s

SmellyBlog

My Little Herb Garden

Treasures from the mountain

The last two weeks I've delved right into exploring the medicinal wild plants that grow around here. For a short time I had a herbalist to show and share with me some of this wealth of plant wisdom. Now that this guide is gone, I'm lead only by the pleasantly infectious inspiration. There is an overwhelming abundance that is going to provide me with a lifetime of learning. I've been hiking in the surrounding areas and conservatively collecting branches for slips and re-planting in my little herbal garden. This of course will is part of the Perfumer's Botanical Garden I'm establishing around the studio.

I'm showing you the early beginning, although they look quite unimpressive on camera. In person they have the charm of new beginnings as well as virgin strip of land and stony terrain and distant view of the Mediterranean; I am also delighted by the gentle healing energy that emanates from the plants for those who connect to these types of being. And for those who find it more difficult to connect to plants that way - the scents that each provide speak for themselves. Even a little stroke on each plant will give off the scent and you can mix and match to create your own "finger perfume".

Morning in the medicinal herb garden

From the wild, I've adopted some amazing plants - both old and new to me, that grow on the mountain behind my house. So all in all, my botanical collection is rapidly growing - even beyond the original wishlist I've created. And I'm rather happy with it.

From my slip foraging, I managed to keep alive a couple of types of germanders - Cretan germander (Teucrium creticum), which looks a lot like rosemary but smells completely different - more like olive leaf, actually, and likewise has an intensely bitter taste; and cat-thyme germander (Teucrium capitatum), which has a sweet, almost resinous fragrant silvery foliage. The latter is highly medicinal and rivals only the local wild sage (Salvia fruticosa), more of the Savory of Crete (Satureja thymbra) and a similar plant, with an almost identical flavour and fragrance that has flowers with a structure similar to Lavandula dentata, which is called Spiked Savoury (Thymbra spicata). It would be difficult to find information online in English on many of these plants because they are unique to Israel.  I've also adopted some cistus plants, although they are not the Cistus ladaniferus I am seeking but two other local species that are not as resinous, yet somewhat fragrant depending on the season. And I am crossing my fingers that two seedlings of bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) that my herbalist guide carefully uprooted from the wadi (dry creek) floor, will also survive and make it to the miniature forest I want to create behind the perfume studio. And most immortally - I am hoping that the two little twigs of Israeli Thyme (Coridothymus capitatus) that we found on the rocky North beach will grow up some roots and flourish. They are quite rare site here inland, and in fact a protected species. They have a striking look when they get mature and an intense yet slightly floral aroma that I love. It truly deserves a post of its own, with photos and all. Along with Origanum syriacum (also grown in my garden), the other varieties of thyme and savoury I mentioned before, some sumac and sesame seeds it forms the spice mixture called "Za'atar" that some of you may be familiar with from Lebanese grocery stores and Middle Eastern restaurants.

Thymbra spicata צתרנית משובלת

Naturally growing wild in my garden is also white horehound (Marrubium vulgare), a highly medicinal plant that grows in astounding abundance, several mastic bushes and probably more plants that I did not know were medicinal but will find out later. There are also still two plants that I found on the mountain to make slips that I haven't identified yet, so the search is not over. Lastly, I scattered seeds of blood helicrysum, a local wild plant (Helichrysum sanguinum) which I also hope will come out next winter. By that time I hope I will forget about it altogether so it will just be a pleasant surprise...

Dam HaMakabim (Helicrysum sanguinum) coming into seed

Lastly, to be fair and square, I promised to tell you which plants I put in from the nursery (the ones my brother brought me), so that you know if you guessed it right. They were several types of lavender (mountain Savory of Crete (Satureja thymbra), several types of lavender (Lavandula pinnate, L. dentate, L. angustifolia) and - to my utmost excitement - immortelle (Helicrysum italicum), often called "curry plant".

Morning in the medicinal herb garden

Also you should know, that among those who participated in this context, we got two worthy winners who will receive a sample kit of all my herbaceous fragrances,  are Ruby Clover and Melissa Menard. The kit includes ArbitRary for the basil, Ayalitta for the sage, Immortelle l'Amour for the immortelle of course, l'Herbe Rouge for the lemongrass, hay and lavender and Lovender - which is quite obvious. I've also included a sniff-peak of Inbar, my new, wild-oregano infused amber concoction which is not even for sale quite yet :-)

Putting together the kits made me also realize how little attention I've been giving the herbaceous notes.



Herbaceous Contest

Ready for Planting

This is my dear brother's contribution to my botanical garden. Can you guess which perfume and medicinal herbs are just about to be planted?
Hint: I am very excited about them!
Post your guess here and enter to win a sampler kit of perfumes I made that contain herbs I have planted so far in my garden!

Those who answered most correctly will be entered into the draw, and the winners will be announced on Monday.

Perfumes from the Orchard (Besamim me'ha'Bustan) + April Giveaway



Smadar picked this beautiful bouquet from her garden and orchard - an arrangement of seasonal fragrant flowers from trees, bushes and shrubs which were the inspiration for the evening titled Besamim me'ha'Bustan (Perfumes from the Orchard) and which took place on March 19th at the restaurant Smadar be'Clil in my home village in Israel's scenic Western Galilee.

