Gardenia Perfume – What Makes the best Gardenia Perfume?

gardenia perfume billie holidayGardenia Perfume, noobody´s gotten the smell of gardenia quite right when they put it in a perfume, in my opinion.

Sniffing gardenia yesterday on the bushes in the National Gallery of Art rotunda, I had a chance to ponder what makes a great gardenia perfume?  Gardenia is a little … fetid.  There´s definitely that bleu cheese note of JAR Jardenia perfume, but you´d have to cut it maybe 50% with a generic, smooth cream-cheese smell, and Jardenia also has a full, sweet top note I don’t detect in the actual flower.I´m not clear on the chemical compound involved in the cheese smell. To me it´s somewhere between the stench those giant arums put out and the indoles of jasmine.

A woman visiting from China stopped to sniff gardenia with me. I didn´t get very far with my cheese comparison, but she said it was a good smell and a little bad smell, and she closed her eyes and smiled as she inhaled.She looked deeply happy.

The high school girls on a field trip saw us, so they lined up and sniffed gardenia too.They giggled and jerked their heads back; it´s so strong, they said.I asked if they´d wear that in a perfume, and they said no, definitely not. The guard said he thought gardenias smelled okay, but he´d grown up on theVirgin Islands, and if I wanted to smell some beautiful flowers I needed to go there.

A gardenia on its own smells weirdly truncated. I realized yesterday that´s because I´m used to thinking of  “gardenia” in a gardenia perfume as a player in an ensemble, often paired with something sweet and green like tuberose (Chanel, Jo Malone, Estee Lauder´s Tuberose Gardenia) or muguet (Marc Jacobs).  The piercing floral-shop smell of tuberose is the logical complement to gardenia, serving as the top note to gardenia´s opaqueness while it takes the edge off that gardenia stink. But with the smell of gardenia fresh in my mind, I´m not sure pairing it with another white floral as a top note represents a great leap forward.  It´s like gilding the Sphinx.

Interestingly, looking at online notes for gardenia perfume, a lot of gardenia fragrances also have jasmine.  Googling “gardenia” leads to the discovery that its nickname is “Cape Jasmine” and the latin name is Gardenia jasminoides, although the plants don´t seem to be related.  Also, Gardenia is native to southern China, so now I realize the lady in the museum with the blissed-out smile on her face was possibly smelling something pleasantly familiar from home.

The perfume of a single gardenia is a sultry, intoxicating smell. I also think I´d like a gardenia perfume paired with nothing but a note of wet, loamy dirt, and a handful of Spanish moss.  Gardenias, like magnolias, mint juleps, and Carson McCullers, are southern. They seem perfect for Lady Day up there (even though I believe she hailed from Baltimore). I wonder if there’s a gardenia perfume that would let me feel that.  Will Strange Invisible Perfume’s Lady Day get me there?  What about the Isabey Gardenia?  Too much other stuff going on?

Awhile back I did a post on an orchid scent (I think Shiseido´s Message from Orchids), and one of you readers suckered me into buying a “low maintenance” fragrant orchid I could get to bloom myself! It´s called Purple Cascade “Fragrance Princess.” Of course, I already think of orchids as “low maintenance.”I buy them from Trader Joe´s, they bloom for two months, and then – voila! – I give them to the Korean diner down the street, with the west-facing plate glass window, and I buy another one from Trader Joe’s.Anyway, I stuck my orchid lump (rhizome?) in a sunny window per the instructions, I water it when I remember, and it´s now getting ready to bloom for the second time this year!Three big fat buds!And it is fragrant, and the blooms are huge and purple, but the part that bums me out is: last time the show only lasted about a week (compared to my usual run of 6 – 8 weeks for the phalaenopsis, which, BTW, I´m keeping just for kicks to see if I can get it to rebloom).Orchid fans out there – how do I increase the bloom time?Should I take it out of the sunny window right now before the buds open, and keep it in indirect light?What about watering?And if I keep the second orchid, does this mean I´ll have 23 of them by next January?Should I stop now before I find myself spending hundreds of dollars on People collect the darndest things, don’t they?

