by Jan Kusmirek
IPF Chair UK
"Odours are the Best Way to Judge Soil" Pliny
It is the time when chirp of crickets and grasshoppers end and the squirrels and mice collect the winter store of nuts.
Autumn is not quite here although the Equinox has passed. In my garden the Linden tree has its first few yellow scatterings of leaves begin to turn but not yet fall. The green husked walnuts lie on the dewy grass. It is the Wych Hazel that has lost its sugars to glorious reds and yellows, browns and russets the earliest harbinger of real autumn.
These are all visual signs of what we sense within the shortening days in the Northern hemisphere but there are more subtle signs of change that we might not so easily have observed. For a while we have possibly noticed a different feel to the air these last few days. Was it cold or moistness a certain sharpness or the opposite a lingering warmth?
All these feelings can be related to our nose and its related sense of touch. Things feel different and smell different.
Unless trained few give attention to the smell of the seasons. Oddly in contrast, many fragrance brands take the seasons as markers for their creations and subsequent advertising. So what are we smelling as the seasons change?
Most people are familiar with the fresh smell of earth or soil after rain. Certainly the dew effect will heighten our perception as it evaporates but dry earth also has its aroma. Turning soil over provides us with a gamut of odours. Clay has its own smell as does peat and surprisingly sand. The smell of the desert, apparently dry and empty except for sand and rock is known to any desert traveller whether Gobi or Sahara. Each land has its own aroma without any of the additions of cultural and vegetation smells.
The Roman philosopher and scholar Gaius Plinius Secundus, commonly known as Pliny the Elder writing in his History of Nature in the first century CE recorded what every farmer had known since the birth of agriculture, ‘odour is the best way to judge soil’.
The idea of distilling a dry rock or soil seems at first glance a bit odd but it was done in India where it is called it “matti ka attar” or “earth perfume.
It is produced from the local earth coming from such as dried up water-holes, lakes and wells. The is half baked and then distilled, the vapours from the still go directly into a base material, usually sandalwood oil, or for cheaper products, liquid paraffin.
It was Australian researchers Isabel (Joy) Bear and Richard Thomas who by steam distilling rocks that had been exposed to warm, dry conditions in nature, discovered a yellowish oil – trapped in rocks and soil but released by moisture – this was responsible for the smell given off by the soil. This oil was named petrichor drawn from the Greek and construed to mean the blood of the gods. Following the ideas of the Gaia hypothesis originating with James Lovelock and Lyn Margulis it might better be called gaia-ichor the breath of Mother Earth!
The microorganisms themselves also have their own distinct aromas.
Interestingly Lyn Margulis as a scientist is known mostly for her work with micro-organisms for it is now known that it is not the mineral element that provides the aroma but the accumulation over time, perhaps immense time of the debris of the once living and dying communities that once colonised it. In other words, the odour source is organic and produced by the degradation of material by bacteria.
This Petrichor smell has been analysed as a combination of several fragrant chemical compounds, some have yet to be identified but one is 2-isopropyl-3-methoxy-pyrazine (IPMP). This is also a characteristic of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes and contributes strongly to their odour.
The primary contributors to petrichor’s complex aromatics are the actinobacteria, a genus or family of soil-dwelling bacteria so important in producing the all-important soil fertility component, humus, which too has its own distinct aroma, the smell of good sweet compost! So much so that it has its own fragrance brand, Humus by Michele Bianchi.
Amongst the genus of this actinomycete family are Streptomycetes which inhabit soil and are great decomposers.
They also produce more than half of the world's antibiotics and are consequently invaluable in the medical field. The antibiotic Streptomycin was discovered in 1943 and it saved my life when as a young boy I suffered pneumonia. Treatment with this recently discovered drug was relatively unexplored and I remember the smell very well. Today many years later I relate it to Vetiver in my smell memory bank and the earthy taste of beetroots.
Streptomyces, these soil-dwelling bacteria create the substance known as geosmin, the smell which I remember. Geosmin is a terpenoid that is also called likened to an earth smell. From the Greek it simply translates as earth smell. I would argue that whilst we recognise ‘it’ as a single smell it varies from where the source was a taken.
We humans are incredibly sensitive to geosmin and can detect very low concentrations.
