Iris, how I adore thee!

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Sandra

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Hi dear APJ. How are you all doing?

We had our first visitors this week. Friends drove all the way from Rotterdam and I was eager to show them around Basel and the surrounding areas. They saw that I still needed to finish certain things in the house and helped me accomplish everything over the four days. I feel blessed to know such kindness. They gave me the greatest gift – time.

Iris, how I adore thee!

Ever since I lived in Rotterdam, irises have become one of my favourite flowers. Of course I admired the blooms and enjoyed smelling my iris perfumes. But it was not until I moved to Basel and discovered an iris garden that I became truly obsessed with the fragile iris. I dragged my family to the garden every ten days or so as I wanted to see if they were in full bloom or not.

The Merian Gardens has a stunning historical bearded iris collection. The collection dates back to a well known iris collector Gräfin Helen von Stein-Zeppelin. After her studies she opened a garden centre which specialized in irises. During World War II she was forced to plant potatoes instead of her beloved irises. She hid several bulbs of each type of iris in home gardens and in cracks in walls in order to save them. After the war Helen von Stein-Zeppelin was able to replant her bulbs and start her collection again. By the end of the 1960s she had accumulated over 1000 varieties of irises. Due to the large collection of irises she had amassed, she looked for a new garden for her treasures. The Merian Gardens accepted her collection in 1969.

Today the collection is home to approximately 1500 varieties of bearded iris. Many varieties are no longer available commercially. This is why the Merian Garden iris collection is well known as a reference for historical bearded irises. The irises are sorted by colour and year and also have the names of the breeders.

Iris blooms do not have a scent. They are stunning to look at but they do not perfume a home. This is why I was stunned to stand amongst hundreds of irises and was bewitched by a magical scent surrounding me. There were no other trees nor blooming flowers next to me. It was a warm sunny day, and perhaps that contributed to the smell. Oddly though it was only in one section of the iris garden.

Throughout the past six weeks I have been wearing some of my favorite iris perfumes and lemming after a couple as well. I wore Hermès Musc Pallida, Hermessence Iris Ukiyoé and Atelier des Ors Musc Immortel. I will definitely buy a bottle of April Aromatics Irisistible and I must go and finally try Hermes Hiris.

Do you like iris as a note in perfumes? What is your favorite iris perfume?

Until next time.

Oodles of fragrant kisses,

Sandra xo

74 thoughts on “Iris, how I adore thee!

  1. Sandra, those photos are stunning!
    I have really grown to love iris thanks to my good friend and fellow APJer, Perfumelover67, who introduced me to many iris beauties, including LAtessa which I love. I also love to wear Orris root from Eden Botanicals mixed in a carrier oil. And vintage no 19.

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    • Thank you Brigitte! The iris not is so complex and varied in perfume. It has taken me a while to become this enamored. Thank you for the tips, I am making a list of perfumes to try as I read the comments today. Sandra xo

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  2. Lovely photos, thank you for sharing, Sandra. I have Dutch Irises in my pots and I love iris fragrances. My absolute favourite is Irisoir by Sultan Pasha Attar followed by L’Attesa, Iris Silver Mist, Prada No 1, Iris Nazarena and Insolence Extract.

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    • Hey there BBMc. I love Dutch Irises. I am thinking about potting a bunch of bulbs in the autumn for spring next year. Thank you for sharing your favorite iris perfumes. I love Iris Nazarena but it is so fleeting on my skin. Insolence Extrait is lovely. A friend of mine wears it. I will look up Irisoir now. Sandra xo

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  3. I am a big iris fan and recognize several varieties pictured that grow here in Montréal. How wonderful to have 1500 varieties to enjoy!

    Some of my favourite iris scents are Iris Nazarena, Iris Silver Mist, Dzongkha, Iris Ganache and L’Instant Millésime Iris.

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    • Hi Tara, Montréal must be beautiful in the spring. I must go there soon. You have beautiful iris perfumes lined up. Dzongkha is a captivating perfume for me and I finished the decant I had very quickly. Thanks for the reminder. For some reason Iris Ganache never really sat well with me and I gave my bottle away. Perhaps I should revisit it again. Sandra xo

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  4. Lovely post! Enjoyed it so much, an much needed escape from too much work stress. I think I will try to convince my husband to visit Basel and the Meridian garden soon, maybe next year. When do they bloom Sandra? I am very curious what the magical scent was you smelled from the non-smelling irisses. I hope some of the readers have an idea. I have lots of flagirisses in and around a big pond in my garden, and they sometimes have a faint but lovely smell.
    I love all iris scents, although I gave Silver Mist away. It is not that I don’t love it, I just didn’t wear it. Yesterday I wore Heure Exquise, there have been times it was the only perfume I wore for weeks on end. I hadn’t worn if for some time, but I still love it very much. And ofcourse 19, Irisistible, I used to wear Aqua di Parma Iris Nobile a lot, I think that is still very nice. I used to wear Hiris, but less so, but it may come back in rotation. I can’t pick one favourite, but top 2 is 19, Irisistible and Heure Exquise.

