Making Scents at the Arboretum and the Quilt Garden

Wearing perfume is enjoyable for me, but is fraught with problems nowadays because of other people’s allergies or lung issues.  I have to be very careful when I decide to wear it out.  I don’t put it on in crowded situations like meetings, but I do enjoy wearing a pretty scent out to dinner with DH.  Sometimes I’ll put some on in the evening just to enjoy around the house, as he likes the fragrances I wear.  My go-to for spring/summer for several years has been Boucheron, a French fragrance that has been around since 1988.  I loved Yves St Laurent’s ‘Y’ for fall, but it was discontinued, and I have yet to find something else that says Autumn the way it did for me.  Winter is just right for the heavier spicy Opium.  If you are interested in fragrances, the exhibit at the NC Arboretum Baker Center called Making Scents is a fun thing to see.  This is the final weekend for it, you can see it through Labor Day before it closes.

Making Scents Exhibit at NC Arboretum at From My Carolina Home

You’ll learn a bit of history, and find out what a ‘nose’ does. (Extra credit if you remember that term from The Christmas List!)

Making Scents Exhibit at NC Arboretum at From My Carolina Home

The perfumer’s tools include bottles of essences which are precisely blended.  There are so many essences in a single fragrance!   I was surprised to find this out some time ago, as I thought there were only three or four essences in a fragrance.  My summer cologne, Boucheron, has ylang-ylang, tuberose, orange blossom, jasmine, civet, basil, wood notes, vanilla, ambergris, and oak moss among other notes.  Readers familiar with my love of white flowers will note that most of the flowers in that fragrance are white, LOL!!  The ‘Y’ has a main top note of bergamot, also a white flower with a spicy component.

Making Scents Exhibit at NC Arboretum at From My Carolina Home

Interactive exhibits make the experience fun.  There were little puffers that you could use to sniff, then decide what you thought.

Making Scents Exhibit at NC Arboretum at From My Carolina Home

I didn’t realize that the ‘notes’ of a fragrance stay around for different lengths of time.  Top notes evaporate quickly, middle notes last for a few hours, while base notes can stick around for days.  If you are curious as to what notes may be in a fragrance, there is a great website called (no affiliation) that has just about everything.  I’ve used it to try to find something comparable to the ‘Y’ that I cannot get anymore.

Making Scents Exhibit at NC Arboretum at From My Carolina Home

Perfumes are also categorized by class, the main notes of a fragrance.  I know from the fragrance website that I tend to gravitate toward the Oriental and Chypre classes for my fragrances.  I’ve looked up many of the colognes I have worn over the years, and those two classes keep coming up.  We have been looking for an after shave and cologne for DH now for some time.  The British Sterling he used to wear has had a change in its formula and it isn’t as nice as it used to be. He likes the leather and woodsy classes, but most of what is out there for men now is so citrusy, not my taste or his.

Making Scents Exhibit at NC Arboretum at From My Carolina Home

On this interactive exhibit, you can slide the bars to blend your own fragrance from three options per note (top, middle and base).  The machine will take your three choices, blend them, then let you know what your choices resemble in real perfume.

Making Scents Exhibit at NC Arboretum at From My Carolina Home

It gives you a scented card so you can sniff your choices as a blend.

Making Scents Exhibit at NC Arboretum at From My Carolina Home

The highlight of the exhibit is the artistry of the glass bottles.

Making Scents Exhibit at NC Arboretum at From My Carolina Home

The craftsmanship of these lovely pieces was extraordinary.  Pieces from the early 1800s are displayed next to modern ones.  The gorgeous blue bottle on the top shelf is by an unknown maker from the 1800s.

Making Scents Exhibit at NC Arboretum at From My Carolina Home

The bottle marked #188 is by Faberge called Princess Grace of Monaco from 1998  The large one on the right with the interesting top is a modern one by Sarah Jessica Parker called Covet from 2007.

Making Scents Exhibit at NC Arboretum at From My Carolina Home

Gorgeous clear glass works of art aren’t they! Unfortunately, I didn’t get the key for these.  The candle art glass piece was really pretty.  There were bottles from as early as the first century all the way through to today.

Making Scents Exhibit at NC Arboretum at From My Carolina Home

Interesting part of history, from the 1200s up to the 1700s, people used to believe that disease was spread by inhaling bad air, and that perfume could prevent one from catching the plague.  Physicians would wear masks with aromatics to to protect themselves.

Making Scents Exhibit at NC Arboretum at From My Carolina Home

In the 1500s to the 1700s, people lived in stench and squalor due to the filth in the streets.  Germs had not been discovered, and sanitation didn’t exist.  In Paris, one of the foulest cities in Europe, the noble class would carry small apple shaped containers full of aromatics to smell and ward off disease.  The French word for apple is pomme, and is the root of the word pommader.  Pommaders today often contain potpourri.

