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, August 16, 2011


It’s been far too long since I’ve posted anything here, but I must have needed an August vacation. So far the whole month of August has been kind of depressing, with cold, cloudy weather and overwhelming work in the orchid greenhouse. I’ve spent several weeks on the metaphorical mountaintop doing some soul-searching. No, the soul-searching wasn’t about perfume, it was about plants.

After five years I’m finally ready to acknowledge the fact that I’m just not cut out to be a farmer, even a farmer of exotic plants that don’t involve dirt. It’s hard for me to deal with the day-in-day-out grind of having several thousand plants that depend on me for water, repotting, and protection from pests. I really don’t like dealing with the combination of living things and conditions that are beyond my control, like the weather. It’s sad to see orchids freeze when it gets bitterly cold and the heating system fails, or dry up when it gets too hot and I’m not around to water adequately. There’s nothing more depressing than to walk into the greenhouse and see a huge grasshopper or slug whose greedy gut is bloated with several dozen seedlings of a rare species that I’m not likely to ever get hold of again. Grasshoppers and slugs always go for the most valuable plants.

After much thought, I’ve decided that it’s time to let go of orchids as a business so that I can concentrate on a few other things that I enjoy doing - like perfume making. Of course I’ll continue to grow some of my favorite orchids as a hobby, but that’s far different from farming them. I’ve decided to put the orchid business up for sale and hope for a good buyer to come along, someone who has more time and greenhouse space than I do and can take the plant business to the next level. There. I wrote it. It’s real. Wish me luck!

Realistically, it may take a long time to sell the nursery business to someone that I’d want to have take it over, but in the meantime getting out of the business is just as much an exciting dream as starting a business is in the first place. It’s a dream that will keep me going a while longer on the watering and bug zapping and other chores, knowing that there’s at least a theoretical end somewhere in sight.

Next post, I’ll be back to perfume, and would like to remind those who are testing the new ones to send me any comments you have before I start doing writeups on each one. Thanks to everyone who has sent comments already. They’re fascinating, and really useful.

Gotta go now, there are several dozen huge adult cymbidiums in desperate need of repotting. I should at least water them.


  1. Best of luck with your new direction!
    I hope you find the perfect new owner for your business.

    I will have my testing comments to you by the weekend. Is that soon enough? Let me know!


  2. Joan Elaine, the weekend is fine. I look forward to reading your comments.

  3. Best of luck with your exit strategy. I once bought a home with an attached greenhouse. The extra heater was an expense. It had a cistern to provide water but the cistern was plugged. It had an automatic watering system, but the pumps were out and I couldn't find replacements. So I understand maybe 10% of how much work you've had to do.

    I'll also send some additional comments on the sample scents this week.

  4. Ed, you're so right. The greenhouse heaters and fans are a big expense. I don't have an automatic watering system, so I have to do it all manually. One strategy would be to hire a part-time employee to do some of the routine work, but I've tried that with mixed results. Unfortunately, hiring and training someone is more expense and trouble than it's worth.

    I look forward to your additional comments.

  5. Hi, Elly;

    I sent my comments to the email in your profile; I hope you got them. I think I may have sent them from a different address than the one I use to post here. Let me know if you didn't get them and I'll resend. Thank you for letting me try the scents; I really enjoyed testing them!

    Best of luck selling the business.

  6. Hi Ellen,
    I totally understand your reasons for getting out of the business. When I had my greenhouse it was strictly a hobby venture and even that became overwhelming with time. It is really hard to do everything we would like to do in one lifetime. I'm sorry that I didn't take the opportunity to visit your orchids while you were still in business. Best of luck.

  7. Laurie, I did receive your comments, thanks. They're extremely helpful! I'm going to respond to your e-mail in more detail soon.

    Gail,I wish getting out of the orchid business could happen that fast. However, I suspect I may continue to be in that business for months or years until I can find a qualified buyer, so visiting my orchids is still an option. My downfall is that I try to do everything in one lifetime!