This lovely, summery perfume is an uplifting blend of floral and fruity, with a soft, sweet base. It has the sweetness of a well-tended garden on a hot summer day, and an exotic undercurrent that I find both exciting and intriguing.

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Something about this blend makes me think of a first date on a summer afternoon that’s just going brilliantly. One of those dates where neither of you want to go home, so you go for a walk after grabbing a tea, and then grab drinks, and then just wander around until you well and truly have to part, well after the sun has set. One of those dates.

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The top notes are bright citrus and sugar, which blend down into iced tea and a hint of zest. The base is warm vanilla with exotic floral notes, like the scent of unknown flowers drifting towards you on a summer breeze. I find the combination makes me think of classic perfumes that were popular in the early part of the last century, which is what brought me to the name—Secret Garden.

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If you’re familiar with the classic story I feel like the parallels work quite nicely. The classic, rich perfumery notes, with an exotic hint from abroad. The sweetness and excitement, and the optimistic innocence of it. Perhaps I’ve been listening to the soundtrack from the Broadway show too much, but I’m enjoying the analogy.

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I’ve found this blend improves immensely with age—I’d recommend giving it a few months before wearing it to allow everything to mellow out, or you may find the citrus/floral notes to be a bit strong.

Secret Garden: A Perfume

25% palmarosa essential oil
15% frankincense essential oil
18% michelia alba essential oil
10% bergamot essential oil
32% benzoin essential oil

Equal volume perfumery alcohol

These are the percentages for your scent blend—remember you’ll be topping off the scent blend with an equal amount of perfumery alcohol, so make half as much scent blend as you need to fill your perfume container.

An easy way to measure this out is to define 1% as one drop or half a drop. That way you can count out 25 drops for 25% (or 12.5ish drops for 25% if you make 1%= ½ a drop). If you’re using a 5mL roller bottle like the one pictured here, I’d recommend defining one percent as half a drop. That’ll give you enough room to add the perfumery alcohol.

Once you’ve measured the essential oils out into your bottle, top them off with an equal volume of perfumery alcohol. Then you’ll cap your bottle, label it, and set it aside to age for a few months before use. I’d recommend checking it and testing it as it ages so you can really see how it changes—take notes so you can feel confident in your observations. Once you love it, start wearing it!

Perfumery alcohol is a high proof, low-scent alcohol that dissolves, dilutes, and fixes essential oils. If you don’t have it or can’t find it (I’ve heard it can be difficult in the USA—I order mine online from Saffire Blue here in Canada) you can use high proof vodka (Everclear has also been recommended by readers) instead. A final alternative is using a low-scent, fast absorbing carrier oil, but I can’t speak for the “mingling”/aging of the scent over time with an oil base.

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