Showing posts from 2011

Happy New Year and Welcome to New and Renewing Natural Perfumers Guild members!

I was going to write a year-end roundup, but time constraints and the general holiday duties got in the way - maybe tomorrow or early next week. I am so happy to share with you that the Natural Perfumers Guild is pleased to announce that noted aromatherapist and author Victoria Edwards has joined us as an Associate.  After returning to the USA from seven years in France, Victoria will be relaunching her website in the upcoming months.  An aromatherapist since the 1970s, Victoria wrote a chapter in her book The Aromatherapy Companion on natural perfumery ( available on amazon ) waaaay back in the last century :-)  Her essential oils and absolutes are stellar, and I have used several of them in my perfumes, so I welcome her reopening her store.  She also makes all-natural body creams and balms, and other aromatherapy products.  Welcome back, Victoria. PS: Next week, the Guild website will have a new look, mid-month, the Guild members will have a very joyful b

Fruits of Warm Climates by Julia Morton - An Economic Botanist's Legacy

Green bananas just two days ago - ripened into the lovely fruits, below I'd love to share a wonderful resource with you.  This is for all who live in warm climates and who love to grow their own.  I just harvested some rare small bananas from my garden today (unknown variety) and received an email query from a Guild member, asking for an ID on a sour orange someone had given her.  She intends to macerate the skin in some fixed oil.  I sent her the link with a joke - more info than you ever need to know! Yummy hand of organic small bananas harvested  today, Dec. 27, 2011 in Miami  - some missing because the cook had dibs. In 1977/78, as I was in my senior year at the University of California, Riverside, one of the world's great think tanks, I asked my major professor, Dr. Gene Anderson, if I could obtain a change of major from anthropology (ethnobotany), which I was working on under him, to economic botany, since I felt closely aligned with Julia Morton, who ha

Ask the Perfumer - Sunday, December 25, 2011 - until 10 PM EST

There won't be any Ask the Perfumer this week or next, Dec. 25, 2011 or Jan. 1, 2012.  Do subscribe to this blog, or check my links from various sites, because I will be blogging about natural isolates, frankincense and some other topics of interest to the perfumery community. Best Wishes for you and yours in celebrating the holidays this time of year, and the most wonderful wishes for a prosperous and healthy 2012.

Don't Panic About the Frankincense Panic! Let's Make Plans for Plantations, though! A tree grows in Miami!

!!!Debunking alert!!! - Joking with all the exclamation points, including those in the title of this blog, but c'mon, what an overwrought, slightly incorrect article we're talking about.  In case you haven't heard, the perfumery media is buzzing with alarm over the doom and gloom article cited below. Who doesn't love Scientific American?  Well, they posted an "EXTINCTION ALERT" (my caps, as a salute to the tabloid-type hype they incurred a few days before Christmas) on frankincense that has the perfume world alarmed.  Repeating some rather scary stats from the Journal of Applied Ecology, everyone is now on edge that frankincense, the Biblical, historical iconic resin tree that has survived for thousands of years in some of the worst growing conditions on the plant, may only last another 50 years. I say baloney. The headline "Bad News for Christmas: Frankincense Future Uncertain" only adds to the sensationalist nature of this article, in a suppo

Repotting and Growing Instructions for your Frankincense Tree

Guild Supplier Trygve Harris of Enfleurage with Frankincense Tree in Oman - read more about Frankincense on her blog EXCITING update!  Trygve has sent me about 20 photos of different-looking Boswellia sacra frankincense growing in different regions in Oman.  I'll be adding them as I post more about my little tree.  Here's the very informative email I got from Bob at Arid Lands: Most of our customers are used to dealing with bare root plants and general care of succulent or "special" plants, such as Boswellia, so thank you for reminding us to include care instructions. They are on our website, , and I will repeat some of them here. Boswellia sacra/carteri is considered to be the same species by taxonomists. This hemisucculent plant stores water in its trunk, thus producing the aromatic sap, but that also allows it to be shipped out of a pot. That species is a summer growing one and will go dormant in the winter (now); as well, it tends

