A few years ago we had a heat wave in April, just as the early Spring bulbs were coming up. Within 2 days narcissus and tulips broke, bloomed and died. Lilacs and magnolias budded out, bloomed and browned, almost in the space of time it took me to type this. I, who run cold 24/7, was in a sleeveless tank.
It was heartbreaking.
For me, Spring is a season of anticipation, and I like to drag it out a bit. Bulbs shyly poking their little paws out of the ground, feeling around for a bit of sunlight and warmth. Taking their time to stretch and greet their new life. I watch – and wait. And am nearly always gobsmacked by how quickly they get themselves organized to put on a show, looking at tightly-budded stalks that I’m sure won’t be open for another week, only to find them in full bloom by the next afternoon. In a cold Spring, that can last for a good while. It is a shivery-good, uncertain time, magical in its uncertainty.
A cold Spring means that flowers bloom in the fullness of time. I love that phrase ‘fullness of time’. It seems we are conditioned to want Everything Now yet, in a cold Spring, we are forced to slow down, wait for it. I love letting Spring just… happen. I love the cool, wet winds, the hesitancy. Everything smells like dirt, teeming with life. If you’ve never tried Christopher Brosius’s Black March, now is the time. It is everything Cold Spring, awash with anticipation (there are others in the CBIHP oeuvre, such as To See a Flower and Soaked Earth but to my nose Black March is the most relevant for what I’m describing here. Demeter Dirt (also Christopher) is another amazing evocation of the Season. Gawd, I love Christopher Brosius. Can you tell? I love that man. Love him. Love his nose, love how he translates experience to scent.
But I digress.
A cold Spring is also the time to unwrap the rooty irises. As I’ve mentioned before ’twas Patty who gently pushed me right down that cool, damp rabbit hole. I’d been so resistant to that whole scent palette because I’d shut my Beginner’s Mind – my beloved L’Artisan guru, Lydia, despaired of me ever ‘getting’ it, tugging me towards Iris Pallida and me recoiling as if she were tugging me towards a cobra. Then, one evening, Patty and I met for dinner and she unveiled Xerjoff’s Irisss. Again with the moronic recoil. But – well, let me tell you about Patty and foolishness. She is not here for it. You will act your age or she will embarrass you, trust me. So, faced with the Patty Look, I opened my mind…
… and my mind was blown. And owned. Forever.
A rooty iris is the whole of Spring. Cool and carroty, but with a slicey/bitter touch that cuts the carrot sweetness, while the floral aspect replaces it, but in a different, more astringent way – it’s that scent that you can only get in Spring (Autumn brings chrysanthemum but that’s Autumn – and it has a drier, more resinous tinge to it).
Xerjoff Irisss is so elegant – It’s the hothouse iris placed in the cool glasshouse. It’s the Regency Era iris. It is slow to unfurl, giving you its beauty in the fullness of time.
Hermes Hiris. Not quite ‘rooty’ – but more rooty than floral – it is sublime. Iris sophistication as only Hermes could do. A bearded iris with a touch of green and bulb.
LeLabo Iris 39 is the ultimate Garden Rooty Iris, almost too strong if you wear the perfume and other I39 product, so I only wear the body lotion on a blustery day.
Iris Pallida. omg. Sheer perfection for early Spring. Too bad I was a moron and didn’t get a bottle, back when I could. Ah, well.
As I finish this post, it’s 39F, on a Sunday. There is a gale-force wind and the masses of King Alfred and Ice Follies daffodils are dancing in the breeze, while the iris are proudly spearing their way to the light. The ground is soaked and the grass is so green it hurts to look at it.
It is glorious.
Surrender to Chance has nearly all of these scents. They also have some amazing Iris samplers. There are many other gorgeous Iris perfumes (including the vaunted Iris Silver Mist and my late Spring fave, AdP Iris Nobile) – go ‘root around’ (couldn’t resist) on surrendertochance.com to see what’s out there.