The International Perfume Museum outside Grasse is an open-air
conservatory for fragrant plants and flowers connected to the area’s
century-long history of perfumery. Its gardens are planted according to
traditional scent families, with florals, herbs, woods and others
program Scent family
The rose geranium is a flowering shrub with velvety leaves, native to South Africa, and belongs to the species of geraniums and pelargoniums. It is a popular houseplant in gardens and on balconies in the eastern Mediterranean region, and in flowerpots in northern climates. It is the leaves and stems that are used for their aromatic properties, not the white and pink flowers. The scent is bright, green and moist; soft and rose-like but with hints of citrus and mint. Rose geranium is an important ingredient in herbal and floral fragrances and has been used in perfumery since the early 19th century, primarily as a substitute for real rose.
Oakmoss is a pale-green lichen that grows by symbiosis on the bark of both deciduous trees and conifers, primarily on oaks. It is harvested in cool and damp forested regions in Central Europe and around the Mediterranean Sea. The rootless plant hangs from the trunks and branches in bushy clusters, with a length of about three centimetres. Oakmoss has a deep and earthy scent, with fresh spicy tones and a hint of bark. It has been used in perfumery since the 16th century and is one of the essential ingredients in classic chypre and fougère fragrances, both forest-like with woody accords. Oakmoss is often a counterpoint to floral and citrus notes and, on its own, it is reminiscent of foliage and damp soil.
There is a wide spectrum of vetiver scents – from dry, earthy and smoky to moist and clean citrus notes. Its relation to lemongrass is often evident, as is its place in the woods family. Vetiver is a tall tropical grass native to the Indian subcontinent but cultivated today in countries like Haiti, Brazil and Indonesia. The grass is exceptionally resistant and withstands flooding, drought and extreme temperatures. It thrives on marshy riverbeds and because of its dense and fibrous root system, it is often planted to prevent erosion. Vetiver grass has traditionally been used to make cooling curtains and for scenting rooms in hot and humid climates. The fragrance used in perfumery is, however, obtained from its dried roots.
The cade juniper grows on rocky scrublands around the Mediterranean. The fragrant wood was burned in ancient religious ceremonies, and is a common ingredient in incense. Cade has a deep and smoky, slightly sweet scent with a dry finish, and belongs to the woods family.
Rosemary is an evergreen shrub, native to Mediterranean coastal areas, with glossy green leaves resembling flat pine needles. Its scent is mild and complex with rich buttery notes contrasted by citrus, mint, pine, and lavender. The plant has been used for thousands of years as a symbol of friendship, fidelity and remembrance.