Scent Diary : Thyme and Gardens

Another Ukrainian summer I will miss. I planted a few flowers and herbs that my grandmother always hand in her garden, such as marigolds, tagettes, hollyhocks and lemon verbena. One of the herbs I planted was thyme. It was too abundant in the fields around our house in Bereh to keep it in the garden, but for me its lemony, spicy scent epitomizes Ukrainian summer.

The variety found in our region is Thymus serpyllum, creeping thyme or serpolet in French. It’s called чабрец  in Ukrainian and it has an intense green fragrance reminiscent of melissa and rose geranium. This is because one of the major components of its essential oil is geraniol, also present in geranium, rose, lemongrass and citrus. Valentina added thyme to tisanes and roasted meat, but more often she would tie it into small bundles and leave them around the house to perfume the space.

Do you have a garden? What do you plant in it?

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



  • Old Herbaceous: What a lovely scent memory you’ve created — I know how deeply you feel the ongoing tragedy of Ukraine. I do a lot of gardening (wherefore my blogging name). I have a vegetable garden that includes herbs: this year I have thyme, tarragon, lavender, basil, oregano, marjoram. I include marigolds and nasturtiums, as they are good companion plants for herbs and vegetables, and I love their flowers (which are also edible!).
    I grow several roses, mostly David Austin English Roses which are bred for fragrance. They have been especially lavish in bloom this spring. This year I’m also growing (in a pot) a scented geranium called “Attar of Roses”, and yes — its leaves smell just like a rose!
    Happy gardening, Victoria. June 2, 2023 at 8:09am Reply

    • Victoria: Your garden sounds amazing. So many fragrant plants. June 2, 2023 at 9:32am Reply

  • Old Herbaceous: P.S. Rosemary is also a cherished plant in my garden (and kitchen), but it has its own large pot or lives with other herbs in pots, I don’t grow it in the veg garden. June 2, 2023 at 8:11am Reply

    • Victoria: I planted mine in the herb garden, but now I really that I should have kept it separate. It took over many other plants. June 2, 2023 at 9:31am Reply

  • Tara C: I normally only plant lavender on my balcony, didn’t have a lot of luck with other herbs. Mint grows wild in the back alley. June 2, 2023 at 9:17am Reply

    • Victoria: I should plant some lavender. June 2, 2023 at 9:30am Reply

  • maja: Wild thyme is my favourite scent ever. Reminds me of home. The name in Serbo-Croatian is Mother’s Soul. (Majčina dušica) That’s how much we love it and cherish it. 🙂
    Perfume wise – I have started with greens and tuberoses. Summer is here despite the occasional rains. June 2, 2023 at 9:22am Reply

    • Victoria: We also have a plant called Душица, dushytsa, but it refers to Origanum vulgare. I never connected it until you mentioned the name and its meaning. Fascinating, isn’t it?

      Tuberose is such a grateful plant in the right climate. June 2, 2023 at 9:29am Reply

      • maja: Duša, in BSC, is also a term of endearment very often. Something like جان
        🥰 June 2, 2023 at 9:59am Reply

    • Diana: Oh Maja – How beautiful is ‘Mother’s Soul!’ Thank you so much for this. I recently finished a bottle of wild thyme with it’s green leaves and tiny beautiful flowers so good to see and smell – I hardly cooked with any other seasonings I kept using the thyme and now thank you I am remembering that I need a new bottle! June 5, 2023 at 10:25pm Reply

  • Aurora: In London I have a balcony with two geraniums with fragrant leaves, I’ve had them for many years, and inside I have a peace lily and a new blue African violet. Having a herb garden is such a good idea, I’m glad it reminds you of your grandmother’s garden. In Provence where I go every summer there is wild thyme which is as fragrant as the ubiquitous lavender. June 2, 2023 at 9:58am Reply

  • Andy: I loved reading about everyone’s gardens and what they are growing. Every garden I have ever had includes herbs, which come to think of it may be the only constant. Even my cut flower patch, which I maintain within a community garden, includes lemon basil, to add scent and greenery for my otherwise scentless summer bouquets.

