spring:
    Pour un Homme de Caron
    Paco Rabanne Pour Homme
    Le Troisième Homme de Caron

    The warm side of spring:
    Guerlain Vetiver
    Guerlain Habit Rouge
    Christian Dior Eau Sauvage February 21, 2020 at 10:50am Reply

    • Victoria: A great selection for different moods of spring. February 21, 2020 at 11:09am Reply

      • John Luna: Thank you! Most of it is straightforward, but Habit Rouge was a bit counterintuitive what with the resins and flowers. Oddly, warm weather is the time when it most makes sense to me… Maybe it’s the rose notes, or maybe it’s the celebratory feeling (the best thing to wear, as somebody said, if you are hosting a party), but I like HR best in the warmest months of spring. February 21, 2020 at 12:40pm Reply

        • Marsha Smith: Ah yes! Pour un Homme de Caron. I was Hoping this was a green scent! It’s probably the only one I own. February 21, 2020 at 5:04pm Reply

          • John Luna: I think you can think of t that way… The opening certainly has a green astringency before the whole composition heads for the indigo shadows of deeper, anise-toned lavender and powdery woods. There’s an ‘oriental’ aspect to the vanilla and amber, but I still think of it as suiting the friendly side of green (wearing it right now!) February 21, 2020 at 6:57pm Reply

  • Perfumelover67: Dior Diorissimo which is spring in a bottle. Also Annick Goutal Ninfeo Mio, Perfumes d’Empire Corsica Furiosa, Demeter New Zealand, Chanel No. 19 EdT. February 21, 2020 at 11:04am Reply

    • Victoria: Demeter New Zealand is the only one I haven’t tried. February 21, 2020 at 11:09am Reply

  • Robin: Lily of the Valley, of course. And I’ve never found one better than Diorissimo. February 21, 2020 at 12:14pm Reply

  • OperaFan: Yes – Love green scents, in fact, anything opening up with a huge shot of galbanum (especially mixed with hyacinth grabs my attention. I only wish it wasn’t so short-lived.
    So I have far too many favorite green perfumes to name, so here are a few. They may or may not have the 2 requisite notes mentioned above, but I love them anyway:
    Chamade
    Eau de Campagne (Sisley)
    Debut (DelRae)
    Bluebells
    Grand Amour
    Apres l’Ondee
    Chant d’Aromes
    Eau Rose (one of many roses, of course…) February 21, 2020 at 12:49pm Reply

    • OperaFan: One more… Eau de Camille. 😊 February 23, 2020 at 9:26pm Reply

  • Gabrielle Langley, Poet: I am really enjoying this thread. “En Passant“ (Olivia Giacobetti for F. Malle) is my favorite springtime scent… the scent of white lilacs in a rainstorm. (See Victoria’s beautiful review for this fragrance here on Bois de Jasmin — https://boisdejasmin.com/2005/06/frederic-malle-en-passant-perfume-review.html ).
    En Passant has a very ethereal presence. A few hours after I have applied it, just when I think I can’t smell it anymore, it reappears magically, like a beautiful flower ghost… a very haunting and poetic fragrance. February 21, 2020 at 1:48pm Reply

  • Figuier: I love the scent of hyacinths, paperwhites, daffodils – all those spring flowers. I once bought a 30ml bottle Le Temps D’Une Fete and then – a year or so later – sold it on, for no good reason. I really regret that!

    Green fragrances are still my favourite scent category – I often wear Tom Ford’s Vert de Fleur, No 19 extrait, Cristalle edt, Margiela Untitled, and (less spring-like) Sycomore edt. Dusita’s Sillage Blanc is spectacular but too strong – even a small dot from a sample vial gets to too much after a bit – the musks maybe? Ostara’s musk also gives me a headache, sadly. February 21, 2020 at 2:26pm Reply

  • Shannon: Guerlain Après L’Ondée, without a doubt…but another with spring-like freshness (hyacinth & rhubarb) and a warm tonka dry-down is Tory Burch Just Like Heaven…not much impressed with other TB offerings, so this pleasantly surprised me! February 21, 2020 at 2:46pm Reply

