Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Scent of Wisteria


I've been working on a series of essays for the past year about my experiences getting to know the flowers that flourish along the eight blocks I walk between my apartment on the top of Capitol Hill in Seattle and my work at Richard Hugo House, at the corner of Pine and Eleventh. I assigned myself a series of tasks, one per month (I love being a teacher and I love being a student). My task for June is to figure out how to capture the scent of flowers. So I plan to post entries on my experiments and let you know how they are going.

Tonight as I walked home on a sunny summer evening I was noticing the scent of wisteria. To me it has a pleasant, creamy vanilla scent. So I was pleased when I went searching online to see that Octavian, one of my favorite perfume writers (I know him from his comments on Luca Turin's perfume blog) has written an entry at his own blog, 1000 Perfumes, carefully analyzing the scent of wisteria with much more precision than my nose can register.

I hadn't considered the difference color might make in the scent of a wisteria until I read Octavian's entry (though I know from much experimentation that I love the smell of purple irises more than any other color). All of the wisteria on my walk was purple.

A few years ago, when I was learning about wine (in the process of researching a wine mystery novel which never got written), I developed much more discrimination in my ability to identify flavors and scents. As I learn about scents, I am trying to increase my scent vocabulary as well. (Oddly enough many of the scents I encountered today reminded me of banana (and I love the scent of banana, especially artificial banana flavor. I don't know what caused this olfactory delusion.)

What does wisteria smell like to you?

3 comments:

Amanda McPeck said...

This answer isn't quite what you were looking for, but Wisteria smells like spring in North Carolina to me. I grew up in Utah, where Wisteria is very rare - not exactly a welcoming climate for it. I went to school in North Carolina where Wisteria practically grows wild and every spring it seemed to be everwhere. There is an intoxicating aspect to Wisteria - seems to flood pleasure centers in my brain the way the scent of rose does.

Paul said...

I have lived in the South all my life and I've always thought that wisteria smells like burnt cork and honey. There's a sharp edge to it ...

Anonymous said...

I hadn't even realized wisteria had a scent. In my view they were the Godzilla plant that ripped the backporch roof off and that I battled to kill. I will try to like my wisteria more, now that I've diverted it's destructive tendencies...