Billie Holiday (with her signature gardenias in her hair):
orchid, Fragrance Princess:

  • kuri says:

    I love gardenias! Can’t get enough of them. I sniffed a lovely gardenia scent once at the dept. store but my friend pointed out that it smelled a little “old” – I guess it’s just not a dashing sort of flower. I could see what she meant but I still found it lovely. And now I have no idea what scent it was 😛 Let me know if you find a nice one!

    • March says:

      It’s NOT a dashing sort of flower. But it is a lovely one, yes? And I will post further if I fall in love with something. @};-

      • Deborah says:

        I too LOVE gardenia scents and gardenias, although I have not had good luck growing them. In my younger years I was addicted to Jungle Gardenia. I recently moved all my stuff from my storage unit to my condo and in a box was an old bottle of Jungle Gardenia upon smelling it, I knew I had to find it again or something comparable.

        I found out it was discontinued a long time ago and there have been other formulations of it over the years. Anyone know the history? and which one if the most true to the one Tuvache sold in the 60’s and 70’s?. I hear the coty version is nothing like the original. Also I hear the 60’s version by Tuvache is different that the older version from the 30’s also by Tuvache.

        I found Island Gardenia by Jovan it’s pretty close and cheap $10.99 from walgreen’s (also sold online). I will be checking out all the fragrances all of you have posted about. That will keep me busy for awhile.

        I haven’t noticed the “cheese” note to it, but I do know what you mean by “buttery” I’ve always thought of it as rich and mellow as an under tone that lingers, some gardenia scents have a harsh lingering tone, if that’s the right word.

        Love your site and blog

  • Calypso says:

    I have a large gardenia bush outside my front door (in Houston). It isn’t in bloom yet but I’m in heaven when it blooms. To me the one aspect of gardenia that doesn’t get captured in perfumes is a buttery quality. I don’t know how else to describe it. It just makes me want to eat one when I smell one that’s “just right.” On the scent equation topic, one I really do like a lot, that I don’t think has been mentioned, is Bond #9 Saks Fifth Avenue for Her. It’s potent but lovely.

    • March says:

      Hey, buttery is a good word! I guess that’s what I was trying to get at with my “cream cheese” reference — let’s play with the perfume terminology! — there’s something creamy about it separate from the stinky cheese note, definitely, that is also buttery.

      And I would love a gardenia bush near my back porch, so I could smell it at night. 😡

      SFA for her? Really?!? I swear I smelled it, and I can’t remember it.

  • Hilda Rosa says:

    About the life of orchid blooms, it all depends on the type of orchid. Phalaenopsis blooms or paphidelium or some oncidiums last a long time from 2 weeks to 2 months. But the kind that is int he picture which looks like a cattleya do not bloom that long. There are many species of orchids and their blooming time varies greatly. Each type of orchid also has its unique growing connditions depending on its origin.
    I grow tuberoses and they are also rather ‘fetid’ with a menthol medicinal smell. I have never found them to smell green and sweet except maybe for a few minutes in the morning just after opening.

    • March says:

      Hilda, thanks for the info! That explains it; mine’s a cattleya. So the fact that I’m not doing something “wrong” makes me feel better. Also (it just opened in the last two days) I’m frustrated by the fact that this time around it doesn’t seem to have much smell! What’s up with that?!? :-w

      Tuberoses definitely have that menthol smell; I like it in small doses.

      • Hilda Rosa says:

        Some cattleyas don’t have any scent at all. But those that do often have a cinnamon-chocolate-lemon scent that is very ‘perfumey’. Usually it takes a day or two for the scent to emerge. Also, the scent is usually stronger during mid day and even disappear the rest of the day. Orchids are very complex plants!

  • SMY says:

    I lived in the South Pacific for a couple years where there would be large gardenia bushes and lots of other heavenly white flowers. I LOVE the smell of gardenias. It’s interesting what you wrote–perhaps that’s why I’m always disappointed by gardenia scents, because it’s never quite like the real thing?

    • March says:

      I think you could say that of a lot of floral fragrances — people who are profoundly addicted to the smell of a particular flower in the garden can spend the rest of their lives looking for the perfect rendition in a perfume bottle. I wonder if in some ways the quest is fruitless — it never *really* captures what it’s like to be in the yard, smelling the gardenias out in the air, you know? But it’s fun to discuss which fragrances seem most “true” to their flowers.