A Frankincense Tree Arrived in Time for Christmas - Day One

      Boswellia sacra - first day.  Click on image to enlarge A recent New York Times article on frankincense tree growers provided links, and I ordered one from Arid Lands in Arizona.  It was sent priority mail with a heat pack, since it is winter.  I paid $40 for a "one gallon" sapling plus $8 shipping and $2 for the heat pack. One gallon is a trade term, and it generally means a pot that meansures about 7" tall by 7" wide.  I was a bit surprised when the plant arrived bareroot.  It makes sense that it was bareroot, but that information was lacking on the website.  (I have received one-gallon potted plants) Also lacking were any repotting instructions.  I've ordered from many mail order nurseries in the past, and repotting information, also general care information, was always included, and perhaps duplicated on the website.  I've written the Arid Lands people, since there is no phone number contact for them.  I'll report back when I've heard f

Ask the Perfumer - Sunday, December 18, 2011 - until 10 PM EST

What are your favorite holiday smells?  Christmas tree? Brisket? Mulled apples and spices?  Well, except for the brisket, the others are easily made from essential oils.  You can make a room spray to perfume your nest this time of year.  Any perfumery questions today? I'll be here until 10 PM.

Ask the Perfumer - Sunday, December 11, 2011 - until 10 PM EST

Ask the Perfumer is open for questions this balmy Sunday in December. Feel free to ask perfumery questions until 10 PM tonight EST USA.

When you LOVE a perfume, but your skin hates it

I wrote an article for CaFleureBon that gives you alternatives. Introduction: "Scrubber"; the dreaded word of every die hard perfumista . We want to love you  Guerlain's Vol A Nuit, but you can be a swamp thing on our our skin, Carnal Flower by Dominique Ropion can be a venus flytrap, Chanel No 5 is an adehydlic nightmare and Fairchild by Anya McCoy is an unloved-child.   So what do you, if you love the fragrance  but not on you? You ask a perfumer who created a difficult scent to wear…(Disclaimer: On Editor's skin all of the above people have been known to run away in fear). Anya McCoy of  Anya's Garden :  When you go to a department store, perfume boutique, or buy a perfume sample online, the first thing you should do, after smelling the perfume out of the bottle or on a scent strip, is conduct a skin test. Most of us just dab or spritz on our wrist

Fragrantica Chooses all 12 of Anya's Garden Perfumes for the Perfumed Horoscope Week Dec 5 - 11, 2011

I clicked on the link and was truly surprised and delighted - Fragrantica chose my entire line of 12 perfumes to feature this week.  Each perfume is linked to an astrological sign, according to the selection by Hieronimuss, the astrologer for Fragrantica. Click here to read his savvy suggestions. I'm offering all of my perfumes and botanicals for 25% off to celebrate this fun event. Click here and use the code fragrantica for 25% off through Dec. 11th.  For 10% off my perfumery course and kits, use the code F73480022F at the Natural Perfumery Institute page by clicking here.    

Ask the Perfumer - Sunday, December 4, 2011 - until 10 PM EST

Good morning/afternoon all!  I went out early today and didn't get Ask the Perfumer posted before I did.  I'll be here until 10 PM tonight, so please feel free to submit your questions about perfumery, any aspect of perfumery. PS Doreen and Sandi - I didn't see your messages for the 13th Sign post until today.  I announced the winner for the drawing the other day, but she hasn't responded yet.  I'll wait one more day and put everyone, you two included, into another random draw for White Smoke - a lush, floral, pretty ambery perfume.  Good luck!

Natural Perfumers Guild project - The 13th Sign - An Astrological Mystery Revealed

Flora, our Guild muse, is surrounded by stars as she holds the fragrance that represents the 13th astrological sign, Ophiucus.  Flora last held the modernistic scents of the 21st Century perfumes of the Guild's Brave New Scents Project, and now finds herself sent back to prehistoric, primordial times.  Flora is cool, she is unflappable to the Mystery of Musk, the Outlaw Perfumers didn't faze her, and we love that she moves through time and scent with us. It was into the stars, and the night sky, when the constellations are visible that we ventured, and here is my take on the inspiration of Ophiucus. 13th Sign Project – Ophiucus – Natural Perfumers Guild Nov. 28, 2011 White Smoke – The First Perfume of Anya’s Garden’s Prima Aroma Line When Michelyn Camen, the Editor-in-Chief of the Ca Fleure Bon blog approached the Natural Perfumers Guild with the idea of blogging about the almost-forgotten 13th astrological sign, Ophiuchus, (Pronounced as OFF-ee-YOO-kuss) I immediately s

