A Greenhouse Scent

Hello, everyone! It’s December, apparently – lots of snow here. Today’s post is about a little fragrance adventure I’ve been on. I’m pretty sure I mentioned recently that I love the smell of greenhouses; they’re especially appealing in winter (I wish we had an arboretum to visit.)  I make do with wandering around our local plant-nursery greenhouses; I had a sweet conversation with an employee and I am not the only person doing this.

I try to pay my way by buying things occasionally. Over the past few months, I’ve been adding some indoor plants. I sent all my regular plants to Maine with the kids and have kept succulents here, which are easy – I can leave for a week or two and they’re fine. But I missed having more variety, so I set about figuring out how to make that work given my less-than-optimal interior light levels. Old adobes generally don’t include massive windows. I got some gro-lights and rearranged a few things. And it’s going pretty well! We’ll see if I can keep my calathea alive; I felt vaguely guilty buying it (they want much higher levels of humidity) but since it was already here in the desert, I’ll probably have as much of a shot of success as anyone else. The bonus (bringing us to today’s topic, finally) is a few times I’ve gotten a faint whiff of that greenhouse smell in my home, probably due to all the new plants and my constantly running humidifier.

I went online and looked for “greenhouse” fragrances in candles, etc. and there are plenty of them … but they all sounded vaguely “inspired by” rather than trying for a true greenhouse smell. Then it occurred to me to look on the Demeter website – their niche is trying to capture (with varying degrees of success) the smell of a place or a thing.

Sure enough, they had a “greenhouse” scent – along with a few others I thought might be likely contenders, either on their own or combined. They’re also cheap as chips – I spent $6 for the 15ml bottles and $12 for the purse spray.

In reverse order of success:

Wet Garden: “Our Wet Garden takes place at Easter, in an English Garden full of early spring flowers, including young shoots and buds, after a hard April rain. It is the combination of those flowers, the rain and the oils from the rich spring soil that comprise this fragrance.”

Ugh, no. Not enough shoots and buds or rich spring soil, too much flowers, and the “wet” is that melon-cucumber miasma. It reminds me of the budget version of … some loathsome watery scent I’ve blocked from memory. Hard pass.

Geranium: “This is the scent of the leaves of the Geranium Bourbon, a sometimes hard-to-get oil that comes mostly from Reunion Island via Cairo.”

I love the smell of geranium leaves. I didn’t think this would be a shoo-in for my greenhouse scent, and it’s not, but I bought it anyway. It’s nice! It’s a tad too floral to be (just) geranium leaf, but it’s herbaceous and woody and green. I’ll probably wear this in the summer.

Greenhouse: “Leaves, blooms, and the wonderful smell of humidity. Yes, humidity has a smell component – think about it. We wanted to combine those three odors in one bottle, and we did it!”

I mean … it’s literally called greenhouse, how could I not? I had high hopes, and this is a step in the right direction – green and loamy and wet  – but it’s still a little floral-forward for what I wanted. When I think of “my” greenhouse smell it’s rich-smelling dirt in a high-humidity space.

Earthworm: “a deeper, darker, richer version of Dirt, reflecting not the worm itself, but where it lives, deep in moist soil, on the floor of a forest covered with decomposing leaves.”

Ding ding ding, we have a winner! I waffled between this and Dirt (I thought maybe I’d be adding Dirt or Earthworm to Greenhouse) but this is perfect on its own. It’s got that rich, humid greenhouse vibe, full of damp soil and green growing things. I’m going to decant it into a spray bottle and enjoy it as a room spray this winter.

Have you tried or do you like any of the Demeter scents?

cover image via Pexels; the rest are mine

  • Musette says:

    HUH. WP ate my comment, dagnabbit! Let’s try again
    I have (and love) Dirt; I have/had (and do not love) Wet Garden, though I find it more wearable in Spring.
    I do miss CB at the helm. No one quite like him for capturing the essence of something…

  • ElizaC says:

    A few years ago, we and another couple went to a wonderful dinner theater in Seattle called Cafe Nordo. They did an adaptation of Tom Robbin’s novel “Jitterbug Perfume”. If you don’t know the novel, perfume and beets are featured heavily. I bought along a small bottle of Demeter Beet Root to give to our friends – they were very amused!

