Gardenias were an early wild card distillation for me this year. They are in the same flowering plant family as coffee and typically grow in tropic and subtropic regions but fortunately for this aromatic and coffee lover, they grow freely here in Northern California. I began working with the flowers the day after I returned from Egypt in early October 2021. I already felt homesick for Giza and the hieroglyphs at Saqqara and jasmine fields that went on for miles. I wanted to feel scent in the most tactile way I could: by harvesting until my hands were unmistakably marked with its powdery scent and creating a perfume concentrate. As I began my real work with the still this spring, I felt gardenias could provide the kind of feedback I needed to hone my distillation skills so I could dive deeper into distilling the more fragile and elusive flowers. It’s a giving flower; easy to distill and generous of scent. The yield too, is generous just as I found the foraging of the flower. The more I harvested, the more new flowers arrived. I’ll miss their lack of presence this winter but I appreciate the gentle scent that eased my return from the land of the pharaohs.
Some of our hydrosols such as pink lotus, blue lotus or lily have never been distilled by anyone before and are a first in the hydrosol world. I worked very hard to control all the aspects of the distillations such as heat, cooling and even down to packing the still effectively. It took a lot of experimentation to figure out how to extract a beautiful scent that is true to the plant or flower, one I would consider worthy of our apothecary. Prices vary according to the amount of foraging I have to do which involves any one of the following: climb tall mountains, swing from trees, walk softly and stealthy around delicate flowers, drive many miles, trek in hot sun for hours or fly to another state. Some of these hydrosols are very seasonal so please be aware that this offering will ebb and flow as do the plants, flowers, resins, barks and leaves that make it into my still. This is my work, my history, my expertise and my wild card heart that is always willing to distill everything under the sun even when other distillers said it wouldn’t work.