Thursday, November 5, 2009

And I will make thee beds of roses...

‘…my mouth fills at the memory of the perfume, like cream and marshmallow and burnt sugar and the heady mingling of cognac and fresh ground cocoa beans. It is the scent of a woman’s hair, just where the nape joins the skull’s tender hollow, the scent of ripe apricots in the sun…’

‘Chocolat’ by Joanne Harris

The garden at the moment is heady with such intense fragrance I can only close my eyes, breathe it in deeply and hope to place it in some part of memory where I can recall at will that ethereal, heady swooning sensation.
The fences are laden with pink jasmine and honeysuckle, Mr. Lincoln is sighing his rich redness into the air and the lemon tree is laden with absurd amounts of tart blossoms. The sweet almondy purple flowers of the cherry pie have wound their way into the lemon verbena like some rich dessert recipe. Custardy elderflowers and the fresh scent of lavender remind me of afternoon tea with elderly relatives, the musky scent of the poppies of forbidden pleasures.
Spring is a busy time, there is manure and hay to spread, summer vegetables to plant, bulbs to be dug. The window sill holds a growing collection of jars and bottles, oils and essences of petals and flowers and the dryer is full of lavender, roses and calendula, all in an attempt to capture the elusive nature of fragrance.
Unless you can grow acres of fragrant flowers, you won’t be able to create your own essential oils. It needs thousands of flowers to pass through the distillation process to produce a very small amount of oil. There is another process that can be done at home. It is a variation on the enfleurage method of extraction. There are a few different variations of this, each using oil or fat. I have found a good cheat’s method that will give you a nicely scented oil infusion.

Fill a jar with scented petals of your choice, a mixture of flowers can be lovely. Cover with grape seed or jojoba oil and add 2 teaspoons of vodka.Place on a sunny window sill or in a warm spot. Each day, strain the oil and replace the flowers with fresh ones. Check after ten days. If you would like a stronger scent, continue replacing the flowers each day. Finally, strain the oil through a piece of muslin into a dark glass bottle and store in a cool place out of the sun or refrigerate. Use in perfume blends, cosmetics or massage oil.

And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies…’
Christopher Marlowe

1 comment:

  1. Lovely, lovely makes me miss my garden (well, almost) but it helps me to remember Spring in the garden.


Thanks for leaving a comment...always good to know that someone is reading and (hopefully) enjoying.