Human Flower Project
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Nose-Pros Travel to Isles of Scilly
As cut-flower production around the world gradually trades scent for show, English farmers invest in analysis of their famed narcissi.
The Isles of Scilly, sprinkled in the Atlantic Ocean 30 miles off southwesternmost England, are home to 25 varieties of narcissus, some of the most powerfully fragrant flowers in the world. Among the most delicately beautiful, too.
Flower farmers on the islands are hoping, in an age of increasingly scentless flowers, to learn more about their narcissi’s properties and so have invited three fragrance experts in to sniff and provide them with an “‘organoleptic’ description.”
Andrew May, representing the growers, said: “We thought it would give us a real edge if we were able to describe the unique scents of our flowers in much the same way as the bouquet of wine is often described.”
I’m relieved to hear the Scillian flower growers have brought in three noses, since even among my amateur-smeller friends there’s widespread disagreement about paperwhites, probably the most popular wintertime narcissus in the U.S. Some call its strong sweetness “heavenly.” I’ve heard others ask, “Do you have an electrical fire?”