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.

Monday, July 19, 2021


It’s been a while, including time spent reorganizing an old storage shed and putting stuff in a new one. It’s been a lot of work, but having two functional, organized, storage areas will help a lot. One will be for orchid plant-related items and the other for perfume-related items. I finally managed to do the drawing for three surprise packages. Here are the winners:






To claim your prize, just send an e-mail to olympicorchids at gmail dot com. You could also try DM on the Olympic Orchids Facebook page, but it’s less reliable because I don’t check it every day. 


Here’s the next chapter in the Bend road trip account. 

On the Tuesday of our road trip, we went to the Newberry Caldera national volcano park, which is just southeast of Bend. Newberry is a huge shield volcano with a lot of interesting features.  On the way there, we stopped at an overlook where there was some sort of aromatic bush with leaves that smelled like herbes de Provence. I haven’t managed to identify it, but it smelled good enough to cook with. On the way up to the summit, the first scent was ponderosa pines in the sun, then firs in the sun. The caldera at the top has two lakes separated by a small expanse of lava that includes the topmost crater. 

When we got to the east lake we were greeted by a strong sulfur smell that led us to the hot springs. The springs were at the edge of the lake, with gases bubbling up through the sand. I could feel that the ground around the hot springs was warm, even through my sandals. The water in the pools that had been dug out by previous visitors was quite hot, so hot that I could only keep my feet in it for a short time. Once we were back in Bend, looking for something to eat, a small thunderstorm hit, raising a powerful smell of rain on pavement that had been dry for weeks or longer. We sheltered under an awning and ate lemon sorbet while the giant drops of rain fell. 


The next day we went to the town park that runs all along the Deschutes river. At one point along the river we encountered a grove of beautiful birch trees with the smoothest, whitest trunks I’ve ever seen. They were emitting a powerful birch-leaf scent. I had never actually smelled birch leaves before, and was struck by the acrid green character of the scent, and pleasantly surprised to find that Birch Leaf Givco (a commercial accord) is a close match for the real thing. At the farmers’ market that afternoon, the predominant scent was fresh, sun-ripe raspberries. 

That evening, back at the ranch where we were staying, there was a violent thunderstorm and hailstorm. It dumped a flood of water and ice on the dusty ground, leaving puddles everywhere. Afterward, when the rain stopped and the sun came back out, there was a unique and penetrating scent of rain-soaked earth and dry grass, along with wet junipers. The whole medley was accompanied by a background note reminiscent of black currents. What was particularly fascinating was when I watered the bone-dry garden beds back at home, I detected the same black-current note in the water-soaked dried ground and vegetation. This rehydrated desert scent of the northwest is very different from the “petrichor” scent that everyone talks about, and is absolutely unique. 

I am starting a new giveaway of three big boxes of fragrant items - samples, decants, mini bottles, and a few larger things. To enter, just leave a comment. 

[All  photos are mine].