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, March 20, 2013

Travel report part 3: Tulips, primroses, and snow

The landscape between Bremen and Oldenburg was bleak, still stuck in the dead of winter. It reminded me of winter in New Jersey, with industrial areas flanked by bare deciduous trees and perpetually gray skies. Having arrived in Oldenburg on Wednesday night, Thursday and Friday were a blur of work, eating, and sleep whenever I could. I didn’t get to see much of the town, but Michael assured me that it was a lovely old town with good restaurants and cafes. On Friday afternoon we took the train to Bonn. Our friends, who live in a small village just outside Bonn, greeted us with an evening meal of raclette, quite the warm welcome in the universally cold atmosphere.

For two days we lounged around the house, visiting, catching up on how everyone’s children had grown, and enjoying one spectacular meal after another. On Sunday morning Karin and I went for a run on the rural trails that wind through horse pastures and agricultural fields. I have to say that it’s heavenly to be able to run on trails that are free of cars. I’ll take puddles, mud, horse manure, and all of the associated aromas over car exhaust any day!

Here are my notes from our last day in Bonn:
Monday, March 11: Snow! It started around noon, and has continued through afternoon. The streets are still clear, but the grass and trees are getting covered. We took the train from the little village where we’re staying to Bonn this afternoon, where we bought our tickets for the local train that will get us to the airport train to Frankfurt. We went to the central shopping area for a while, making the rounds of the usual H&M, Karstadt, and other stores. The smell of the perfume counter in Karstadt was especially pleasant given that it was associated with coming into a warm place from the cold and snow. I don’t think they had anything special, so we didn’t spend much time there, especially since Michael wanted to shop for clothes.

Now that we’re back at our friends’ house, I’m enjoying smelling the many potted primroses that they have on the windowsills (it’s too cold to grow them outside), and the tulips that they have in a vase. Tulip fragrances are unpredictable, many just with a greenish or pollen-like scent, but these multicolored, mostly red and yellow, frilly ones have a particularly nice, floral fragrance with notes of iris, violet, white radish, and a little spice. This combination would make an excellent, light perfume. The primroses have a similar fragrance, but with a heavy dose of gamma-decalactone, which to me has a dark, velvety feel. Each color primrose has a slightly different variation on the scent, some sweeter, some greener, some fainter, some softer, some sharper, but all identifiable as primrose. I suspect that many of the big, showy primroses sold in the US have been bred to be scent-free. Too bad.

One never knows where inspiration for a new perfume will come from, but the tulips are definitely on my list for when I want to make a fresh, springtime scent. 

[Bare trees image adapted from Wikimedia. Primrose and tulip photos from my garden]


  1. Our German friends have all been complaining about the slushy, mushy winter that doesn't want to end. I'm glad the flowers are finally blooming- I remember being so thrilled to see those first purple crocuses in my garden emerging from the snow!

  2. Marla, the flowers in Germany were indoors, not outdoors, where things were still frozen solid. In Seattle, the crocuses always bloom like clockwork on Valentine's Day, so we're well into daffodil and hyacinth season now, but the crocuses seem to be hanging on longer than usual this year. Maybe it's colder than normal, although it seems there's no "normal" any more.