  • Fazal: Def. Vent Vert. It is, indeed, one of the best green fragrances I have ever smelled and I was fortunate to acquire it in a vintage formula. I like it better than Chanel No. 19 which does not appeal to me in original edt concentration though I love it in parfum concentration. February 21, 2020 at 4:42pm Reply

  • Helen Miskin: L’Artisan Eau de Parfumerie 18 Glacialis Terra Daphne Bugey. Subtle, fresh and light with a promise of spring to me and a hint of Daphne. On the box is this description’The great vetiver roots unfurl in the cold and damp earth bearing an icy impression, yet carry a sense of fertility and life’ Love it. My doctor says he can smell daffodils when I wear it! Definitely Spring then. February 21, 2020 at 4:51pm Reply

  • Marsha Smith: Victoria: lovely post as usual! February 21, 2020 at 5:06pm Reply

  • rainboweyes: Hiris
    Vero Profumo Mito
    Oriza L. Legrand Déjà Le Printemps February 21, 2020 at 5:49pm Reply

  • Amanda M: What a lovely article Victoria! Green fragrances are amongst my very favourite to wear.

    A few green gems amongst my collection that are great loves of mine are Annick Goutal’s Heure Exquise – very exquisite indeed with the glorious galbunum and green iris. Perfect in all seasons. I’m enveloped in its beauty on a warm summery Australian day here today. Glorious sillage!

    I also adore and enjoy all the versions of Chanel No 19, the EDP being my favourite.
    Jacomo’s Silences which i love too, is loaded with gorgeous green galbunum, I prefer the vintage and cherish my small bottle! It’s so beautiful. February 22, 2020 at 3:55am Reply

    • Amanda M: Oh yes, and of course how could I forget to mention another gorgeous green beauty that I love and wear – Vent Vert! Agreed Victoria, it’s beautiful and definitely Spring in a bottle.
      I have the Calice Becker version, the early 90’s bottle with the wavy green top. (and a back up!)
      I simply adore anything with Galbunum. It’s woody, green and rich forest-like scent is captivating! February 22, 2020 at 6:09pm Reply

  • Aurora: The days getting longer evoke spring and seeing the first crocus and the daffodils.
    This is the time of year when I’m in the mood for Anais-Anais, AG Grand Amour, Must de Cartier (I call it the green Shalimar), MH Jasmin Vert, Chamade and No 19 which has been often mentioned. But also citrus fragrances like my vintage CD Eau Fraiche, Carthusia Mediterraneo, and two musky lemons: Floris Chypress and D&G Light Blue Italian Zest which I discovered last year. February 22, 2020 at 5:57am Reply

    • Notturno7: Hi Aurora, we were writing here at the same time! So nice to read your choices. Thanks for Chamade reminder. I will go find my bottle. Nice to be reminded of Ostara, too! I haven’t used it for a while. February 22, 2020 at 6:07am Reply

      • Aurora: Hello Notturno, what great timing we were having! You’re smelling great in Calandre, what a steal that bottle of extrait, I imagine it smells glorious. Calandre and Rive Gauche are related (same perfumer I think) I have Calandre EDT but gravitate more toward RG for some reason. February 22, 2020 at 12:45pm Reply

        • Notturno7: Hi Aurora, I love Rive Gauche and have a vintage bottle from the 1980s. It’s divine! Well preserved in that metallic container. Very similar to Calandre and a same creator.
          I only got Calandre extrait after someone praised it on this blog.
          I’ll go put some more on, I can smell the dry down on my wrists from last night and it makes me want to reapply.
          EL Private Collection is green and reminds me of spring, too. I should pull out that bottle.
          What are you wearing today? February 22, 2020 at 4:42pm Reply

          • Aurora: Oh yes those canisters of RG keep the perfume in top form. I always enjoy that first blast of cold when it is applied, then it warms up and the rose bloom. Yesterday evening I was wearing Molinard Chypre Charnel which is very plush. This morning I am testing Galop thanks to you. I love the leather so soft, it’s the Hermes baby leather which I find in Kelly Caleche too, I am weary of strong leather scents. There is some brightness at first, maybe the quince, it is linear and smells good from start to finish, I appreciate the rose which is not too sweet or dark (I would consider PoaL as dark rose). I sprayed also on a blotter, I was surprise that it has quite a sillage for an extrait. Thank you so much for having given me the opportunity of testing this lovely perfume at leisure. February 23, 2020 at 3:37am Reply

