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.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


This summer I’ve had a couple of fragrant surprises from the Dendrobium side of the greenhouse. The first was a little Dendrobium palpebrae that had been quietly and unobtrusively growing in a corner, but suddenly burst out with big pendant sprays of white flowers with bright yellow centers. Best of all, they were strongly fragrant, smelling distinctly “perfumey” in a designer-fragrance sort of way, but in a good way. They had a sharp scent that was a bit like a combination of geranium and patchouli, amber (in the mass-market sense) and lily-of-the-valley. Nice, but not something I would want to reproduce since it’s too similar to many other perfumes.

The second surprise awaited me when I got back from San Francisco. A little Dendrobium moniliforme ‘Kinkaku’ had produced an exuberant bouquet of big white flowers with lime-green throats. Finally, a Dendrobium moniliforme whose flower buds escaped the hungry mouths of the slugs that like to sneak in and eat the Dendrobium and Masdevallia buds!

A couple of years ago I made a perfume based on the fragrance of another Dendrobium moniliforme variety, ‘Osafume’. Those flowers have a delicate anise-like scent, but the ‘Kinkaku’ flowers are totally different. In fact, I smelled them in the greenhouse before I saw them. They have a strong fragrance like rose-scented soap enriched with spices, especially nutmeg. When I smell these flowers, I could swear it’s some sort of fancy lotion. It’s not something I want to mimic, but it’s fun to smell flowers that appear to reproduce typical manmade scents that we think of as smelling "synthetic". It’s also interesting to observe how different cultivars of the same species can have dramatically different fragrances. 

[Photos of Dendrobium palpebrae and the flower of Dendrobium moniliforme 'Kinkaku' are mine] 

No comments:

Post a Comment