What is the Perfume Project?

This blog is a constantly evolving forum for thoughts on perfume, perfume-making, plants (especially orchids and flora of the Pacific Northwest) and life in general. It started out chronicling the adventures of Olympic Orchids Perfumes, established in July 2010, and has expanded in other directions. A big part of the blog is thinking about the ongoing process of learning and experimentation that leads to new perfumes, the exploration of perfumery materials, the theory and practice of perfume making, the challenges of marketing perfumes and other fragrance products, and random observations on philosophy and society. Spam comments will be marked as such and deleted; any comments that go beyond the boundaries of civil discourse will also be deleted. I am grateful to all of you, the readers, who contribute to the blog by commenting and making this a truly interactive perfume project.

Friday, January 6, 2012


A good many dendrobiums are winter bloomers, keeping the greenhouse interesting through the months when it’s dark, cold, and rainy outside, and dark, cool and dry in my indoor dendrobium area. Most dendrobiums don’t have the “wow” factor that a big, bright-colored cattleya does, but they’re loveable just the same, and some of them bloom a lot more frequently. Dendrobium hercoglossum is covered with flowers, and has been blooming virtually non-stop for over a year.

A couple of days ago I found that my little Dendrobium tetragonum was blooming again. I say ‘again” because it seems like it just bloomed. It’s an Australian species, so its ancestors were probably subjected to drought and other natural forms of abuse, making it tough and perfectly suited to growing under my conditions. The plant itself is only about 4 inches tall. Instead of its canes being round like those of most other dendrobiums, they are square, hence the name. The flowers are large for the size of the plant, spidery in shape, and cream colored with rust brown borders. They put out a strong gourmand fragrance during the day, mostly vanilla with caramel and butterscotch, along with some sweet woody notes and just the slightest hint of mint. I don’t know what pollinates this species in nature, but it has good taste.

The other mini-orchid that’s blooming right now is Dendrobium kingianum. What a surprise to walk into the greenhouse the other day and see a community pot of about a dozen baby dendrobiums, the offspring of two of my adult plants, blooming away. There’s nothing more satisfying than to see my orchids’ kids grow up and bloom, especially when the flowers are as nice as these are. The flowers are all some shade of pink with delicate magenta markings on the lips. Dendrobium kingianum is not my favorite orchid fragrance, but it’s one of the most powerful. A single blooming plant can scent the whole house during the day. To me it smells like sweet clover amped up several orders of magnitude, with some cloying honey and pollen notes added. I wouldn’t want to wear it as a perfume, but it’s certainly a sillage monster.

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