    Every year I grow masses of lemon verbena and air dry it for tea at the end of the season. It doesn’t overwinter here, so I wait all season to harvest. For me, it is vastly more flavorful than any lemon verbena/verveine tea I can buy commercially, and keeps me stocked for the year. This season, I’m also giving eucalyptus a try. I’ve never grown it but am curious to see how it does outdoors (a notoriously slow grower here, I am told).

    I didn’t think I’d ever encountered Thymus serpyllum, until I realized it’s the same species as a popular diminutive creeping groundcover here in the Mid-Atlantic U.S. Unfortunately these tiny varieties are only mildly fragrant, though. June 2, 2023 at 10:17am Reply

  • Bregje: Just in time this post!
    After 20 years of just having a balcony( where i had lots of plants in pots), i now have a tiny garden since last year. The house is a new and the ground/soil compromised because of the building. I started planting enthousiastically last year but not everything thrived.( lost the oleanders that i had for 10 years).
    So now i am contemplating what to add.
    I have lavender, blue and white that grows really well,rosemary,creeping thyme( thymus praecox),sage, jasmin( jasminum officinalis,gelsemium and winter jasmin), the hosta plant does well in the only place where there is some shade, a fig trea and this year a raspberry bush sprouted spontaneously. I also planted chamaemelum nobile but that isn’t growing well. I already got some inspiration from the other comments but if anyone has more tips, i would love to hear them. It’s situated south-west and it gets pretty hot.
    Btw, i’ve almost finished reading your book and just wanted to let you know that my grandfather also had a cherry orchard, so i recognised the painting ed. I had totally forgotten that. June 2, 2023 at 12:12pm Reply

    • Hamamelis: Hi Bregje, you have to start with improving the soil by adding lots of organic material (compost). If you don’t have access you can buy it at a garden center. Be careful with fertilizer, (bemeste tuinaarde) as you want the soil to come to life (beneficial funghi, earth worms) and fertilizer doesn’t really help. You could sow phacelia, de Bolster sells it, it grows easily and when it dies it acts as a natural fertilizer. If you look after the soil your garden will follow! Lavender and most herbs do well in poor rocky soil, so maybe that is why they do so well. You could add more plants like that, oregano, bonenkruid, agastache. Maybe sow some marigolds, supereasy and in a few weeks you will have a splash of colour.
      Rasberries are lovely but they will take over your garden quickly! Hope this helps a little. June 3, 2023 at 1:28am Reply

      • Hamamelis: Ps maybe add some verbena bonariensis or verbena bampton, they will self seed and will do well in most gardens, as well as nepeta, good for bees and easy to grow. Kranssalie may do well too. June 3, 2023 at 1:38am Reply

      • Bregje: Thank you so much!!! June 3, 2023 at 11:00am Reply

        • Hamamelis: I also thought of another beautiful plant that may do well in your garden: Baptisia. You can find it on-line or with a good nursery. It takes a while to estabablish, but then many years of joy! June 3, 2023 at 11:02am Reply

          • Bregje: Oh yes, that looks like a good fit. ( one of my favorite colors is indigo😉). I’m going to work the soil today and do some weeding and get some new plants next week. June 3, 2023 at 12:48pm Reply

  • Hamamelis: I am blessed with a large garden. I have a well drained sunny corner where I grow various herbs. Four kinds of thyme, including creeping thyme, estragon, sage, chives, lavender, immortelle, parsley and my favourite, dill. My husband started a vegetable garden for stress relief, and he grows many kinds, potatoes, spinach, zuchini, pumpkins, stringbeans, tomatoes, radishes, garlic, bok choy, kale and more! I tend the soft fruit, rasberries, blueberries, strawberries and gooseberries.
    I also tend the flower borders, with bee friendly flowers such as salvias, hardy geraniums, achilleas, asclepias (which I believe grows in in the wild in the US), and many more. In spring there are many daffodils, my favourite poeticus among them. My nose takes me on many walks in the garden, and it is a good practice to smell plants and flowers on differents parts of the day.
    I hope the herbs and flowers you grow give you comfort and pleasure. June 2, 2023 at 1:10pm Reply

  • Nina Zolotow: I live in Northern California and I’m grateful to have space for a garden. While we do have some plants just for looks (especially a magnificent Japanese Maple Tree), we do have both an herb garden and a scented flower section of our back garden.