Of course this complex material with its many components is synthesised to a commercially available single chemical Octahydro-4,8a-dimethyl-4a(2H)-naphthol sold as geosmin. So two names that show the difference between the scent of soil after rain, petrichor and the smell of earth in hand geosmin.
This time of year is also the best period for mushrooms and fungi in the forest.
All are there to convert the fallen leaves and needles that will release their volatile elements to the soil but also provide the aromatic zephyrs that sweep around us. Some estimates suggest that any given time over ten billion tons of leaves and conifer needles are mouldering away scenting the autumn air.
All this decomposition around us can be called the smell of decay and death. What a morbid thought for the released terpenoids and ethyl alcohols that constitute the hidden aromas. Usually because rain is associated with the ‘earth smell’ romantics refer to the smell of life or Spring but perhaps taking a cue from nature, we could call these odours at this time, the smells of rest and repose, for this is the time of pause preluding regeneration to come.
As I hinted at earlier these smells are of the localised earth so they reflect a particular part of the world, what it has been made of or from, so although chemically analysed in part, the whole represents far more than the synthsised single molecule, euphemistically called nature identical, as generally used in perfumery. Examples of geosmin containing or earth smell fragrances are Terra by ODUR, Starck Paris - Peau’Ailleurs or Le Labo - Baie 19. In descriptions patchouli and amber seems common in the compound.
What I am describing is the incredible world of soil which is the Foundation of Life.
The analysis of the odours emitted always fail to account that the source always emits as a blend. For example It is easy to account that all mushrooms smell mushroomy due to a specific octenol but squeeze or chop a mushroom and the nature of the differences in the blend become clearer for the notes of citrus peel can be found.
Dry them, for most wild crafted mushrooms are destined to be dried for eating and the flavour that results bears witness to the complexity of the odour that may have not so readily been discerned before.
A particular type of soil prevalent where I live is peat and this certainly has its own world of smell and flavour. Leaving aside the burning of peat for another day which flavours whisky (what is better than a fine malt when the first fire of autumn is lit whilst sitting in a comfy chair) peat soils are unique. Current concerns about climate changes show that peat is a great carbon store.
Peat is basically decomposed organic plant matter that has been compressed in the ground for thousands of years, essentially young coal.
It is not peat that flavours whisky but rather the malted grain that absorbs the smoke from the peat fuel used in the drying process.
At this time of year, peatlands are likely to be at their driest before the autumn rains come in. Largely overlaid with water retaining mosses at low level, the last heather blooms on upland moors. The contrast is between wet and dry aromatics.
The wetlands are home to the mosses and sedge grasses or rushes. Underfoot will invariably be the water retaining sphagnum moss.
Looking hard one can find the small insectivorous plant called sundews or Venus FlyTrap.
They exude a sweet-smelling nectar, which attracts gnats, fruit-flies, and other small insects. The overall smell of such land depends upon the level of moving or stagnant water. This brings us directly to the bacteria of decomposition or even fermentation where the lack of oxygen makes a difference to the odours. All degradation, composting or preservation is either aerobic (with oxygen) or anaerobic (without oxygen).
Decomposition is never odour free.
The upland moors still hold the dead or drying flowers of the variety of heathers that gave the purple covered hills of the summer. Now the dry flowers are drying amongst the first brown fronds of bracken and the sweet honey smell of heather, broom and gorse are gone. A dry dust smell of pepper pervades the air and a slight tang of resins can be found as one pushes through the brush.
It is time to reflect and recompose one thoughts for the coming winter.
There is still time to stretch and lie in the sun but evening comes and a shawl is needed earlier for no amount of longing, lounging or pretence will stop the chill. The furry creatures hunker down for the night or the long sleep of hibernation amongst the roots that smell of so many note that succour life and recycle it with odour signals unknown yet to man. Molecules of communication and emotion.
A China Royalty Gift for Father's Day
by Vennie Chou
Every spring I wait for the “Spring Thunder and Lightning “. When I was a kid, I was told by my po-po ( grand ma) that the Spring thunder and lightning wake up all the insects and animals from hibernations. Humidity and heavy rain follow after the Spring thunder, and it is usually in June, Father’s Day month.
