Happy Valentine’s Day (as this is being uploaded on Sunday). We had some raspberry/chocolate marshmallows.

Years ago – well, decades (a lifetime?) – I studied Shotokan karate. My teacher (the sensei) liked to use a word conglomeration of patience and attention (ie, pen-sion) to explain how we should be focusing on what we were doing. Even after years and years and years away from the dojo I still use the word as it fits well regarding so many different situations.

Right now, I feel I need pen-sion to move through lockdown 3 and what has been a very cold period. Real bone-chilling cold is not regular weather for this part of England. While I have had to venture out to walk the dog, other than that and a bit of top-up food shopping I haven’t even made it to the bakery. I’m jonesing a chai latte. As it has in past years the weather will shift (it better) and become more manageable (I have to believe this). I just have to be patient and pay attention to the things that can be dealt with right now.

We’ve also had gale force winds for around five days now. Wind never bothered me before moving to this part of the world, but that’s what I get for moving near the Atlantic coast (the storms come in, the storms move out …). Loads of things have been blowing round the garden, the jasmine is stripped of leaves, and the beautiful small light blue irises I had in a pot which were in bloom have completely given up. But, we’re supposed to get better weather this week (meaning somewhat warmer and less wind) and the DIY guy should finally be able to lay the path. Which means I’ll be able to start planting. Thus, all is not lost. Pen-sion.


I have weird feelings about irises. Many are beautiful, but they are austere and very grumpy round here – ie, they want to be treated a certain way or they won’t flower. I’ve planted small ones year after year and they don’t grow in the garden (which is why they were in a pot this year). There are loads of iris plants around the village but most of them don’t bloom. Here and there you can see a bearded iris – so much promise with so little return.

I have yet to find an iris perfume I really love bar Tauer’s limited edition Orris (about an eighth of an inch left in my bottle). Everything else I’ve tried seems cold and leaves me cold (SL Iris Silver Mists turns carrot on me very quickly).

Anyway, among the Le Labo samples I got was Iris 39. I live in hope of finding something other than Orris that works for me. This is sort of nice … and rooty (notes: iris, patchouli, civet [really? really!], violet, musk, ylang, ginger, lime, cardamom and rose). To start off I get roots – slightly woody, wet cut roots – plus maybe some violet leaf, not one of my favourite notes. Things warm up slightly in the middle (the musk?) but the cold rootiness lingers. Throwing in some incense might have helped, I think. This doesn’t move much over time, drying down to still cool rootiness, with maybe patchouli making an appearance. I definitely don’t get cardamon, ylang or even lime. So, this isn’t going to be my iris. Alas.

Now, the days are lighter and I’m very thankful for that. So, what sorts of things are keeping you occupied and focused, able to counter the weird of winter? Do you grow irises and/or have a favourite iris fragrance?

  • VerbenaLuvvr says:

    I grow irises, or rather what irises will grow where I live in the frozen north, so our choices are quite limited. I do have some lovely blue-lavendar japanese iris that I bought at Walmart, and shockingly they have survived. As for fragrance, I am not an orris fan, but did test two recently that I found fairly agreeable–Abel Pink Iris and Ormonde Jayne Orris Noir.

  • March says:

    I grew irises in Santa Fe, which is high desert (hot, cold, dry) and a climate that seems to produce extraordinary blooms. There was an Iris Ranch there (with hundreds of varieties) and visiting it when they bloomed, smelling that fragrance, was one of the most intoxicating events in my olfactory life — I hadn’t even realized iris had a scent. Pen-sion. I’m going to remember that.

    • Cinnamon says:

      The southwest is somewhere I would have loved to visit. We have lavender farms here. Not quite the same. Grasse. I’d like to visit Grasse. Long ago I visited the Keukenhof tulip exhibition outside of Amsterdam and discovered that some tulips have scent. Ah, flowers are always surprising.