    The herb garden has rosemary, which the bees love, thyme, sage, oregano, marjoram, chives, lemon balm, lemon verbena, tarragon, and the tall form of chamomile.

    The scented flower section has daphne, 4 different roses, pink jasmine, star jasmine, dianthus, heliotrope, geranium, and a lemon tree, with different kinds of thyme and camomile as ground cover. The daphne blooms in the winter, which is wonderful and the star jasmine is particularly fragrant at night. Sometimes I have lavender but those don’t seem to do well. June 2, 2023 at 1:50pm Reply

  • rickyrebarco: I love herbs, especially rosemary and thyme, but I am the worst gardener. I have a couple of houseplants, some variety of palms that I have managed to keep alive and a little baby Norfolk pine in a pot. That’s it for me and gardening. I loved reading about everyone else’s wonderful gardens, though. My yard is full of lovely trees and I do take good care of them, live oaks are very beautiful and I have 2 huge ones in my yard. June 2, 2023 at 4:42pm Reply

  • Ewan: The tea rose has just started blooming and it has a light fragrance. Helichrysum Italicum has started to send out florettes after a year by the willio. Southernwood and tarragon are neighbours along with yarrow, blackberry, lovage, thyme and sage. Dotted around are nasturtiums and chamomile. In pots are tomato plants [ is there an essential oil from tomato leaves? ], roses, St. John’s wort and Honesty, whose seed pods will turn silvery-white.
    Bear garlic is gaining a foothold underneath the ginko tree battling with goutweed. The goutweed is edible in the early part of the year; I use the young leaves in omelettes. The virginia creeper has climbed the walls and the building stands out with its green and vertical carpet.
    Insects abound June 4, 2023 at 2:58am Reply

  • Ewan: Perfume-wise I mixed a drop of oud with thyme, roman chamomile, Cedrat, Benzoin and coffee – it’s quite spicy! June 4, 2023 at 4:00am Reply

  • Diana: What lovely gardens you all have; Thank you for your descriptions… I love walking past my neighbors gardens to enjoy the flowers and herbs that grow there: Lilac, jasmine, peony, fringe tree blossoms scent the air; As summer comes there will be roses and herbs like sage & basil. So many beautiful plants I can’t name but do enjoy…As a child growing up in south Florida my favorite summer scent was from the melaleuca trees with their white bottle brush blossoms – they are not sweet blooms – I thought they smelled like butter! June 5, 2023 at 10:15pm Reply

  • Tourmaline: Hello Victoria and Readers,

    I haven’t commented for a while, but I’m doing well. So far, I’ve had three surgeries (not including a mastectomy, thankfully), nine of my 30 radiation treatments, and three of my 17 three-weekly thigh injections of Herceptin (targets cancer cells, whereas chemotherapy damages much in its path). I’m fortunate in that I’ve had no side effects so far, apart from tiredness, which is partly due to anaemia.

    When I was waiting to have my first thigh injection, which is done in the same room as the chemo, I was interested to see a sign outside the room saying, “Please….. No perfumes.” It was a bit late for me by then, as I was already wearing my old favourite, “Oscar”, however, I could understand the guideline. Perfume can make some people feel ill, especially those who are undergoing chemotherapy. Had I known that I would receive my injections in the chemo room, I’d have arrived unperfumed, and I have done so since.