Coming from a tropical city, I experienced those heavy rain... and those annoying mosquitoes and black flies and many pests insects. In many traditions, people would throw copper metals, like copper pennies in ponds and wishing wells. By doing so, mosquitoes would not lay eggs in those ponds and waters, as the eggs would not survive. During this period in China, for thousands of years, people would hang wormwood outside their doors and windows to keep the pesty mosquitoes and bugs out. People made and carry sachets and pouches so they would not be bitten by the bugs, as sometimes the bugs often carry diseases. In fact, the sachets were given to the empresses by the emperor in history to protect the Chinese royals.
Father’s Day is just around the corner, and many fathers like to go fishing or hiking , golfing or other outdoor activities. I would like to share this recipe containing the herbs that are used traditionally in sachets to keep one from insect bites. Insects do not like the scents of these herbs...in fact, some says insects are afraid of these plants.
Here is what I put in my sachets: (10 grams of each herb)
Wormwood ( 艾草）
Cloves ( 丁香）
I put all these dried herbs in a blender and ground them into smaller pieces/ powders. I stuff the grinds in a sachet. The blend smells so beautiful... it is subtle with a hint of joy ( from the peppermint). This is a much better choice than the chemical insect spray.
Fathers can carry the sachets in their pockets. In addition, one can smoke these herbs to keep bugs away when outdoor. Amazingly, most of these herbs are harvested during this Spring rain time. It is almost a gift from Mother Nature for us to use.
I made a big sachet for my father and I placed it in a pouch made from Fish leather... Process of tanning fish leather is a very old technique and does not use toxic chemicals. Fish leather is tanned using tannins ( often use teas and tree bark, like cedar). The leather can be dyed using berries and plants. I collect fish skins from restaurant wastes（ saved for me by chefs) when I need them.
I hope this can inspire everyone and making that human-plant connections! I wish all the fathers a healthy and fun day on Father’s Day!
Almost every country in the world celebrates Mother’s Day.
Many countries, such as the US and Germany recognize May 9th as Mother’s Day this year. France celebrates on May 30th and Kenya on June 27th. Several other countries mark the day during the month of March.
Regardless of when you celebrate this very special person, nothing could be more fitting than to give the mother or mothers in your life the gifts of Mother Nature and their amazing benefits of wellness and happiness.
Here are a few ideas that can help mothers Reconnect with Mother Nature:
VanDusen Botanical Garden is jointly operated by the City of Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation and the Vancouver Botanical Gardens Association, a charitable non-profit organization. The two organizations have worked together for more than 40 years under a shared vision of making the Garden cherished locally and renowned internationally.
Public art, lectures, seasonal blooms, family adventures, courses and other events are inviting visitors to discover the healing power of nature.
Vancouver Botanical Garden is so beautiful during fall, we could not resist sharing these pictures with you.
Author and Pictures Rosemary Moore
More info about events organized by VanDusen Botanical Garden
Follow us on the discovery of the most beautiful healing garden on Earth
“The garden is a sacred place that allows people to Reconnect with Nature.
Poesie is recreating lost Paradises,
where only science and technics cannot succeed.”
Marcel François, Founder Bouknadel Exotic Garden
The Exotic Garden is at 12km from Rabat, on Kenitra National Road where Marcel François, a French horticultural engineer, started creating his garden on a flat 4,5 hectares of flat land.
It is truly an invitation to travel with plants originating in China, Southern Asia, Savana, Congo, Japan, Brazil or Polynesia and demonstrates an allegory to diversity with scenes such as luxurious flora contrasting with arid landscapes.
It is a generous work of art from someone who loves Morocco and donated his gardens and house to the Moroccan Government. The Bouknadel Exotic Garden is supported by the Mohammed VI Foundation for the protection of the Environment.
“Le jardin est un lieu sacré qui permet de se reconnecter avec la nature
C’est la poésie qui recrée les Paradis perdus,
la science et la technique seules en sont incapables»
Marcel François, Fondateur des Jardins Exotiques
C’est à 12 Km de Rabat, sur la route nationale de Kenitra que Marcel François, ingénieur horticole français a acquis en 1951 un terrain plat et nu d’une superficie de quatre hectares et demi.
Son jardin est une invitation au voyage avec des plantes et des jardins évoquant la Chine, l’Asie méridionale, la Savane, le Congo, le Japon, le Brésil ou la Polynésie.
