Cold Spring

A few years ago we had a heat wave in April, just as the early Spring bulbs were coming up.  Within 2 days narcissus and tulips broke, bloomed and died.  Lilacs and magnolias budded out, bloomed and browned, almost in the space of time it took me to type this.  I, who run cold 24/7, was in a sleeveless tank.

It was heartbreaking.

For me, Spring is a season of anticipation, and I like to drag it out a bit.  Bulbs shyly poking their little paws out of the ground, feeling around for a bit of sunlight and warmth.  Taking their time to stretch and greet their new life.  I watch – and wait.  And am nearly always gobsmacked by how quickly they get themselves organized to put on a show, looking at tightly-budded stalks that I’m sure won’t be open for another week, only to find them in full bloom by the next afternoon.  In a cold Spring, that can last for a good while.   It is a shivery-good, uncertain time, magical in its uncertainty.

the early daffs

A cold Spring means that flowers bloom in the fullness of time.  I love that phrase ‘fullness of time’.  It seems we are conditioned to want Everything Now yet, in a cold Spring, we are forced to slow down, wait for it.   I love letting Spring just… happen.  I love the cool, wet winds, the hesitancy.  Everything smells like dirt, teeming with life.  If you’ve never tried Christopher Brosius’s Black March, now is the time.  It is everything Cold Spring, awash with anticipation (there are others in the CBIHP oeuvre, such as To See a Flower and Soaked Earth but to my nose Black March is the most relevant for what I’m describing here.  Demeter Dirt (also Christopher) is another amazing evocation of the Season.  Gawd, I love Christopher Brosius.  Can you tell?  I love that man.  Love him.  Love his nose, love how he translates experience to scent.

But I digress.

A cold Spring is also the time to unwrap the rooty irises.  As I’ve mentioned before ’twas Patty who gently pushed me right down that cool, damp rabbit hole.  I’d been so resistant to that whole scent palette because I’d shut my Beginner’s Mind – my beloved L’Artisan guru, Lydia, despaired of me ever ‘getting’ it, tugging me towards Iris Pallida and me recoiling as if she were tugging me towards a cobra.  Then, one evening, Patty and I met for dinner and she unveiled Xerjoff’s Irisss.  Again with the moronic recoil.  But – well, let me tell you about Patty and foolishness.  She is not here for it.  You will act your age or she will embarrass you, trust me.  So, faced with the Patty Look, I opened my mind…

… and my mind was blown.  And owned.  Forever.

A rooty iris is the whole of Spring.  Cool and carroty, but with a slicey/bitter touch that cuts the carrot  sweetness, while the floral aspect replaces it, but in a different, more astringent way – it’s that scent that you can only get in Spring (Autumn brings chrysanthemum but that’s Autumn – and it has a drier, more resinous tinge to it).

Xerjoff Irisss is so elegant –   It’s the hothouse iris placed in the cool glasshouse.  It’s the Regency Era iris.  It is slow to unfurl, giving you its beauty in the fullness of time.

Hermes Hiris.  Not quite ‘rooty’ – but more rooty than floral –  it is sublime.  Iris sophistication as only Hermes could do. A bearded iris with a touch of green and bulb.

LeLabo Iris 39 is the ultimate Garden Rooty Iris, almost too strong if you wear the perfume and other I39 product, so I only wear the body lotion on a blustery day.

Iris Pallida. omg.  Sheer perfection for early Spring.  Too bad I was a moron and didn’t get a bottle, back when I could.  Ah, well.

As I finish this post, it’s 39F, on a Sunday.  There is a gale-force wind and the masses of  King Alfred  and  Ice Follies daffodils are dancing in the breeze, while the iris are proudly spearing their way to the light.  The ground is soaked and the grass is so green it hurts to look at it.

It is glorious.


Surrender to Chance has nearly all of these scents.  They also have some amazing Iris samplers. There are many other gorgeous Iris perfumes (including the vaunted Iris Silver Mist and my late Spring fave, AdP Iris Nobile) – go ‘root around’ (couldn’t resist) on to see what’s out there.


  • crikey says:

    I am a fool for iris. A total pushover. The drier the better,
    Jorum Studio’s Trimerous, Slumberhouse New Sibet, Aedes’ Iris Nazarena. But I’m also v fond of DSH’s lush Iris Tuxedo (her recent trio of irises are all good). Chris Rusak’s 33 balances the orris impeccably with vetiver and angelica.

    (one of the parks here is completely awash with daffs and narcissus and it’s stunning: a steep slope, under trees, dancing in the endless wind. I’m waiting for the bluebells to pop up in the churchyard outside my window.)

