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.

Sunday, July 13, 2014


We are back from our trip to southern Oregon, and I’m taking a few days to get organized and packed up for the Pacific Northwest Perfumers’ Salon at Tigerlily Perfumery in San Francisco, which will take place from 6:00-9:00 PM on Thursday, July 17. Tigerlily is located at 973 Valencia Street in the Mission district of San Francisco. It’s free, there will be special cocktails, and a 10% discount on all of Tigerlily’s stock, so it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re in the bay area.

It was refreshing to spend a few days in a place where it’s really hot. I know most people would not think of 100F/38C heat as refreshing, but after years of dank chilling in Seattle, it is a pleasure to bake in the dry heat during the day and not have to wear a jacket at night. There’s something liberating about being warm 24 hours a day.

Most of the time was spent in Ashland and the surrounding area, doing town things, searching for sagebrush and other interesting plants in the hills, and visiting wineries and hot springs. The bottom line is that sagebrush doesn’t grow in the Ashland area, so we need to look closer to home. However, there were all sorts of small aromatic plants that I haven’t seen before, including a lot of things in the mint family.

The other interesting thing is that Jackson Hot Springs, which has a small hot pool and a large swimming pool, “purifies” the water to remove the sulfur smell that is characteristic of hot springs. Having been to natural hot springs where the water comes straight out of the ground steaming and smelling of sulfur, I thought the commercialization and “cleaning-up” of the water was an odd thing to do because it removed part of what seems like the “atmosphere” of places where volcanoes make their presence known in benign ways. We were there in the evening, so I think there may have been some "natural" pools that we missed. 

It’s always reassuring to visit a winery and actually see grapes growing. All too often the winery just buys grapes from growers at some remote location and is basically just a factory that processes them. The Belle Fiore Winery just outside Ashland is actually surrounded by extensive vineyards (and their wine is good, too). I was happy to see that they were pruning their grape vines at this time of year, which is what I’ve been doing too, in an attempt to control the ridiculously vigorous growth of new canes and leaves so that they can put more of their energy into producing fruit.

The vines at Belle Fiore had been trained to have one large trunk that grows upright, then branches at the top, with the branches trained upward between two wires. This is the model for how I’m going to train our grape vines next year. It’s too late for this year since the bunches of grapes are already developing, but I think that next spring I can do some retro-training to improve their growth habit even though they got off to an unruly start. Training the new growth upward between the wires and pruning often to keep the vines compact seems to be key.

[All photos are mine, taken on the trip, except the one from the Jackson Hot Springs website. The sunset was one of the most incredible I've ever seen.] 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ellen,

    Ashland is lovely. The dry desert heat and cool nights are "refreshing"! But today, in the Seattle area, it is humid and hot...ugh!

    I like your grape pruning plan. We are still trying to figure out what to plant on the front slope. I think the right kind of grape would do well there.