  • Patty says:

    I do love Gardenias, but in a closed-in space, they can almost kill you. We put them on the moms for my first wedding, and I think my mom clawed it off herself in less than an hour… they reeked.

    Agree with what everyone has said about the new Guerlain, and you smelled it too. Love, love, love it, but it’s not Gardenia. Isabey is nice, but too nice for gardenia, a very tamed one.

    I’m just not that sure I want to wear real-smelling gardenia on my person, but if you do, just get a nice gardenia corsage and tuck it in your bosom, everyone will be smelling you shortly and asking you to leave the building – er, block. 🙂

    • March says:

      Heh … not digging the cheese note, were they? I could maybe see gardenias not being the winning choice for the corsages.

      No Isabey then, looks like I have another couple to try. And BTW that Guerlain really grew on me. Beautiful fragrance.

  • Kelly says:

    March – completely OT, but I had to thank you for your spot-on review of “Juila”. On your word I ordered a nice decant from our dear friends at TPC. It arrived today (how’s that for speedy service?) and it’s PERFECT for my 16 (almost 17) year old exchange student (whom I have sadly turned into a perfume hound). Your description was absolutely 100% accurate!


    • March says:

      Oh, I am so happy that you are happy! Really, I stood in Bendel all swept up in the moment, trying to think of someone I could give it to — it’s that lovely. And good work on your budding perfumista!

  • sweetlife says:

    March, gardenias are one of those White Flowers that I thought I couldn’t stand, and turned out to be oh-so-wrong about. But I will always think that the very best gardenia fragrance is one that comes to me on a night breeze stealing through a bedroom window. The first time I smelled gardenia like that I was stunned — what is that? where’s it coming from? Oh yeah, I’m in the SOUTH now!

    Kai,in the oil, works for me, in the heat of the summer. But it’s probably too green/fresh for what you want.

    As for Lady Day and Baltimore — don’t you think parts of Baltimore *are* the South, just like parts of Ohio are? Those communities of people that moved, en masse, from the deep South, and stopped as soon as they possibly could feel safe…

    Loving the picture of that Chinese tourist smiling as she inhales.

    • sweetlife says:

      Meant to second the vote for Stephanie — it’s almost all flower, very little leaf or stem.

      • March says:

        Okay, I definitely need to try the Stephanie. Since I don’t live south enough to grow the plant, I’ll try something else. The smell of a gardenia bush, though, through your window at night, sounds like the best way to smell it.

        And yes, I totally agree about Baltimore, but figured I’d avoid comments from people who said, hon — she’s from the North. 😉

      • Wendy says:

        I think Baltimore is an interesting mix of Northern Steel Culture (Mostly around Essex and Dundalk, but common through the fringes of the city and around the Hopkins campus) and Southern Black culture (the Inner City neighborhoods). During the 7 years I lived there, I always thought the juxtaposition of these 2 cultures (along with the common thread of celebrated weirdness that ties both together) was what made that city unique. In some ways, I was sorry to move back home to DC – land of southern efficiency and northern charm.

        • March says:

          My best friend from high school went to the Maryland college of ARt and Design in Balto. I loved hopping the cheap commuter train back and forth, I slept on her couch, we walked everywhere … I was young and broke and life was limitless. I have very fond memories of Balmer.

    • sweetlife says:

      Oh — and P.P.S. Happy Happy Anniversary one day late to Lee and Matt! 16 years is a blessing and an accomplishment!

  • Theresa says:

    I have very fond memories of smelling gardenias while living with my grandparents in southern China. I’ve never thought that the real flower smells rotted or too strong. I think the real thing has a tinge of green that tempers the sweetness. Anyways, I have the Yves Rocher gardenia and it’s definitely the closest at capturing a true gardenia smell. However, I find that it has an artificial tinge to it. Through compulsively smelling my arm when I first got the perfume, I realized that the fragrance smells best and unleashes it’s full gardenia potential if you are sniffing your arm so intently and so often that the humidity of your breath mixes with the scent and takes away the artificial edge. I know, it’s weird. Probably something you don’t want to try in public. Now, I’m off to the National Gallery this weekend to smell real gardenias!

