Two years ago when I decided to commit to our front courtyard as my own “yard,” I dreamed of blooms and vines and everything in happy colors in the spring. My gardening experience boils down to four house plants I’ve learned to keep alive over time; so this was a big deal for me.
Still… how do you live in New Orleans without feeling some responsibility to add to its beauty? Living things thrive here, and I began my journey of learning what works, and what does not.
I will not bore you with the details of the many plants I’ve tried, and failed, to grow. Let’s just say that everything in my garden has survived the efforts of this hopeful, but incompetent, gardener. The remaining soldiers are plants with a strong will to live – and my short attention span demands that only things with flowers are planted here. My plants have to earn their keep by providing beauty if I’m to spend my time tending them and enduring the dirt, bugs, bites, scratches and sore muscles! The abundant landscape in my courtyard today represents to hardiest, most stubborn of beautiful things.
So now what? In the spirit of cultivating mindful living, I’m bottling the lush, fragrant beauty of this spring by creating a one-of-a-kind New Orleans scent. It comes from the actual fruits of my courtyard in 2019.
What’s in it?
- Confederate jasmine
- Lemon zest
- Fresh cut grass
All the things I love about spring, now being extracted into a signature scent for this year. These particular plants, this particular year, and my particular frame of mind are going to be bottled in a state of mindful gratitude, in GORGEOUS little blown glass bottles.
How’s it going so far?
It should be ready for Mother’s Day!
And I’m creating the “mother” for a formula that will evolve over time, gaining accents over YEARS, to be modified and added to each season, passed down over decades to others who love the idea of capturing time in scent. It’s a new tradition I can’t wait to share.
Here are my thoughts as the project progresses:
This batch of perfume will form a “base.” I’m making about 8oz of the “base,” and will bottle half of it for gifts.
I will add the above ingredients to the remaining base over the next few months, as these flowers continue to bloom.
This makes the simple joy of a morning cup of coffee on the balcony that much more joyful. Every new bud gives me something to add; like this morning:
I’ll add volume to the base and split some of it off into another jar as summer progresses. Each morning I strain out the old flowers and add the new ones to the alcohol base.
Another “base” will be formed from this, adding roses when they bloom, honeysuckle, and lillies.
I’ll start a new base this fall when our citrus trees bloom, and to that one, I’ll create a warmer, earthy scent of the citrus blooms, wood and bark, and camelias. The smells of fall.
Each of these bases will be added to over time – years – and I’ll have meaningful gifts to give that come from my own garden.
The most important thing? My garden is full of things passed down from the women in my family! Our heirloom plants have been rooted and shared for generations, going all the way back to my great-grandmother’s lillies. My Mimi’s honeysuckle… my mother’s violets…
The idea of a “signature scent” isn’t new, but this one is unique to a special New Orleans garden, and I can’t wait to share it. I think over time I will be able to help friends with my base scents, allowing them to personalize their own creations for gifts for daughters on special birthdays, saving flowers from special events (even funerals of loved ones), neighborhood scents with contributions from everyone, shared in bottles across a certain place in town… the possibilities are endless.
Please comment with any ideas or suggestions or questions – and let me know if you’d be interested in a scent of your own, for yourself, or a Mother’s Day gift.