Some readers may remember my post last year, which could perhaps be described as a paean to the roses in my garden, and the variety of their scents. Okay, one or two didn't appear to smell of anything - for reasons I never did quite fathom - but mostly they did, with the peachy-pink and yellow ones coming out on top of the fragrant league table.
Nine months on, my garden is still going through its kaleidoscopic spring flower display of cherry blossom and clematis, with the odd splash of scarlet from an errant tulip, or bank of yellow from wild poppies. I did, however, have a strange encounter with a rose recently - in an Indian restaurant, to be precise. A group of us had gone there last Saturday night, and the customary ritual at the end of our meal of hot towels, a complimentary tot of some unspecified liqueur, and After Eight Mints was swiftly followed by the bestowing of a single long-stemmed yellow rose on the ladies of our party, to wit my friend Clare and me.
Well, the first thing someone like me is going to do when presented with a rose is have a jolly good sniff, isn't it? So imagine my surprise when my nose was greeted by a very artificial-smelling vanilla scent - of the same calibre as those cheap tea lights you get in pound shops, if you know what I mean. Now I love vanilla as a note, but this was a very poor rendition, trust me. So I immediately made a moue of disappointment and instinctively thrust the flower in the general direction of the waiter. 'Look, it seems to have had perfume sprayed on it!' I exclaimed in a tone of shocked concern. The waiter was inscrutable on this point, and promptly disappeared into the kitchen, giving just the ghost of a shrug as he went. But I knew the restaurant had to be responsible...for I have protested my own innocence before now, following an act of stealth perfuming. I am thinking of the time I spritzed ex-Mr Bonkers's side of the bed with L'Artisan's L'Eté en Douce to extract humorous revenge for a slur on my laundering capabilities (it being a very laundry musky style of scent, you see). The full escapade is recorded here.
Meanwhile, Clare agreed that her rose also smelt odd and had plainly been tampered with, but we dutifully carried our flowers home, whereupon I put mine in water and went to bed. The next morning I came downstairs to find the unpleasantly cheap vanilla scent still permeating the immediate surroundings of the dining room table. Moreover, the petals looked visibly withered and darkened in colour. 'Oh dear', I thought to myself, 'the aromachemicals in the fragrance must have got at the petals in some way - unless the rose was not long for this world anyway.' Deep down though, I suspected the perfume of having hastened the poor plant's decline, but maybe some horticulturalists out there can confirm this either way.
So I have to ask - have you ever come across an artificially scented rose - in an Indian restaurant or anywhere for that matter?
And if so, in your opinion is the spritzing of roses with perfume injurious to the health of the flower?
Hmm, I must say this incident certainly brought the message home that in certain instances - on plants as on the public at large - 'no perfume is better than some'...