    • March says:

      The humidity idea makes sense, adding your own warmth and humidity to the process! Interesting, you are the second person who says that the Yves Rocher smells close but a bit artificial.

      Have fun at the NGA!

  • Robin says:

    SIP Lady Day is gorgeous. Do they still make it? I’m not sure, and the SIP website makes me insane so not going to go and check. But, don’t think it entirely captures the fetid part.

    • March says:

      I smelled some SIPs (I think?) at Barneys in NYC, but don’t remember that one. And I think I would. You are right though, I think it was a LE. Sigh. Not falling in love with something I can’t find. Bet I could get a samp on TPC, though.

      • Robin says:

        M, Barneys never had the whole line, and never had Lady Day. Not that that means anything — just that I know she has some things at the store that aren’t at Barneys.

  • Mikeperez23 says:

    Love gardenias. I also had a grandmother who grew these in her yard and I associate the smell of the flower with fond childhood memories playing in my grandmas front yard. Now, I have a gardenia bush in my own front yard. It is, as you’ve said, quite fetid on a hot Miami night.

    Have you smelled Velvet Gardenia by Tom Ford (Private Blends)? It’s quite close to your description! Quite expensive too, though. [sigh]

    • March says:

      I need to dig my sample up again. I remember it being very sweet (the Tom Ford), but that was months ago and I was smelling them all at the same time, which was stupid. I’m going to dig that one sample up, I do remember it was pleasantly funky.

      Gardenia in a Miami night sounds lovely.

  • Lee says:

    My grandpa grew gardenias in his greenhouse (though there are a couple of species you can grow outdoors here – G. augusta Kleim’s Hardy I think) and alongside all the other stuff in there, and his own aroma of pipe tobacco and Old Spice (which I still love by the way – so people, diss this at your peril) made the entire atmosphere seriously heady and intense. I’m sure I remember one gardenia being more pervasively cheesy than others- others much more classically floral. I wonder how many species / cultivars there are…

  • Suzanne says:

    I adore gardenias and thought maybe I could keep one inside as a house plant, but for me, anyway, they have proved as difficult to keep alive as orchids. Watering tropical plants must be a science verging on artform. No matter how I try to keep the roots aired out and not overwater, they invariably rot. Orchids are the worst, and yet, everytime I see a phalaenopsis blooming on the shelf of the garden ceter at Lowes, I can’t resist. At least the blooms last a long time before the plant kicks the bucket.

    • March says:

      My gardenia plant got bugs, rotted, and that was that. And I’d feel bad about my orchid habit except the Korean diner gets them all to rebloom, their window looks amazing.

  • Wendy says:

    From your description, Michael Storer’s Stephanie really nails the whole fetid thing when smelling fresh gardenias. I guess I better high-tail it down to the National Gallery of Art to sniff and see how close he really is….

    • March says:

      Really? I think I have a sample of that around here somewhere … you should go down to the NGA anyway, I love that place in winter. Somebody (I assume somebody new) there in the last couple years is clearly plant-obsessed. They probably have some sort of rotational agreement with the Botanical Gardens or something, but really — they are outdoing themselves, greenery-wise. Much more interesting than it used to be — they had some sort of citrus (tangerine?) trees as well, and lovely topiaries.

      And check out the European Masters exhibit in the basement, they’ve pulled together some of the finest paintings in the collection and juxtaposed them beautifully.

  • Divina says:

    Gardenia….OH how I love, nay, ADORE this flower! I get to enjoy them every summer when I go to a peninsula in Greece where the village squares high up in the mountains are decorated with gardenias and beautiful hortensias! It is one of my favorite flowers, so delicate, so hard to look after, so magnificent, such an incomparable, unique, sensational odour! I’ve been looking for a good gardenia rendition for a long while and I am very happy with Ava Luxe’s Gardenia rain. It is the closest I’ve found to the real thing. However, NOTHING can trully compare to the real thing. I understand why the woman looked happy smelling it.. I do too, feel absurdly happy every time!

    • March says:

      Oh, your description of the mountains in Greece sounds so wonderful!