    • March says:

      What a great story! I read that novel in college and loved it. I haven’t smelled that particular Demeter but I bet it’s spot on.

  • Koyel says:

    Have you tried Mirus Silver Lining? It has got jasmine in it, so might be too floral, but it is such a rich, wet soil scent that once when I was wearing it, my husband walked into the room I was in and immediately said, “Oh no, was there a dirt spill in here?”

    • March says:

      Oh, that sounds lovely! I have not tried it. I thought about CBIHP Black March, but it’s a little too chilly for what I’m after.

  • alityke says:

    Demeter were stocked in Boots for a while but obviously didn’t do well. They withdrew from the UK pretty quickly. I don’t think I ever tried any.
    My ‘greenhouse’ scent is Sisley Eau de Campagne with its wet tomato leaf smell. Not a true composty leaf greenhouse scent though.
    Like Cinnamon it’s boggy underfoot now the snow & heavy frosts have thawed. The cloud is at ground level. Not fog but mist & the mizzling wet that isn’t quite rain.

  • cinnamon says:

    I think I tried Demeter years ago — and maybe they were here somewhere for a while but they’ve not popped on to my radar. I don’t recall any impressions. Earthworm sounds really nice. Sorry to be grumpy, but my ‘English garden’ is currently a sponge we’ve had so much rain (road into village has flooded four times so far this autumn). It does not smell ‘fresh’. And for me it’s the de-humidifier going, along with the heat and the wood stove to lower the air’s moisture content. Maybe we could swap a bit: I’ll send some moisture and you can pass along some dry.

    • March says:

      Christopher Brosius used to be in Brooklyn and I loved visiting his shop, if I’m remembering correctly he started the whole Demeter thing. Yes, please, let’s trade some humidity levels! In here without the humidifier going it’s at 11% which is rough.

  • Rina says:

    I love the idea of Demeter and have a couple (Kitten Fur, anyone?) but they’re just so fleeting. Good thing they are inexpensive, since it’s almost an hourly respritz for me. Might still have to check out Earthworm and Geranium…

  • Maya says:

    I tried Demeter scents a long time ago and had a few. I don’t remember what they were but I know I enjoyed them. Demeter, quite possibly, even probably, has any scent you can think of. It sounds like you had fun discovering what you wanted, but can you imagine someone asking you what perfume you’re wearing and answering, “Earthworm”. Priceless.

    • March says:

      I loved some of their sweet ones for awhile — I think I had honey, maybe some Bonfire type thing … good winter comfort scents. I am not sure I want to wear Earthworm on my body but judging by reviews, people do!

  • Dina C. says:

    Yay! What a successful project. I never would have guessed Earthworm would be the winner. I think I sniffed some Demeters years ago, but didn’t purchase any. Missed opportunity. Your plants look great. I’m envious because I’m well known for being unable to keep a houseplant alive!

    • March says:

      I’m a doting houseplant parent … we’ll see how all of this goes in warmer weather, though, when windows are open and there’s not much I can do about the (lack of) humidity. But right now they’re doing great!

  • Tom says:

    I do like Demeter but don’t have any at the moment. I might have to pop for earthworm though.

    I do love a greenhouse. I loved wandering around the ones at Smith and one of my Dads friend was a florist who had their own one. The latter smelled more “commercial” than the former, but they both have that fecund dirt smell and yes, the smell of humidity.

    • March says:

      SUCH a great smell, along with flower shop / florist’s chiller. I wish we had some big botanical garden here, though, with a greenhouse, that would be a delight in winter.

  • Tara C says:

    The only one I have is Ginger Ale, and it does what it says on the box, albeit only for about a half an hour. Just ordered Scents of the Desert Piñon, looking forward to trying it.

    • March says:

      Oooooh, let me know how you feel about the Piñon! One of my absolute favorite smells. I get regular whiffs of it this time of year from people’s chimneys. I don’t have one that I wear, but I burn the incense a few times a week.