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.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


December is blooming season for quite a few orchids, including this beauty, Laelia anceps. I got the plant several years ago as a tiny seedling, and have been patiently waiting for it to mature and bloom. Day before yesterday it rewarded me with the first of two flowers on a stalk that would be almost 2 feet high above the plant were it not bent at a 90-degree angle from hitting the slatted bamboo shade covering that was above the shelf where it was growing. Before I noticed the spike, it had already hit the covering, turned around, and started growing toward the outside edge. The flowers are large and colorful, kind of a bright reddish lavender with slightly darker flares on the petals and a velvety dark magenta lip. The inside of the throat is decorated with a dramatic tracery of dark purple lines on a yellow background, all pointing inward as if toward a vanishing point, forming an extremely attractive landing strip for whatever insects would naturally pollinate the flowers.

Best of all, the flowers are fragrant, starting right from the day they open. It’s a light, sweet, moist, fruity fragrance, a bit like cut up peaches or apricots with a hint of iris - the real iris flower, not the perfumery note iris. Laelia anceps is a light, fruity floral scent that I can truly appreciate. It will be interesting to see how the fragrance develops over the next week or two.


  1. And I always thought orchids had no smell. :)

  2. Actually, a lot of the ordinary hybrid orchids have no smell because they've been bred for size, shape and color without regard to fragrance. The majority of orchid species have at least some fragrance, and many are powerfully fragrant (not always in a good way!) There's as much variation in orchid fragrances as there is in man-made perfumes, and there's no such thing as a single "orchid" scent.

  3. I guess the fact that I only get to see and try and smell those sold for bouquets, which are probably only bred for their looks, I got the idea they don't have any smell.
    Thank you for the explanation. :)