      And this is why I blog like this, here are suggestions from different people of things to try, which makes me very happy.

  • Vida says:

    When I wear Beyond Love by Kilians, I get pure gardenia! It smells exactly like my gardenia bush. I have a very wonderful gardenia that blossoms twice a year, early spring and early fall. I don’t get blue cheese at all, thank goodness. I can’t imagine having to run past them holding my nose! There’s nothing like picking a blossom and holding it to my face until every last sniff is gone. I never realized that others get such fetid tones from it. Maybe that’s why there are so many frowns at work when I come in with a posey!

    • March says:

      There could be more than one type of gardenia (like there are many types of rose, for instance). But the gardenias I have smelled have that sultry, cheese-y undertone. Now that you mention it, I have a suspicion that cheese note might fade a little when you cut the flower from the bush, but I’m not sure. And it probably varies from plant to plant.

  • Anne says:

    I have 2 gardenia bushes outside my front door. When they bloom I hold my breath when I get out of the car until I can run past them and get safely inside the house. :-@

    Once every year or so I tell myself they can’t be that bad, can they? So I stop and smell the gardenias. I want to appreciate them, they look sooo beautiful. Nope, not for me. I need to dig those babies out and Fed-ex them to Marina, they deserve a life with someone who can appreciate them. :)>-

    An explanation maybe of the rot smell. The petals on these flowers are very moist. Kind of spongy and thicker than say a rose petal. When they bloom, it’s never all at once. The flowers never last more than a day or so in that perfect almost white state. They start to turn brown on the edges pretty quickly. Because of the water content of the petals it’s not a dry brown but a wet kinda rot brown. So, at any one time there are many flowers in varying stages of that intense fresh bloom smell and a very intense rot smell mixed in. So, if you smell one perfect just bloomed flower it’s one kinda gardenia smell. If you smell the plant as a whole it’s really another take all together.

    • March says:

      Yep, they ARE that bad. And I hear you on the “rot” smell, but to me that would be an additional note to the whole cheese thing. I get that rot smell from a similar-styled plant up here, the camellia, and those flowers turn brown and the whole giant bush smells a little funky.

      You know what else a lot of people hate? Paperwhites. I love those things, but I read they’re breeding a new, less-fragrant variety. I have friends who will not sit in the same room with those things, they say they smell like rotting garbage. Which is not how they smell to me. 😮

      • Sara says:

        I agree re the ‘rot’ smell of gardenias – that it is primarily from the plant as a whole. Love a single gardenia (where I like the little roquefort note) in a corsage etc, but too many can really go to your head.

        Re orchids – I have mine in indirect bright light for most of the year, and my plant has rebloomed 4 years in a row so far (it is from TJ)…but this is the only orchid I’ve had sucessfully rebloom. My grandmother has an orchid on her front step (in San Francisco), and it blooms like crazy! I would think that the cold, salty air would be bad for the plant – but I guess not!

        • March says:

          Can you imagine a big ol’ bouquet? Yikes.

          Well, if you got your TJ orchid to rebloom, that gives me hope. I’m going to give it a go.

  • Elle says:

    *Adore* gardenias and have some bushes along the front path to our house. Also love gardenia scents, but, as you said, very few actually reflect the scent of the real flowers. Lady Day, to my nose at least, comes the closest, but Isabey and TF’s are my faves.
    We have new neighbors who bought the house specifically because it had a great room for them to keep their 200 orchids. DH’s eyes glazed over in fear when he heard that and I know he is now intent on keeping me away from those men because he knows I’m *very* susceptible to plant addictions. I’ve not succumbed to orchid addiction yet, however, so can’t help you – but I’ll be reading other responses w/ interest. And contemplating which room in our house might work…

    • March says:

      Hahahahha!!! Stay AWAY!!!! If I were DH I’d build an electrified fence … or get you to move …

      I will try Lady Day and the Isabey, they are long overdue for sampling. (I love Lady Day for the name alone.) I found the TF terribly sweet on me, but I have the sample and will give it another sniff, now that I’m on a mission.