    • Tati: Hi Aurora,
      Thanks for the great list. My first love was Must de Cartier, but I have never thought about it as a green Shalimar! What a great description. March 5, 2020 at 11:03am Reply

      • Aurora: Hello Tati: I have just seen your message, your most welcome. And thank you for sharing that Must was your first perfume, I think you have great taste, it is so lovely both green, animalic, woody, flowery, and it all comes together, and is unforgettable, thank you for liking that I call it Green Shalimar. My first perfume was l’Heure Bleue and contrary to the quote (by Jean-Paul Guerlain, I think) I love both it and Shalimar.

        Stay safe and fragrant 🙂 March 16, 2020 at 5:39pm Reply

  • Notturno7: I love the timing of this! I’ve been wearing No 19 extrait almost daily this week. Tonight I have Paco Rabanne Calandre vintage pure perfume on, and it is so, so good! Those mossy, green, chypre notes, metallic rose counterpoint, heavenly dry down……mmmm. It reminds me a bit of Amouage Gold with its green notes and rose. These great quality vintage treasures. I got Calandre on ebay 0.5 Oz for $35! So worth it! February 22, 2020 at 6:02am Reply

  • Aurora: And I love the cat, so effortlessly decorative, is it a visitor to your garden in Poltava? February 22, 2020 at 6:04am Reply

  • OnWingsofSaffron: So many readers mention Jacomo‘s „Silence“; I really must try and find a small bottle.
    Then another green scent which somehow flies under the radar: Jean-Louis Scherrer. Yes, it may smell just a tiny bit dated. Still, a lovely rush of greeness! February 22, 2020 at 10:38am Reply

    • Klaas: Hello OnWings, I used to love Scherrer! Have you tried it recently? It’s hard to find here in Holland and I’d love to know how it’s doing in its current formulation. February 22, 2020 at 5:29pm Reply

      • OnWingsofSaffron: Hoi Klass, I bought the edt spray and extrait on ebay: both fine and—though I‘m no expert here—probably vintage. I find both versions potent (plenty of galbanum) yet, as I said, just a bit old fashioned. Beste wensen February 23, 2020 at 2:49am Reply

        • Klaas: Hey OnWings, thank you! I might treat myself to a new 50ml. It’s quite cheap online. Curious to smell how it is surviving in the 3rd millenium 😉 Hartelijke groeten! February 23, 2020 at 8:59am Reply

        • Amanda M: I’ve read that the vintage versions have a golden/honey/amber appearance to the fragrance and the modern is more of a light green colour.

          I have the modern, well it’s about 10 years old I think, having trouble with the batch code dating as it’s not listed in the checkfresh database..am awaiting an eBay vintage in the post, it’s a lovely golden colour, am very excited to compare! 😁 February 23, 2020 at 5:10pm Reply

      • Rakasa: Hoi Klaas. From memory, not direct comparison, the current formulation of Scherrer is very close enough to the original to please. In 2019 I sourced a new one direct from First In Fragrance and wasn’t disappointed. It also had the deep honey-gold appearance of the original unlike the light green-gold color of the ones I’be encountered at discounters. March 5, 2020 at 12:37am Reply

        • Klaas Backx: Hoi Rakasa! Dankjewel, I’ve seen bottles online as well, but I’ll look out for the honey colored one. I seem to remember the ones I saw were greenish……een gewaarschuwd man……. 😉 March 5, 2020 at 4:04am Reply

    • Amanda M: Ooh yes, I also love Jean Louis Scherrer! Gorgeous woody green. It’s beautiful. I still wear that from time to time today.

      I do hope you manage to maybe find a bottle of Silences – the galbunum in that is very special, bracing and very green in all its glory.

