Sweet Peas

Sweet Peas, originally uploaded by judy stalus.

If you ever grown sweet peas in your garden, you know how cheerful their smell is. It is sweet as the name suggests, and has spicy and green elements, make is why it also feels very balanced – not cloying or heady or indolic like lilies, for example.

Both Arctander and Poucher mention orange blossom, hyacinth and rose to describe the scent of sweet pea flowers.

Arctander writes that the scent of sweet pea (aka lathyrus) flowers “(...)recall that of freesia, certain roses (e.g. the wild rosa canina, also called hip-rose or hedge-rose) with a very delicate touch of orange blossom or hyacinth. However, the most typical feature of the fragrance of lathyrus is its suave lightness, almost balsamic (like the non-aldehydic part of hyacinth), sweet (like rose-freesia) and yet honeylike sweet, subdued floral (like orange flower) with
a light bouquet and top of mild greenness” (Stephen Arctander, Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin, p. 605).

Unfortunately, although the flowers yield themselves to extraction with solvent, an absolute is not produced commercially at the moment, so whenever you see sweet pea mentioned in a perfume, it is actually a sweet pea base, not the absolute or essential oil. A base is a harmony of notes created by the perfumer to reproduce the impression of the flower.

Poucher's compounding instructions for a sweet pea base stress the importance of methyl anthranilate in the heart. This molecule is the characteristic in orange blossom note, present in neroli, orange blossom absolute and petitgrain - as well as tuberose, ylang ylang and even in jasmine absolute). He offers the following guidelines for compounding a sweet pea base, which include the following :

Green top notes: Linalol, Petitgrain, Benzyl acetate

Orange-Blossom heart notes: Neroli, Methyl anthranilate (fruity orange flower), Broom absolute, Ylang Ylang

Base notes (sweet, warm and spicy): Methyl naphthyl ketone (sweet and powdery orange blossom), hydroxylcitronellal (sweet orange blossom/lily), Penyl acetic aldehyde (for the hyacinth and clover effect), Styrax, Tolu balsam, Vanillin

I'm quite curious to see if it would be possible to create a match to a floral without its actual essence (i.e.: essential oil or absolute), using just floral absolutes and essential oils. It's very challenging to create the illusion of a flower with only naturals, unless there is actually an essence from the flower itself (i.e.: essential oil or absolute). I also feel that heliotropin is really important in this one, yet is not to be found in any essential oil or absolute that I'm aware of (and heliotrope absolute is not available either). I will need to start by creating a heliotrope base before creating the sweet pea.

For sweet pea I would start by using the following notes:

Top notes: Rosewood or ho wood (because of the high linalol content), Bergamot, Narcissus Absolute, Sweet Orange, Petitgrain

Heart notes: Guiacwood, Styrax oil, Broom absolute, Jonquille absolute, Rosa rugosa (hedge rose) essential oil, Ylang ylang absolute, Orange flower absolute, Jasmine absolute, Tuberose absolute, Neroli, Heliotrope Base

Base notes: Benzoin, Ambrette seed, Styrax resin, Tolu balsam, Vanilla CO2

Ineke's Garden

Angel's Trumpet, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

It was a cold-gray-wet mid-November day in 2007. Ineke and I sat at the Starbucks across from Vancouver Public Library (the main branch, which Moshe Safdie has humorously designed to resemble the Colosseum and give my city an imposed air of culture). This was my first time smelling Evening Edged in Gold and my immediate reaction was that of familiarity. I couldn't quite pinpoint it at the context, so Ineke mentioned the influence of the grand woody-floriental scents from the 90's - Feminite du Bois and Dolce Vita, both with a pronounced cedarwood and fruity notes.

Months later, Ineke kindly sent me a sample of her new opus (by the way - Ineke has a new and beautifully packaged sampler set, with all her 5 fragrances, titled “Volume 2” and meticulously wrapped and packaged in their miniature matchbox-like case within a larger drawer-type box), as well as the three floral bases used in the perfume. Two of the bases are ones that Ineke has created “from scratch” so to speak, using flowering plants in her garden as a reference and inspiration.

Although these floral bases play a modest role in the formulation percentage-wise (the woody and musky notes play a more dominant role here, accounting for more than half of the composition), they sure are what sets Evening Edged in Gold apart from, say, Dolce Vita and Samsara.

The Angel’s Trumpet (aka Datura) base is reminiscent of lilies and reminds me greatly of the lily-and-orange blossom saturated Lys Mediteranee, yet with a far more pronounced lily-of-the-valley note (most likely from Phenyl Ethyl Alcohol and other muguet molecules).

The Midnight Candy base is a lot less floral that I expected it to be and smells very candy-like indeed, and has a dusky, smooth ripe-plum-like texture which goes very well with the more complex, apricoty-osmanthus base (Ineke used both osamnthus absolute and an osmanthus base for Evening Edged in Gold - I have to say I personally prefer the absolute as it is).

The Angel’s Trumpet I’ve taken pictures of (see above) did not have much of a fragrance (at least not in broad daylight). Keep in mind that I've met in in mid-day; according to Bill (Ineke's husband and business partner), it is at night time when the flower releases it's lily-like scent into the air, and the yellow variety is the one to look for (the bush I've found being peach coloured may not be as fragrant but I'm bound to check out if it's still in bloom this very evening).

Midnight Candy is the flower that “stars” in this fragrance’s packaging. Unfortunately, I haven’t smelled it either. Again, according to Bill this finicky dusky flower will only show off its olfactory capabilities on a hot day after 4pm. In a cooler day it won't be as generous sharing its fragrance. I am very curious to hear if any of you who have tried Evening Edged in Gold are familiar with these two fragrant flowers and could “find” them within Ineke’s perfume. I would love to hear from you more about the plant inspiration for this perfume.

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