It’s near the end of May; the jasmine is fading slowly but the hillside where I live is replenished with swathes of wild honeysuckle trailing down in surprise ruptures of scent as you find yourself passing by in the dark: the nectarous, sweet siren call of honeysuckle. I have always loved it so much. And yet, to my knowledge, this scent has yet to be convincingly captured in a perfume. I have never smelled one that even comes close.




















Lyn Lifshin








bees, my

skin smells 
of sun, the

insides of
 roses. I want



to eat that 
light. Every

thing that

grows does.


















FAIR flower, that dost so comely grow,
Hid in this silent, dull retreat,
Untouch’d thy honey’d blossoms blow,
Unseen thy little branches greet:
  No roving foot shall find thee here,         5
  No busy hand provoke a tear.






From morning suns and evening dews
At first thy little being came:        
If nothing once, you nothing lose,
For when you die you are the same;
  The space between is but an hour,
  The frail duration of a flower.















(The Wild Honeysuckle
     By Philip Freneau )


















The Honeysuckle









I PLUCKED a honeysuckle where

The hedge on high is quick with thorn,

And climbing for the prize, was torn,

And fouled my feet in quag-water;

And by the thorns and by the wind

The blossom that I took was thinn’d,

And yet I found it sweet and fair.





Thence to a richer growth I came,

Where, nursed in mellow intercourse,

The honeysuckles sprang by scores,

Not harried like my single stem,

All virgin lamps of scent and dew.

So from my hand that first I threw,

Yet plucked not any more of them.






(Dante Gabriel Rossetti)














Filed under Flowers

32 responses to “HONEYSUCKLE

  1. Marina

    Insanely coincidental we just planted some today.

  2. I may have to turn in my perfumista card for admitting to this — I like fhe Wild Honeysuckle cologne (or body spray or whatever) from Bath & Body Works. It is a cheap thrill for sure but sadly discontinued.

    • Sounds good to me!

      The closest I have ever come was an old L’Occitane Chevrefeuille extrait that for a few seconds was hyperrealistic – I remember gasping when I first smelled it: amazing. Within a very short space of time though it went all creamy and gross and I had to wash it off. A light cologne format sounds quite appealing.

  3. Renee Stout

    Another coincidence: my friend just gave me cuttings from his honeysuckle vine today, so that I can “root” them and plant them in my garden. My jasmine vine was killed by a fungus and I needed something fragrant to replace it.

  4. efemmeral

    Goutal’s Le Chevrefeuille is the best I know, and that lovely honeysuckle note also pops up in her lovely Eau de Camille.

    Wonderful to read the poetic lovers of this sweet delightful bloom : )

  5. Lilybelle

    Nothing smells like the real thing. It isn’t possible.

  6. janeykate

    Yves Rocher used to do a Chevrefeuille perfume way back when my mum used to get me stuff from them when I was little. I loved it, not sure if they still do it, or if I would like it now. It was one of the first perfumes I owned, along with Avon Pretty Peach and ‘Charlie’. All cheap and cheerful! Think my tastes have changed somewhat now I’m all grown up….
    Jane x

  7. My favorite scent for a true feeling of tranquility, that is honeysuckle personified. Sadly, nothing in a bottle truly captures the sweet, ethereal, languid scent. Many have tried, many have come up short.
    Coincidentally, two of my liquid hand soaps in use right now are honeysuckle; the on downstairs is a savon de Marsaille ancienne and the one upstairs is from a la maison. Both of those are closer than most wearable scents.

  8. Reblogged this on The Black Narcissus and commented:


  9. emmawoolf

    Ah,how lovely. (When I was at infant school, my best friend Rebecca and I would creep into her mum’s bedroom and cover ourselves in her Outdoor Girl makeup and Avon solid honeysuckle perfume. Just googled it and it is still around on ebay, with gorgeous packaging too. So 70s.)

    • emmawoolf

      It was actually a cream, in a frosted jar. I want it!

    • You know what though, I bet it smells lovely. I am a big fan of solid perfumes when done well.

      • emmawoolf

        Well my memory is of course very dim, but it probably would improve the current version of Y, which is very disappointing, particularly in the early notes. After a half hour or so it’s not too bad, but it has a flinty/steely quality mixed with an unfortunate cheap detergent smell. Johnson’s baby shampoo comes to mind. Something to warm it up would improve its opening. I’ll think of something else, perhaps. Good idea.

  10. Beautiful photos, beautiful prose, beautiful poems and the beautiful honeysuckle…a smell like no other.

    • I have to agree. It is somewhat BEYOND everything else, isn’t it? In a way I am glad it can’t be quite captured or extracted in perfume. I like it being elusive and unobtainably beautiful.

  11. Jeff

    No doubt there is some reason why honeysuckle defies the craft of the perfumer. The great art of nature keeps these secrets hidden from mere humans, and it is so good that it might remain thus. My walled garden has 2 honeysuckles.. The ordinary one, and the giant Burmese one, and I revel in their presence each morning at day break when I walk the labyrinth which occupies the gardens centre space. Like you, the experience of scented presence brings me fully alive, whether from a precious flacon, or on the whims of nature!

    • How beautiful. I love the idea of a giant, Burmese honeysuckle.

    • jennyredhen

      Your garden sounds fabulous… a labyrinth.. giant burmese honeysuckle .. Love it Do you live in Burma???

      • Jeff

        No not Burma… Just an Australian suburb in Adelaide… But honeysuckles were always in our hot climate country gardens way before anyone even knew of jasmine- they are almost impossible to kill and survive without water very well… Lovely to have one near the verandah so the scent comes inside the house. Honeysuckle is a scent that makes morning appearance, whereas jasmine is an evening one… Plants are so unique how they have their own habits of sharing their scent… Mock orange only is smelt when the air stirs and pockets of perfume passes you by… In some ways perfumes have real limits in inviting this sort of natural dialogue and ecological grounding… But then, there is the marvellous and myriad cosmos that is dripped into these perfumed tinctures where places and plants and objects are imported into our personal sphere that is the art of perfume we all like so much.

  12. Nelleke Oepkes aka Booknose

    Honeysuckle is one of the wild elusives. A free spirit, not to capture and be put in a vase. Like your beautiful poems, it defies our grasping. To wander in an evening, and meet with their wayward scent …

    • Indeed. Sorry I forgot to reply to that lovely thing you wrote the other day about your birthday party. I was swept away by whatever I was swept away with. What did you wear in the end?

  13. Nelleke Oepkes aka Booknose

    I still have to choose it. In 2 days I’ll be 70 and the party is 2 days later. Just now I feel very CABOCHARD but it’s fading and maybe, maybe, my better half will overcome the worse half. Or vice versa. Battle still going on, emerald, mauve or black … I’ll let you know .. Definitely no nice lady perfume. Maybe I’ll blast them to the other side of the river Y with Rumba.

    • Cabochard sounds good somehow. Always alluring and a little held back, but secretively sexy. You could probably add a dose of Rhumba later. Try them on the back of both hands and let them meld.

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