Newsletters

2007

  • History of Grasse Newsletter: Part 1

    The world is a vast place with many types of people, plants, animals, insects, birds and other creatures seen and unseen inhabiting it. Often when we are flying to India via either the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean, I look down and see the countries over which we are passing and am filled with a sense of great wonder at what is spread on the earth beneath us in the mighty seas, islands, mountains, rivers, lakes, cities, towns, and villages, which are filled with a great diversity of life. Each place has its own story to tell which is unique and special but according to ones own innate propensities one can only investigate a few places, people, cultures, religions or whatever one draws ones interest in this life.

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  • History of Grasse Newsletter: Part 2

    With the dawn of the nineteenth century, the aromatic landscape of Grasse began to change rapidly. Much of Europe was beginning to feel the effects of a whole change in which work was done. Prior to the the nineteenth century much of day-to-day life was governed by the various guilds and their craftsman but with the advent of new technologies that could do certain types of work more efficiently on a larger scale the guild system begin to loose its power and be replaced by an economic modality centered around factories and mass production technologies which in historical terms came to be known as the Industrial Revolution.

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  • Tuberose of Grasse Newsletter

    In the gardens surrounding Grasse a number of flowers were grown which eventually rose to prominence as the backbones of the natural aromatic palette of the region. Tuberose, Violet, Rose de Mai, Cassie, Orange Blossom, and Jasmin were chief amongst the cultivated plants. This newsletter concerns itself with Tuberose, its history in Grasse and the world, its place in literature, perfume uses etc.

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  • Fragrance in Ancient China Newsletter

    The world of botanical treasures was called upon again and again to assist in the process of self transformation. The same plants were repeatedly chosen to grace the garden. The idea was not to have great number of different plants, but plants that over generations and through their beauty of form, color, texture and fragrance conveyed a particular aesthetic, spiritual or mystic message that all those sitting in its precincts would readily know. These plants were a sort of three dimensional, nonverbal hieroglyphic which helped transport the viewer into increasingly deep levels of awareness that nurtured something in the heart beyond the visible domain. In that respect a number of fragrant plants were carefully selected to display their beauty throughout the season for the sense of smell acted as a powerful link to the invisible realm of higher aspirations.

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  • Violets of Grasse Newsletter

    As I began to research the history of Violets in and around Grasse the subject so much interested me that I decided to see if some of the old Parma Violets could still be procured for planting in the garden. My quest led to me to Canyon Creek Nursery in California with the result that I ordered a number of Parma violets and other scented varieties to plant beneath our Japanese maple trees. As I sit writing the newsletter I am waiting for the box to arrive containing these delicate botanical treasures which will help bestow an antique charm upon our garden.

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  • Baobab Newsletter

    Often referred to as ‘grotesque’ by some authors, the main stem of larger baobab trees may reach enormous proportions of up to 90 feet girth, although baobab trees seldom exceed a height of 80 feet. The massive, usually squat cylindrical trunk gives rise to thick tapering branches resembling a root-system, which is why it has often been referred to as the upside-down tree. There is a tale which tells of how God planted them upside-down and many traditional Africans believe that the baobab actually grows upside-down.

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  • Monsoon Rain Newsletter

    One of the most enchanting experiences of living in the East is to participate in the Monsoon Season. Over the year I have had many opportunities to share in that delightful experience from the time spent farming in a small community in South India, to the advent of the rainy season in Rajasthan, to awaiting the dark storm clouds in the sweltering cities of Bombay and Delhi, etc. Wherever one might be in the vast Indian subcontinent, the feeling of anticipation of the coming rain is one which cannot be forgotten because it is shared with millions of people who have been dependent on the life giving rains for thousands of years. And when the rains finally arrive after anxious watching of the skies-the feeling of exuberant relief is very intoxicating.

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  • Chinese Incense Tradition Newsletter

    In the first Fragrant Harvest Newsletter on the Aromatic Traditions of Ancient China the main focus was on the role of gardens and the effect they had on the evolution of aromatic perception of the Chinese people. The multidimensional beauty found in gardens and the cultivated perception of it has played a significant role in helping people in China and around the world, in ancient and in modern times, to establish a refined and balanced attitude towards life.

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  • Neroli of Grasse Newsletter

    Anyone who has encountered the wonderful aroma of the fresh citrus blossoms radiating from the living trees of lime, sweet orange, grapefruit, etc have felt as if they have had a true breath of heaven. In my career as a horticulturist I have on numerous occasions climbed inside they green leafy canopy of citrus trees to prune them and enjoyed not only the intoxicating aroma of the flowers but the scent of the leaves and fruits as well. Every part of these evergreen botanical treasures gives off its own range of aromas that are greatly valued by folks working in the realm of natural perfumery, aromatherapy and cosmetics.

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  • Lavender of Provence Newsletter

    Before taking up the story of Lavender in Provence I would like to once again mention a few important things that are a recurrent theme in the different articles presented about aromatic plants and their essences. The story of each precious essences as it proceeds from field to distillery is a very ancient one, appearing in many forms in different times and cultures. In many cases the people using the end product have never seen the centers of production and understand little of the environments in which the plants grow, the people who tend and harvest them, the equipment used for distillation and extraction, etc. One of the purposes of these articles is to bring a bit of this behind the scenes story alive. It is my feeling that if we can learn to appreciate the totality of the story of how an essence comes into existence-it may help us to appreciate these liquid gems of nature even more.

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  • Rose de Mai of Grasse Newsletter

    The culture of growing roses in France truly began with the introduction of R. gallica ‘Officinalis’, brought to France in the 13th century by Thibault IV from the Holy Land, country of the Damask rose, herself a natural hybrid believed to be between R. gallica and R. moschata. The repeat-flowering form of the Damask rose, R. x damascena ‘Bifera’ syn. ‘Quatre Saisons,’ is one of the first repeat-flowering roses of the West. It is from ‘Officinalis’ or ‘Apothecary Rose’ and from its mutations and spontaneous sowing that sparked rose growing first for its medicinal virtues and later for its ornamental beauty.

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  • Jasmine of Grasse Newsletter

    Jasmine has been a longtime favorite of mine. Its sublime, pure and sweet aroma immediately speaks to the heart of an ancient world of refinement where people valued and appreciated nature’s elegant floral gifts. Both in the West and in the East, the delicate white flowers and the fine ethereal scent spoke a symbolic non-verbal language that captured the attention of those who came under its spell. In Grasse, this flower played a key role in the evolution of the regions perfume industry and its rich floral notes have been incorporated into some of the world’s most treasured perfumes. The following article endeavors to capture something of the magic of the golden era of Jasmine in Grasse’s history.

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  • Solstice Pomander Newsletter

    Many of you may have made the classic orange-studded-with-cloves holiday pomander at different times of your lives. My mom and I use to make them for the winter holiday fairs in Nevada City where we would sell them along with botanical wreaths that we created from wild harvested botanicals that grew in the mountains around us, as well as from many organically grown dried flowers which came from our 1/2 acre of land which we cultivated near Camptonville near the north fork of the Yuba River.

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