  • Marina says:

    You wrote this to make me happy, right? (asked she self-centeredly) You know I love-love gardenia. I can’t tell you which one will take you exactly THERE with gardenia, although I think Jardenia is damn close. But I’ll tell you what won’t take you there: the new Guerlain. A fabulous scent, gorgeous, but no gardenia.

    • March says:

      No, I didn’t know!!! Sending you a gardenia-scented hug right now. I know I blab on with too much personal stuff, but here’s what I left out — my mother loved gardenias. When I was a girl/teen and I had some sort of special something to go to, she would buy me a corsage (which seems hopelessly old fashioned now, I wonder if girls still do this?) And it was always a gardenia. She wasn’t very demonstrative or sentimental, but those were moments when it was clear to me how much she loved me, in a way an adolescent needs to know. I associate the smell of gardenias with an equally powerful sense of love.

      The new Guerlain is gorgeous, I agree, but it smells more Guerlinade and tuberose-y to me, not gardenia.

  • MattS says:

    My grandmother has always had a gardenia bush in her yard and they’re one of the fondest flowers of my childhood, along with her ever present daffodils. They’re a beautiful smelling flower and I agree with you that no one has ever really gotten it right, scentwise. Do you remember Jungle Gardenia? I think it was cheap dimestore perfume that I bought my grandma one Christmas when I was five because I knew she liked gardenias. I can actually remember my mom trying to talk me out of that purchase. She knew it was room-clearing stuff. Hell, a vase of fresh cut gardenias can clear the room of some people, but I do love it. Perhaps it’s Southern heritage…I also love Carson McCullers. She’s my favorite. She devastates me. Her Collected Stories sits right on top of my armoire between about fifty decants and a bottle of Yatagan, of all things. I clearly need to do something about the clutter in this room. Yikes, I just realized what a slob I am. I just saw my bedroom through someone else’s eyes. I gotta go clean. Anyway, wonderful post, as always.

    • March says:

      Of course I remember Jungle Gardenia! And just reading those words makes me giggle, I bet it’s still available, in fact I think I saw it in CVS recently. I think the message of Jungle Gardenia is: oh, baby, you got a heap o’ hot love comin’ to ya shortly (synthetic version.) I can see maybe that’s not what you were wanting to say to your grandmother, but grandmothers understand the important points.

      And you’ve scored bonus points for Carson McCullers. I had to find her on my own; how come nobody knocks a Faulkner or two off the syllabus and gives us her instead?

      • MattS says:

        Absolutely. They can keep their Faulkner; I’ve always felt he was a little overrated and McCullers was much overlooked. She was amazing. They should teach her in high school. She’s perfect for teenagers.

    • Gina says:

      Matt, I remember Jungle Gardenia. My mom used to wear it, oh man, it would nearly kill us. I’m from the south, so I know what real gardenias smell like…I’m weird, I always sort of loved it. I’d sit and inhale ’til I was dizzy.

      March – I’ve had this orchid for a year, and it’s blooming again! It was blooming when I bought it, and I’m pretty thrilled about it. So congrats on getting yours to bloom. It means it’s happy.

      • March says:

        Hey, look, here’s your comment! I don’t think getting the cattleya to bloom again is supposed to be a major achievement, but I still feel pretty darn proud! :d/

  • Louise says:

    What a lovely day we had for flower sniffing yesterday! It is sweet that you had others willing to share the gardenia testing.

    I wonder if I have ever smelled a gardenia? I am “real” flower challenged (hey, I recognize roses and azaleas), and also have tried to avoid any perfume with “gardenia” in it. But I did enjoy the sample of the Estee Lauder we received on our DC sniffa, and went to check the notes. The list does of course include tuberose with the gardenia, with a somewhat odd description: middle notes of “tuberose nature intact and gardenia” and “Estée Lauder has used Nature Intact technology, to insure that the fragrance of Tuberose Gardenia is as fresh, alive and true to life as the scent of the actual flowers in nature.” Whatever “Nature Intact” is, I guess it doesn’t apply to the gardenia…

    All I know from orchids is that they are very pretty, and if not easily killed, maybe I should try those TJ ones? Also a question-is that really “orchid” in the Ford BO that I love, and that I find challenging some days (and the same part of Nu that challenges me?)

