Perfume Gardening and The Guerlain Winner

I finally had to get the roses and other things in the ground this weekend while I was under the weather from some unknown something or the other that seems to require a healthy dose of sleep to get past.  That was fun. Me and my husband (both in the same condition) digging a couple of holes, then having to lay down on the lawn just to build up enough energy to get them in and dig the next hole or two.  Why did we not put this off? Because I already had been for about two weeks, and they all needed to go in the ground this week or they’d be swirling around the drain. Listen, nobody can call me a plant killer.

So you don’t get the idea that we are really weak and sad, we normally are pretty healthy, we walk on the treadmill, ride bikes, and have a minimal level of decent endurance.  Not those super-fit people at all, but strong enough that something like this is pretty humbling, so it has to be some kind of illness because the alternative is that we are just weak and getting older ‘n dirt.

Hours later, we finally get the plants all in. We crawled into the shower, and I’ve been in a coma the rest of the day.

While this was exhausting, I now have the coolest flower bed in front. I tried to create a perfume smell that I would love together   in my bed.  I have a bunch of new old roses that went in. Those big old garden roses have a smell that is just intoxicating, and they bloom profusely. I’m partial to the old bourbons, but there are other varieties that work great.  The picture to the left is the Reine Victoria, which is one of the species I planted.  I also got two varieties of lavender to plant in and around the roses.  While I can’t take any lavender in a perfume at all, when it is still in the ground, I adore it.  It also creates a great setting around the roses, keeping it from looking like a rose ghetto.  I used to have Catmint around my last old roses at my old house, and they were pretty awesome too, but they could get a little clumpy.  Russian Sage also works well from a scent aspect, but they can quickly overwhelm the roses, if you’re not careful, and they get a little tall so they have to be in the back, which works too in some areas.  The last thing that went in was some super-smelly dianthus (also know as the carnation).  That peppery smell they put off is just delicious and blends so great with the sweet rose and the tart lavender.

Now, you would think I’d be done, right? Nope!  We also put in two lilac bushes, one is yellow and the other is… can’t remember.  The last is the two daphnes, one on each side of the porch.  There is nothing better in the world than the sweet smells that come wafting in when you walk up to your house.

The Guerlain Djedi sample is almost at an end.  March the Magnificent, munificent, muniferous got it from Colombina the Terrible (direct links aren’t working, so you’ll have to search), and then she sent it on to me.  Based on the description and that whole leathery chypre ambience, and I usually can’t wear leather, nor dry chypres, nor the things that March and Marina agree on, I was pretty stunned when I put this on and had a little swoon on a par with March’s, and I’ll quote her “In the end what fascinates me about this composition is not the presence of anything – “there is no gentle rose, no healing rain, no worn leather. Instead, it is defined by the absence of the familiar roots and flowers and any of the velvety vanilla whisper of the Guerlinade, leaving me stranded in a desolate place where nothing is familiar, and yet I am not afraid.”  That’s the perfect description, running through all the poetic words and thoughts I have will not improve on March’s comment. This is a place I’ve definitely never been, and it’s not comforting at all, but it is fascinating.  I’m still not entirely sure if I like it or not, but it isn’t something anyone would be indifferent to.

If Sous le Vent, their new green chypre, has any similarity at all to this, but with green notes, it’s going to be fun soon!  My shipper has just notified me that it’s going through customs in Denver now, so it should be in my hot little hands on Monday or Tuesday, along with Plus que Jamais.  What a happy day that will be, much cavorting around here, well, until I get too feeble to cavort and have to lay down until my old age wears off.  Of course, they will be included as the give-away samples for the week after this.

Then I have a question. Do you spritz lightly or douse yourself?  I like to think I’m in the middle, but then I’m not sure.  I do douse to a certain extent, but pulling up short of obnoxious. I know this because most people can’t smell my perfume until I’m within a foot or so of them, though I can leave a decent sillage wake in the morning as I walk through.

Winner for last week’s drawing is Josey.  Josey, just let me know which Guerlain you’d like to try, and I’ll jet you off that sample.  If you would also like a Guerlain bee bottle or a Serge Lutens bell jar (empty), let me know that. Just click on the Contact Us over on the left to give me your address so I can get this to you.  Thanks for everyone that commented to enter.

  • Ylva says:

    Jeaaayyyy – a fellow fragrance nutty gardener:)>-
    Roses without fragrance is to me rather boring (but I do have some just for the look), I love my lavenders but they seem to live an erratic life and I never managed to figure out how to properly care for them. I also have catnip (a tall variety) but you know what smells great with roses? Clary Sage! Ack, to streak your hands over a c.s. and sniff – much much better live than in form of an essential oil:”>

    Since we seem to be back into the ice-age over here, my poor brugmansias (a whole lot of them) some daturas, fragrant aquileja, white clary sage and a large collection of sweat peas are still in my greenhouse. Scheitze, if it don’t get warmer soon I’m gonna get desperate! I need the place for tomatoes, cucumbers, chilis and some melons. Among them a small perfumed one – now that’s gonna be interesting.

