austrian copper – yellow roses
June is right around the corner and so with it brings the big blooming season of my cherished roses in the garden. The yellow roses are in bloom now as they start early but the others are just beginning to bud. This may be in reaction to a long, cold but very wet snap we’ve had since mid-April. The roses are loving the extra moisture and I’m expecting an incredible show in about a week.
It actually couldn’t be better timing as I’m preparing a talk for the Denver Rose Society at the Denver Botanic Gardens on June 10th. The talk will be all about roses, rose molecules that give the aromatic signature of ‘rosey’ and how this applies to the creation of rose perfumes. I’m really excited! I LOVE talking about roses and rose fragrances; especially how they might seem easy to create because there are so many of them and the rose scent is so recognizable. Of course, it’s really deceptive. There are a gazillion different roses with as many varying scents and if you’ve started to *smell the roses* you know this is true. It’s actually true of lots of flowers: we think we know them but if we start to examine them more closely they show many ‘faces’ and many fragrances.
napoleon’s hat centifolia
Since last Fall or maybe even earlier I’ve been immersed in flowers and floral perfumes. I’m not sure why, exactly; the inspiration as well as the work itself has brought me to the garden again and again. With the Brilliant Collection for the Cartier exhibit a multi-facteted white floral emerged for Deco Diamonds, a lush, damp earth hyacinth for Jacinthe de Sapphir, and a deep ruby-hued rose for Rubis Rosé. There’s a fascinating array of fruit nuances found in roses, from zesty citrus nuances, to crisp apple and juicy pear, to lush blackcurrant and berry-like notes. Rubis Rosé has a deep tea rose in the heart and a bright red raspberry top note. It’s a combination of influences: my neighbor’s vintage (1960’s) tea roses and the fabulous berry quality of classic red long stems. I also wanted to create a rose design that spoke to a real classicism as well as the mid-century fruited-aldehydic-floral.
You know, speaking of aldehydics and roses, I find it very interesting that some of the roses in my garden display a sort of green aldehydic quality. Part of it is a linalool-ish citral (citrus-y) flash and other parts are the geranium-like, green rosey aromas of geraniol and geranyl acetate. The yellow roses (the Austrian Copper roses especially) that are blooming right now have this incredible scent. It has those geranium-rose notes at play with an almost metallic kick as if it were a constructed perfume with the citrus-green rosy mix of aldehyde c-8 and aldehyde c-12 Enic in the top. I love it!
Years ago I created an all-botanical yellow rose scent called “en Vacances” which is based on a Harrison’s Yellow that grew in my back yard when I was a kid. It always bloomed on the last day of school. To me it was the scent of Summer Vacation. Saving Grace, also in the Garden Bathe aromatherapy perfume collection, is another more woody-based, more clearly rose (I smell it as pink) design that has some of these characteristic gernium-rosey tonalities as well.
But it’s not just the geranium-rosey aromas that are coming out of the rose garden. One of my favorite aspects that is showing up is the characteristic peppery-green notes wafting from the leaves and stems on the centifolias and the fabulous scent coming from the green apple – aldehydic fragranced leaves of my eglantine. It’s reminiscent of certain peonies, which for me are filed away in my mind as a subcategory of rose note flowers. They are their own delicious, wonderful thing, of course, and they too have quite a lot of variation from dewy, ever so slightly powdery-apricot-y, to softly watery pear, to a very deep and spiced rosy-green. Last year I created a Peony perfume after many years thinking on it. I wanted to tell a story like a ‘day in the life’ of the peony flower kind of experience. I could bring it from a slightly metallic-green, softly peppery – softened with dew note at the beginning, through its most ‘rosey’ phase and into a twilight shaded and darker aspect in the drydown. I’m not sure it’s for everyone but I really like it and I feel it tells it’s story nicely.
I grow a fair number of “Old Roses” but I hadn’t really pushed myself to decipher their varied nuances to the point of creating a perfume to speak to their unique characters until recently. Deeply honey – spice, almost carnation-esque, the old rose types are rich and can be a bit heavy. It would be very easy to get involved with a perfume design around the old rose scent and end up at “granny rose” in no time. Not that the roses themselves do the powdery note that I most associate with granny rose but the density of their scent and how you work with that quality could get you there if you weren’t very careful to avoid it. I’ve smelled too many old rose and tea rose perfumes that, for me, smell of granny rose due to their sheer density. (If you couldn’t tell: Granny rose is not my thing. At all. But I digress). I can’t talk much about a recent project I’ve been involved with for Denver Art Museum just yet but I will say that it’s allowed me to delve into the old roses character some and pull it into a rose bouquet that is unlike any of my other rose designs. First off, it’s not intended to be a rose soliflore but the rose is clearly experienced along with a couple of other focal floral notes. There will be more on that topic, and more very soon. 😉
This seems like as good a place to stop part 1 for now. I’m hoping that as I send this out and in the next few days, some of the other buds will pop out into full blossom.
I’m so thrilled to be talking flowers and roses in particular, that I’d like to offer a little drawing for 3 sets of 3 – mini sprayers of Rubis Rosé EdP, Peony EdP, and en Vacances EdP. Please leave a comment about your favorite rose and/or rose perfume to enter. The 3 winners will be chosen at random in the wee hours of June 6th so the deadline to enter is 11:59 pm on June 5th. Winners will be announced on June 6th. I hope that everyone will enjoy the start of Summer and good luck in the draw! ox
* images are all my own. you can see most or variations on them at my instagram page.
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