Dark Spring

No, ‘Dark Spring’ isn’t about our Crazy World right now – at least, not a whole lot about it.   It’s mostly about …….. well, it’s about taking this time to take some time, reflect… pay attention, perhaps a bit more than most of us are able to pay when all the world is tugging at us.  My state is mandated Shelter in Place which, for me, is largely Tuesday since most of my work is done online and via phone… if my suppliers are still at work I can do my job.  We’ll see.

But that’s not the point – what is the point is that whole ‘reflect/pay attention’ thing.  Which is where Dark Spring comes in.  Right now is peak time for hyacinth forcing, along with narcissus (daffodils) and other bulbs.  My entire house is awash is emerging and blooming bulbs …and it’s only been recently that I’ve realized that I rarely smell them during the day – but around 6p, when the sun begins to set, I start to get these intriguing little wafts of near-fragrance .. and because things are a bit quieter right now I can take the time to isolate the notion of ephemeral scent.  For me, bulbs – even paperwhites – are flickering scents; spend too long in the flower and it blows out my receptors (Diane Ackerman talks about that, re the ionine in violets, which short-circuit our sense of smell.  I have the same problem with hyacinths, narcissus and other bulbs, which makes that elusive, twilight waft all the more precious.  It is so elusive, this alchemical confab of smells:  dirt/rain/a hint of dark brown sugar/ more dirt.  Then.. poof!  it’s gone.  If I leave it alone, it’ll come back, when it’s ready.  Try as I might, I cannot make it stay.  And even when it does come back (and almost never in the daytime) I couldn’t tell you what the ‘perfume’ of it is.  For me, bulbs do not give off the same sort of perfume that, say, my lilies do (and that is yet another bulb that really puts forth in the twilight)


Thinking bout this (because I have a lot more time to think right now – no use stressing about ‘what if’ because it’s out of my hands anyway)… I was wondering which perfumes best replicate hyacinth  – turns out that none of the ones that actually ‘say’ hyacinth smell like hyacinth to me.  Only Demeter’s Wet Garden comes close to replicating that dirt/rain/brown sugar/green smell

from: nosegasm.com

Google ‘hyacinth perfume’ and a host of others come up  I’ve tried fully half of them (not saying which ones because I want to know your thoughts – okay, I’ll say one:  Diorling, which lists hyacinth as a top note but I swear you could put a gun to my head and I couldn’t identify the hyacinth – I’m now wondering if it’s because I have no idea what I’m looking for??)… none of them come close to what it is I am smelling when I catch a whiff of real hyacinth – I wonder if it’s the flower, getting lost amongst other notes?  Or is it me?

One thing I do know is that one of the very things that keeps me from crawling under the covers at noon  these days is the thought that, come twilight, that scent will waft again.


Have any of you had this experience?  Is it just bulbs?  Or is it just me?

  • Jo Ann says:

    Musette, love reading your posts. You make me smile. 🙂

  • Amateur Dilettante says:

    I knew there was a reason I got a sample of Diorling! No, I don’t get hyacinth either, but it is pretty. My favorite was Chamade, the older version; the newer one (when I got around to buying a bottle) is too rosy, not enough galbanum and hyacinth; it’s still pretty but not the same. If I’m going to retreat I at least want to slap my enemy in the face with a bunch of galbanum first.
    I’m too lazy/disorganized to force bulbs, but i’m probably going to have to do it now that I don’t have a yard. Santé!

  • Sapphire says:

    Forgot about Bas de Soie. Must get it out! There was a Jo Malone limited edition hyacinth fragrance a couple of years ago that I thought was pretty spot on. Kind of wish I’d gotten it.

  • Patty says:

    My narcissus are all up and blooming, and the front my house is so cheerful. I love hyacinth. I do force ONE pot indoors because it is overload fast,but it is my favorite smell in the world – spring and hope and renewal.