  • Dina C. says:

    I hear you on the cold weather. We just came through an ice storm here in the DC area. Our weather has been very cold with lots of precipitation this year compared to last winter which was unusually mild. I love iris: it’s one of my top three favorite notes. I do like LL Iris 39 very much and have a bottle. For me it’s a middle of the pack favorite. Top favorites are No. 19 edp, VC&A Bois d’Iris, 28 La Pausa, Mademoiselle Guerlain, Prada Infusion d’Iris, 31 Rue Cambon, and SL Clair de Musc. I love your pen-sion concept. That’s so simple and profound. I may have to write that out and pin it up on my kitchen bulletin board.

    • Cinnamon says:

      Neither No 19 nor La Pausa like me. I’m starting to sound like I’m a broken record. Yes, I think pen-sion is a concept that grabs you with its simple rightness.

  • Dubaiscents says:

    I’ve been enjoying Gallivant’s new Bukhara in the still very cold and snowy New England. It may end up being a little too carrot-y for you but, it’s definitely worth a sniff.

  • Musette says:

    first things first: Monty D has a lot to say about growing irises (in your part of the world – over here they grow like weeds). One of the GWs from the last 3? years. Check it out. He actually moved his entire iris bed to another spot with great success.
    On to iris perfumes. Blame Patty. I was totally unable to process the whole oeuvre until she introduced me to Xerjoff’s Irisss. It’s an excellent, balanced composition, both the sweetness of the flower and the rootiness. My absolutely favorite iris is one I think you might enjoy: Acqua di Parma Iris Nobile. Another perfect balance of flower and root. I adore Iris 39 but I do so precisely because of the rootiness – it never changes off that but does do a bit of shapeshifting within that rooty persona.

    Stay warm and don’t get blown away. I’d see your temps and raise you but… eh. February in the Midwest. And it’s even colder and snowier north of here.


    • Musette says:

      I’m not sure if this is the correct one (he has several on planting irises at Longmeadow) but it’s a start

    • Cinnamon says:

      I’ll have a look regarding the iris feature. We have the same claggy soil as Longmeadow. I recall you saying the Iris 39 was one of yours. I will look up the Acqua di Parma — should be reasonably easy to find a sample here. Indeed, I fully realise that things here aren’t anywhere near the Midwest.

      • Musette says:

        nor are mine anywhere near the Frigid Fury that is The Plains. How people survive in places like the Dakotas in
        February is completely beyond me.


  • Tara C says:

    I love iris flowers and iris perfumes. I sadly do not have the Tauer Orris so no idea what to recommend. My latest acquisitions are Guerlain Iris Torrefie and Atelier Materi Cuir d’Iris.

    As for weather, we are spoiled here in Southern California, but I’ll be heading back to Canada April 10th where it is snowing and hovering around 0C.

    I’ve been keeping busy with spring cleaning, reading books, baking bread, walking the dog and watching youtube videos. Waiting for the plague to pass…

    • Cinnamon says:

      I don’t understand why Andy Tauer hasn’t reprised Orris. I realise it was pricy to make, but it sold out very quickly so clearly popular. Will look up the two fragrances you mention. Hopefully it will be warmer in Canada when you return. The plague … I’m getting my first jab this Saturday.

  • Portia says:

    Hey Cinnamon,
    If you can, get some small pots of azaleas, plant your iris then an azalea, then iris, then azalea. For some reason they seem to be a complimentary planting and have an especially happy relationship with their roots intertwined. Suddenly they flower thrillingly.
    Portia xx

    • Musette says:

      omgosh, Portia! I did not know that! I have been considering incorporating a couple of white azaleas into my white and yellow bed…. you KNOW I’mo stagger them amongst my butter-yellow irises, now 😉

      xoxoxoxo and Happy VDay to you, Jin and your whole beloved crew!

      • Portia says:

        White azaleas have always looked like butterflies flitting through the garden to me Musette. Soft and frilly. So gorgeous.
        Portia xx

    • Cinnamon says:

      Alas, I don’t like azaleas (or rhododendrons or camellias). I will look up the complementary thing though to see if there are other combos. it’s too bad about our weather because the light blue small irises I was growing were very pretty.

      • Portia says:

        BUMMER Cinnamon.
        Yeah, love blue irises. I have some of the deep purple ones in a pot at BFF Kath’s Dad’s place.
        Portia xx