I love lots of trees, but right up there in my top five trees for scent is the linden (Tilia X europaea). When I smell linden blossoms, a scene, or should I call it a fantasy?, comes to mind: it’s late spring or early summer, the temperature is 75 degrees F and it’s sunny, a gentle breeze is blowing. With a stack of my favorite books and a hamper full of goodies, I’m reclining on a comfortable chaise longue…right next to a linden tree in full bloom. There I could happily sit, eat, read, nap…all day. If you must, take away the seating and books, and I’d be just as happy wandering down an allée of linden trees with my hamper, stopping every now and then to listen to the rustling of the lindens’ heart-shaped leaves, the singing birds in the branches, and the hum of the thousands of bees drinking the linden blossoms’ nectar. You can even have the hamper, just me and the lindens would be enough for a wonderful afternoon. If you haven’t smelled a blossoming linden tree, find one and give the flowers a sniff — they are a joy to experience.
Linden-scented perfumes, soaps and candles are favorites of mine (linden honey is delicious too). Recently, I experienced two new linden (“tilleul” in French) fragrances — Frau Tonis Parfum Linde Berlin No. 10 and Parfums d’Orsay Tilleul pour la nuit (both ripe for the picking… if you live in Europe or don’t mind shipping charges).
Frau Tonis Parfum Linde Berlin No. 10
(green leaves, linden blossom, honey)
Too bad I had not heard of Frau Tonis Parfum the last time I was in Berlin. Judging from the three perfumes I ordered (unsniffed, I must admit) in 15 ml size (linden, acacia and violet), I would have left the boutique with a big shopping bag (Frau Tonis has 36 perfumes to choose from).
Linde Berlin is sweet, or as Frau Tonis describes it “verdant, treacly, floral.” Linde Berlin has a rich linden aroma, the fragrance is like smelling an armful of blossoming linden branches (drizzled with golden, piquant honey…a messy proposition). Linde Berlin captures the linden tree in full bloom, when the blossoms’ fragrance is most intense. The linden note is not offset by too much “green;” the leaf note is in the background. If you want to imagine yourself planted beneath, or downwind of, a huge linden tree, this is the scent for you. Linde Berlin is a soliflore, so don’t expect lots of development or layers of different aromas. If you want that sort of linden experience, there’s…
Parfums d’Orsay Tilleul pour la nuit
(chamomile, petitgrain, linden blossom, thyme, woods, beeswax)
Tilleul pour la nuit is a perfumed “body care water” (Eau de Soin — alcohol free); the aroma is based on Parfums d’Orsay’s famous Tilleul fragrance (reformulated not so long ago by Olivia Giacobetti). Tilleul pour la nuit is not only a perfume, but the formula has moisturizing properties; when I wear it, my skin feels soft and is pleasantly scented (without an oily sheen).
Tilleul pour la nuit has an intense linden blossom aroma; the beeswax note is equally prominent during the opening; it’s as if you are in the presence of bushels of freshly made beeswax candles. The mix of sweet linden blossom and pungent beeswax is great. Petitgrain also plays its role with a burst of natural freshness up front. The hint of wood that’s present in Tilleul pour la nuit during mid-development counterbalances the sweetness of the blooms; the wood is not dense, but more like a “veneer” — the thinnest slice of raw wood. As Tilleul pour la nuit dries down the chamomile note starts to develop; this is a pleasant, soft and soothing note that accents the linden but doesn’t change its character. In the extreme dry-down, the pollen count rises…as an earthy/'crumbly' vegetal aroma emerges.
What’s “pour la nuit” about this linden? I’m assuming it refers to bath time, not a sexy or dramatic encounter. There is a “baby” aspect to the perfume during the dry-down, a scent that reminds me of expensive European children’s toiletries with their delicate floral and powdery fragrance notes.
Compared to Tilleul pour la nuit, Frau Tonis Linde Berlin is sweeter, like a linden lollipop — it has a bolder, “perfume-y” character, but is less complex than Tilleul pour la nuit. I already own a bottle of Linde Berlin No. 10 and wouldn’t feel I was “repeating myself” or duplicating linden efforts if I owned a bottle of Tilleul pour la nuit, too.
Tilleul pour la nuit lasts on skin for three to four hours (perfect for a bedtime “comfort” application). Linde Berlin has excellent lasting power and sillage, even one spritz is enough to scent you (and your environment) for hours…well, all day.
I always think of linden blossom as the ultimate unisex floral, but according to my friends, it’s more feminine in character; as I wore both these perfumes, several people said I smelled great, but then asked “Isn’t that a woman’s perfume?” I wear violet, orange blossom, linden, “Middle Eastern” rose perfumes, so didn’t give these comments much thought.
Frau Tonis Parfum Linde Berlin No. 10 (Linden Tree Berlin) Eau de Parfum is available in 8 ml (€22), 15 ml (€27), 50 ml (€58) or 100 ml (€88) at Frau Tonis Parfum Berlin (the boutique ships to the U.S.)
Parfums d’Orsay Tilleul pour la nuit is €61 for 100 ml (available at First in Fragrance).