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    • Thank you Hamamelis. You would like Basel I am sure. I would love to show you around if you come. If you do come next year to see the irises in bloom then it would be best to come during the last two weeks of May. This year they really all opened up during the last week of May. The scent was ever so slight, but it was distinctly there. Both my husband and my son could smell it as well and we all started sniffing to see where it was coming from. You have some beautiful iris perfumes. I will buy Irisistible soon and will also rebuy No. 19 or even No. 19 Poudre. Sandra xo

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  5. I have a few bearded irises in my backyard and their blooming is my favorite time of spring. So pretty. I will probably keep adding to my collection. For iris perfume, I do enjoy Bois d’Iris, Hiris, Atelier Iris Rebelle. I also like iris combined with violet – Insolence and Violaceum come to mind.

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    • It must be so rewarding to have the irises in your own backyard. Friends in the Netherlands will now be on the lookout for bulbs to send to me. Bois d’Iris is wonderful. I still need to try Hiris and Atelier Iris Arebelle. Thanks for the pointers. Sandra xo

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  6. Those photos are breathtaking! Thank you for sharing. Iris is my all time favorite perfume note. If I had to choose just one note to have in my collection, that would be it. I am obsessed with it. I adore all my iris perfumes, which are a lot. My favorites: Chanel 28 La Pausa EdT and Masque Milano L’Atessa. I can survive with those two for the rest of my life. Other big favorites are Hermes Hiris, Parle Moi de Parfum Orris Tattoo, Chanel 19 Poudre and EdT and I recently discovered Boucheron Iris de Syracuse with is gorgeous. I can keep mentioning more, but the list would be toooo long. Full bottles of Irisistible and perhaps Splendiris are already on my purchase list for later. The more carroty and earthier an iris perfume is the better for me. Nothing more stunning that orris root butter. It is just heavenly!

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    • Thanks Perfumelover67. I now understand why iris can be someone’s favorite flower and note in perfumery. Thank you for sharing your favorite iris perfumes. I have taken note of them and will slowly buy samples to try them. You have me very curious about Boucheron Iris de Syracuse. Tell me more… Sandra xo

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      • Iris de Syracuse smells slighty carroty for 5 minutes, then it becomes very floral. The musk is heavy and patchouli makes its presence also. The drydown is creamy and sweet, not gourmand. It reminds me in some way of Aqua di Parma Iris Nobile, but being this last one much, more beautiful. IdS lasts on my skin  for about 4 hours.

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  7. Incredibly beautiful photos. Iris has been my note of the last 6 months. ISM, which I wore every night for at least 6 weeks earlier this year; La Pause 28 EdT – wear it a looooot, Hermès Musc Pallida; and very recently IUNX Talc – have used half a 20 ml bottle in a month. Shock. Wonderful post. xxx

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    • Thanks Val! I adore Hermès Musc Pallida – it is in heavy rotation now. I must try IUNX Talc. Your review made me most curious. I am glad to hear that you are loving it and wearing it though. Sandra xo

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  8. Beautiful pics, Sandra. Who knew there were so many varieties of iris? Saw lots and lots of yellows on the banks of the river from my recent short boat trip. Just gorgeous. I’ve got a few perfumes that are iris centred, Iris Poudre, Orris Noir, 19 Poudre, Courreges Blanc and Iris Rebelle.

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  9. Those photos are gorgeous and incredibly nostalgic. My FIL was an avid horticulturalist. With an enormous property and a staff of gardeners, he could indulge his passion. He had dedicated gardens for his favourite flowers. Lilies, roses and irises. The iris beds were a thing of beauty. He travelled extensively to collect rare and unusual rhizomes and bulbs. The variety amongst these beauties were incredible. Peaches, pale yellows and pinks, sunset orange, rusty reds, frilled or not, they were all gorgeous.
    I used to wear Hiris back in the 80’s but La Pausa was my favorite. I no longer have either bottle as my tastes have temporarily shifted away from iris. Thank you for the photos! They were a real treat.

