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!!!)
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.
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’.
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.