Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ask the Perfumer - Sunday, October 23, 2011 - until 10 PM EST

Let's talk about terroir - really limited terroir.  Do you grow zinnias?  I've grown them since childhood because I love their big, colorful flowers and how they're "cut and come again" - that means, the more you cut the flowers, the more you get!  It resprouts flowers from the cut stem, which gives you a rewarding, ongoing harvest.

About 35 years ago, while visiting the long-gone, much-lamented Magic Dragon store in Westwood, I discovered zinnia oil.  Most of the oils sold at the Magic dragon were 100% natural.  The zinnia oil came from India.  It was warm, honeyed, richly floral and just magnificent.  I was confused because the zinnias I had always grown had no scent.

I'm convinced now that most zinnia oils are at least partly synthetic, but here's the strange part: I once put the vial of zinnia oil under the nose of a scientist I knew, and challenged him to name the oil.  He immediately said zinnia!  I was shocked.  He said that's what zinnias smelled like where he grew up, in Kansas.

Oh, if only they smelled like that here in Miami, I'd grow a field!  Do zinnias smell wonderful where you live?  I'm searching for some growers - Kansas is first on my list!

12 comments:

  1. No, They keep the bugs away from the garden here~ LOL~ but I LOVE Zinnias, anything you can cut/recut/then cut some more~ is my kinda flower. My grandmother had a pic of me as a baby in a field of Zinnias in her yard, picking away. I LOVE to grow and keep fresh flowers in the house in summer. If my home doesn't smell of flowers it smells of fresh soap~!

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  2. Dear Anya, My question is for turmeric, it is one of the ingredients used in perfumery and would like to know if this is also used to make tincture?

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  3. And now of Zinnias, I am from Pakistan and live in a coastal city called Karachi. Zinnias grown here smell so lovely and the fragrance is light just like a soft whisper. But I am sure when they are extracted for essential, the fragrance emerges more than when I smell them directly. Have never tried its essential oil though.

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  4. I too love growing zinnias for their strong color and the variety of color! I never thought that they had a fragrance, though. Maybe it really does depend on what soil they are grown in... Also, the British perfume house Floris has an eau de toilette called Zinnia, but I have never tried it.

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  5. Dear Sindy:

    I had no idea they were bug repellants. That's great news for the organic gardener, like me. It's so lovely you have a picture of yourself as a baby with the zinnias. I don't have any photo momento, but I do remember being dwarfed by them as I stood in the garden. I'll be growing zinnias, sunflowers, sweet alyssum and calendulas this winter. I bet I add more to the list!

    xoxo
    Anya

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  6. Hi Snowflake:

    Someone who has smelled them! Thank you for commenting and yes, the scent of the oil is stronger than a soft whisper, but still strong and clear and unforgettable. You are so lucky to have grown up smelling them.

    xoxo
    Anya

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  7. Hi Queen - nice to see you dropping by, you haven't visited in a while.

    I may write to zinnia seed producers/scientists and ask them about the fragrant zinna locales. I hope some of our perfumer sleuths who may read this blog will chime in if they have stories to share, like Snowflake.

    xoxo
    Anya

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  8. Hi Anya

    I found you from the post on Afrobella. I'm in Miami too and a natural gal. I never knew there were any perfumers here. Can I visit your garden? I'd love to smell all the good stuff.

    Thanks,
    Tala

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  9. Hi Tala:

    Isn't Afrobella and Patrice just great? I remember when she started the blog in '06 or so, when she lived here in Miami. Now she's blown up, traveling to all the fashion week events, tons of other conferences and shows, and created the MAC lipstick! Local girl made good.

    We're just starting to gather our like-minded perfumers and perfumistas together. Go to my website and add your email to my newsletter list and you'll be informed when we have our monthly meeting.

    Fall-winter is actually pretty quiet, scent-wise in the garden, but I'll announce when I'm going to host something in the garden, maybe in June or so.

    Thanks for stopping by,
    Anya

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  10. I was never aware that zinnias had any scent. I recently got into zinnias a few years ago when I planted a cutting garden. I always had a sort of prejudice against annuals for some reason, too common perhaps. But the zinnias won me over. They were the only ones of a handful of plants that survived the dry, sandy soil and the hot,droughty midwestern summer. Not only survived, but thrived! And the colors! Brilliant and bold, just what I like. I grew two shades of orange;a golden orange and a red-orange, a fushcia/purple, a bubble-gum pink, and a coral-pink. I had beautiful arrangements way into the fall.

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  11. Claire Martin-Garrigue11/03/2011 10:19 AM

    I'm discorvering Zinnias thanks to you, Anya, with a surprising feeling of "Hey, you, I don't know who you are zinnias, but I saw you somewhere... in some bouquets my grand aunt used to do from her garden for the church? from one of my grand-mothers gardens?
    Something like an old friend from the past I've totally forgotten...

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  12. Craig Wilson5/26/2012 1:32 AM

    Hi there. I grew up In Sacramento California in the 40's and 50's. Dad grew Zinnias, and I remember them as having a very light, but spicy sweet scent. Do not seem to be able to find any that have a scent anymore. Was this bred out of them??

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