About Lilies

Posse!  Here’s some thoughts about lilies, both the flowers and the perfume.  Anybody who’s been on this blog for more than a minute knows I am LilyRidiculous.  At last count I have nearly 100 (I know I said 78 – but I forgot about the lilies in the MIrror Garden.  …. wondering if this makes me a Lily Hoarder?  Those AMC folks better stay the hell out of my garden, though.  I have a lot of heavy, sharp tools and I am not afraid to use them!!!)

Conca d’Or

Anyhoo – if you’ve ever been to a lily garden you know the optimal times for scent are early am and from dusk onward.  In my garden, high noon is the worst time for scent.  You might as well be looking at plastic!  But the moment the sun goes behind the Western treeline…boom!  The garden is awash in fragrance.  So much so that after the first 2 or 3 minutes they begin to cancel each other out, creating a miasma of scent that makes it nearly impossible to distinguish one from another.

Ask me if I care.

Ready for Autumn dig – yes, I am that gardener

For me, the whole point is the Glorious Riot.  But I also enjoy moving them around, seeing if better placement will result in a stronger stem and bigger blooms (answer:  yes. usually.).  This year I’m going to turn the Circle Border into a serene cream/yellow white palette, with the exception of the Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’, which has taken me FIVE YEARS to come to flower.  After 2 moves it’s finally decided that the Circle Border is The Place.  And who am I to argue with ‘Lucifer’.

‘Lucifer’ stays

I absolutely adore the scent of lilies – especially Orienpets- that come on early in the season and are shocking in their richness.  March (who has been to my garden) and I had a conversation about how people feel about lilies and agree that it’s usually an all-in! or hell-no! response.  Based on some of my garden visitors’ more nuanced responses I think it’s the fecal note in lilies.  For lovers, it’s a perfect touch of ‘dirty’ whereas for the haters it’s definitely FECAL.  And I must confess that a few of my true Orientals have a touch more fecal than I would like, especially on a really hot, humid evening.  Those?  Those I move to the other end of the border, away from the dining table.

So.  With nearly 100 lilies you’d think I would be awash in Lily Perfume Love.  You. Would. Be. Wrong!!!  March (who loves them but isn’t a Hoarder of lilies) has had the same issue.  Though for her the gorgeous, sublime Donna Karan Gold comes close, it’s still not quite the thing.  For me the closest I can come is Ineke ‘Gilded’ and the aforementioned Donna Karan Gold (to which March introduced me – and I ain’t happy about it because d/c)… … I was going to go on a rant about how perfumers are Just. Not. Getting. It. Quite. Right.

Then I realized that I am making a rookie mistake.  Perfumers (especially sophisticated perfumers) are not trying to replicate the exact smell of a lily – what would that even mean?  Orienpets smell different from Orientals, with some late Orientals/ Trumpets truly trumpeting their vanilla-rich scent whilst the more subtle green-tinged notes in some of the newer doubles (anyone remember my beloved ‘Flying Circus’, alas no longer in production due to a virus) are subtle and bear little or no scent resemblance to their bigger, showier cousins.  The ‘notion’ of lilies is what I find intriguing, now that I’ve got my nose on straight.  I know DSH Perfumes has several lily scents, including Lis Oriental, which I really need to try because this?  This might actually smell exactly like my garden – at dusk.  Without the bugs.


What about you?  Are you a lily lover or a lily hater?  Perfumes?  Any suggestions?  I’ve tried so many – but now I have to revisit, since I’ve tempered my mindset.


  • Kathy says:

    I love lilies; used to have a lovely white Easter lily in my yard but the deer ate it. I like La Virge de Fer and, once on an Ebay journey, I nabbed the lovely Lily & Spice in a niche lot auction, so I know I love the flower and some perfume versions. Oh, and I was the one at my office that lily haters would pass the “from a grateful client bouquet with big honking Stargazer Lily” to whereupon I would zone out huffing them at my desk. Thanks as always for the Musings!

  • grizzlesnort says:

    Passage D’Enfer.

    • bad raincoat says:

      Yes! I don’t like many other lily scents I’ve tried but lily + incense is such a great pairing.

  • Tigs says:

    Huge fan of the flower, though you know I don’t garden and seldom have them in the house, as Gary the cat has a huge jones for chewing them. The occasional nibble before I scream at her doesn’t seem to have hurt her, as we just had her to the vet today for a geriatric cat blood panel and they were marvelling at her Black Cat Magic, at 15 y.o. For perfumes, I quite like the DK Gold EdP, too, and Malle Lys Mediterranee. I do like the Cartier BV green flanker, the lily EdT version, though I think it’s discontinued also. For a vanilla-tinged one, I enjoy Hermessence Vanille Galante. And for an insanely expensive one I seldom get to sample, JAR Golconda.

    • Musette says:

      Hey doll! Congrats to Gary! And I can’t believe I totally forgot about the Cartier flanker, which o wrar all the time! I wish I could love Lys M.


  • ElizaC says:

    I love the smell of lilies and lily perfume (Un Lys, Amoureuse). Our garden is full of plants used in perfume (roses, immortelle, lavender, rock rose, thyme). I’ve never thought about planting lilies because I always thought they would be difficult. Your garden is quite an inspiration!

    • Musette says:

      Depending upon where you live they’re pretty easy. Dig a hole, put the bulb in. I do recommend ringing th with daffodils yo deter ground squirrels etc.

  • Maggiecat says:

    Lily – lover here but in moderation. I love the scent of the flower, and my behavior around Easter lilies can best be described as “creepy.” (They’re gonna throw me out of Kroger’s some April.). Diorissimo was my wedding scent because I associate the smell of lilies with special occasions. However, lily scents can be a little too rich sometimes, and I can’t wear them everyday. Or at all, some days – they might be lethal in our current 100 plus heat. But the actual flowers – anytime!

