Being used to having all matter of things pretty much all her own way in the office, she wasn’t about to let a silly thing like March frosts come between her and her early blooming roses.
Of course she had space neither for a hothouse nor a conservatory, in fact she had no outside space at all.
But there was her building’s stairwell: that would do well enough, glazed as it was all the way up in its austere modernist symmetry.
Surely even her tedious co-operative co-members couldn’t object to being cajoled into allowing a little natural beauty into the clear lines and white space of their shared world, she decided.
The man at the flower store had advised a miniature variety would be best. She told him, a jovial, handsome but small framed man of Greek extraction, that she didn’t want anything ‘squat squatting on my steps’.
He shrugged and gestured for his eldest boy to fetch down the formidable peach coloured floribunda that she finally fixed on.
“It can grow to be quite bushy” he ventured “Oh. I’ve no problem with pruning where necessary” she assured him, a sharp half meant semi-smile on her lips.
With her words she gestured for the “&sons” of the establishment to take the plant and all the planting stuffs out to the taxi she had waiting.
It was in the cab that the smell first caused consternation.
The driver was, to put it mildly, displeased with the aroma she had introduced into his vehicle:
“It smells like a bloody barnyard in here” he bemoaned.
It was a cry she would hear time and again from the dreary folks on her landing and those on the floors above and below.
She explained that it really was necessary to mix peat moss and mulch and fresh farm soil to give the roses the best possible start.
She set out, so she thought, with a surfeit of patience that nitrogen was the very nub of things so far as roses were concerned and ,well, “horse manure is just the best there is”.
She took extra care when expounding that as no one would be eating the roses when they finally came it really didn’t matter that she had taken to spraying the plants twice a day with pesticide that some people said bought them out in a rash.
She even reacted calmly when other residents planted herbs along the corridors: coriander, bay, patchouli, to offset the odour.
And, if she harvested them a little robustly, it was they who had invited her to help herself.
She did, however, take exception when a few families started cooking spicy food much too regularly for her liking.
She raised questions about anti-social behaviour at a tenants’ meeting.
Then the roses arrived and everything was forgotten, by her.
She cut stem after stem and filled vases in every room of her apartment.
The scent was deliriously delicious.
In the hall, the cut back bushes gave off a green smell that the she just knew her neighbours were coming to adore.
Knowing by Estee Lauder is a single minded scent.
It has a clear and determined idea of where it wants to be and it’s damn well going to get there.
Opening with a minor avalanche of sparkling insecticide aldehydes, overflowing oakmosses are next, beating out a baseline with dark patchouli that will last the entire tune through.
The melody itself is carried from the off by a charming, slightly dry, somewhat spicy rose that is filled out in the heart by a string section of white flowers with some support from attendant aromatics.
The long dry down, so typical of this house, sees a smoky vetiver take up the letitmotif and the animalics, that have been harmonising so prominently play a subtle solo or two.
And here’s the thing, to the wearer, with the close to the skin rose note forever at hand, the whole symphony makes sense, once it’s modern take on classic theme is understood.
But to unschooled noses a little further away a misconception might form that this is a brittle, bitter and little too forthright fragrance.
It is nothing of the sort.
Knowing is a triumph of structure and strength: a modern rose with impeccable, if pruned back, floral chypre credentials.
Some scents one has a sense a man could wear, in this case one just knows he should.