September news: Jasmine & Tuberose

How time flies!  In our last post, we spoke about the roses of May, one of the important ‘Fleurs d’Exception‘ that make Grasse famous.  Now here we are already in September, the season of the Tuberose, and since last month until sometime in October, (depending on the weather), it is also the season of the Jasmine grandiflorum.

Polianthes tuberosa- Tuberose blossoms

These are all highly fragrant flowers, and are used extensively in the fine fragrance industry.  They are considered ‘noble’ raw materials.

These flowers, amongst others,  are still produced in the Grasse region (the Pays de Grasse), and are often picked by teams of Gypsy (Gitane, Roma) women, who arrive early every morning at the farms to pick only the flowers that are newly opened.  For the rose and jasmine, this means every single morning throughout the blooming period. I have picked with these women, and they joke that only they are willing to do this hard work.  They laugh and tell me that the French are not willing to work so hard.  The pickers are paid per kilo, and to give an example, it takes about 800kg of jasmine blossoms to make 1 kilo of absolute- each blossom delicately picked by hand in the early morning before the sun gets too high or too hot.

For the extraction, all is done by solvent (hexane) extraction, to produce a waxy concrete, followed by an alcohol wash, which is then vacuum distilled off, to yield the final purified absolute.   In Bulgaria and Turkey, roses are also steam distilled to yield the precious essential oil, but Grasse is producing for the perfume industry, so absolutes are the most economical and complete extracts.

Next post I will talk about the art of grafting… something that is a big part of the rose and jasmine plants of Grasse.

In other news:  as you know, I have been developing a new collection of fragrances for 1000 Flowers.  Of course, being an independent artisan company, that means wearing the hat for all stages of creation and production.   Even the graphic design is all my own work, since design is my secondary passion, behind perfume creation itself.   So in the lab, in the middle of the old city of Grasse, all stages of the Blue Collection are being developed and refined.

We first spoke about this almost 10 months ago.  At the time, I had become a client of the amazing Biolandes for some of our key natural raw materials for the collection, and had anticipated launching the collection in May.   However, I made the mistake of trying to work with local printing companies for the labels, and, very long story short, lost the whole summer and several hundred euros in being run-around by one local company in particular.  I have learned a very valuable lesson: in France, if you are a small company, working on a shoestring, you will not be taken seriously.    Sadly, the concept of ‘starting small’ is not yet respected or understood here, as it is in Canada or the UK.   In the end, I had to go to the UK for my labels, and these are expected to arrive next week.

The advantage to these delays, is that I have revisited the perfume formulae many times, and as the samples mature, I see what small changes can be made, and how to improve them.  So I suppose, it’s for the best that the project has taken longer than anticipated to realize.  Art can’t be rushed.  🙂 

In conclusion, to be a good perfumer, as much as it is very romantic,  is not at all an easy path. It is an exceptionally challenging career, and one that takes an amazing amount of work and sacrifice and perseverance, where one NEVER stops learning and improving.  Sometimes I question having given up everything to be where I am now.   But then I open my cupboard of pure materials, and bring out the precious naturals from the fridge, and dive back into a creation, and realize there is nothing else I would rather be doing…


Queen of the Flowers

Suddenly, it is the 31st of August!  I am amazed with how fast this summer, and year, has flown by.  Everyday seems to flash by with not much time for relaxing.

Perhaps this in why, in the midst of all this busyness, that I have been developing a particular new product from 1000 Flowers.  This is a substance that embodies peace and calm, and love and beauty, and of course, a fragrance that is considered throughout history as being closely associated with enlightened beings, and with the gods.   What I am speaking of is of course- Rose.

Today I am announcing the launch of 2 variations of steam distilled Rosa Damascena essential oil sourced from the Valley of the Roses in Bulgaria.  The steam distilled oil is also known as Rose Otto or Attar of Rose.  (Purchase can be made directly in the 1000 Flowers online boutique.)   (Note: As of October 2015, we are temporarily out of stock of pure Rose Otto). 

The first version of this precious material is a 5ml mini flacon of
pure steam distilled Rose Otto oil. 

The pure oil can be used in many different ways- by adding to your perfumes, cosmetics, lotions, oils, bath, atomizer, as well as in cooking.  (It is prudent to always dilute before use, as with all pure essential oils.)

The second, is a 15ml flacon of the Rose Otto diluted to 10% in fractionated coconut oil. (an odorless, colourless and extremely stable oil.)

The diluted version, can be worn as a natural perfume in its own right, but may also be added to your lotions etc since even at 10% this is a very potent product.  As a perfume, this version can also used for meditation, or be added as a top to middle note, to your own perfume blends. Even a touch of distilled rose oil will have an extremely positive effect on all perfume blends.

The packaging is typical of 1000 Flowers products, in small white decorated boxes:
     The origin of the Damask Rose, as its name implies, is Syria and the region of the city of Damascus.  (although the parent cultivated varieties of the Damask rose are thought to originate on the Persian Gulf, in the region now known as Iran).  It is believed that in the 16th century Ottoman crusaders originally brought the Damask rose to the area of the town of Kazanlik in Bulgaria, where the region’s climate was and is, ideal for the production of roses.  Kazan is the Turkish word for ‘still’, and Kazanlik literally means ‘the place of stills’.

The rose season begins in May and lasts about 3-4 weeks, depending on the season. All the flowers are picked daily, by hand early in the morning and distilled immediately thereafter.

On average, about 4000kg of the hand-picked blooms are required to produce
1kg of pure essential oil. (again depending on the conditions of the season).

During distillation, a large amount of oil is absorbed into the distillation water, which must then be recovered from this water to produce an acceptable yield. This is achieved by re-distilling the water from the first distillation; a process known as cohobation. (from what I have read, this includes capturing a high percentage of the water-soluble constituent phenyl ethyl alcohol).

Bulgarian pure rose oil is a generally a top note essential oil. Its frequency is extremely high and rapid. Rose oil has the highest frequency (320 Hertz) of all the essential oils on the planet. This in itself is an important factor. It means that the fragrant molecules of the rose oil, on inhalation or application, are able to quickly penetrate and travel the pathways of the body, rapidly energizing every cell, bringing balance, harmony and beauty to the body.

Rose essential oil is suitable for all skin types, but it is especially valuable for dry, sensitive or aging skins. It has a tonic and astringent effect on the capillaries just below the skin surface, which makes it useful in diminishing the redness caused by enlarged capillaries. For use on sensitive facial areas, always dilute to about 1% rose oil in a base oil or lotion.  This means about 5-6 drops of pure oil to each 30ml of base oil or lotion, or 50-60 drops of the 10% dilution.


Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns;
I am thankful that thorns have roses.
Alphonse Karr

I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.
Emma Goldman

The world is a rose; smell it and pass it to your friends.
Persian Proverb

Safety Considerations:
*Do not take essential oils internally.
*Do not apply to eyes, sensitive areas or mucous membranes.
*Do not apply undiluted to skin (for directions on proper dilution refer to an aromatherapy text).
*The information on this website is not intended to diagnose or prescribe.
*Pregnant women, nursing mothers and children should not use essential oils without first consulting an appropriately trained healthcare practitioner.