It was both a pleasure and honour to co-host a night of perfume, desert and wine pairing with Smadar Yardeni of Smadar be'Clil and Yaniv from Lotem Winery. And the response form the guests and audience at the event has so much exceeded my hopes and expectations I am still feeling warm and fuzzy inside reminiscing about that beautiful night. The reason it took me so long to post about how it went can be attributed to traveller's wi-fi woes, as well as prolonged case of jet lag. But neither has diminished my memory from a most fine night spent with very lovely people, both on the hosting and the guest side.


Here's Smadar on the morning of the event, with the lavender & Earl Grey creme brûlée she's prepared in taste-size portions inside Turkish coffee cups. These were creamy and delicious, the caramelization process she did in the process of cooking the custard gives these brûlée a hint of honey.



Once I set the table with my mini-display (nothing too fancy, as it was all carried in my suitcase along everything else I needed for three weeks abroad) - it was time to taste the beautiful wines Yaniv brought with him from Lotem Winery. We selected three wines from Lotem for the pairing, plus one white wine from Kishor Winery: a lovely, citrusy-floral Savant Viognier, to go with the vegan malabi (based on coconut cream and flavoured with orange flower water). Note to self: an evening that starts with a glass of organic wine  can only be a happy one.


The event was structured as an olfactory and culinary symphony with 6 acts around 5 desserts that was inspired by seasonal ingredients, and was complemented by 6 perfumes, 4 wines and 2 teas. In each "section"  the guests experienced raw materials in their essential oil (or absolute) form, then smell them within a perfume, taste them in a dessert, and enjoy a complementary beverage (either tea or wine, or both).

We opened the evening with rose-tinged marzipans, handmade by Smadar, paired with fresh Charisma tea (loose leaf jasmine plus fresh herbs from Smadar's garden) and Vivace - Lotem's fine rose wine, which is extremely light and unusually on the dry side. I then spoke about two familiar yet fascinating ingredients: mint and almond, and let the guests smell essential oils of both, and also perfumes that are related to the subject: Charisma (which includes spearmint) and Hanami (inspired by cherry blossoms - which are not unlike the almond blossoms that were in bloom still last month).


Next came the fantastic creme brûlée I told you about earlier. Everything was beautifully served among sprigs of blooming lavender, and the individual Turkish coffee cups were a perfect size to serve such a decadent treat. I then let the guests smell essential oils of both lavender and bergamot and spoke about the connections these have via chemistry and their presence in the ever so popular Earl Grey tea. We smelled Lovender perfume at the end of this section.

The third part was spicy and warm, with vegan ginger mini muffins, studded with crystallized ginger inside, and served alongside dainty little teacups of piping hot soy milk chai. We smelled spice oils, with primary focus on ginger and cardamom (which are botanical relatives) and spoke about spices that are "warm" versus spices that are "cool". We also smelled Zangvil perfume, of course.



Now we took a little intermission from the desserts, and experienced Sonore - Lotem's bold Shiraz wine, accompanied our "tasting" of anything rosy: we experienced rose otto and absolute, as well as Cabaret perfume - a demonstration of rose and musk.  Yaniv explained about the origin of this grape, from Shiraz in Persia, which tied in beautifully to the origins of rose (Rosa centifolia or May Rose is native to Persia as well). I also tied it with the fondness of Muslims to musk and roses, and the symbolism of roses in Sufi poetry.



The highlight of the evening was one of the most beloved ingredients of all: orange blossom. We first experienced it in the vegan malabi (based in coconut cream) alongside the beautiful Savant Voigner from Kishor - which highlighted the citrusy notes, and even the petitgrain-like character of the orange flower water (something that my brother Yotam, who was among the guests in the event, pointed out).  We smelled different types of orange blossoms - orange flower water, orange flower absolute and neroli.



The grand finale was the chocolate mousse that was flavoured with orange blossom absolute and wild orange oil, topped with candied kumquat slices (from Smadar's orchard, of course). We paired this with the stunning Nebiolo, an aromatic yet light Italian varietal with floral characteristics and definite cassis flavours. And we concluded with smelling Zohar perfume - which went beautifully with all this luscious gorgeousness and the good mood that was already in the room went up even a few more notches.

I truly hope to create more events in the future with Smadar - it feels like this is just the beginning of a great friendship!

Last but not least, because this is the first day of April, it's time to announce this monthly giveaway: Leave a comment on this post, with your guess as to which flowers were in Smadar's beautiful bouquet - and enter to win a mini of Cabaret!

Winner of January Giveaway

Thank you for everyone who contributed with insights and comments throughout the month of January!
The winner of the lucky draw is SmellyBlog reader Darcy Rouhani. She will receive a coffret of 5 vintage minis from the 80's, including Bal A Versailles, Animale, Sunwater, Hollywood, 360 Perry Ellis and 273 Fred Hayman.

Please continue leaving comments in February :-) I will announce the prize for this month shortly. 
  • Page 1 of 4
  • Page 1 of 4
Back to the top