    • March says:

      It was pretty, although very windy. I was worried my father was going to blow away! Kept a firm grip on him.

      Have you smelled Jardenia? I can’t remember. It has this very strong cheese note, and a real gardenia is like that. It’s borderline totally unacceptable and kind of cool at the same time.

      The orchid thing: I love TJ orchids because for $20 or whatever, if you keep it in a low light display situation (like your coffee table) those blooms last for weeks — seriously, I’ve gotten almost three months out of them. But BE CAREFUL this time of year, don’t get any they’ve left outside or near the door, it’s much too cold. And try to get one with mostly open blooms, you can’t bet the farm that the rest will open. Having said that, the trick about orchids is getting them to RE-bloom; I think most non-orchid people view them like a long-lasting bouquet, and chuck them in the trash when they’re done blooming, because they’re so fussy to get another bloom from. I’m going to test that theory. Worst thing that will happen is nothing.


      • Louise says:

        So sweet you brought your dad! did he enjoy the day with his special daughter?

        • March says:

          He did. I’ve lured him back out of the house recently by browbeating him to take cabs (he was getting too unsteady for the Metro.) I love getting together with him at the museum, and now we can do that again.

  • carmencanada says:

    March, if I’ve been correctly informed (and the source was an ISIPCA trained perfumer), there is no such thing as gardenia extract. Like lilly of the valley: way too little yield, so it’s never produced. Which means every single thing labelled gardenia is actually a combination of synthetics (can’t remember the name, it’s like learning Japanese, those chemicals) plus a bunch of other florals like jasmine, tuberose and orange blossom.
    Apparently, the closest to the real thing is the headspace-captured Yves Rocher Gardenia, but of course it wouldn’t have the complexity and I’m pretty sure they phased out the Roquefort stink. I mean to go out to the local Yves Rocher and find out.
    So there you go. I’d love to smell the gardenia scent you describe!

    • March says:

      Oh, go by the local Yves and tell me! Please! Not to go on and ON about this, but I was fascinated by that smell. I can see a gardenia’s stink being unacceptable in terms of perfumery, which is why I’m charmed by Jardenia, even though in that one it’s so magnified it makes me a little sick — although I think it maybe wouldn’t if it didn’t also have that really sweet top.

      Thanks for the extract info. It’s wild how many flowers have to be completely manufactured. Given the technology, someone could do an accurate gardenia; I can see why they might not want to. 😉 Unless the entire bottle run is 250 or something.

      • Sara Cole says:

        My Mom’s favorite perfume scent is Gardenia. She wore a Gardenia perfume when I as a kid that was surprisingly soft– all I remember is “Dana Gardenia.”

        When I got into perfume collecting I gathered as many gardenia samples for her as I could and I was astonished at the variety. Now I’m very curious about what they really smell like!

        My mom enjoys the Yves Rocher very much although it’s too stenchy for me. Annick Goutal Gardenia Passion is nice. I like Chanel the best, with JM a close second. (JM Gardenia has to be layered for me to like it.)

        • March says:

          Oh, I love Gardenia Passion! Of course, I love most AGs. And hmmm, you are saying the Yves Rocher is stenchy, which sounds so tempting!

    • sweetlife says:

      That’s so interesting about Yves Rocher. I have a bottle of their Gardenia body wash in my shower right now. The immediate burst of the topnotes is lovely, but it’s quickly followed by something harsh that makes me think “synthetic”–in a bad way. I wonder if it’s the soap?

  • tmp00 says:

    Do you know I have never really smelled a gardenia? Not the real flower anyway; not in my memory. I have however smelled one of those giant corpse flower that everyone thinks smells like rotting meat and I have to write that I kind of like it. I mean, it’s about 10000% too much, but I can see where it would be nice less concentrated, just a hint of that reek. I mean, I like the smell of orange peel but having a bushel of it shoved up my nose wouldn’t be pleasant either.

    It’s kind of amazing how we’ve become conditioned to recognise scents from the simulacrum of them, even unto food. How many people smell Aunt Jemima (Is that still sold?) and think that’s what maple syrup smells like? Never mind “butter flavored” popcorn or “cheese food spreads”. Makes you wonder how something as simple as a gardenia has a chance..

