How to Bottle Hope – the scent of snowdrops

During the greyest months of the year, when life seems dormant and waiting, there is one little glimpse of brighter times to come – a whiff of hope on the frosty breeze – in that cheering moment we first spot a snowdrop. Yes, that might sound clichéd, but I defy you to smother a smile when you see one. Delicately scented with a lightly honeyed, creamy almond kind of smell, the latin name ‘Galanthus‘ means ‘milky flower’, and this tiny bloom has gathered centuries of fragrant folklore around its origins, continuing to inspire perfumers with its transcendent prettiness.

 

Native to Alpine regions, where they thrive amidst the cold, mountainous climes; snowdrops are believed to have first appeared in the British Isles when they were brought there by monks. It’s rather nice to imagine them tenderly tucked in religious robes while they travelled, but however they first arrived, they took root in the frozen winter soil of this country, and in our souls, somehow. Perhaps we were seduced by the mythology – stories passed down through generations, such as the legend recounted on the snowdrop-centric website snowdrops.me: ‘when you listen closely,’ they explain, ‘you can hear their bells ringing, trying to wake up nature from its winter sleep.’ Even more beautiful is the ancient German tale re-told on The Creative Countryside blog:

 

 

‘At the beginning of all things when life was new, the Snow sought to borrow a colour. The flowers were much admired by all the elements but they guarded their colour’s jealousy and when the Snow pleaded with them, they turned their backs in contempt for they believed the Snow cold and unpleasant. The tiny humble snowdrops took pity on the Snow for none of the other flowers had shown it any kindness and so they came forth and offered up to the Snow their colour. The Snow gratefully accepted and became white forevermore, just like the Snowdrops. In its gratitude, the Snow permitted the little pearly flowers the protection to appear in winter, to be impervious to the ice and bitter chill. From then on, the Snow and the Snowdrops coexisted side by side as friends.’

 

I’ll be the first to admit the smell of snowdrops isn’t effusive, it doesn’t billow through the woods as a scented cloud harkening Spring; but though tenderly scented, it’s the symbolism of this flower that so inspires perfumers, I think. And to which we feel drawn – perhaps likening ourselves to the ‘brave’ flower having clung on through icy conditions, and having managed to immerge, even through the frozen ground. A triumph of beauty over adversity that’s also evoked in writer Vikki Bentley’s poem, which was penned in conjunction with the launch of Anglea Flander’s Lawn fragrance:

These gauzy mornings
there’s a reason why you push your bed pillow-close
to the open window so that the cool, the light
bathes you awake five o’clock and eager
to leave diseased dreams and watch
the calm, silver sheet of the
dawning lawn catch the
unhurried tumble of
a petal’s feather curl
for in the blink of that first, not-quite time
you still believe in the lightness of your footfall
stepping out onto the fresh, the wet
beneath your soles, between your toes;
inhaling silver, tasting green as
each liquid call in the chorus
trickles down to touch the
newness in you
until the truth of the day scorches through
Vicci Bentley

 

snowdrops the scent of hope photo by <a href='https://www.freepik.com/photos/background'>Background photo created by freepic.diller - www.freepik.com</a>

 

Quietly scented (to us) they may be, but that smell acts as a clarion call for potential pollinators. The composition of the snowdrop’s fragrant waft depends on the type of insect it wants to attract. The honeyed kind attract bees (and us), but because the snowdrop is a fairly recent inhabitant on British shores, the scent they exude can also be a wordless cry to a species not available here. So, not all snowdrops have a smell that pleases the masses. Explains the National Plant Collection of Galanthus at Bruckhills Croft in Aberdeenshire on their snowdrops.me blog (where you can purchase several varieties of the flower): ‘The species Koenenianus is often described as having a smell of animal urine or bitter almonds, so perhaps has evolved to attract pollenating beetles in its native North-Eastern Turkey?’

Focussing on the tenderly honeyed side of their scent (thank goodness), perfumers tend to use a blend of notes to evoke these seasonal flagposts of hope in their fragrances – boosting their brightness, smoothing the edges, radiating anticipation. Such is the alchemy of a fragrant composition, we might be smelling lily-of-the-valley or bluebell accords (also imagined evocations) or the dewy green of violet leaf. Creamy white musks are often used to create that elegant shiver of the flower, or a whisper of cool woodiness wafting an imagined breeze to shake their bells. Conversely, the sense of snowdrops may be borrowed to add pale shafts of sunlight within the darkness of a scent, the contrast emboldening the harmony of the whole blend.

