Friday, March 18, 2011

Perfume Illuminated: Green

"Green how I want you green. Green wind. Green branches."
~ Federico Garcia Lorca

The day officially devoted to green may have been yesterday as we celebrated Saint Patrick, but here where the plant realm reigns supreme we cherish all things green everyday. As such today we will put on our garden clogs and take a walk into the lush verdant garden. Perfume gets Illuminated in the fragrance and flavors of green.

For 'tis green, green, green, where the ruined towers are gray,
And it's green, green, green, all the happy night and day;
Green of leaf and green of sod, green of ivy on the wall,
And the blessed Irish shamrock with the fairest green of all.
~Mary Elizabeth Blake


The greenest note in my palette is Galbanum in all its various manifestations. Obtained from the resinous gums of the Ferula family this very green aromatic us available to the natural perfumer in the format of an essential oil, a C02 extract and an absolute. Each manifestation of this essence has its own unique expression of green. The essential oil contains the freshest quality of fragrance with the viscous resinoid moving further from the green spectrum into earthy, balsamic notes.

I've noticed that in general people aren't fond of the note on its own but tend to appreciate it immensely when it is well blended in a perfume formula. For the natural perfume the aromatic is extremely valuable for it's fixative qualities to add that elusive permanence that evades so many perfumes constructed with pure plant material. As a tenacious material this green fairy requires a skillfulness as too much can overwhelm and dominate.

In terms of color, one of the greenest of all fragrance materials is the varying conifer absolutes of Fir, Spruce and Pine. The raw material, like Galbanum resin, is viscous and somewhat tedious to work with.

Take thy plastic spade,
It is thy pencil; take thy seeds, thy plants,
They are thy colours.
~William Mason, The English Garden, 1782

The fougère family of perfumery with notable green "fern" notes was introduced using one of the very first synthesized aromatic notes, coumarin. A typical fougère fragrance contain a formula featuring lavender in the top note with oakmoss and coumarin in the base. For those of us using plant derived essences we utilize tonka bean to impart that rich coumarin note.

Here are the ingredients for a botanical Fougère perfume which I have adapted from a formula in the book Perfume of Yesterday from David Williams.

Rose otto
Orange Flower
Clary Sage
Ylang Ylang
Accord of Amber
Tonka Bean

Visually green is the color of life, nature, fertility and renewel. In film the color is very striking used profoundly in Great Expectation by Alfonso Cuarón.

The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses.
~Hanna Rion


In flavoring green is abundant in the form of fresh green leafy vegetables and herbs. As we enter the Spring now is the time to cleanse the body and prepare it, like the earth, for the abundance of the new season.

Please continue on for a more expansive journey into the flavors of Green at the Windesphere Witch blog with fellow conspirator of Perfume Illuminated Beth Schreibman Gehring.

Images: Opening illustration ©Greg Spalenka. All other images and photography by Roxana Villa.

1 comment:

Luis said...

Verde que te quiero verde.
Verde viento.Verdes ramas
El barco sobre la mar
y el caballo en la montaña