Making Scents Exhibit at NC Arboretum at From My Carolina Home

The interesting shape glass container with the Frenchman is a Czechoslovakian  piece from 1935.  Just behind and to the right is a Japanese perfume by artist Zsolnay from 1878.  The tall clear bottle with the black stopper is Stuben glass, as is the pink one behind it.

Making Scents Exhibit at NC Arboretum at From My Carolina Home

The large triangular piece is Liz Claiborne from 1986.  The little one #164 is Quelque Fleurs from 1912.  On the right, #165 is Bill Blass.  I met him in 1978, when I worked in a cosmetics department at a big department store.   He was charming, gracious to us mere mortals and a perfect gentleman. I wore his perfume for many years, and loved its fresh clean scent.

Making Scents Exhibit at NC Arboretum at From My Carolina Home

The photo of the key to this case didn’t come out, I wish I could tell you about the beautiful piece with the large blue stone, the interesting piece behind it, and the antiques below.  I do recognize the birds on top of the bottle on the upper right as Lalique by French glass artist René Lalique for Coty from the early 1900s, another design and fragrance that survives to today.

Making Scents Exhibit at NC Arboretum at From My Carolina Home

The Statue of Liberty bottle was made by Estee Lauder in 2000.  In front of it, a Viennese piece from the 1800s.  My favorite winter fragrance, Opium, is on the right with several examples from the line.

Making Scents Exhibit at NC Arboretum at From My Carolina Home

The green bottle #25 is Roger and Gallet from 1923.  Next to it, the iconic Shalimar by Guerlain from 1924, but it is still made and sold in this same bottle today.

Making Scents Exhibit at NC Arboretum at From My Carolina Home

Before we left the Arboretum, we had to stop by the Quilt Garden to see how it was arranged this year.

Arboretum Fiber Show at From My Carolina Home

Pink and red flowers form arrows pointing to the center of every group of four.  Small white flowers frame the corners.  Pretty isn’t it?  The Arboretum does a different design each year.  Last time I showed this, they had butterflies.

Arboretum Fiber Show at From My Carolina Home

I’d like to hear from readers who enjoy wearing fragrances, and what your favorite fragrance is.  Do you change your perfume with the seasons?

Read more about Perfumes and Perfume bottle art with these books on Amazon.
The Alchemy of Scent
The Essence of Perfume
The Wonderful World of Perfume Bottles
Baccarat: The Perfume Bottles – A Collector’s Guide
Art of Perfume: Discovering and Collecting Perfume Bottles
Collecting Lalique: Perfume Bottles & Glass

See what’s new on sale today with the Fat Quarter Shop’s Flash Sale.  Thank you for using my affiliate links!

Making Scents Exhibit at NC Arboretum at From My Carolina Home

20 thoughts on “Making Scents at the Arboretum and the Quilt Garden

  1. Thank you for all the info…..I’ll bet I’ve been to the Arboretum in conjunction with my ongoing qult exhibit a dozen times in the last 5 weeks and haven’t been over to the Baker Center……will make that a priority now!

  2. I would never be able to go to this exhibit without leaving with a massive headeache, scratchy throat and stuffy nose. Those scent cards would do me in. I am so glad that you are conscious of others when wearing your scents. I have one friend that refuses to tone down her fragrances when she knows that she will be going out with me (she once told me to take an allergy pill). Other friends have accommodated me and I see them often, but I avoid outings with this friend as I can’t enjoy the evening when I feel ill. I do love all the different perfume bottles. They are gorgeous.

  3. Thank you for this post. I wanted to visit that exhibit. Scent is a powerful thing. I’ve mostly switched to essential oils in a fractionated coconut oil base. There is a blend called Rainbow Row that is divine. But, mostly I use geranium, myrrh and wild orange. Yummy.

  4. I have changed my whole outlook on scents when I substituted in a fourth grade classroom. A speaker came in to give some sort of talk and with her came a fragrance that was overpowering to me. Next thing I know students are busily trying to get one of their fellow students out of the classroom. It turns out she was highly allergic to various fragrances. Arg! I used to love Miss Balmain. I’ve pretty much given up wearing any scents — husband notices every scent negatively including me putting on hand cream. I don’t really miss it to tell the truth. Very interesting post.

  5. Joan

    Thank you for being sensitive to others’ allergies! I have switched to using Jo Malone hand and body creams which come in numerous fragrances, but aren’t super strong, due to allergies. I loved Boucheron, Opium, Shalimar, etc. when I was younger! The exhibit sounds really interesting!

  6. Patricia Evans

    I would have enjoyed this fascinating exhibit very much. I visited the Arboretum a few years ago with our friends from Asheville, but it was late March so of course only bulbs were in bloom. I don’t wear a fragrance anymore and actually can’t remember the name of my last favorite. Thanks for the virtual tour.