Une allégorie de la diversité avec des ambiances contrastées alliant flore luxuriante ou paysages arides… Une œuvre généreuse d’un amoureux du Maroc qui a cédé ses jardins et sa demeure au gouvernement marocain. Les Jardins Exotiques de Bouknadel sont soutenu par la Fondation Mohammed VI pour la Protection de l'Environnement.
More info - Plus d'info
Looking for an hotel nearby: check in Vichy Célestins Hotel Spa Resort
If you’ve ever wanted to grow and process your own herbal remedies, I’ve got great news!
You still have time to join medical herbalist Chanchal Cabrera in her never-before-offered 7-week video training, Growing Your Own Herbal Medicine.
Chanchal’s second class is this Tuesday, July 10, at 5:00pm Pacific. When you enroll, we’ll send you a link to access the complete video and audio recordings of the first class session, as well as the full transcript.
In the following 8-minute video clip from her first class, Chanchal welcomes you to the training and shares what you can expect over the seven weeks...
“We’re going to be very practical and very pragmatic in looking at useful, applicable information for making herbal remedies. That includes growing, harvesting, drying, processing, and storing the plants, and then how to manage the plant medicines once they’re in the dispensary.”
In this information-packed video training, you’ll actually spend time with Chanchal in her apothecary garden, in her flower garden, and in the nearby forests so you can actually see what Chanchal calls “the stars of the show” — the numerous herbs, vegetables, and flowers growing there.
You’ll also join Chanchal in the dispensary attached to her clinical practice to see where she compounds and formulates medicines for patients…
And you’ll explore the identifying features and uses of plants and what’s required to make them good medicines…
This 7-week training is for beginner, intermediate, and advanced herbalists who want access to information that isn’t taught in standard herb classes or books.
As Chanchal explains…
“There are a lot of good teachers in classrooms and on the internet who can tell you about herbs for the immune system, herbs for the heart, and herbs for women’s health…
“And it’s very important and very useful information, and I teach a lot of that too, but what nobody is really teaching is what I think of as the “backstage” — the tips and tricks of a practicing medical herbalist.”
Chanchal is also a passionate advocate for nature’s calming and curative benefits — simply being in their presence is healing and rejuvenating. Too many people, she says, suffer from Nature Deprivation Disorder.
If you enjoy spending time in nature, and basking in the restorative atmosphere of forests, wildlands, and other natural areas, you’ve experienced firsthand that plants can put you into a state of deep communion with the natural world.
Truly, she says, "plants are to people as water is to plants — simply indispensable".
Watch and listen here to discover more
Your Life as a Herbalist Begins Now with Chanchal Cabrera
International Bee Day 2018 is April 29. Let's add colors to bee’s lives in replanting flowers and plants they like. If you don’t have a garden, add some plants or flowers on your balcony and a small cup of water for bees.
Latest reports were telling that agricultural plays an important role in the development of the health of honeybees. It was found out that the overall health of honeybees is greatly influenced by production in agriculture.
Many of our native plants require pollination to spread their seeds from plant to plant, and we depend on bees for agricultural production.
They also provide a way to reconnect with nature. By keeping bees in our garden and farms, it's a way for us to engage with our natural environment.
Everyone should contribute to the survival of bees
Bees are important not only for their production of honey but also for the survival of our natural foods. Bees and other pollinators are part of our important eco-system allowing us to enjoy fruits and vegetables.
Since regulators and politicians can play an important role in forbidding pesticides and promoting natural pest controls, then everyone has an important role to play in the protection of bees and pollinators.
The lack of fragrant flower fields on Earth is becoming a real problem for the bees.
Replanting flowers on the planet will also support the bee’s work.
The Perfume Industry should take a huge responsibility in the current decline of bees. Perfume used to be made from flowers and there were thousands of flower fields all over the planet giving work to millions of people. Since the chemical industry took over the cosmetic industry, flower fields have been replaced by synthetics and brands are giving consumers the image of flowers instead of real flowers.
Bees have a very powerful sense of smell, 100 times more powerful than a human’s.