      They’re becoming much harder to find these days, but if you can, vintage is definitely best in this regard! (I have both, and can attest to the fact that my vintage 50ml is so much better) February 22, 2020 at 5:58pm Reply

      • OnWingsofSaffron: Yes, I really must! I‘m already eyeing a particular offer on ebay 😀 February 23, 2020 at 2:50am Reply

        • Amanda M: Ooh good, hope you manage to secure one! Lovely galbunum deliciousness! 😊 February 23, 2020 at 5:11pm Reply

      • Klaas: Silences is gorgeous! February 23, 2020 at 8:56am Reply

  • pocketvenuslux: Living in Canada, I associate spring with greenery, but also black, damp earth still covered in melting snow. Something along the lines of Frederic Malle’s Bois d’Orage or Andrea Maack’s Coven remind me of spring. But I also love green scents with a good slug of galbanum. Dusita’s Sillage Blanc is a favourite. February 22, 2020 at 11:38am Reply

  • Klaas: Little ducklings are one of the joys of spring here in Amsterdam. I live on a canal so we get loads of them. They are so cute and such a happy sight!

    Blossoms are also another spring favorite. Some trees really look like they have been covered in whipped cream! February 22, 2020 at 5:34pm Reply

    • Amanda M: Klaas, it sounds like a truly beautiful place! I’m Australian but my father was born in the Netherlands in Middleburg and emigrated to Australia when he was 12. I’ve never been over there but it sounds delightful. February 23, 2020 at 5:14pm Reply

  • Tracey: I was once lucky enough to try the vintage parfum formulation of Chant D’aromes. Simply gorgeous.
    While I usually prefer things like Chanel 19, I do occasionally wear an old favorite…La Chasse aux Papillons. February 23, 2020 at 12:47am Reply

  • Lily: I always think I should like green scents and have only found a couple I like, Silences and Eau de Givenchy. But neither are spring to me, more summer oriented when the sun makes the grass either sweet and warm (givenchy) or the weeds rank and raspy (Silences).

    My fave spring scents are Ostara and Balenciaga Paris. Here in Texas the daffodils are already fading and the violets are all over the woods. Still cold, but the light is returning and with it the buds and early spring flowers. February 23, 2020 at 9:27am Reply

  • Tami: Green and I don’t seem to get along too well; I have to wonder if it’s because I generally “run warm,” physically, and it doesn’t quite go with my chemistry. Maybe it’s also because I’m hardest hit with allergies in spring… so scents that evoke spring don’t provoke the sweetest memories? Who knows 🙂

    No. 19 is—unsurprisingly—the quintessential spring “green,” to me, but it doesn’t quite work on me (nor does it suit my personality). I do love Diorissimo… which I can indeed wear well. I was recently shown Diptyque’s Vetyverio, and I enjoy that too; it’s spring with a bit of an edge courtesy of the grapefruit note.

    But in truth (and as someone else mentioned above), spring is the season of digging and planting. So the scents of wet dirt, young leaves, and plant roots are a natural reminder of the season! February 24, 2020 at 1:29am Reply

  • Neva: The one and only perfume that announces springtime to me and I wear it usually in the first sunny days of spring (this year earlier than usually) is Clinique Wrappings – fresh, clean, green with a touch of hiacynth that gives it a certain sweetness and makes it less dry than my other green love – Nicolai’s Weekend (in Normandy). February 24, 2020 at 9:27am Reply

  • Danaki: For me, quite a few. SL Profundis and Penhaligon’s Ostara. I also wear vintage Diorissimo and Un Matin D’Orage which remind me of spring. February 24, 2020 at 7:01pm Reply

  • Natalie: I still haven’t found a green perfume for me, so I guess I am really picky in this fragrance category Ones I have tried and thought they were well done, but aren’t for me, are: Chanel No 19 and Cristalle eau Vert, Estée Lauder Aliage and Private Collection, Balmain Vent Vert, Tokyo Bloom, and Guerlain Vetiver.
    Lilacs evoke spring for me due to the street my childhood home was on was lined with lilac bushes and our other house had white lilacs in the garden. En Passant is my absolute favorite lilac fragrance. Other scents that evoke spring for me are daffodils, narcissus, jonquils, hyacinths, sap from broken stems and branches, lily of the valley, peonies, and the aromas that arise from greenery and soil after a rain. February 27, 2020 at 5:17pm Reply

  • Gían: The ultimate green for me is mito: RIP Veronica Kern; you are missed March 5, 2020 at 9:37pm Reply

    • Gían: “Vero” Kern March 5, 2020 at 9:39pm Reply

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