Thursday, May 21, 2009

'From Plant to Bottle' - Perfume Garden wins gold at Chelsea Flower Show

"Take eight grains of musk and put in rose-water eight spoonfuls, three spoonfuls of Damask-water, and a quarter of an ounce of sugar. Boil for five hours and strain it...."
This is the original recipe for a perfume created for Queen Elizabeth I in the 16th century, and the inspiration for The Perfume Garden, which won the ‘Most Creative’ award at this year's Chelsea Flower Show in London. The garden was designed by architect Laurie Chetwood and landscape designer Patrick Collins.

In keeping with the historic theme, the garden included several rose types (Mme Hardy, Tuscany Superba and Gertrude Jekyll) iris, three varieties of geranium (Spessart, Ingwersens and Bevan’s Variety), silver posies, lilies, narcissus and violets. Fragrant plants such as French lavender, sage, thyme, fennel, and sweet flag, along with clipped Western red cedar and mugo pines, were also featured. Of the collection, Collins said, “The plants within it have been carefully selected for their scent, color and association with the perfume industry … In the 16th century global exploration and new trading links led to an influx of new and exciting species. Many of these can be seen in the Perfume Garden, including Thuja occidentalis, Hyacinthium orientalis, Geranium macorrhizum and Acorus calamus".

The concept for the garden first began in Grasse, south east France, where Elizabeth’s perfume was recreated with the help of Jean Patou, one of France’s oldest and best-known perfume houses.
Clipped conifers form the backbone of the garden, which sweep up and around a stainless steel shroud. This is the perfumery, where visitors can see the perfume distillation process and try samples of the Elizabeth I perfume, produced especially for the Chelsea Flower Show.
Every plant in the garden has a function in the creation of scent. Some are familiar, like Lavandula stoechas, but there are unexpected ingredients too, like the male fern, Dryopteris felix-mas, whose rhizomes yield an oil used in earthy, masculine fougère scents.
In addition, a modern interpretation of Queen Elizabeth’s original rosewater-infused perfume is to be created by Procter & Gamble’s Prestige Products.

The photos above show 1. A model in neo-Elizabethan Costume in the Perfume Garden at the 2009 Chelsea Flower Show in London (Photo courtesy Stuart Freedman).
2. The stainless steel perfumery at night and 3. The conifers surrounding the stainless steel perfumery of the Perfume Garden.

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