So, while you may not pick up a bottle and confidently declare ‘Aha! I detect snowdrops!’ we can quite willingly succumb to the romance of the story, and cling on to the feeling of hopefulness each of these fragrances grant the wearer…

 

 

 

 

Shay & Blue Black Tulip £55 for 100ml
Contrasts abound as white chocolate swathes spiced plum, but before gourmand-avoiders back away, it’s not overtly sweet – think of it more like the silky ‘mouth-feel’ amidst swathes of bright snowdrops and creamy cyclamen. The dark heart hushes to wood shavings, curls of chocolate still falling like snowflakes.

 

 

‘A note of grassiness in the air and a promise of flowers to come, snowdrops & woodland bulbs are making an entrance.

 It feels as if it’s time to wear a fresher note in fragrance too. For the first time this year I instinctively reached for my bottle of Lawn, yearning for the dewy galbanic freshness that later warms on the skin like the mid day sun.’ – Kate Evans [Angela Flander’s daughter, now perfumer for the house]

Angela Flanders Lawn £75 for 30ml eau de parfumKate learned perfumery at her mother’s knee, taking over the house after Angela died, with this dew-speckled, dawn-struck scent her first offering. ‘Lawn marked a new start for me as a perfumer’, she explains, ‘and is therefore a most appropriate scent for the time of year when we feel ready to embrace the promise of a new season.’

 

 

Perfumer H Snowdrop from £150 for 50ml eau de parfum

The glacial gust of the central white floral accord – Tunisian jasmine and orange flower absolute – is crisp with snapped green stems, Lyn Harris creating a dampened breeze of iris and carrot seed atop drenched mossy notes on a frosty, woody backbone of spikier juniper. The scented personification of a sanguine elegance, you’ll float.

 

Zoologist Snowy Owl £195 for 100ml extrait de parfum
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s calone-based ‘snow accord’ imagines the backdrop for the owl’s scented swooping: ‘A thick carpet of silver envelops the landscape, untouched but for the dazzling reflection of the sun.’ Icy mint, lily of the valley and coconut drift to snowdrops and sap-filled galbanum, softly feathered by the moss-snuggled base.

 

A portrait of a frozen stream in perfumed form, snowdrops and freesia are lapped by lychee water, peony petals and jasmine hinting at warmer days, clementine blossom a burat of happiness amidst misty, crystalline musks. Then, the smooth teakwood base is whipped through with fluffs of creamy vanilla for an ambient blanket of calm.

By Suzy Nightingale

Something whiffy this way comes – Marty the Mighty Nose kids’ poetry competition

Do you know a child aged 7-11 who loves writing and exploring their sense of smell? Get those nostrils in training, for The Fragrance Foundation‘s Marty the Mighty Nose Awards are once again open for smell-inspired poetic entries!

Kids tend to be far more naturally connected to their sense of smell than most adults, and the annual competition invites Key Stage Two pupils to explore this sense even more, by taking ‘…an aromatic approach to creative writing, as we invite them to write their own smell-inspired poems for the chance to win prizes for themselves and for their schools.’

The Fragrance Foundation say: ‘Whether it is inviting children to develop their use of simile and metaphor in English by writing smell-inspired poems or learning about history through the stinky aromas of the past (Ancient Egyptian Mummification anyone?), structured activities incorporating fragrance and smell can truly support and inspire pupils of all abilities.’

Marty the Mighty Nose entries can be made by schools, or by individual parents and guardians, and details of the competition and how to submit an entry are explained, below, and the more who join in, the merrier Marty will be.

The Fragrance Foundation encourage pupils to write poems inspired by the sense of smell (the whiffy socks of an older brother has been a previous winner’s poetic theme!) and these are then read and chosen by a distinguished panel of judges each year, including once again, this year, the multi-talented (and huge fragrance fan) Richard E. Grant!

Entering Marty The Mighty Nose Awards is easydownload the entry pack here. The deadline for submissions is the 9th December 2019, and entries can be sent online or through the post. Please note entires must be submitted by a teacher or guradian.

We cannot wait to read these pongy poems, and wish everyone who enters the very best of luck!

By Suzy Nightingale

Marty the Mighty Nose – smelly poems required!

Do you know a child aged 7-11 who loves writing and exploring their sense of smell? Get those nostrils in training, for The Fragrance Foundation‘s Marty the Mighty Nose Awards are once again open for smell-inspired poetic entries!

