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Gardenia Perfume Newsletter

In my life as a gardener/horticulturist I have had the opportunity to tend gardenia shrubs growing in the gardens of my friends and customers.  I received a lot of pleasure in working near this elegant plant with its immensely fragrant, creamy, white blossoms.  In California where I spent a good deal of my horticultural career, gardenias did quite well if carefully tended but when I encountered them in their natural growing climate in the warm humid areas of India it was yet a different experience. There, with little care, the plants thrived and produced heavily scented blossoms which saturated the moisture-laden air with their presence. It was no wonder that in India they bore the name--"Din ka Raja" (King of the Day).

As is fairly well known, gardenia has rarely been produced as a genuine floral absolute. The amount of flowers required to make the concrete from which the absolute is later produced is enormous.

Steffen Arctander reports in Flavor and Fragrance Materials of Natural Origin :

"The flower of this plant have been known and admired for their outstanding fragrance for thousands of years. However, these flowers are rarely submitted to extraction for the isolation of essential oil, concrete or absolute. One reason is the very small yield(about 1 kilo of absolute for 5000 kilo of flowers). Another is the limited use of the gardenia type of fragrance in perfumery. Finally this type of fragrance is relatively easy to copy (using synthetic and natural isolates), although a good artificial gardenia base is more rare for example than a good artificial muguet base...

A concrete of Gardenia flowers was produced many years ago in the Indian Ocean island of Reunion when the French extraction expert, Charles Garnier established himself with his world famous equipment on that island. Production on Reunion was abandoned long ago..."

As with previous perfumes I set out to create a natural perfume that would capture something of the sweet mystery of the perfume of Gardenia which in my experience is a combination of a sweet jasmine/tuberose complex into which a high sharp green note interplays. The fragrance coming from the living plant in its natural environment contains so many other subtle components-the very setting in which we encounter, what is happening in our life at that time, the other plants and living creatures that surround it-all go into how we experience the scent. It stands to reason that every person might perceive the essential qualities of the gardenia scent a bit differently. Some of the ways in which gardenia is perceived are revealed by the literary quotes that follow the recipe.

Gardenia Perfume

1/2 oz. Ylang Absolute
1/8 oz. Tuberose Absolute
1/8 oz. Vanilla Absolute
1/4 oz. Jasmin sambac Absolute
1/8 oz. Genda Attar
1/8 oz. Ambrette Seed Absolute
1/4 oz. Bakul Attar
3/4 oz. Jasmin auriculatum Absolute
1/32 oz. Galbanum eo
2 oz. Michelia Leaf eo
1 oz. Tuberose Attar
1/8 oz. Ruh Kewda
1 oz. Muhuhu eo


Gardenia in Literature

The slender columns supporting the horse-shoe arches were trained with crimson passion-flower and bougainvillia, while orange and gardenia blossom scented the air, and in the midst of the pavement of mosaic marbles was a fountain tinkling coolness to the air which was already heated enough to make it impossible to cross the court without protection from the sunshine even at nine o'clock in the morning.
--from Magnum Bonum, Or Mother Carey's Brood
By Charlotte Mary Yonge

When he returned to Samoa we were up at dawn, on shipboard, watching the horizon for the first faint cloud that floats above the island of Upulu. Already the familiar perfume came floating over the waters--the sweet blending of many odours, of cocoanut oil and baking breadfruit, of jessamine and gardenia. It smelt of home to us, leaning over the railing and watching.
--from The Spinner's Book of Fiction
By Spinners' Club

gardenia bushThe gentle breezes of a dewy night, as they floated through the cracks in the building, redoluent of the exquisite perfume of gardenias and orange blossoms, bore to hearers the softened echoes of merriment and song.
--from Taurua, Or, Written in the Book of Fate
By Emily Syrena Loud

Everything was silent in the side-road, where Redjo's home had grown to look deserted and forgotten. Gardenias were growing thickly on the hedge, their luscious perfume filling the air, but in the little patch of Indian corn behind the house, the weeds were thrusting tall stems among the graceful feather heads.
--from Strangers in the Land
By Ethel F. Heddle

Happy, beautiful Tanis! the city of love and romance and poetry. Even now, after all these years, as I wrote the perfume of a bunch of gardenias and tuberoses placed on my writing table brings back to my memory visions of the snow-white city, where air is oppressive with the scent of exotic flowers, and Isis, clad in immaculate garments, silent and white, gives her blessing on those of her children who would worship at her shrine-the shrine of love, for Tanis is the bridal city.
--from The Gates of Kamt
By Emmuska Orczy Orczy

At the moment the ting-tang of a steamer bell bound outward to the
northern coast, borne to her on the river-breeze, intensified her
desire for escape from conventional limitations. Oh! to find herself
under totally new conditions! The heavy fragrance of magnolia and
gardenia blossoms seemed freighted with exotic suggestion.
--from Lady Bridget in the Never-Never Land: a story of Australian life
by Mrs. Campbell Praed, 1851-1935