Honeybees use their antennae to detect odor. According to research by the National Institutes of Health, published in the "Genome Research" journal, honeybees have 170 odor receptors, or chemoreceptors, in their antennae. This is high for an insect -- fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) have 62 receptors and mosquitos (Anopheles gambiae) have 79. The honeybee’s sense of smell is so sensitive that it can detect the trace of a scent in flight. This ability equips the bee to effectively and efficiently locate pollen-rich flowers. Once the scent is detected on the antennae, the bee’s hypersensitive olfactory path processes the information, enabling the bee to determine the relevance of the scent to their search for pollen. Honeybees use their sense of smell to locate other bees and for finding food as well.
In contrast to their highly developed sense of smell, the bee’s sense of taste is somewhat basic. They use their tongues, which contain taste buds, to detect sour, bitter and sweet -- the same range of taste detection that humans use -- but since they gather lots of information from smell, enabling them to taste before the pollen touches the tongue, they’ve effectively done all of the research necessary before the sustenance reaches their mouths. Since bees provide benefits to plants by means of pollination, plants have not evolved any defense mechanisms against bees. This means that no plants produce distasteful or harmful pollen.
In asking for Natural Perfumes, you can help the bees
In asking for Natural Perfumes, you can help change the whole perfume industry distribution chain. Asking for Natural Perfumes is, in effect, is asking the perfume industry to return to replanting flowers and plants instead of producing synthetic copies of flowers for perfumes in laboratories.
Creating our own little garden could also be a beautiful gift for bees.
Gardens are healing since plants have beneficial effects on human beings. Creating our own gardens in our back yards or on our balconies will help us to reconnect with nature and make a beautiful invitation for bees and other pollinators. Bees can also be thirsty, so add a small cup of water for them.
As strong thoughts are very powerful too, meditate for the bees and visualize them in their full happiness.
Join us every year on April 29 to celebrate Bee Day. Send us your activities for Bee Day and we will publish them.
Join our Facebook Group
To learn more about the important connection with natural foods, natural perfumes, flower fields and bees join our Bee group on Facebook Friends who like International Perfume Foundation like Bees
Donate to the International Perfume Foundation to support the flower field replanting program (World Perfume Heritage) for the bees.
Today we are disconnected from nature and need to reconnect. Our bodies are calling us to react and we feel we need to reconnect.
The best way to Reconnect with Nature is to look for Nature in everything. This takes a little bit more time since we first need to determine what is natural and what isn't. To do this, products have to have traceability, which allows us to find true natural products before our purchases are made.
Here are the 10 Best Ways to Reconnect with Nature
Other related article: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/mar/21/access-nature-reduces-depression-obesity-european-report
Your garden is your next pharmacy. In the past many women were perfumers and healers at the same time. They cultivated their gardens, obtained the essence of plants and flowers by distillation, maceration or enfleurage. You can learn all of these techniques and become a natural perfumer.
Take a Natural Perfumery 6 month extensive online course and learn about the healing power of nature.
Students taking this course in Botanical Perfumery can have confidence in being instructed in a curriculum that has been thoroughly reviewed and approved by the International Perfume Foundation (IPF), the leading authority on natural perfume's health benefits, history and heritage for more than 23 years.
Students completing the IPF Certified Natural Perfume curriculum will receive a Certificate of Completion from IPF.
After completing the Natural Perfume curriculum students will receive a year's Membership to IPF. Graduating students will be able to apply to IPF for Natural Perfume Certification and join the growing family of IPF Certified Natural Perfumers.
The Natural Perfume Academy is registered and recognised by The International Perfume Foundation.
To Apply: http://www.naturalperfumeacademy.com/mod/page/view.php?id=3481
IPF is pleased to announce the selection of Rosemary Moore as Director of the IPF Healing Garden Program.
Rosemary, an IPF Certified Natural Perfumer and garden expert from the English Gardening School and Garden for the Soul, brings a life-long commitment to improving people’s lives through reconnecting people with nature and healing gardens.
As part of the International Perfume Foundation’s Reconnect with Nature Campaign, we have developed the IPF Healing Garden, which involves working with plants, flowers, and soil allowing children and adults to experience the senses, to reconnect with nature by growing and utilizing their own Healing Gardens, and to benefit from the many healthy features of nature and gardening.
Authors are gardening experts in a variety of categories including distillation, plants healing and cleansing properties.