    • March says:

      Ha! Hail, my skank soul brother! I hightailed it down to the Botanical Garden on the mall last time our giant arum bloomed. And you’re totally right. If you could take a thousandth of that and work it into something else — maybe with some jasmine and/or some spice? Or even with a rose? Yeah, that would work.

      I am pretty sure crap “syrup” is sold, but cannot fathom why people *buy* it, only because you can buy the real deal for not that much more — maybe twice as much? Which, okay, is a lot if you’re buying a staple like bread or milk, but how much syrup can you drink? I think things like teas, preserves, syrup, etc. were created specifically as affordable luxuries. <:-p

      • Debbie says:

        Real maple syrup is more thin, sweet and purely flavored than fake maple syrup. Although you may think the former may be better than the latter in all circumstances, it sinks into pancakes more quickly and the ultrasweetness can be cloying (unless tempered with lots of coffee or breakfast meat). The fake stuff’s other flavors prevent that. It’s cheapness is also better for families who can’t afford the way kids glob on the syrup. I think I prefer the fake stuff on pancakes but the real thing in my cooking. That’s where it’s REALLY important to have it. Um, as a foodie, I had to add my two cents. ~o)

        • March says:

          Now, those are some excellent points. I will come clean here and admit I have raised a family of “dippers” — I heat up little ramekins of syrup and they dip individual bites of pancake, waffle, etc. into the syrup to avoid the sponge effect. :”> Because that’s the way I like it. Will also admit I like powdered sugar and butter on my French toast, period.

        • Sara Cole says:

          I’m from up near the Canadian border & my Aunt’s family sugars– it can be a big deal socially who you get your syrup from. Lolol. Lots of people only buy it when it’s in season though b/c it gets too expensive later in the year. Some stock up when it’s in season and some get a discount for returning their bottles for refilling. 🙂

          The thing is, if you live in a maple-sugar producing area, you may use it a ton because that’s part of our culture– so we eat the cheap stuff when we’re broke.

          One thing some people don’t like about real syrup is it can have a variety of smoky flavors depending on who makes it. Some like this but some taste it as burnt sugar. My SIL hates the real syrup from my Aunt’s family because it just tastes too strong to her.

          • Debbie says:

            Actually, those flavors in maple syrup sound pretty good to me. Especially in making savory dishes….mmmm, baked beans with it.

          • Sara Cole says:

            Oh, they are truly, truly wonderful. I can’t describe how great a smoky, rich maple syrup tastes. But there is MUCH debate on the subject among various branches of my family. Lolol. Some people actually consider the smoke flavor a defect– that the syrup wasn’t prepared properly. One aunt also just switched from my other Aunt’s family’s syrup. (She says it was getting too smoky but I think she just doesn’t like her.) Lol.

          • March says:

            Oh, I think the smoky maple syrup sounds AMAZING. I can see how people would have their various preferences, and I am envious that you have those kinds of choices, it sounds wonderful. I imagine people would feel about a smoky flavor in syrup like they feel about a smoky note in perfume. Some like it; some don’t!

          • Sara Cole says:

            Yes, exactly! Personally, I adore smoke tastes in foods, but not perfume. I like the smell of smoke, but in perfume it only reminds me of cold winter where you have to burn a lot of wood, (and slowly the house, your clothes, etc. take on a smoky smell), or of incense, which I burned WAY too much of as a teenager. (I didn’t even smoke anything to cover up! Lolol) So I guess I actually like the smell of woodsmoke and incense, but it’s been ubiquitous in my life for so long it doesn’t appeal as a fragrance to wear.

          • March says:

            And I suppose I’d have to confess the opposite — that smoke is exotic enough for me (burning leaves, the occasional campfire) that I like the way it makes me feel.

          • Sara Cole says:

            Makes sense to me. I haven’t lived in a wood-heated home for 13 years, so I suspect it’ll gradually smell better and better over time due to nostalgia. Thinking it over, I realized woodsmoke and incense actually smell to me like a perfume I wore for so long I just can’t get a sense of it anymore. Different wood creates different scents when burned of course– apple wood is amazing.