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Pélargonium – Spicy and floral and woody

Sometimes, I lose my way. I get lost in the labyrinth of new niche lines and fragrances. I get too distracted by the allure of the mysterious and the unknown. That’s not a bad thing. On the contrary, it is good to explore new territory and make new discoveries. But I easily fall down rabbit holes that can leave me feeling confused and confined. When I start to feel this way, I have to reset, recalibrate and refresh and I seek the comfort of the familiar. My latest episode led me back the temple of beauty, literally, Aedes de Venustas, and their gorgeous Pélargonium EdP.

Pélargonium is centered on pelargonium graveolens – a type of geranium. Oh, this business with the geraniums again! It can be confusing. Luckily, Wikipedia is a great resource:
“The shape of the flowers offers one way of distinguishing between the two genera Geranium and Pelargonium. Geranium flowers have five very similar petals, and are thus radially symmetrical (actinomorphic), whereas Pelargonium (and also Erodium) flowers have two upper petals which are different from the three lower petals, so the flowers have a single plane of symmetry (zygomorphic).”
Well, maybe not. Simply put, pelargonium graveolens are not the geraniums that you see in window boxes. Instead, ‘graveolens’ refers to the strong-smelling leaves, which are rose-scented, giving pelargonium graveolens the nickname “rose geranium”.

The inspiration for this EdP was the still life paintings of Dutch Golden Age of the 16th and 17th centuries. In fact, the English term ‘still life’ is derived from the Dutch word ‘stilleven’. The Dutch were obsessed with horticulture during this time and their floral compositions led to a mania for this type of still life.

Pélargonium opens with bergamot, sweetened with juicy mandarin, spiced up with black pepper that’s heightened with a snap of Sichuan pepper. Clary sage and green cardamom buttress the herbaceous scent of the geranium leaves. The green cardamom is also sweet and resinous, leads to the star attraction: pelargonium graveolens (A/K/A Egyptian geranium). I do smell its rosy aspect but there is so much more to this fragrance. Nose Nathalie Feisthauer describes pelargonium graveolens on the Aedes de Venustas website as “aromatic, with a crushed-leaf facet, less fruity and more balsamic than rose, almost incense-like” and she deftly displays these facets in a way that makes this EdP a real heart-tugger. The spices at the top warm the pelargonium while orris adds its distinctive violet-like odor that strengthens the rosiness, giving the fragrance a real floral presence.  But orris is also woody, warm and sweet, qualities it shares with carrot seed. They bring an irresistible earthiness to the juice. Balsamic, citrusy elemi resin emphasizes the balsamic aspect of the pelargonium. The base is woody from Cedarwood and Guaiac wood, which also gives the base a gorgeous smokiness. Moss, green and earthy, is softened with musk.

The drydown is elegant, refined but make no mistake, this is a big, not loud, but big spicy, floral, herbaceous, citrusy and woody scent. It’s an exciting fragrance that is perfectly unisex.

One advantage of the still-life art form is that it gives the artist license to experiment with the way elements in a composition of a painting are arranged. Nathalie Feisthauer has done this with Pélargonium and I appreciate this art form as much as I would a painting by an Old Dutch Master.

A spritz of a beautiful fragrance from one of my favourite perfume houses and I am righted again.

Pélargonium is listed in our Decant store. Decants are $7.00 for 1 ml.

Image - Ambrosius Bosschaert 1573-1621. Bouquet in an Arched Window, Maurithuis, The Hague, Netherlands - Wikimedia Commons