    • Musette says:

      wow! those scents sound AMAZING! I wasn’t aware of a single one of them – so thanks for listing those.
      That park sounds even more amazing – I am hoping to add more daffodils to my garden, come Autumn – they coexist very well with later perennials, so I can add without worrying about upsetting something coming in later. xoxoxo

  • March says:

    Your yard is SO beautiful. I like to watch it unfurl, through these posts, from a distance (although I’d be thrilled to be there in person with you as well!) My love of iris fragrances kind of waxes and wanes, but I always love the plants.

    • Musette says:

      I’d love for you to see the early Spring show irl! It really is lovely, especially as the daffodils begin to increase and naturalize.
      The rooty irises took forever – and even once I began to love them, I realized that I could only wear them on Very Cold Spring Days. Too warm and they can bring up my lunch!

  • rosarita says:

    Oh darling, I remember that heartbreaking hot spring and though I was with you in the 30s on the weekend, today we’re looking the 80s in the face and I’m afraid of that bloom explosion happening again. Last year we had a wonderful long cool spring……and missed it due to quarantine. I, like DinaC above, like my iris combined with galbanum the best, Chanel 19 being my favorite.

    • Musette says:

      It’s supposed to dip back into the 50s tomorrow. Here’s hoping.
      Y’know… I have never really explored 19. I’mo have to do that – maybe tomorrow.


  • Dina C. says:

    Add to “in the fullness of time” “in due time” — another one of those Biblical, hope-filled phrases that are so packed with goodness. Here in Virginia, we linger in the 50s for what seems like forever, skip over a few nice days in the 70s, and then rocket up into hot, humid summer. Today, for example, it will be up to 75. Gotta enjoy it while it’s here. I adore iris. That note, along with galbanum, finds its way into a large portion of my scent collection. Haven’t tried the Xerjoff because of the $$$$ price tag, but I enjoy all the others you mentioned. Also love Chanel 28 La Pausa, Donna Karan Iris, and No. 19 edp & edt.

    • Musette says:

      I need to revisit 19. Everyone raves about it – and I dunno how it’s never landed on my radar.

      “in due time” sometimes sounds ominous to me, which is goofy, because it has the same definition as ‘in the fullness of time’ – at least in my opinion.


  • Queen-Cupcake says:

    I’m with you, Musette, a long cold Spring is just fine with me. It doesn’t often happen that way here in Mass., but so far, so good. I’m keeping an eye on my garlic bed, which I uncovered last week. The leaves remind me of daffodil at first, and they’re already 6 inches tall! I love Iris too, and can’t believe that I haven’t sampled those you mentioned.

  • Kathleen says:

    I always feel short-changed with a short spring as well, sometimes CO goes from winter to summer and bypasses spring. I’m hoping for a cool spring, you described the slow evolution of spring flowers blooming perfectly. One of my favorite spring blooms are lilacs.
    I enjoy Heeley Iris de Nuit; I will wear it this week! xoxo

    • Musette says:

      we get those in IL, too. Those suck. I’m praying we stay cool for the lilacs. It’s mid-70s today and it’s not looking good.
      That Heeley sounds stunning!

  • Cinnamon says:

    Yup. Well, mostly. Daffs, tulips, fritillaries, muscari are all going strong here. Bluebells are thinking about it. When spring finally hits I want time to slow.way.down. I want a long, drawn out spring into summer and a long, long, long hot summer — then a gentle slow movement into fall. We don’t talk about winter (we’re in a week of cold weather — there was snow on the ground this morning but next week it looks like we’re solidly in spring). Sigh. I run cold physically (a gift from my mother — poor circulation due to hormone issue) thus the desire for warm weather — and ‘cold’ fragrances generally do not work on me (my ‘normal’ body temp is about a degree below ‘normal’). I’ve tried various irises — only thing that did it was Tauer Orris. But those bearded irises — they are just so wonderful.

  • Portia says:

    Love Iris Musette. So much wonderful choice out there. Did you ever get your sniff on the L’Occitane Iris Bleue Iris Blanc? Cool, carroty iris with a little dirt stuck to it and the clear blue skies held therein? Beautiful. went through my bottle in a moment. It didn’t last long so I’d keep on spritzing. Cheap and gorgeous. Gone the way of the dodo.
    Portia xx

    • Musette says:

      omg, Portia! Your description is breathtaking! It’s on eeeB for $99 but I haz SO. MUCH. PERFUME.