Ask the Perfumer - Sunday, November 27, 2011 - until 10 PM EST

Looks so sweet, yes?  Smells like s**t at night. Jasminum auriculatum.  Harvest during the day for tincture or enfleurage.  Obviously! I have lots to do in the garden today.  I'm repainting the ironwork post by the front door.  Since the jasmine auriculatum was dug up and planted by the back fence, I'm readying the post for a jasmine grandiflorum plant. The auric was a little too fecal smelling at night! Not a nice greeting for visitors, LOL.  Plus, the more delicate foliage of the grandi will lighten up the spot.  That post is the one I'm posing by  in the photo, and I'll take a new one next spring when the pruned grandi has a chance to grow up. Oh, and I'll also be transplanting lots of veggies into the garden out back.  Collards, cabbage, tomatoes, lettuces, parsley, thyme, mint, zinnias, etc.,etc.  We're having beautiful weather, so it will be enjoyable. The j. auric foliage was just starting to fill in here.  It became a thick mass of dark leaves.  I

I'm a Hopeless Perfume Romantic - The Cup Half Full Type

The first Acacia farnesiana - Cassie - flower to bloom in Anya's Garden. I got the first acacia flower today on my young tree.  Acacia farnesiana is the source of beautiful cassie absolute, and I'm already planning a harvest that will yield me a usable raw material for my perfumery - hence the hopeless romantic/cup half full type.  I have to be to see all that in this one tiny flower.  Cassie absolute is a prized perfume ingredient, and it can be fractionally distilled to yield alpha ionone, a natural isolate that smells like violet flowers. It is supposed to bloom winter through spring, so this is the start of my first cassie enfleurage.  I'm preparing a little enfleurage container for the flower, and I'll add the others as they bloom.  I'll have to use leather gloves to harvest them, as the tree is very thorny.  Oh, and I'm going to trim the tree down into a big bush, probably 7' x 7', much like my ylang ylang.  This is necessary to harvest the flow

Warning: Natural Perfume Isolates - what is natural and what is not?

(ETA:  Since this was published a few hours ago, a great discussion has started on the two private Yahoo groups maintained for Natural Perfumers Guild members.) This message was sent to the members of the Natural Perfumers Guild via our private discussion group, and I am posting it here for others to read: I *know* I opened up a can of worms when I blogged that I was going to teach a course in natural isolates.  I'm the first USA-based natural perfumer to use them, and I thought I could share what I knew with everyone.  Some of you may remember back to April 2010, when I announced that I, along with some colleagues, would be teaching a natural isolates course as part of my Anya's Garden Natural Perfumery Institute.  Someone I don't know started teaching a course shortly after that, and many perfumers struck out on their own with the excitement of incorporating these "new" elements into their perfumes. I had

Ask the Perfumer - Sunday, November 20, 2011 - until 10 PM EST

 Ask the Perfumer is open for questions.  To give you some inspiration, here are some photos from this morning: Another wet day in Miami - I thought we had started our dry season, but I'm not complaining.  Every dry that flows into our aquifier and replenishes our supply is welcome.  I wasn't ambitious enough to walk out in the front garden yet, since I still need some more coffee and a change of shoes, but I wanted to share the fragrant vision that lies outside my front door. At the end of my driveway is a HUGE jasmine azoricum vine in full flower that covers a hibiscus bush underneath!  It must measure 10' high by 15' wide, and you can see it's full of flowers.  The candlestick like branches in the foreground are my deciduous frangipani tree.  The little bush between them is Tahitian gardenia.. A nice fragrant quintet of plants. The tiny, tiny yellow aglaia flowers are filling the front garden with their beautiful scent.  I'll be harvesting tod