  7. I always the detail of old fashion perfume bottles. Your post brought the memory back of the very first time I received a perfume. It was from my second grade teacher and she let all us girls pick something out of her pretty box of things she didn’t want anymore. I picked a perfume bottle and held on to it for many, many years. (Hmmmm…..I may still have it tucked away in my childhood box in the attic) Thanks for sharing your adventure with us. 🙂

  8. Kari

    Love this post on scents. I once mixed scents when in Egypt to form my personal scent.. It was lovely, but I somehow misplaced all the ingredients. LOL

  9. Carolyn

    Thanks for taking us to the exhibit! The fragrances are such a tangible link to my mother and grandmothers and the different stages of my own life. Now, because of so many suffering from the allergies at church and work, I seldom wear my current Ralph Lauren Romance. I have loved L’Air du Temps which my maternal grandmother used and I loved Halston in the seventies, usually gravitating to light florals. Mama wore Chanel #5 and then Georgio. I keep her last bottle to bring her right back! Thanks for the reminders.

  10. BJ

    What a fascinating exhibit! Thanks for the great tour and, as usual, descriptions that make me believe I’m right there. I have skin that makes every perfume smell like vinegar – just like my grandmother. When I tried Georgio and nobody walked away from me, I knew I’d found my scent. Shortly thereafter, I met DH and was chagrined to find out he has severe allergies to tons of things, including perfumes. I remember cleaning out my mother’s home and feeling like she was with me, just from the smell of her clothes. I do regret that my family will not have such a powerful reminder when my time comes.

  11. When I was younger (mid 20s – 30s) I used to love perfume. As I have gotten older my sinuses can’t handle it anymore. I honestly do miss fragrance. I liked the softer scents and the lemon scented Jean Nate’.
    Funny note: My aunt lost her sense of smell and relied on memory of liking one; Tigress by Faberge. It was very heavy, announced her arrival in a room, and reeked, as she really poured it on. Now you need to know that I idolized this “Auntie Mame” and wore her perfume as a teen! Totally inappropriate, but I felt so sophisticated.

  12. Debbie Miller Meyer

    I have so many favorites from my teenage and early years. Most were inexpensive since funds were limited. I loved Heaven Scent, Wind Song and Emeraude. I still wear Emeraude on occasion , but my go to fragrance today is a casual scent by Lancôme, La Vie Est Belle.

  13. Probably my all time favorite was My Sin. It was my mother’s perfume. She always wore it when she and daddy got dressed up to go out, and other times “just because”. When I could no longer get My Sin, I changed to Arpege, by the same company Lanvin. I also liked opium, cinnabar, Calvin Klein’s first perfume (what was it? Calvin?), and even one of the Wild Musk perfumes…don’t remember who that was by. Also, White Linen. Weil de Weil was a favorite, just had a tiny bottle of that and have no idea who made it. I have no allergies to fragrance but some people wear wwaaayyyyy too much and really need someone to tell them they have on too much!!

  14. Sharon Schipper

    I go back to Emeraude by Coty. It has changed (like your dh’s British sterling) but the essence remains. My favorite of all times is Tigress by Faberge (used lightly! on a hanky in the bra….) used to be able to get it from Vermont Country Store catalog after it disappeared. I wear Imari by Avon (mainly because all the ones I like from Avon get discontinued!) I love Estee White Linen, but it stinks on me… sad. I go for the warm spicy as well, and anything with roses or freesia for summer! Tea Rose is another I can no longer find… Shalimar has some of the same notes as Emeraude, but hugely more expensive, sigh! I haven’t tried Opium. My sis likes White Diamonds (eliz taylor’s) but it also doesn’t suit my chemistry. So…. a little warm sandalwood is nice… I stay away from musk…

  15. Susan T

    Thanks for taking me along on a very interesting and different day. Sounds like we have the same “smells” in perfumes as Opium is one of my favs. I also like others in that same range. Perfumes change so drastically on me that I struggle with finding anything that doesn’t smell like an old fashion stinky scent. I’ll give some of yours a try. Some of those bottles are so beautiful.

  16. Patricia Charles.

    Hi Carole, joined your site a while ago. What a lovely display of perfumes. I love perfumes also. My mother used to wear Evening in Paris that my father bought for her. Found it on line to buy. Love all of your designs. From Patricia In Australia.

  17. Anne in Colorado

    What fun to read about your visit to “making scents”. Enjoyed reading so much. When I was working as a housekeeping in a large hotel in London, UK I got to smell many perfumes so found one I ‘could not live without’. Chant D’Aromes by Guerlain. Used it for many years & was able to buy at customs for a good price. Now use Channel #5 & Yardley Lavender. Bought Samsara by Guerlain at our State Fair but I can not really smell it when I use so never again. But I love the smell of lavender, as I was raised with it in the garden, or is it me being British?
    Anne in Colorado

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