Wisteria: Sydney Spring Scents

Heya Posse. It’s spring here in Sydney. The wisteria is in bloom. The jasmine are almost finished pumping out their magnificent scent. Our neighbours planted a jasmine about 3 years ago. This year, for the first time, the mass of flowers was large enough that scent wafted heavily through the bedroom window. When I open the apartment door to come in the scent hangs there, heavy and pendulous. We have had so much rain that the cemetery park across the road has been a bog, the smell of overset earth is strong. The hawthorn is flowering like crazy. Most of Sydney’s be population has been destroyed because of bee mite. The flowers bloom unloved and unattended. Where once spring was abuzz is now an eerie silence.

I’m not sure if we’ve discussed this before but there’s an ancient tradition of Drag Queens and Prostitutes. We don’t have cut flowers because it superstitiously augers beauty cut off in its prime. Well, while I’m still full of superstition I feel like perhaps my prime is being stretched the very limit of primeness. Fallen flowers are OK, cut are not. Yeah, I know. Superstition.


It’s so rare for us to have flowers in the house. Yet while walking home one night from drunken revels, Jin was assaulted by the most heavenly scent. Because of the rain and a house being for sale for ages the garden has become a tangled mess of vines and thorny roses. Maleficent could hardly have done better. Sleeping Beauty doesn’t even come close. The wisteria has gone rabid and is dreaming dreams of Triffids. It has consumed the garage, grown over the three meter rose wall and into the conifer. There are thousands of large lilac inflorescence dropping flowers and scent in equal measure of an evening. It is mesmerising. Like a gateway into another realm.

So the hero of our story plucked two. He then lay them on my computer keyboard and went to bed. When I arrived home from work the smell had filled my office/perfume room and was wending its way out into the corridor. BOOM! Wow!

On picking the wisteria up I was spellbound. A vegetal musk surrounded by the memories of jonquil, lilac, hyacinth and lily. They are all there hiding in plain sight. PLUS the smell of bee hives. Unbelievably sumptuous, sharp, cool, feral and regal. Standing under or downwind from the bush is contemplative. Up close the fragrance is dark and brooding and alluring. How did I never notice such abundance of perfume?


If you like Spring chatter Musette writes beautifully. Fragrantica has a slew of perfumes with wisteria as a note. Some of them I even have bottles of (Seven Veils, Stash Unspoken, Ostara). Yet nothing smells like the flower from the vine.

Do you have any wisteria forward frag suggestions? I’d love to try some.
Portia xx

  • cassieflower says:

    What an interesting snippet about cut flowers. In that case I’ll never be a prostitute or drag queen as I’m partial to a full vase of something fragrant. Sad for your bee population there. There’s no wisteria around here, too cold I’d imagine.

    • Portia says:

      Hey Cassieflower,
      HA! Never too late to try a new occupation. Many of my DQ friends adore flowers and ignore the superstition.
      Bummer about no wisteria.
      Portia x

  • VerbenaLuvvr says:

    Jeffrey Dame does have a Wisteria soliflore out that I do quite like, though unfortunately I’ve never gotten the chance to sniff wisteria in bloom so no notion of what it really should smell like.

    • Portia says:

      Thanks VerbenaLuvvr,
      I chatted with Jeffrey today and we are getting some stuff muled here to Australia. YAY!
      Portia xx

  • Dina C. says:

    I love spring florals! Those light, bright, slightly green, fresh and sweet notes are great. The wisteria scents I’ve sampled and liked include MJ Daisy Dream, Diptyque Olene, and Crabtree & Evelyn Wisteria. Don’t own full bottles of any of these. What an interesting superstition story; I had never heard of that before! Thanks Portia!

  • Maggiecat says:

    Following. I’ve nothing to add – I have no memory of seeing or smelling wisteria, but based on your description, Portia, I now must seek it out.

  • Musette says:

    Gosh! What a lovely, evocative post, darling Portia!!! I know of that superstition but ignore it in favor of filling my house with white Oriental lilies, whenever I find them on sale at Kroger.

    What a lovely gesture from lovely Jin.

    I have a wisteria along one wall and am anxiously watching it, lest it lose its mind and take over the neighborhood. So far, so good (it hasn’t). I have difficulty parsing wisteria’s scent – must be an olfactory glitch.


    • Portia says:

      Maybe this year, in this weather we have hit wisteria scent jackpot Musette. I’d never really noticed it before either.
      Good luck with your pre-Triffid,
      Portia xx

  • Tara C says:

    I have a ton of wisteria in my back yard in San Diego, it flowers for my birthday every year late March/early April. But it has no smell. I have Seven Veils, and really wanted to buy Wisteria Hysteria but I waited too long and it is discontinued. Looking forward to reading other wisteria scent recommendations.

  • March says:

    I adore that wisteria scent and I think for whatever reason a lot of people don’t even realize it has one, not like roses or lilacs, maybe because people don’t associate it with a cut flower found in bouquets? It’s a popular vine here — people grow it on walls or across their pergolas, and it does smell incredible, and/but I’ve never met a perfume that really smells like it. I don’t think I’d plant one for the reason you cite, you have to keep whacking it back aggressively or it takes over the world! But for those few weeks in spring it’s glorious.

    • Portia says:

      Yes, you may have hit on the lack of wisteria hysteria March. It does perform really well as a fragrant indoor flower. Even the flower carcasses are still lightly scented.
      Ha! Yes, once planted, never eradicated.
      Portia x

  • MMKinPA says:

    I love wisteria. I don’t see it much around here, I don’t think our clayish soil is conducive to it. It’s much more common in the south, and even in the Midwest where they have really good soil. (I grew up in Iowa and remember being so disappointed by the color and texture of the soil here when I started gardening – was used to dark, rich soil instead of this clay muck!) I don’t know that I can think of a wisteria perfume in my collection. Dame makes a wisteria soliflore but despite having sniffed much of the line I haven’t ever had a sample of that one.

    • Portia says:

      Hi MMKinPA,
      Sydney is mainly heavy clay so can’t be the soil. It also blooms beautifully in out nearby cooler and wetter mountains so I think your PNW is pretty similar, yeah?
      I didn’t know Jeffrey had a Wisteria! Cool, I’ll hit him up.
      Thank you.
      Portia xx

  • Kathleen says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever smelled wisteria, the flower. I’m curious about the scent and researched fragrances featuring the flower. Fragrantica shows Lanvin Éclat d’Arpege and Chloe Love, both I’ve owned and loved in the past not knowing wisteria was a note. Sadly Chloe Love has been discontinued. I’m sad about your bees and happy for you that you’re smelling fragrant spring blooming! xoxo

    • Portia says:

      Hi Kathleen,
      I’ve never smelled it so richly pungent as this year. Maybe because we are so wet, or maybe lack of bees means it’s trying extra hard to get attention.
      I had Eclat d’Arpege but no memory of it having wisteria as a note either.
      Portia xx

  • cinnamon says:

    Love wisteria. Here, you sometimes get it growing as tunnels that smell incredible. I can’t recall the last time I bought cut flowers. I cut roses and sweet peas from garden but that also helps to get more blooms. The last few times I’ve brought along gifts to people they’ve been candles, plants and chocolate.

    • Portia says:

      Hey Cinnamon,
      We have a few wisteria tunnels here in our city parklands and one of my friends lavish properties growing up.
      If these are your go-to gifts drop around anytime.
      Portia xx