    Since my father’s admission to hospital on 27 December (he died there in March, aged 94), I have been living in his house to look after his cat, Iggy, who now loves me and sleeps in my bed. I have noticed how he sniffs everything, and I wonder how it must feel to be a cat or dog, with a sense of smell many times stronger than ours.

    I took residence here during January, which is the middle of summer in Oz, and I brought with me “Eau d’Orlane”, which is a floral aldehyde with staying power, as well as “Oscar” and a miniature bottle of “Paris” (which I apply sparingly). As the weather became cooler, I brought over “Elizabeth Taylor’s Diamonds and Rubies” for wearing at home, and “Mitsouko”. I also bought a bottle of “Youth Dew” at a discount when there was a gift-with-purchase (a bag of miscellaneous cosmetics) at a local pharmacy. I had previously bought only the bath oil. On cold nights, the fragrance makes me feel warm and cozy.

    I love hollyhocks, although I have never grown them, being familiar with them only from photographs in books, and I adore the scent of lemon verbena in soaps and other cosmetics. Speaking of gardens, I should go outside more and walk around dad’s garden, which he loved. He had nurtured it ever since he bought the house in 1965. I can check out which flowers have fragrance, when they are in bloom. I haven’t done that in ages.

    At the moment, I have no garden of my own, however, when I return to my unit, I hope to fill my small balcony with roses (including the ravishingly scented Mr Lincoln variety, which I have grown previously) and some other scented blooms that I have yet to choose.

    Rest assured that I have been reading your posts, Victoria; your blog remains a space of beauty and joy.

    With kind regards,
    Tourmaline June 6, 2023 at 5:43am Reply

    • Aurora: Dear Tourmaline,

      sending healing vibes your way, you’re very courageous to undergo all these treatments with such good grace, radiations are very tiring. I’m so glad Iggy keeps you company in bed. Oscar is so lovely, I’m not familiar with Eau d’Orlane but I too have been wearing Youth Dew. June 6, 2023 at 10:34am Reply

      • Tourmaline: Dear Aurora,

        Thank you so much for your kind wishes.

        Yes, radiation treatment is very tiring; it’s starting to catch up with me!

        As ever, perfume is a comfort, along with my beloved Iggy.

        All the best to you.

        With kind regards,
        Tourmaline June 7, 2023 at 5:45pm Reply

        • Victoria: Thinking about you during this trying time and wishing you a speedy recovery. You were missed here. June 8, 2023 at 5:12am Reply

          • Tourmaline: Thank you, Victoria. That means a lot to me.

            By the way, I follow the situation in Ukraine with sadness. Also, I have bought the Audible version of your book in English and will begin listening to it on the weekend. It’s nice to be read to at the moment!

            With kind regards,
            Tourmaline June 8, 2023 at 7:44am Reply

What do you think?

Latest Comments

  • Kathy in Alaia Paris by Azzedine Alaia : Perfume Review: I love this perfume, I cannot smell it when I first put it on, but I have never had so many good comments about how it smells on me. I… June 20, 2024 at 4:26am

  • BeckyR in Recommend Me a Perfume: May 2024: Hi Cat~ You are so welcome. The Lanvin ‘Arpege’ is definitely a keeper imo…Lanvin also makes ‘Arpege Eclat’ which is lighter and fresher than the original ‘Arpege’…in any case I’ve… June 18, 2024 at 8:13pm

  • Sara C in Coffee and Flowers: It feels like nobody loves Cafe Rose by Tom Ford but I adore this fragrance and I get the coffee (I have an old formulation), sandalwood, and a bright rose.… June 18, 2024 at 2:37pm

  • Aurora in Coffee and Flowers: I never had the pleasure to try Café Tuberosa, you make it sound very interesting. Not a fan of coffee in fragrance, I think only in Faviol Seferi Insomnia where… June 18, 2024 at 11:04am

Latest Tweets

Design by cre8d
© Copyright 2005-2024 Bois de Jasmin. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy