Chasing Daphne

I have a brown thumb. I know it is so because once I killed ivy – and it wasn’t even my intent! It doesn’t upset me too much since I never felt like growing anything. But despite that I’ve just adopted a plant. I wanted to do it for a while but for the last several years something would come up in January-February – the only two months when Daphne Odora (Winter Daphne) blooms. And knowing my “abilities” I wanted to get at least the first bloom.

Apollo and Daphne by Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Apollo and Daphne, by Gian Lorenzo Bernini

I found Daphne many years ago while walking in the park next to the office. I smelled something wonderful in the air – and just methodically sniffed every flower I could see around until I found it. Then it took me another year to figure out the name of that plant and then several more years to finally get it.

Daphne’s flowers aren’t that impressive: pale pink with darker center. They resemble many others flowering shrubs’ blooms. But the scent is heavenly. I thought how to describe Daphne’s aroma when serendipitously a couple of days ago I saw Ineke Ruhland’s Facebook post about that plant and I figured out that she was better qualified to give you an idea of how it smells – in case you haven’t smelled it before.

I would say it’s a must-have plant for gardeners who like scented plants or for perfume lovers. I’ve heard many gardeners rave about the scent, which I would describe as orange flower + lemon + honey + molasses. It’s sweet but not cloying. […] When you run across one with loads of blooms, it’s a real wafter.

Daphne odora

Since I smelled Daphne for the first time I wanted to have perfume with that scent. “Daphne odora” was my standard answer to questions in different polls as to which note/scent you want created in a perfume form. From what I read, all parts of Daphne plant are poisonous so I don’t think there will ever be an actual Daphne note in any perfume but I’m fine with a recreation – as long as it smells close.

The first (and so far the only) perfume I ever saw listing Daphne as a note was Eau de Tommy Sooni II by Tommy Sooni (it’s not the most imaginative name, is it?). I read Victoria’s (EauMG) glowing review and it was an immediate lemming. You should read it too if you haven’t tried this perfume yet. I don’t think I can describe it better.

Does it smell like Daphne? It doesn’t the way Carnal Flower smells of tuberose, Diorissimo of lily-of-the-valley or Miss Charming of roses. When I smell it on its own, my mind doesn’t conjure Daphne immediately. But when I do a side-by-side sniffing of the real flower and Eau de Tommi Sooni II, I can “see” the resemblance. It might be that this perfume has one of the many other types of Daphne, not Daphne odora that I like.

I think that Eau de Tommi Sooni II is one of those perfumes praising which one does it a disservice: since this perfume doesn’t wow you from the first sniff telling you how wonderful it smells might create wrong expectations and cause a disappointment. But I can say that it is interesting: once I applied it I wanted to smell it again and again, it captivated me. When I finished the first sample I thought that I’d need a decant. By the time the second sample was half-gone I decided to get a bottle and see if I could make the plant last as long as 100 ml of the perfume. I hope that Daphne plant doesn’t run away from me in terror or turn into a nymph.

So despite the not inspiring name and an objectionable bottle size (brands, be reasonable! Why make only 100 ml bottles??!) Eau de Tommi Sooni II has joined my collection as this year birthday perfume bottle.

Eau de Tommi Sooni II

Images: Apollo and Daphne – from here, the last two my own

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32 thoughts on “Chasing Daphne

  1. I know I’ve sniffed this on paper but don’t remember it. I guess that proves your point that it needs to be tried and you need to spend some time with it to appreciate it.
    I’m buried in snow and even though the temps should provide a little melting today, we’re a long way off from smelling flowers outside. I envy you that. My plants I wish I could grow are gardenia and jasmine. They are grown as houseplants here but my house is neither warm enough or sunny enough I guess because all I can get them to do is drop their leaves and never bloom. I’m good with plants too but they are just too fussy for my house.

    • If you get a chance, try this one on your skin – you might like it.
      It’s the end of February so many trees around here are almost done with their blooms. And we have more rain in the forecast for the next week. Yay!

  2. Hey Undina,
    You’
    ve touched on two things I like very much.
    My Mum had a terrific Daphne plant under the front hose attachment that grew to mammoth proportions before one day turning up its roots and dying for no reason. It was about 2 feet from my bedroom window and I used to love it fragrance wafting through.
    Tommi Sooni is Australian!! I really enjoy EDTS2 also but haven’t yet sprung for a bottle.
    One day.
    Portia xx

  3. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this plant and I’m not familiar with TS scents, but I have heard some good reviews about their line. But I kind of imagine the smell described. This post borught back some memories from seaside holidays, when I tried to catch the smell of datura and seomehow compare it to the Serge Luten’s Datura Noir….Datura opens at night and it has very short blooming lifespan. ;-P. The plant was in front of the restaurant and I was sticking my nose into it every time we went by. It must have been funny scene to see.

  4. Well, I have never smelt daphne the flower and now I really want to, also this perfume! I seem to be drawn increasingly to sensual floral compositions – and have a higher tolerance for sweetness than I used to – so even if the resemblance to the flower isn’t total or immediately obvious I like the sound of both. Such a shame about the big bottle, but maybe you will get through more than you think… ;)

    • I’m sure I’ll find some use for it ;)

      You should come to visit us in February: even if my plant doesn’t survive (I’m being realistic) I know where they grow with a better care than mine.

  5. A fascinating post, Undina, as I’d never heard of this flowering plant, and by the Ineke description you provided, it’s a whiff of everything I love. That you find it intoxicating, to the degree that you adopted a plant and also went in search of a perfume comprising its scent, makes me really want to smell it. As well as the Eau de Tommi Sooni II perfume!

    Love the photo of the Bernini statue that you chose for this post, too. And hey, your new banner … dreamy!

    • Thank you, Suzanne.
      As I told Vanessa above, you just have to plan [one of] your trips here for February ;)

      I’m still trying to figure out what to do with the banner: there are some strange limitations with the settings in this new theme.

  6. I love how you methodically sniffed every flower until you found the one that caught your attention. You persevere where others give up or don’t even try in the first place.

    On a totallay different topic, I do hope you don’t have any friends or family caught up in the awful events in Ukraine.

    • Right now everybody’s fine but we’re watching what’s happening in Ukraine and hate it. I hope it calms down soon but you never know with those situations.

      On the lighter note, I think any perfumista would have done the same: it’s such an interesting scent!

  7. I’ll have to see if I can get some Daphne odora next year, as I’ve never smelled it, and both the description and the name are intriguing. (The mythic Daphne did turn into a laurel tree.) Like you, I have no confidence in my ability to keep a plant alive for any length of time. I do know of an unkillable plant, though not a fragrant one– the jade plant. It’s a nice-looking, miniature-tree-like succulent (I think). Unlike a cactus, it’s not susceptible to overwatering, although it will also survive almost complete neglect. Good luck with your Daphne. Perhaps your love for it will prove stronger than your brown thumb.

    • I tried to choose the picture of that sculpture that shows from the best angle how her hands are turning into the shrub.

      I’ll do my best about my Daphne but we’ll see.

  8. Wowzer, Undina! Nice post! Shiny new site! I think I have seen the Daphne plant previously but could not for the life of me remember where. I actually do not have a love of flowers of any kind due to my association of flowers with my grandmother’s wake; she was so well loved that the funeral parlor was overrun with flower arrangements and they just kept multiplying and the smell of flowers just overwhelmed my 6 year old self.

    And congrats on your birthday perfume!

    • Oh, I’m really sorry that flowers have such a grim associasion for you. Maybe you could carefully build a better one? By getting a single plant, making it bloom…

      WordPress has retired my old theme and stopped supporting it, so I had to find something new. I’m still in the process of adjusting it but, in general, I like it.

  9. Lovely!
    I don’t know this plant but now I’ll keep my eyes open and see if I might spot it somewhere here (unless this climate is completely unsuitable for it).
    I haven’t smelled this Tommi Sooni but I think they are a brand that doesn’t get enough praise (I really like the first one).

    • I haven’t seen it in Europe so I wouldn’t knowif it grows there. But if you come across it give it your attention: it’s really great.

      Tommi Sooni is a solid brand. I tried two more of their perfumes and liked one of them.

  10. Happy birthday to you!
    I’ve yet to find a “true” daphne; it must be impossible to replicate. Daphne is one of the best smells ever. It’s a reminder of life after winter :)

  11. Ha! If the plant runs away from you I hope you get a photo! (I can just picture a fleeing plant.)

    I’ve tested this scent several times and given up on it but did so several times because there was something interesting in it – now you will give me something to look for if I smell it again!

  12. Happy belated birthday (via the blog, I still must say this, I think – plus it expands the birthday to the very end of the month)! :) I am very interested to smell this particular Daphne now. Even though I think I have seen these flowers, I never registered anything that smells as wonderful as Ineke’s description. And I don’t think I have smelled that particular Tommi Soon. Congratulations on the birthday bottle!

  13. I love the smell of daphne odora (or, at least, I adore the scent of a flower that I think I’ve identified correctly as being daphne odora!) and Eau de Tommi Sooni II is one of my favourite perfumes. I loved it from the first time I smelled it and it just keeps getting better.

  14. Lovely post. I just wanted to point out to Daphne Odora newbies that all parts of the plant are HIGHLY TOXIC if ingested (to humans and domestic animals). It can be fatal. The sap can also cause skin rashes. It’s a lovely plant and I love the scent but be careful with it. The toxicity is possibly why it’s so hard to find in a perfume.

    • Elle, thank you for the clarification. In case I was too subtle with my “all parts of Daphne plant are poisonous”, now nobody will be thinking about eating it :)

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