  • AngelaB says:

    What a great article, thank you so very much! This is a real pick me up and just what the doctor ordered! Coming home to springtime in bloom
    Is one advantage of cutting our vacation short, thanks for the reminder. I may go pick some
    daffodils now even in the rain.

  • Portia says:

    Hey Musette,
    Apollo Hyacinth is lovely for me but not an exact hyacinth replica.
    CB I Hate Perfumes did a series of flower extraits. I can’t remember if hyacinth was among them but the narcissus blew my mind.
    Portia x

  • rosarita says:

    Lovely post Ms A, I love hyacinth and like Dina, green florals. The perfumes that I smell hyacinth in are Bas de Soie and Guy Laroche Fidji.

  • Dina C. says:

    I love hyacinths, and like March, mine are blooming right now in my yard. Gucci Envy is my favorite. I also wear Bas de Soie and Chamade. Safari has a bit, too, as well as narcissus. Green florals are one of my loves, so this is my season.

    • Musette says:

      Ooooh! Gucci Envy! Forgot about that one, as well. and I, too, love green florals! I need to get out more (though maybe not right now 😉 xoxoxo

  • March says:

    Spring has been so crazy early here in the mid-Atlantic my hyacinths are not only up, they’re going to be finished shortly.

  • MO says:

    L’Artisan Jacinthe des Bois was a great hyacinth fragrance. It’s long been discontinued though.

    • March says:

      Dang, that was too early for my perfume obsession, I wish I had a bottle.

      • Musette says:

        me, too! I’m salivating! xoxoox

        • Samantha_L says:

          I hoard my half bottle of Jacinthe des Bois like the worst miser..I caught my daughter spraying it on with abandon recently and just about murdered her! I’ve been wanting to try the Demeter Hyacinth oil diffuser…have you smelled that? The oil diffusers are all buy one get one free right at Demeter right now, I figure its a good a time as any to try!

          • Musette says:

            omg. OMG! Yeah, you’ve gotta watch those kids! LOL! That’s worse than when my ex-DH ate my last box of Mallomars! I’ll go over to Demeter and check it out! Thanks! xoxoxo

  • Kathleen says:

    I haven’t smelled bulbs as you described; however, I planted lily bulbs a few years ago in my backyard and this time of year attempt to sprout leaves. So far this year the leaves poking through the ground are the largest yet, about 5 inches. Each spring we get a heavy snow which might be preventing further growth.
    My favorite hyacinth perfume is Jessica McClintock Jess from 1995. My mother-in-law loved this perfume, and I had a bottle in the late 1990s. How I wish to have this perfume again!

    • Musette says:

      I’m in USDA Zone 5b(which I ooch to a 6) and occasionally get early leaves. If you’re in those Zone vicinities, don’t worry – that leaf sprout won’t affect the growth later on! OMG! Garden Nerd Alert! (sorry).
      I didn’t know about Jess! Her 90s perfumes were a lot like her boutiques, imo: over the top, but in a very lovely way! xoxoxo

  • matty1649 says:

    As March said, please list your favourites.

  • March says:

    I love this. I’ve never found a fragrance that can really capture that off-the-chain scent of hyacinths. Also here’s one of my late father’s favorite recitations:

    “If, of thy mortal goods, thou art bereft,
    And from thy slender store two loaves alone to thee are left,
    Sell one, and with the dole
    Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.”

    Moslih Eddin Saadi, 13th century Persian poet

  • Ellen says:

    If you find a perfume that smells like hyacinth,please let me know. I keep looking.

    • Musette says:

      take a look at these comments, Ellen – there are several intriguing suggestions! Also, I’m heading over to Surrender to Chance to see what they have in store! xoxoxo

  • Tara C says:

    Bas de Soie and Chamade are my hyacinth scents. I need to get a handle on my anxiety first as currently I am too stressed to wear any perfume….

  • Gina T. says:

    I love hyacinths and how they smell. I love hyacinth fragrances and have tons of them, many vintage floral aldehydes. They will be coming out this spring. Which means soon.