Sunday, 6 March 2011

For Lily



Mr Roses bought me this bottle of Lily of the Valley perfume from Penhaligon's for Christmas. Whenever we are in London and near to the shop we pop in for our fix of heady, floral scents. It is like walking round the most delicious greenhouse or woodland walk in the height of Spring. Each time we visit we daub ourselves in various aromas and spend the rest of the day trying to decide which is our favourite and, more importantly, which scent our favourite actually was...
You might remember that we bought Bluebell for our eldest daughter's 16th birthday and that for my birthday a couple of years ago I was lucky enough to receive Elizabethan Rose so we are well on our way to recreating our favourite cottage garden smells... But on this visit, I stumbled across the little bottle of Lily of the Valley and was immediately transported back to my childhood.



Not only did I fall in love with its deliciously sweet but fresh fragrance but it conjured up so many memories for me. Past Christmases of boxes of Lily of the Valley soaps, talcum powders and bath salts piled up in the bathroom or in my mother's bedroom. At the side of her dressing table were two little cupboards where she kept her perfumes. I remember so vividly the pretty packaging and fragrances that would fill the air each time I opened the cupboard doors... for me as a child, it was the equivalent of having my nose pressed up against the sweet shop window. Dreams of growing up, luxuriating in lily of the valley scented baths before putting on a new dress, applying my make up and spraying myself in some new scent would fill my head.
The scent was very much part of my early years, even my mother's handbags would offer up its beautiful fragrance when they were opened as she always sprayed her hankies with perfume before putting them in amongst her purse and keys (oh how times have changed).




Strangely enough Lily of Valley is purported to strengthen the memory and in the language of flowers signifies the return of happiness. So it seems very apt that today on what would have been my mother's birthday (her name was Lily), I bring out my bottle, take a sniff and remember.

16 comments:

June said...

What a lovely post. Our garden as I was growing up use to have many, many bunches of this flower - which is reminiscent of snowdrops but with a lovely perfume. I have only ventured into Penhaligon's once many years ago - but still remember those fab smells.
June.

Louise said...

I don't think I ever knew your mother was no longer with you Kim. Memories do come to the forefront when anniversaries come round. I love how lily of the valley signifies the return of happiness, as the flowering clump in my garden always reminds me of my mum. Also the scent reminds me of my granny, who always used to purchase Yardley! x

dottycookie said...

Such a lovely post - and how evocative scents are.

My nana's name was Lily too.

Hollace said...

Lily of the Valley is the flower for my birth month, May, and I have always loved it. Last year for my birthday I got to order a cake from a bakery and they covered it with lilies of the valley at my request. I have never seen this perfume and I'm covetous. I love the hanky, too. My mom always had a cloth one in her purse or pocket, too. I used to iron them for 1 penny apiece!
Happy memories to you today.

libby said...

Such memories from scent are wonderful aren't they?
My ma has Lily of the Valley growing everywhere and we both still use cotton hankies! how old fashioned does that make me feel....

Annie xx TheFeltFairy said...

A really lovely post! Lily of the Valley are one of my favourite flowers! x

Petit Filoux said...

Oh wow - I've never dared to enter that shop, felt too posh and grown up for me! But I might just go in next time I'm in the area, I love lily of the valley, and so does my mum, it would make a lovely present.
Thank you for the tip!
And spraying hankies with perfume, I never knew people did that, how lovely!

Thimbleanna said...

You're so right -- times really have changed, haven't they? I don't think scents are nearly as pretty as they used to be -- they seem more musky to me these days. And most of the time we're discouraged from wearing any perfume at all, 'cause someone might be allergic. Gah! I love the name Lily and your tribute to your Lily is beautiful!

Rubyred said...

Scents evoke such sweet memories! My Nan had pretty floral scents that wafted from her handbag when she opened it!
Rachel x

Scented Sweetpeas said...

scent is amazing and bringing back memories isn't it. I popped in to a patients room at work on Sunday and there was a gorgeous smell which took me back to childhood but I can't remember who wore it. I know a chap who buys a different scent on each holiday to remember the holiday with :-)

karen said...

A highlight of my year is the lily of the valley appearing in a very shady out of the way corner of our garden. I love its smell and hide bars of soap in all my drawers so the smell wafts out when I open them. What a lovely way to remember your Mother and a lovely post to share with us. Karen X

OhSoVintage said...

Oh how lovely, I wasn't expecting that at the end. I adore the smell of lily of the valley (and the flower). My favourite scent has always been 'Diorissimo' because I think it smells like honeysuckle and my grandmother always wore Helena Rubinstein's 'Apple Blossom' which, sadly, isn't manufactured anymore.
Ruth x

Cowboys and Custard said...

Lily of the Valley does hold a special place in my heart too.. and I was very happy to discover that a clump of it has sprouted in our garden. The scent is heady stuff and brings back lots of memories..
Happy belated Birthday to your dear mother Milly..
Dx

Felicity said...

oh that's so lovely, i still use floral hankies, i cant help it! ive not sprayed them with perfume though! fliss xxx

skybluepinkish said...

My grandmother (whose name was Lillian!) always wore Lily of the Valley. It was her favourite flower and unlike me she managed to grow great clumps of it. I too love all the Penhaligon perfumes, but Lily of the Valley is one of my favourites too. Isn't it strange how it is special to so many of us.

Mr Spitfire said...
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