the stench of narcissus

comin at ya tomorrow


Filed under Flowers

22 responses to “the stench of narcissus

  1. emmawoolf

    They’re so beautiful. (Hang in there. Stay well.) xx

    • Picked loads today : WAY too perfumed.

      Need catharsis in loads of writing tomorrow.

      You were in my thoughts today

      • emmawoolf

        xx you’re very often in mine. (Having mini-meltdown at impending birthday doom in a lockdown… but I guess at least it’s keeping me safe. Expect I’ll be thrown back in the classroom next month). Like nose prose, I really don’t know the smell of fresh narcissi. I know it’s supposed to be particularly heady, but I only know daffodils, which, as far as I’m aware, have no scent. I keep meaning to buy paper whites to grow indoors. One day x

  2. I wish I could smell that! Don’t think I’ve smelled fresh ones before, but do have some heady narcissus absolute.

    Will stay tuned.

    • The smell is sweet, histronic; beautiful, but perturbing. I have always found that. The absolute is very barnyard-like, is it not? I once smelled the Santa Maria Novella Narcissus extrait and it was unbelievable.

      • I didn’t get barnyard from it, rather something like tobacco and honeyed, dried fruit. Because I don’t have any associations to anchor the scent, I am also finding it harder to memorize.

      • Interesting.

        I don’t know how close absolutes are to floral reality: osmanthus is the same. Even jasmine. I suppose they need to be diluted and watercolored and have some air diffused into them to feel like an actual flower.

      • JulienFromDijon

        Pure osmanthus extract is full-on apricot marmalade. Passes an hour, it’s then full-on old shoebox (sullied leather) for days. So yeah… natural ingredients are like a cubic block of Carrara marble. It’s white and subtly glittery, it’s the real stuff from which dreams are made of, but on its own it’s rather ungrateful. 😀

        I don’t have narcissus absolute per se. I have an old second-hand 10% dilution that I think is off. It’s a remaining barnyard smell with a third of the normal heft, and no flower. I hope that “aroma zone” will sell some of it in the future, it’s on my wish list wish sandalwood for the day I’ll discover their shop.
        For Vol de nuit, the “daffodil” accord is said to have been a tweak, for when there was a shortage of narcissus absolute around WW2. I don’t know the secret of it (maybe something around the guaiacol, it’s a cough syrup and pollen-like clove odor that was a by-product of the first vanillin synthesis. Some perfume are veering more toward a golden rendition, than the alluring white beast of a flower.

        Jasmine absolute is pure strawberry, emphasis on the “straw”. Since then, I can’t tell apart if the strawberry in Lutens’s “Une voix noire” or even “Coco mademoiselle” are made-up or from natural extraction. Diptyque had an “essences insensĂŠes” with late jasmine pick-ups. Perfumer avoids such product. I wonder why. Today it seems that it doesn’t age well : the basil won in my bottle, and the strawberry jasmine got very sour, gone is the cinnamon rod fullness of it. When in-house perfumer seek grass jasmine, they want freshness (say… added rosey and lilly-of-the-valley-esque facettes) and balance. Even today, I’m wondering if the way perfume “breaks down” could be the reason why old Joy edt and partial L’heure bleue bottle are the best. Newly made, they are like perfume dome roofs, that would need a crack for the light to comes through.

  3. Robin

    I love the smell of narcissus in the morning.

    — Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore

    Oh, wait. I may have that wrong. But I do love narcissus. Any time of day. I planted so many especially fragrant ones on my deck last year. They’re coming up again.

    The sheer quantity you have is breathtaking in itself. Love this!

    • Sometimes, you just have to gather up the flowers. The smell in the genkan entrance is intoxicating: I actually put them together with plum blossom, and together it is like a floral rapture of winter Japaneseness.

  4. You are lucky that you are surrounded by different flowers. I live in a condo and we are not allowed to plant anything in the ground. We can buy potted plants but they do not last. The only way I can smell fresh flowers is to go to a nursery. I used to smell fresh flowers at least once a year when I traveled to Italy or France, but now my travels are limited to work and the grocery store.

    • I had never thought of this being a possibility. That must be a bit frustrating in a way – unless when you do smell them it is all the more pleasurable.

      When I first moved to Japan I lived in two different places for six weeks and it was so built up and lacking in a sense of nature I was in despair. The moment we moved to Kitakamakura everything changed, as there is a year round olfactory soundtrack.The end of December is a bit quiet in that regard, except for the vomit-like smell of the freshly dropped gingko nuts (disgusting), but from then on all year it is a total flower fest. Sometimes TOO strong, actually; there is something particularly indolic in August that I can’t quite take. The lilies – stargazers etc, are divine, and the jasmine.

      • JulienFromDijon

        Ginkgo biloba : Oh! you must have some female tree, then.

        Fun fact : Ginkgo biloba are easy to find in France -what a beautiful tree-. But as they are used as ornamental tree in parks, the professionals avoid carefully to plant the female ones.

        Even in my former small village, the essence was said to have been brought back from the crusade. So these fanatics did not went there “just for plums” -an expression that stills means today “to do something for no rewards”-, they also brought back this “tree of the thousand shields”.

  5. Oh how I adore narcissus!! Hopefully they will help to lift your spirits.

  6. Definitely must mix them with fresh air, like with lilies. If you can crack the windows open a bit, it might do the trick.
    Wondering what you think of Romanza by Masque Milano, one of the last few full-size pricey (for me) niche fragrances I sprang for, before all This. One of those love at first try rarities for me. Seems sacrilegious to wear it during a pandemic. Keeping all those kinds of perfumes aside for hopefully better days to come soon.
    Surprised you expressed some aversion toward your namesake; you are the Black Narcissus, after all. IMO, if there was such a thing, its perfume would be Romanza, not because it’s dark but because it’s so dramatic, dense and complicated.

    • I have never smelled Romanza. It sounds intriguing.

      As for narcissus – definitely not an aversion. I love the WORD itself – the sibilant ‘s’ sound – I think it is among the most beautiful in the English language, and the flowers are thrilling. They just aren’t an EASY like, so many other flowers (having said that, if you pause too long, almost any flower has a disturbing edge to it after a while; think of hyacinths, lilac, jasmine – somewhere underneath there is a raucous undertone).

      • So true. Open air is their best medium, what they made themselves for. In a closed room these build up an overwhelming edge. In dilution they are heaven.

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