AROMATIC BOTANICAL WATER…
To capture the scent; the pure ephemeral, intangible essence that seasonally imbues the garden air has long been a very personal dream…
It’s a long time now since I began my attempts at capturing the pure essence of plant material (alongside plunging my nose deep into intoxicating blooms). From drying thousands of rose petals over dozens of years that by now fill the old Berber basket to bulging in the dining room (see book); to playing with glass bowls, steamers and inverted saucepan lids on the cooktop (school holiday fun).
Many of you will remember friends Georgina Reid (the Planthunter) and Jardine Hansen attempting to capture the essence of foliage here at my request at two of our past open gardens: they were the first to whom I confided this very personal desire to capture the essence of the garden in an aromatic botanical water. They too, were at a stage of experimentation, but still I wasn’t achieving the dream.
And so, with further research and realising the dream had stalled…I decided to launch in and try my own hand. While I recognise that in my lifetime it’s unlikely I’ll become any kind of master distiller; I’ve recently devoted a great deal of time and experimentation to learning and developing a new skillset, new vocabulary, new process: that of capturing the very illusive essence of plant material into water, by means of using a traditional copper alembic still. (That the process has captured my imagination and opened a whole new world that must surely provide the utmost in connecitivity to the elements is positively thrilling, but for now anyway, is probably beside the point!).
Some of you will know of hydrosols (for that is what they are); the term given to waters distilled from botanical material for use in their own right. Often the byproduct of the process of distillation for essential oil; true hydrosols are captured for the water itself. As a general rule they are part of the therapeutic, cosmetic and beauty industries, for they’re said to contain all kinds of beneficial properties. Whilst the process I’m using is exatly the same (on an extremely small scale); they may well contain said properties, but I have no intention of making any lofty claim.
My intention is purely to capture the essence of the garden in a bottle…and to share a little of that alchemy with you. I won’t be buying in material to distill for greater output, because that would defeat my entire purpose. I intend to only ever produce the tiniest of seasonal batches, from plant material picked at its peak, nurtured here in our soil with the rainwater and sunshine that befall us.
The point of the water is for you to mist your face and in that instant be immersed in that transient scent, for it to bring a smile, to transport you momentarily…to lift your spirits.
It isn’t a perfume to wear, but a mist that is as ephemeral as that scent in the garden itself…for a moment you’re engulfed, and then…it’s gone. When I gave Anthia a little bottle she described it as a ‘pocket-pick-me-up’. When the lab assistant to whom to whom I entrusted my first batch for ‘testing’ sprayed a little mist, her whole face lit up as she described being transported to the country (which country I’ve no idea, but for her it was evocative of somewhere in her memory or imagination). ‘It lingered long enough for me to be in your garden sipping tea with you once more’…a text from a dear friend.
And that’s all it is…a hint of the garden at Glenmore in a bottle; captured in a time-honoured way that allows me to share the joy of the garden here, with you there.
FIRST BATCH RELEASES:
The waters will only ever be made in very small batches, when the specific plant material is at its at its most potent; in season and picked on the brink of bursting with viriditas.
Distilled on a traditional copper alembic still and bottled into 10ml amber atomisers *on request; please keep the bottle so I can refill it from the next anticipated batch (please contact me).
*Available in the Barn on Workshop and Event days (when in stock) or by mail (please note mailer satchel, label and packaging are all fully compostable).
The water or ‘hydrosol’ is perishable. It contains no preservatives, so refrigerate or keep at a cool, consistent temperature. Being entirely natural, the contents of your bottle will continue to evolve on their transient journey, so it’s best to use rather than keep.
Note: hydrosol doesn’t ‘pack a punch’ like perfume does…it is water…au naturel! In the instance of these first two I’ve left the essential oil in, rather than separating it out…so always close your eyes when you mist and avoid broken skin. It does contain traces of pure essential oil…what a treat! What a curious and captivating process it is!
*It would be very helpful if you could please pre-order in advance of your workshop or event. Bottling takes time, patience, concentration and sterilisation, so it’s much easier if I can do all those things in advance and have your bottle freshly poured, labelled and waiting for you!