  • Patty says:

    I got the idea from you, March!

  • March says:

    Oh, P — that will be so gorgeous! And that Reine Victoria is a knockout. I am giggling because I did the exact same thing in NM and here — lavender thrives on hot, dry, sunny neglect. I grow Provence here b/c it will put up with wet feet, I bought those cheesy 6-packs that are 3 inches tall and by the end of last summer they were 3 feet tall. They are all along the driveway and the smell is just amazing, when I cut them back they rebloom… in back I have the roses with the Provence and in front I put evening primroses, which also bloom all summer and are just so sweet and pretty (even though they don’t smell.)

    I douse. Unless it’s something killer like Serge. I tend to absorb scents rather than waft them.

  • Cheezwiz says:

    I spritz lightly most of the time because I want to avoid offending anyone.

    Sometimes I will lightly spritz the edges of my sleeves – I find that fragrance seems to stick around longer on clothing than on my skin. I get nice delicate wafts of the fragrance for a much longer time.

    I will only douse myself if its a perfume that is light or does a quick disappearing act. I can shower head to toe in Annick Goutal’s Eau d’Hadrien and have it be gone within five minutes!

    I am very envious of your garden – such nice old-fashioned looking roses! I have never smelled lavender while it’s still growing – I bet it’s lovely. And lilacs!! Lilacs are my all-time favorite spring flower: It is my fantasy to have a little house one day surrounded by lilac bushes. 😡

  • Flora says:


    Your garden sounds divine! I can’t grow Dianthus well here unless it’s in a pot, since the soil is naturally a heavy clay, but the roses seem to thrive on it. I am partial to the Bourbons myself – many have that raspberry quality I really love. I hope you feel better soon. I am sure the Guerlains will cheer you up when they arrive.

    Oh, I am a douser when I get the chance – I think I wear more perfume on the weekend than I do at work, since no one cares how much or what kind I am wearing when I am at home or just running errands. I have been known to wear an opulent perfume like Parfum Sacre or Alchimie just to go shopping. When I have had a day working in the garden, and then take a shower, nothing suits me more than putting on perfume just to enjoy as I relax in the evening. I especially like an outrageous gardenia or tuberose number, or something heavy-duty like SL Arabie. It’s all about the decadence for me.

  • Robin says:

    Your garden sounds lovely…I know just what you mean by a rose ghetto — hate that look, and too lazy to combat it so I just don’t grow roses except one climbing up the front porch. Can’t wait to hear about Sous Le Vent!

  • violetnoir says:

    Hooray for you, darling! Hope you are feeling well and rested enough for your big Guerlain delivery this week. 🙂

    Oh, and by the way, I douse liberally. Hee, hee!


  • Josey says:



    We have a garden out front, but the little rosebush that we planted back when I was in 4rth grade never really flourished or smelled like anything at all. When my mom and I bought it, we bought two–one for us and one for my beloved teacher–and I insisted that the prettier, pink and gold rosebush go to my teacher. Well, years later my teacher sent us a picture of the magnificence that rosebush had become. To this day I wondered if her roses ended up being scented ones 😕

  • Patty says:

    M, thanks! I will definitely report in as soon as I get it. I wish they would just hurry up!

  • Patty says:

    Katie, LOL on the White Diamonds! I smelled what I thought was Giorgio at a conference last week, and I almost asked, but was afraid I would start laughing. AGain, way too heavy on the spritzing.

    We can’t grow rhodies here — clay soil, not acidic enough, too much work to acid it up. I think you could do lavender. I haven’t had it in a while since my old beds were really established. It goes with everything, and the smell that it puts off is just heavenly

    Catmint – a minut that cats love Different, I think. It smells very minty to me, not catnippy, so I think they are different. It is definitely a herb-type thing.

  • “I usually can’t weather leather, nor dry chypres, nor the things that March and Marina agree on”…He he he.

    Big congratulations on your wonderful roses and on your Sous le Vent!!! Please report on the latter, I am so curious about it!

  • Katie says:

    Most scents I do tend to wear a bit on the light side – I think this is because I wear perfume so often that I am rather sensitive to the fact that not everyone will appreciate it. And, you know, I don’t always appreciate others’ perfumes (GRA! White Diamonds?? Really??? Must you?) so I like to be on the considerate side. Except for Cumming. I find I keep spraying with abandon with that one. I figure, screw it, I like Cumming, and don’t care who knows it :”>

    I’m so jealous of your flower luck. I can only grow bulbs, and rhodies. That’s it. I kill everything else. If it even grows in the first place that is. Lavender, though, that sounds nice… what a nice idea to stick that around the roses. I bet it looks fantastic. May I ask a stupid question: what is “catmint?” Is that the same thing as “catnip?” I’ve never heard of this plant. Some sort of herb, perhaps?