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.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


As in perfumes, citrus scents are popular among orchids. Most cattleya fragrances include at least a touch of citrus, with everything from bergamot and lime though lemon, grapefruit, orange, and orange blossom being represented in one form or another.

This week I brought in a hybrid cattleya that was blooming in the greenhouse, Blc Mem Shirley Moore. Its color varies considerably from year to year, sometimes being more on the yellow side, other times more green. The picture is from last year, when the petals and sepals were a bright lime green and the lip a bright purple, suggesting that one of its ancestors was Cattleya bicolor, a species with this color combination. This year both the petals and lip are more on the yellow side, maybe because the winter was colder than usual.

In any case, this cattleya has a powerful fragrance that smells like a traditional US dessert called lemon bars. Lemon bars are basically a flour and butter crust topped by an exceedingly rich combination of lemon juice, eggs, and sugar. The orchid has that same rich, sweet, lemon custard scent, but it adds a little vanilla to the recipe. It’s a real clock-puncher that only puts out its scent for a few hours in the morning, but when it does - wow! It smells good enough to eat.

This one won’t end up as a perfume, just because it’s pretty much a straight gourmand interpretation of lemon. On second thought, has that been done in a perfume? I can’t remember smelling one, since most lemon-themed scents are colognes. Anybody have a favorite lemon gourmand scent?

[Lemon bar photo adapted from Wikimedia]

1 comment:

  1. Wow this cattleya is very beautiful... :) WOuld like to have one...