Kids tend to be far more naturally connected to their sense of smell than most adults, and the annual competition invites Key Stage Two pupils to explore this sense even more, by taking ‘…an aromatic approach to creative writing, as we invite them to write their own smell-inspired poems for the chance to win prizes for themselves and for their schools.’

The Fragrance Foundation say: ‘Whether it is inviting children to develop their use of simile and metaphor in English by writing smell-inspired poems or learning about history through the stinky aromas of the past (Ancient Egyptian Mummification anyone?), structured activities incorporating fragrance and smell can truly support and inspire pupils of all abilities.’

Marty the Mighty Nose entries can be made by schools, or by individual parents and guardians, and details of the competition and how to submit an entry are explained, below. Poems are judged and awarded prizes individually, but there’s also a Best Class prize to the highest overall scoring class, so the more who join in, the merrier Marty will be.

The Fragrance Foundation encourage pupils to write poems inspired by the sense of smell (the whiffy socks of an older brother has been a previous winner’s poetic theme!) and these are then read and chosen by a distinguished panel of judges each year, with this year’s Head Judge being Nicky Cox MBE, Editor of young person’s newspaper First News, who are this year supporting the awards.

Entering Marty The Mighty Nose Awards is easydownload the entry pack here. The deadline for submissions is the 14th December 2018, and entries can be sent online or through the post.

Here’s one of last year’s winning entries, to get you inspired…

Smelly Seasons
Suncream and salty air,
Summer smells are here,
Candyfloss and doughnuts,
Sweet smells at the pier.
Lavender and Wisteria,
Spring flowers in bloom,
Bluebell and lilac,
All smelling of sweet perfume.
Fireworks, pumpkin soup,
And smoky burning leaves,
Toasted sweet marshmallows,
Fill the autumn’s breeze.
Frost morning air,
Cloves, cinnamon and pine,
Pretty burning candles,
Christmas is my favourite time!

– Bella Barlow
Shiplake C.E Primary School

We always wonder if the talented children who enter the awards with their smell-inspired poems could well be the noses behind future fragrances – or the journalists writing about them –  either way, we can’t wait to read the results, so get those kids’ noses in training…

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Marty The Mighty Nose Awards – open for entries

Get those nostrils flapping in preparation, for The Fragrance Foundation‘s Marty the Mighty Nose Awards are once again open for smell-inspired poetic writing…
The annual competition invites Key Stage Two pupils (aged 7-11) to ‘take an aromatic approach to creative writing, as we invite them to write their own smell-inspired poems for the chance to win prizes for themselves and for their schools.’

The Fragrance Foundation say: ‘Whether it is inviting children to develop their use of simile and metaphor in English by writing smell-inspired poems or learning about history through the stinky aromas of the past (Ancient Egyptian Mummification anyone?), structured activities incorporating fragrance and smell can truly support and inspire pupils of all abilities.’
Entries can be made by schools, by individual parents and guardians, and details of the competition and how to submit an entry are explained, below…

The Fragrance Foundation encourage pupils to write poems inspired by the sense of smell (the whiffy socks of an older brother has been a previous winner’s poetic theme!) and these are then read and chosen by a distinguished panel of judges each year, with awards being presented to the children and schools during the prestigious Jasmine Awards ceremony, held at BAFTA.

Known as ‘The Oscars for fragrance journalism’, The Jasmine’s are highly sought after, celebrating innovative and creative fragrance writing from the top-selling glossy magazines, newspapers, independent blogs and beyond. And when The Mighty Nose Awards are read out during the ceremony, there’s always a ripple of absolute delight within the industry professionals present.
Teachers can view and download materials to aid the scent training, and request t-shirts and scratch-‘n-sniff stickers from the Marty the Mighty Nose website, but for now, why not sit back and relax while Richard E. Grant guides you through your very own workshop in the film, below?

Entering The Mighty Nose Awards is easy – download the entry pack here.
We’ve been highly honoured at The Perfume Society to be nominated for and win several Jasmine Awards, and always wonder if the talented children who enter the awards with their smell-inspired poems could well be the fragrance writers – and noses behind the fragrances of the future! So get those kids’ noses in training…
Written by Suzy Nightingale

Do you Cinéhaïku? Enter the MEMO Paris weekly poetic short film competition to win $500 or $10,000!