Ask the Perfumer - Sunday, November 13, 2011 - until 10 PM EST

Brian, a member of the 2,200 member Natural Perfumery group on Yahoo, is helping organize our monthly meetings in Miami.  If you're reading this, and are in the South Florida area, please leave a message on with your email and phone number to be on our list. When we have these meetups, you'll be able to ask me any perfumery questions, and I'll be bringing fragrant plants (or just the flowers) from my garden, rare essences and perhaps a book or to to look over. Gardening season is in full swing, and I will be bringing galangal roots to grow, some ylang ylang flowers to sniff, and more.  If you want South Florida gardening tips, I can offer those, too. In the meantime, feel free to leave any question here on Ask the Perfumer Sunday. Ylang Ylang flowers are different stages of maturation in Anya's Garden of Perfume, Miami PS I forgot to post a notice about my Nov. 4th blog on my ylang ylang tree blooming.   I wish everyone cou

Plum Granny Muskmelon - natural room fragrance

I read about this very fragrant apple-size muskmelon several years ago, and I finally got around to getting some seeds so I can grow it.  They're germinating in starter pots and I'll transplant them in a few weeks.  They'll need some support to grow up for optimum yield, so I'm clearing out some Delicious Monster vines by the fence. (more about them in a future post) The flesh is insipid, so it's not an eating melon, but oh, the descriptions I've read about the rind!  Rich, diffusive melon sweet honey pretty.  That's enough for me!  Just two can fragrance a room for several days.  Victorian ladies, who called this Queen Anne pocket melon, would carry one in a pocket so fragrance the air around them.  I got my seeds from Southern Seed Exchange. I, of course, intend to tincture the rinds and make a fragrant melon-scented extract. Do you grow any unusual fragrant plants?  I'd love to hear about them, so please leave a comment.

Ask the Perfumer - Sunday, November 6, 2011 - until 10 PM EST

I'll be in the garden today, planting more vegetables, herbs and flowers, but I'll check in periodically to answer your perfume questions. Planted yesterday: Seeds:  red carrots, scallions, two types of zinnias, sweet peas, purple alyssum, Spanish pimento, Tigerella tomatoes, romaine lettuce, more I can't remember right now.  Lots! Today my gardener will be bring by the very fragrant flowering plant yesterday, today and tomorrow, and the tropical lilac, with highly fragrant leaves that smell like tobacco and spice.

My Ylang Ylang Perfume Tree is Blooming

My first photo of my first ylang flower in the hot, bright Miami sun. Ylang ylang trees can quickly and easily grow to 40' in Miami.  That is the major reason I put off growing one for so many years.   Then I read that in Madagascar, where the trees are grown for their fragrant flowers, which are a major economic resource for the perfume industry, are kept pruned to six to 10 feet so the flowers are easy to harvest.  So, about a year and a half ago I planted a tiny four foot tree and have had to prune it so it's now about 7' tall. The young green blooms are cute!  However, their scent is very weak, so they can't be harvested yet. Ylang ylang trees bloom in the Autumn, I read, but friends who have visited Fairchild gardens report they can bloom year round.  Friends who have them growing in their neighborhoods, not their own lots (since they're so big and can overwhelm a city lot) couldn't recall what time of year they bloomed.  I furth

Ask the Perfumer - Sunday, October 30, 2011 - until 10 PM EST

We're discussing doppelganger lily of the valley accords in the Yahoo Natural Perfumery group.  I love that group!  When I started it in 2002, I never dreamed it would become the premier site to study natural perfumery on the Web, and a place where true friendship formed among the members.  It's organized as an educational group, with some rules about how you post, limited ads for approved vendors, and just tons and tons of information available.  We just passed over 45,000 messages in the archives, and we have an extensive Files section, downloadable vintage perfume books and much more.  So, if you can't get your question answered here, and you're just itching to find out more about massoia bark on a Wednesday, the Yahoo Natural Perfumery group is the place for you.

