Tag Archives: Regent’s Park

A garden fit for Isabel… Portrait of a Lady by Frederic Malle The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter 


At the Regent’s Park in London, nestled below the Primrose Hill where flowers no longer grow.

Between the slight lake, ornamental bridge and ‘alpine’ blooms of a Japanese landscape, near the proper boxed-in beauty of Italian avenues there lies a rose garden.



Here, between late May and mid September, thirty thousand stems of four hundred different families compete each year in fragrant floral battle.

They are called ‘Song and Dance’, ‘Mountbatten’, ‘Radox Bouquet’, ‘Darcy Bussel’


…after Broadway shows, royal relatives, soap sud-ed relaxation and retired young ballerinas.

All summer they spread their scents and crowd each other out: corollas inevitably bigger, bolder and more carelessly beautiful than before.




Join me now at this first flowering’s end, after a downpour has broken the uncommon heat, and in an humidity that humbles.

The flowers have begun their sweet decay. And the thirty thousand’s innumerable thousands of petals are distilled by a climate we despair of into nature’s perfume.


So many notes in this massed choir and yet they reach a harmony, and sing, if not with one voice, then in a a single accord.



The emotions of the blooming months so quickly passing by pass through my mind: summer fruits and festivals. incense burnt against insects, harvests preserved with cloves and cinnamon and spices in jams, chutneys, pickles: all to warm cold winter.

This is water to ward off long dark nights.

A sketch of nature’s most seductive daughter: Summer.


Portrait of a Lady is as simple as a rose garden made scent.


It may carry the notes of various varieties and species, but ultimately they unite to form a fragrance that is pitch perfect.

There are summer fruits here too, crushed raspberries and blackcurrants, their juice released directly onto the prying fingers that try to pick them.

Incense comes and goes and is as much sweet benzoin, spice and sandalwood as it is smoke. It never shouts down the floral heart of the perfume that is so attractive and enduring.

If English Rose is a Lady, this scent is a Royal Duchess, or at least an accurate and charming picture of her.


But never forget the rose is also the symbol of England itself and no Englishman, indeed no man of any country, should be embarrassed to wear the bloom in his buttonhole and the scent next to his skin.


Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy


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Come fly with me… Jardins de Bagatelle by Guerlain The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

One blast on the burner and with a bright blue flame the balloon begins to rise.

There is the faintest chemical fragrance as liquid fuel gasifies before being turned almost instantly to fire.

The ascending heat mixes with sunlight and suddenly unobstructed views.

This is the very scent and sense of space.

Below the ground becomes an imperfect patchwork.

Its lawns of late April violets are purple squares.

Yellow flowers that from this distance seem but cannot be narcissi glimmer like cloth of gold.

Having left behind the highest flying bees at one hundred feet, you notice pollen still trails in the air on the very edge of invisibility.

You imagine an aerial fantasia of flowers, garlands of jasmine and tuberose suspended from lotus blossom clouds.

Looking down at the heart of the park a little way from the chateau, the shape of the rose gardens can only now be perceived in their true purpose.

Every bed is a petal and the dozen or so varieties each in their own divan together form a magnificent corolla.

This is the masterly centrepiece, rendered in damask silks and satins, woven onto nature’s quilt.

From here a filigree of white flowers made silver by separation from the eye radiate outward across the estate’s expanse.

Though surrounded by a near surfeit of air, the day is almost entirely without a breeze.

You remain, hanging on a nothing, in a moment apparently eternal, yourself in essence weightless.

Time passes.

The moment to descend arrives and for the first time you become aware of the cradle that contains you and the ground entreating your return.

On landing, the basket grazes the grass, releasing a greenness and some of its own wicker woodiness.

The Earth embraces you as you tumble out of your temporary travels.

Standing, shaking the dust free, you stare above at where you were.

Stretching arms skyward, you remember the atmosphere filled with unseen bouquets.

All now out of reach.

Until the next time.

Jardins de Bagatelle is human flight made fragrance.

With industry and engineering it raises the floral perfume above its normal terrestrial terrain.

True, some will not like the fact that to be transported thus requires propane, metal moving parts and an indelicate amount of heat.

So be it. To experience the sensation of being suspended as though on a floral cloud, peering down on manicured parkland, this seems a very small price to pay.

Aldehydes unquestionably own the opening.

A little softened by violet they provide the massive lift required to raise the burgeoning flower stuffed envelope of a scent off the ground.

Soon enough it becomes apparent that our basket’s cargo is primarily of white flowers, jasmine and tuberose principally, though there is blossom too and to my nose narcisse and not a little rose.

A complex and highly wrought affair there is an earthiness underneath,

A little vetiver and fir here perhaps, something that hints a return to the ground will always be necessary.

The overall effect is one of a rather beautiful but very much last-century-moderne bouquet wrapped in sparkling cellophane.

It is unfathomably fashionable to dislike this fragrance.

In truth it is an invention out of its time: a hot balloon in an age of jet liners and supersonic aeroplanes.

So much the better for it.

Let others be squashed into their sausage shaped and winged sardine cans.

I will always opt to fly open air.

There can be no more elegant means to ascend florally up, up and away.

On the last occasion I checked balloon flights were available to all, but few gentlemen these days seem to have the Montgolfiers’ courage.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy


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