Cinematically inclined scent-o-philes are encouraged to indulge their creativity with a plunge in to the world of short films… As Clara Molloy, founder of MEMO Paris perfumes breezed through town, today, to launch Eau de Memo (watch this space!), she told us all about a rather exciting competition that we know many of our artistic readership would love to get involved
MEMO Paris perfumes have established a weekly competition of poetic films – merely between 20 and 30 seconds in length, yet expressing timeless stories far deeper than the actual time frame may suggest. Through MEMO’s dedicated Cinéhaïku website, film directors both amateur and professional are invited to express themselves through a simple exercise: adapt the rules of haiku to an audiovisual format.
So what, exactly, is a Haiku? Well, Jack Kerouac put it as ‘A sentence that’s short and sweet with a sudden jump of thought in it, is a kind of haiku,’ though if you want a more in-depth description, there are countless websites dedicated to the art and history of this poetic medium. But how to translate this in to a short film? The rules to follow are on the Cinéhaiku competition page under how to participate, but basically it’s a 20-30 second snippet of something that ‘captures a lived moment.’

Each week, from March 6 to June 29, 2017, a winner will be chosen by Cinéhaïku members and awarded a $500 prize. The prize-winning films are then automatically entered into the Cinéhaïku Festival to compete for the annual prize. The overall winner of the year’s best Cinéhaïku will be invited to France to receive a quite incredible $10,000 prize awarded by a professional jury selected from the world of art, film and literature, and the winner will also be given a separate, dedicated space in the festival.
Cinéhaïku say: ‘The annual Cinéhaïku festival will showcase all of the weekly winning films at a temporary exhibition held from July 7 to 21, 2017 throughout the town of Gordes, in the Luberon region of southern France. The Cinéhaïkus will be broadcast on screens along an aesthetic trail, providing festival-goers with a true moment of poetry suspended in time.’
Our film would just have to be about perfume and the sense of smell, of course – but what would you haiku…?
Written by Suzy Nightingale

The Mighty Nose Awards are open: calling all smell lovers aged 7-11!

Marty the Mighty Nose is a cartoon character created by The Fragrance Foundation to encourage children aged 7-11 to be inspired and engaged through their sense of smell. Offering a website aimed at teachers, full of ideas to extend their pupil’s learning by focusing on the smelly world around them, and a series of free workshops for schools; perhaps the most exciting activity for kids to get involved with is the annual Mighty Nose Awards
Every year, The Fragrance Foundation invite pupils to submit smell-inspired creative writing for the chance to win fantastic prizes for themselves and for their schools. And entries for 2017 are now open!
The competition closes on December 16th 2016, so click here to download your entry pack and learn more.
Landscape_02
As the Fragrance Foundation explain: ‘Marty the Mighty Nose is supported by a team of people including teachers, and developed by the Fragrance Foundation UK. We are a not-for-profit educational organisation and all our members are in the fragrance industry, supporting Marty as a philanthropic initiative.’
Winners will be whisked to the glittering awards ceremony held at BAFTA next year, as part of the Jasmine Awards, before an audience of writers, fragrance professionals and press, who always receive them with rapturous applause. Truly inspiring, it’s wonderful to see kids explore and develop their sense of smell – and along with it their creativity (and humour!)
We adored hearing last year’s winning poems being read, and to get a sense of how brilliant they were, here’s one of our favourites from 2016…
mighty-nose-awards

The Smells Inside My Brother’s Room

By Isaac Littlewood
St Mary’s CE Primary School, Year 3

The smells inside my brother’s room,
Just like his pants are deadly.
They lead me to my utter doom:
A very whiffy medley!

His slippers smell of nasty cheese
And the tang of onions (pickled).
Inside, his toes my nose displease
Especially when they’re tickled!

His bum smells like a rotten drum,
Full of ugly fleas.
It’s worse than getting badly stung
By a swarm of bees.

His armpits smell like cabbage leaves
Rotting at the dump.
Their pong you simply won’t believe
It’s like an evil trump.

Underneath his bed there lurks
A very hissy dragon
Who eats my brother’s hairy shirts
And smells enough to gag on!

So don’t go in that smellsome site
If you value your nose.
Your nostrils will be harmed for life.
His pongs are your greatest foes!

You can read all the winning entries and download the competition pack on Marty the Mighty Nose’s website.
marty_clothes1We know so many of our readers enjoy sniffing our Discovery Boxes with their children, and at several of our How to Improve Your Sense of Smell Workshops, people have come along with their kids, who have wholeheartedly thrown themselves into finding creative ways of describing smells. So, if your children are budding ‘noses’ or simply brimming with whiffy words, we urge you to enter them into the competition!
Written by Suzy Nightingale