Skip to main content

Linden – Easy to love, hard to find

Photo - Wikipedia - Leaves and flowers of Lime Tree (Linden) Tilea Cordata

by N.P. Holmes

Today is the most perfect day of this brand new summer. Why?

Because this is the day when the massive linden trees are in full-bloom splendour in the lane behind our house, the honeysuckle is wafting from the neighbour’s fence, last night’s rain is misting upward as the morning sun heats up, and wouldn’t you know it, the big mowers are out cutting the grass in the local park. Can you smell it? Nothing compares to this!

The #1 for me is the linden – called lime blossom, tilleul,  basswood in other parts of the world. Used as medicine, drunk as tea, it's also been a romantic symbol for centuries, because of its thick shade canopy, and the powerful scent of its small white flowers. I love linden blossoms – they’re even better than May lilacs in my smell book. They smell green, fresh, sweet, grassy – in one big sniff I get all that - and I’ve tried to find a fragrance that captures this magic of the linden note for me.

It’s been a real hunt.  Soaps I’ve found – the linden note itself has a soapy quality – and L’Occitane had a beautiful big  Linden bath soap but it’s now (sadly) discontinued. Soap scents don’t stay on my skin, anyway. I want a perfume!

I’ve tried and tried and tried very hard to like L’Artisan’s La Chasse aux Papillons – the jasmine and tuberose overpower the green linden and make it too sweet, too girly for my taste. Too soft, too fey. And it lasts about 5 seconds on my skin – I’d get a sore arm from re-spritzing!

L’Artisan makes a candle called Tilleul au Vent (Linden in the Wind) which I’ve smelled and it is totally exquisite. But how do you wear a candle scent? Guess I could rub the wax on my arms....no, not a good idea.

I’ve tried Jo Malone's French Lime Blossom – linden, with lily of the valley, bergamot and tarragon. It’s pretty nice, but to my nose it turned one-dimensional after thirty minutes on my skin. It smells like linden, no doubt about it, but it’s missing the lush complexity of  a big tree in bloom, and smells overly sweet, more like drooping blossoms stuck in a vase. Too bad.

One of the older Diptyque scents is a linden, called Tilleul. It’s hard to find – discontinued? I haven’t smelled  it, and probably never will.

Parfums D’Orsay has their Tilluel. First introduced in 1927, and again in 1955, the new 21st century version is by Olivia Giacobetti – need I say more?  It features notes of lemon tree leaf, angelica, watermelon, lime blossom (linden or tilleul), cyclamen, cut hay, acacia wood and beeswax. Regarded as a delicate fragrance, it’s said to have a musty note in the dry-down, most likely from the hay and the beeswax. It sounds more complex, but – I haven’t sniffed this one either. I can’t find it anywhere.

I’ve just learned that the L’Artisan candle Tilleul au Vent is also available as a room freshener, and a store nearby says they have it in stock. I’m going to stop in and try it. I’ve never worn a room freshener before, but maybe I’ll start. I really want a linden perfume!

Failing that, I’ll get a lawn chair and sit in the lane under the lindens so I can smell the trees, the real perfume, the real deal, and I'll be happy. I think some scents just can't be put in a bottle.

Today, we’re NOT adding a Linden perfume to our decant sample offering - because I can’t find one I like. But when, and if, I do, and it is iffy - we will.