Scent Diary: Dried Roses for Inspiration

I keep a tin of dried roses on my desk. I gathered them four years ago at my grandmother’s garden in Ukraine. My grandmother was sitting on the bench under the lilacs, watching me. The sun was making the rose smell even more intensely sweet. So much was lost during these intervening years, but the dried rose petals in my tin still retain their honeyed perfume. I close my eyes, take a deep inhale and feel myself bathed in the warm sunshine of a distant Ukrainian summer.

What scents evoke pleasant memories for you?

Scent Diary is a place to write your observations about the scents around you. Whether you write down 1 recollection or 10 matters less than simply reminding yourself to smell. You can add as many comments as you wish. You can comment today or over the course of the week; this thread will always be open. Of course, do share what perfume you’re wearing or what particularly good scented products you’ve discovered.

While looking through my articles, I found this article that I wrote a few years ago but that still remains popular and often-read: A to Z Tips for Enjoyable, Affordable and Rewarding Perfume Hobby. If you have any tips to add, I’d love to hear them.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin



  • Damiana: The scent of new books and stationery, the scent of freesias and gardenias, the scent of pipe tobacco and leather purses. There are more, but these are the ones that just came to mind. Lovely post, Victoria. January 13, 2023 at 9:10am Reply

  • Emily: I’m the eldest of nine children, but back when there were only three or four of us my father would make all our toys out of wood while I watched & “helped.” We nearly never got one on one time with dad so every such moment was precious.

    The smell of sawdust has been immensely comforting ever since & the entry into my current perfume habit was definitely via woody notes.

    D.S. & Durga’s Bowmakers will always rank high on the scents-I-wear-for-myself-if-not-others list because it smells like a woodworker’s workshop (& a bit like an 80s ballet studio with the rosin). January 13, 2023 at 10:18am Reply

  • Arlinda Ferreira Leite: The smell that delights me is that of books, I love the feeling of being in a bookstore or library and coming across copies. I love the smell of lavender, because it reminds me of my grandmother, my mother ❤️
    My perfume of the day is Trussardi Donna January 13, 2023 at 10:36am Reply

  • Tiffany: When I travel to Hawaii, the first thing that hits me is the sensation of warm moist air combined with the sweetness of the local flowers. No matter how many times I visit, it always surprises me. January 13, 2023 at 10:39am Reply

  • Catherine: Spring and summer in Alberta brings two gifts, the lilacs in May, and the peonies in July…we were lucky enough to have a large yard, and every year, my mother fill our house with them, lilacs first, and Alberta’s high altitudes makes them very fragrant, and in June the soft tender scent of her big rose-pink and white peonies. The house smelled like heaven on earth. January 13, 2023 at 11:16am Reply

  • Catherine: Lilacs, and peonies. When spring and summer came to Alberta, my mother filled our house with them…

    And her mom, my Grandmother, always had a much of Sweetpeas on our kitchen table… January 13, 2023 at 11:22am Reply

  • Catherine: That is to say, a MUG of Sweetpeas, from her garden…. Alberta ,Canada has a short growing season, so, the fragrances of spring and summer had profound effect on our psyches after a long winter.. January 13, 2023 at 11:26am Reply

  • Deanna: My father died some years ago ( in his 80s) at that time the dangers of smoking weren’t really understood, so he was never without his favourite brand, Wills “Passing Cloud.” in their exotic pink box.
    I still keep a box in a drawer, the cigarettes are a bit musty now, but they retain their leathery smell which reminds me of him. January 13, 2023 at 11:54am Reply

  • Alityke: Grandad’s shed. Foraged wood drying out, fresh turned wood & the oil of his lathe. All overlaid with his cherry pipe tobacco.

    I love the smell of a farriers or blacksmiths, even burning hoof (it doesn’t hurt the horse or pony). Yep I was that girl that loved metalwork & woodwork at school, none of that sewing business for me thank you.

    Healthy animals always smell good. Though horse, hay & well cleaned leather tack takes some beating.

    My last one will strike many as just plain odd. The smell of old hospitals. Well waxed wooden floors that have become imbued with phenolic antiseptic cleaning fluid. Anyone who has experienced that smell will recognise it. Not all will enjoy it or find it comforting, as I do. January 13, 2023 at 12:10pm Reply

  • Botagoz: I made several pots of Christmas potpourri before the holidays infusing them with scents of orange, cinnamon, clove, vanilla, anise star, pine and placed them in each room. I still enjoy entering each room and feeling uplifted by the smell and look of them – my way of extending the festive feeling 🙂 January 13, 2023 at 1:04pm Reply

  • Klaas: Victoria, I hope that you and your mum can visit the garden again soon…..thank you for sharing this beautiful and personal and thought provoking scent memory.

    Emily’s mention of a ballet studio triggered some memories for me as well, as ballet is a scented world all by itself. Rosin, shellac, Elnette hairspray, tiger balm, old sweat, linoleum floors and my teachers generous application of L’Heure Bleue (which, we found out much later, was to cover an even more generous serving of sherry on her breath!!).

    And there is the smell of the Paris subway…..I must have mentioned it here before……It is such a distinct, unique smell and when it hits me in the face (or rather: punches me in the face) as I descend into the Gare du Nord station it immediately transports me to 1994. I lived in Paris then and it was one of the happiest and most exciting periods of my life. Most people find the smell quite appalling and I don’t blame them….there’s body odour, second hand breath, the smell of rot, and something sweet and musty. But smelling it brings a smile on my face that goes from ear to ear…….if some niche house ever releases it as a candle I’d buy it immediately!!! January 13, 2023 at 1:47pm Reply

    • Emily: Okay, now you’ve reciprocated in re scent memory triggering because your Parisian descriptions are reminding me that when I first started visiting Manhattan during the early 90s I was initially put off by its particular autumnal aroma array: hot dog water & burnt meat bits with a background of piss & cannabis, top notes of those caramelized hot nuts that never ever taste as good as they smell.

      Bliss. Smells like adventure. Like freedom. January 13, 2023 at 4:23pm Reply

      • Klaas: Hehehehe, that’s amazing! Time traveling through scent, I love it….. January 13, 2023 at 5:41pm Reply

  • Jules: This is an ordinary post. Every June I collect my pink and red rose 🌹 petals and lay them out to dry. Once august arrives I repeat the process with my lavender. The scent from the mix is redolent of summer: Sweet, honey and straw like with the clean, astringent piercing clean scent of the lavender. January 15, 2023 at 3:11am Reply

  • Tanisha Lopes: When I was a child, my father brought my mom a proper bouquet of flowers, and me a single or a min bouquet. Usually there were roses, which I will forever associate with being loved unabashedly. He got a job near a flower stand and started bringing us more unique and varied things, artichoke flowers, lisianthus, but roses will always hold a special place in my scent memory. January 16, 2023 at 3:03pm Reply

  • Janine Novak: For me it’s the lilacs. The epitome of spring and so many memories of my childhood with my grandmother. January 25, 2023 at 1:27pm Reply

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Latest Comments

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