In my garden, two events signal the arrival of spring: the return of “my” almost-tame, almost-pigeon-sized male robin and the shoots of daffodils emerging from the soil. The robin has been singing, nesting, and begging for food at my home for seven springs and summers — I hope he survived another winter. He’s such an appreciative bird, so encouraging as I cut the thick grass and towering weeds in the yard and expose delicious bugs, provide piles of nest-building materials and toss him earthworms to eat. The daffodils, often blooming in cool, wet weather, smell “chilled”, their fresh green-pollen scent restrained by the nippy, moist air. When the flowers are cut for bouquets and brought inside the warm house, their fragrance grows stronger, sultry, but still possesses a dewy quality.
I have found precious few floral incense blends that smell like real flowers but I keep sniffing — “Hope Springs Eternal". I was excited, and curious, when Baieido introduced a daffodil scent to its floral incense line — how would the company interpret such a cool, wet and green aroma? I decided to try three Baieido incense florals: Kokonoe Daffodil, Sawayaka Lavender and Sawayaka Rose.
Kokonoe (“Imperial Court”) Daffodil Incense: Not a hint of daffodil (or any flower) can be detected in this incense. However, if you love Eau d’Hermès and wish its scent came in a home fragrance product, Kokonoe Daffodil will please you; one smells the leather, cumin, cedar and sandalwood of Eau d’Hermès. I will burn this incense in summer when I can have the windows open because Kokonoe Daffodil produces lots of smoke and leaves behind a “cigarette smoke” odor after burning. (I often burn especially smoky incense outside in warm weather — on the porch or deck, in the garden — that way I can enjoy the fragrance but skip the after-burn staleness.)
Sawayaka (“Fresh”) Lavender Incense: I smoke-dried my face and nasal passages with this incense, as I moved in close to try and smell any hint of lavender. Though Baieido says these incense sticks contain French lavender oil, I don’t smell lavender — just a menthol note emerging every now and again from a basic-issue sandalwood-cedar incense aroma. The after-burn smells of sweet, powdery sandalwood.
Sawayaka (“Fresh”) Smokeless Rose Incense: This is the best of the floral incense trio. Sawayaka Rose is a woodsy rose; there is the lovely fragrance of roses blossoming behind a veil of soft woods (aloeswood and sandalwood). This is a subtle, masculine rose scent. Sawayaka Rose leaves behind an after-burn aroma that is reminiscent of tea rose soap and sandalwood-scented talcum powder.
None of these floral incense blends are expensive ($7 for a 30g box) or complex. If you want to know why Baieido has been in business for hundreds of years, sample their traditional, and, yes, more expensive, blends. One of my favorites is Tokusen (“Excellent”) Syukohkoku which is made with spicy Vietnamese aloeswood ($65 for a 50g box).
Note: image via Santosha.