Sunday, March 28, 2010

Flowers' Power in the Perfume

Longwood's blooms illustrate new exhibit that explores the art and passion of fragrance. Flowers' power in the perfume world will be explored at Longwood Gardens' new exhibition, ''Making Scents: The Art and Passion of Fragrance.''

The massive presentation will turn the gardens' indoor Conservatory into a treat for the senses at a time when its outdoor gardens also will be filled with blooming daffodils, magnolias, azaleas, flowering cherries and more than 235,000 tulips.

''Making Scents'' opens April 10 and continues to Nov. 10.

A flower-filled 18-foot-tall sculptural trellis, shaped like a perfume bottle, will welcome visitors to Longwood's Conservatory in Kennett Square, Chester County. A highlight will be discovering the plants and flowers behind iconic perfumes including Chypre, Shalimar and Allure. But that's only a small part of this sniff-and-tell experience. Substantial space is dedicated to explaining both the art and science poured into creating a perfume.

Visitors will sniff mystery perfume scents and learn to classify them according to the type of aroma they have from floral, citrus and fern to woody, Oriental or leather. More than 260 different aromatic plants and flowers from around the world have been added to the conservatory's existing collection for the indoor part of this exhibition.

Among the key flowers in bloom at the start of the exhibition will be yellow freesias, Oriental lilies, hyacinths and gardenias along with sweet white jasmine flowers. A special treat will be catching whiffs of the cananga tree's ylang-ylang flowers. These blooms from trees that grow in Indonesia and the Philippines are highly prized and are used to add depth and intensity to several high-profile perfumes.

Flowers and scents will change with the seasons. In bloom, too, will be a spring assortment of lilacs, lilies and narcissus. In summer, guests will be able to stop and smell the roses, scented geraniums, lavender and Brugmansias. Sage, mint, lemon and rosemary will be among the autumn scents while scents of paperwhites, pine, juniper and fir will be in place for the winter holiday season.