  • Kathleen says:

    I love the images of your garden and the lily scent early mornings and in the evenings. I adore the scent of lilies. I enjoy DK Gold. Didn’t the original Cacharel Anais Anais feature lily? This was my very first perfume as a girl. I also loved D&G The One edp which had lily.

    • Musette says:

      Anais Anais has lily in it? I loved that scent!!

      And thanks! I’ve let the garden go to pot this year ( injury +heat+ rain =disaster). But I still love it!


  • Maya says:

    I love lilies. My favorite are the Casablanca lilies. They’re great for moon gardens. The scent is gorgeous and can waft down the block in the evenings. I have not yet found a lily perfume that’s for me. There don’t seem to be that many out there either.

    • Musette says:

      My Casablancas have just come into full bloom and they are stankin’ up the place something fabulous!!!
      Lily in perfume is difficult, I think. I like it as part of a bouquet (in perfume) rather than a soliflore.


  • Dina C. says:

    Wow, that’s amazing! Wish I could teleport so I could visit quickly one evening and see and smell that grand garden in all its glory. I love stargazer lilies in flower arrangements. They’re so showy and beautiful. Perfume lilies tend to be overpowering to me. Too much of a good thing I guess. Luca Turin claims that real lilies have a salami note in them!

  • carole says:

    I love the flowers, but can only take tiny amounts in perfume. Goutal’s Grand Amour is too much for me. I just bought a tester of Lutens Laine de Ver, and it’s supposed to be lily centric. It’s mostly pear and sandle wood on me , with some coolness that I associate with lilies. I love this as a fresh scent for summer.

  • March says:

    Love lilies, and am always fascinated by the folks who loathe that smell. My earliest memories are of the dozens of trumpet lilies in our small church on Easter morning… I love to bring them inside as cut stems, although they’re a PITA with their pollen-doodads that have to be snipped off before they stain something orange. I would find your garden absolute lily heaven. Yeah, don’t mess with Lucifer lol.

  • trabuquera says:

    Unrepentant lily lover in the garden or on the fragrance shelf; in scent, it’s gotta be Lutens Un Lys, Malle Lys Mediterranee, or Penhaligon’s Lily & Spice. The Olympic Orchids range might also give you some of the real-botanical lily effect if you’re searching for a more natural treatment.

    • Musette says:

      Un Lys came verrrry close. Lys M has a funky musk drydown that drives me bonkers, alas. (or more bonkers than usual, I guess I should say). I’ll have to revisit Olympic Orchids!


  • rosarita says:

    I always enjoy reading about your garden! And I love lilies irl. There’s some beautiful gardens near me (that include a calender garden and a wildflower garden) and they have some gorgeous lilies but I’m usually there in the afternoon, where I have to risk the bees and get up close to sniff. The only lily perfume I have is Gold, you have picked my sotd.

    • Musette says:

      The bees won’t (shouldn’t) hurt you – I work amongst them all day and they just move out of my way (or I move out of theirs) and we get along fine!

      Gold is gorgeous!!!

      Go in very late afternoon/early evening sometime, Miss A! It’ll be way different!


  • cinnamon says:

    Wonderful post. I love lilies as flowers, but I only have one type in my garden (I wrote about these a few weeks ago) which refused to do anything for around five years. Finally, this summer, they decided I deserved to see them. At this point however I have no clue to their name. Packaging long gone. Doesn’t matter and if it does I’ll do one of those special web searches. Lily perfumes … no, not my thing. Make me sneeze.

    • cinnamon says:

      Found it. Nepalese lilies!

      • Musette says:

        Oooh! Those sound intriguing. I’mo check them out. I thought it might be ‘Kushi Maya’ from the overall look – if so, those don’t do well here (in the Midwest) because of the ridiculously temperature shifts.


        • cinnamon says:

          Yes, that one. We have a micro climate — basically temperate, not a lot of frosts, a lot of rain mostly, summers can be awful (last year — one week of warm) or great (this year — bar heatwave). My three are in a pot. Be interesting to see if they wait another few years to perform again.

          • Musette says:

            they are notoriously tempermental but once they find a place they like, they usually behave. I look forward to seeing how they do for you – don’t forget to feed them. with them being in a pot they don’t get as many nutrients as in the ground.


  • alityke says:

    I adore lilies, the bigger, showier & stinkier the better. DH cannot tolerate them. Both lily based perfumes & the plants give him constant sneezing & nausea inducing headaches.
    I love DH more so no more lilies for me

  • Tom says:

    Lily lover here. More the plant than in perfume. The late, lamented (by me anyway) JAR Fermez tes Yeux had some of that slightly gone-over lily that I love. One of these days I’m going to have to get to your neck ‘o the woods and experience your garden.

  • Portia says:

    LOVE lily in garden and perfume Musette.
    The original Cartier Baiser Vole and DKNY Gold are my faves but I also like Lys Mediterainee (Spelling?) and have 10ml on hand for the very rare moments it’s exactly what I want.
    Portia xx

    • Musette says:

      I wear the snot out of Baiser Vole Lys Rose, which I adore and which, despite the name, I NEVER associate with lilies because I am a derp!

      I just came in from hacking weeds out of gravel so apres-bain I will celebrate with BVLR!


  • Tara C says:

    Not a huge lily fan in perfumes but I like the real thing in gardens. My Pink Ladies are blooming right now. The only lily perfume I ever really loved was Un Lys by Serge Lutens.

    • Musette says:

      I had a decant of Un Lys, which I drained like a vampire drains a victim. But it was awhile ago. I might have to revisit that one.

      I love Lycoris (pink ladies) but have had no success in growing them. Alas.