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    • Your FIL must have had a stunning garden Marcellavmiller. I understand how one can become a collector of rare bulbs. This garden introduced me to so many new colours which I did not know existed in irises. I adore the pinks, mauves and oranges. But one of my favorites had to be a pale blue iris which had a glittering silver edge along its petal. It was stunning. Sandra xo

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  10. I love iris as a note but most iris perfumes have disappointed me because the note is barely there or it is too carroty. I like the lipsticky aspect of it. The ones you have mentioned, I have not tried any of them though I do have Hiris. My benchmark iris perfume remains Dior Homme original version from 2005 and it is also the one that made me more curious about iris. I also love Masque L’Attesa which might be my second most favorite iris perfume unless I am forgetting something. However, vintage versions of Dior Homme (it has been through numerous reformulations that mostly started around 2010/2011 and have become quite common since then) is my holy grail iris perfume and I don’t think that will ever change.

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    • I forgot to mention I enjoy Cleef Bois’ d Iris also but it does not really strike me as a proper iris perfume. It is, in fact, very similar to Dior Bois d’Argent. In fact, it is the closest to Bois d’Argent of any perfume I know. Both these perfumes feel to me quite warm woody creations.

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    • Hi Fazal. I too enjoy a good lipstick iris. I have never tried Dior Homme and will go and seek it out next time I am in the city. Have you tried Frederic Malle Iris Poudre? That has a slight lipstick vibe on me. Sandra xo

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      • Sandra, I have Iris Poudre somewhere in boxes but I do not remember very well how it smelled. I think I felt makeup powder effect more than the lipstick if my memory serves me right. Regarding Dior Homme, I do not suggest trying it at a store because the latest formulas are nothing like the original. I tried the latest last year and Sephora and I was shocked. Try Dior Homme only if you come across an older formula or one in a bottle with silver tube inside, not the black tube that has been the norm since 2011 or so. Silver tube version is guaranteed to be 2010 or before and I think Dior Homme was pretty decent until at least 2009.

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    • Hi Old Herbaceous. I read your post full of envy. What an experience! Nirmal is another good one. I have never tried Terre d’Iris though. Onto the list it goes. 😊
      Sandra xo

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  11. Those irises are absolutely stunning, Sandra!
    I love iris scents, my current faves are TDC Bois d’Iris, SL Silver Mist (breathtakingly beautiful), Splendiris and Prada Infusion.

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  12. What a wonderful iris garden! Thanks for posting all of these photos. I love iris in the garden and in perfumes. The smaller iris varieties, sometimes called Dutch or Japanese iris, do not have a scent. These are often sold as cut flowers too. Many varieties of the taller bearded iris are richly scented, however, and I suspect that you were standing next to a patch of some of those, Sandra, when you encountered that “magical smell.” When I buy iris for planting, I always choose those fragrant ones. Some have an almost syrupy sweet scent, with an herbal quality. Once you smell bearded iris in bloom, you never forget it.

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    • Hi Grayspoole, Thank you for clarifying the smell for me. I was actually standing amongst hundreds of tall bearded irises. I am glad to know that I was not losing my mind and that I was in fact smelling the irises. You hit the nail on the head – I will never forget it. Sandra xo

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  13. I love the pictures, I have not seen more than 3 varieties of irises so I’m amazed! I love Le Labo 39 and Iris des Champs. Both are rather expensive, so I only have a 15 ml bottle of the Le Labo iris so far. I’ll take note of some of the suggested perfumes and try to get samples.

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    • Hi Ingeborg, Great to see you! The garden was amazing. I have not tried either of your iris perfumes. Onto the list they go. Hope all is well. Sandra xo

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  14. Oh, those photographs! Those flowers! I’ve been back a few times but I keep being distracted by the images and forget to leave a comment.

    I was kind of late to the iris party, but, I tend towards the non lipstick-and-powder end: the chill of Iris Silver Mist, the dryness of Iris Nazarene, and the earthy pewter gleam of Trimerous (the new release from Jorum Studios that has completely bowled me over).

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    • Hi Crikey, It took me a while to come to love irises too. I think Iris Silver Mist is beautiful but for some unknown reason, I just never reached for it. Iris Nazarene is also beautiful. I am off to look up Jorum Studios now. Thanks for the suggestion. Do you have a niche perfumery in town? Or do you have to buy online?
      Sandra xo

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      • There’s no specialised perfumery here at all–in Edinburgh or Glasgow–though there are a handful of decent department stores, and a trio of stand alone brand shops (penhaligons, jo malone, le labo). So the majority is online for me.

        Jorum are brand new: it’s the self-directed work from Euan McCall of Jorum Labs, who’s the nose behind quite a few really interesting niche scents.

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