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 s

e-Book Review: Essential Living by Aromatherapist Andrea Butje

Essential Living Aromatherapy Recipes for Health and Home 113 pages Aromahead Institute Andrea Butje Andrea Butje, instructor at the Aromahead Institute and longtime legend in the aromatherapy (AT) community, has released Essential Living Aromatherapy Recipes for Health and Home ,   an e-book that is a treasure for those who love to use essential oils and hydrosols.  Andrea's basic research on fragrant, earth-easy ways to incorporate essential oils into your life makes Essential Living a must-have. I keep it on my desktop so I can open it quickly when I need some tips.  I really appreciate the comprehensiveness of the topics covered in the 15 chapters: 1. Introduction to Aromatherapy / 3 2. Your Essential Oil Tool Kit / 8 3. Basic Aromatherapy Applications / 14 4. The Kitchen / 20 5. The Bathroom / 24 6. Beauty and Skin / 29 7. Medicine Chest / 41 8. The Living Room / 53 9. The Bedroom /

Ask the Perfumer - Sunday, October 16, 2011 - until 10 PM EST

Just harvested a bunch of pink lemons from my tree, and will be harvesting the leaves for a petitgrain distillation.  It's so much fun growing fragrant materials and transforming them into usable products for my natural perfumerie.  I hope you can do this, on some level.  Perhaps you can't grow plants because you live in an apartment, but you can buy freeze-dried raspberries or other fruits and tincture them!  Let's talk about natural perfume and feel free to ask any question on any subject.

New and Renewing Natural Perfumers Guild Members

We have a lovely list of renewing and new Natural Perfumers Guild members. Please welcome our new members: New Clemence Barbier – Dame Clemence - Associate Claire Lautier – Friend Heather Tobin – Friend Rose Tellier - Friend Viveca Göcke – Friend Pat White - Friend And warm thanks to our renewing members: Roger Howell – Alpha Aromatics - Supplier Claire Martin-Garrigue Iriodes - Associate Christine Ziegler – A Little Olfactory - Supplier Nancy Brooks – New England Natural Soaps - Associate Christi Meshell – House of Matriarch - Perfumer Leyla Bringas – LunaAroma- Perfumer Liz Cook – One Seed – Perfumer Alexandra Balahoutis – Strange Invisible Perfumes – Perfumer Dr. Benita Aufinger – Friend MJ Simon - Friend Elise Pearlstine - Belly Flowers Perfumes - Perfumer

Ask the Perfumer - Sunday, October 9, 2011 - until 10 PM EST

Autumn is my favorite time of year.  It's almost as if it's a new year, with new beginnings and a fresh start on projects.  Do you feel the same?  I just launched one perfume, and I have one in the works for a late-November project, and yesterday I began to muse about another.  Have you found your perfume-making spirit stirring?  If you have any questions, I'll be here to answer them for you until 10 PM EST.

Ask the Perfumer - Sunday, October 2, 2011 - until 10 PM EST

It's going to be a "cool" day in Miami now that the cold front has moved through - high only up to 85F!  That means I'll be in the garden a lot, starting seeds for the veggie garden.  Most of my aromatics are in bloom, so it's going to be a fragrant day, too.  Feel free to ask any of your perfume-creation related questions until 10 PM. If you'd like a chance to win a 15ml spray bottle of my latest release, Royal Lotus, please visit Cafleurebon before Oct. 4th and leave a comment to be in the draw.  There are nine other Guild perfumers in the Brave New Scent project that are reviewed on Cafleurebon and other websites, and you'll have a lot of chances to win one of these beautiful perfumes. Good luck!

The Natural Perfumers Guild Fleur Awards - a surprise launch during Brave New Scents project

The Natural Perfumers Guild Fleur Awards 2011  We are keeping the final design for the Fleurs under wraps until next year, and the following recipients will receive their physical awards at that time, and receive printed certificates at this time. Several Guild members and myself kept this surprise announcement of the Fleur Awards under our hats for several months, and it was hard to do!  We will have a much-expanded awards ceremony next year, but the logical tie-in with our Brave New Scents project demanded that we select two of the most innovative, ground-breaking members and present them with the first Fleurs.  The two members have devoted much of their careers to distilling aromatics, a big step forward for perfumers in modern times, when most perfumers rely on suppliers for their raw materials.  The October 1, 2011 Guild Brave New Scents project highlights natural aromatics of the 21st Century, and both recipients of the award are pioneers that have stepped up and created th