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Summer favorites from Portland's Blooming Dream Natural Fragrances

The cool green of Refresh perfume from Blooming Dream Natural Fragrances
The cool green of Refresh perfume from Blooming Dream Natural Fragrances
Photo of Refresh perfume bottle courtesy of Blooming Dream/copyright 2014 by Suzinn Weiss

We Portlanders can sometimes be a little obsessed with keeping it local, whether it be food, beer, crafts, or our homegrown Project Runway winners. Enter Blooming Dream Natural Fragrances, which is about as local as you can get. Natural perfumer Suzinn Weiss has always loved fragrant plants and flowers, and her perfume company is an offshoot of her established landscape design business, Suzinn Weiss Garden & Design. In Fact, Suzinn makes many of the tinctures for perfumery from the scented flowers, shrubs and trees in her own home garden. All Blooming Dream scents are 100% natural and cruelty-free. This can be a challenge for a perfumer, but the fragrances in the line don't seem to miss having either animal-derived or synthetic ingredients. This column will focus on some of the Blooming Dream perfumes that are most suitable for summer; there is plenty of warm weather left to enjoy them. In the future I will be writing about more fragrances from this growing company.

The warm and inviting Herb Garden is the essence of a sleepy midsummer day in the garden. When I wear it I can just about hear the drone of happy bees and feel the sun on my face. It has lavender in it, Hidcote pink to be exact, but that does not dominate the composition like it can in many fragrances. Tarragon and bay leaf add a twist of aromatic green. Mimosa, sunflower, and vanilla create a honeyed effect, but since it's a natural perfume it's not overly sweet, and this would make a great choice for men.

The simply named Pink Rose is one of my favorites in the line. We are getting to that time of year when we should be talking about the “last rose of summer' but this one is more like the first rose of spring – pure, sweet, and fresh, with sparkling pink grapefruit in the opening, but with a depth resulting from a sensual base of oud and vanilla. I picture it a delicate shell-pink rose with fragile, dewy petals, and in fact this is one of the Blooming Dream perfumes that is made using roses from the perfumer's garden. It has good longevity for a floral, especially considering that it's all natural, and I recommend it highly for anyone looking for a rose perfume that smells like the real deal.

The newest addition to the line is called Refresh, and it certainly lives up to its name. Based on a classic cologne style, it sets itself apart from the crowd with the exhilaration of yuzu and lime, yet is grounded with (botanical) ambergris accord and oakmoss to make it last longer than most colognes. Violet leaf, Sichuan pepper and and mint add yet more zest, along with something you won't find in any other perfume that I know of: horseradish. Yes, this humble plant has been called into service along with moss and lemon verbena from Suzinn's garden. I never liked the taste of horseradish myself, but it makes an excellent case for itself as a perfume ingredient here, punching up the overall effect with its unique lively spiciness. Reach for this on those dog days of summer, because it will both cool and energize.

I love green fragrances, and it does not get much greener than Blackbird Vert. This fragrance was created in 2013 as part of a series by several perfumers as a showcase for the Indie Perfume Circuit, hosted by Blackbird, the cutting edge Seattle clothing boutique. Blackbird Vert is one of the most sophisticated scents in the line, intensely green yet not raw or crude as some greens can be. It has a bitter-green character that I like very much; it is not soft or sweet at all, though its austerity is tempered with the warmth of cardamon and oud. The green components include yuzu, buchu, lime leaves, rosemary, cedar moss, silver fir and perhaps the greenest essence of all, galbanum. This perfume would be as much at home for a formal evening occasion as it would on a sweltering day at an outdoor music festival, and I recommend it very highly.