Scented crop field


Good quality, natural ingredients are rare and expensive commodities, but they can make the finest raw materials for perfumery.

Naturals are often more rounded, more vibrant with an affinity to human skin. All good reasons why ORTIR Apothecari perfumes are formulated using a heavy dose of naturals.

As in all walks of life we live in a world where awareness of our footprint is ever increasing.

Over the past couple of decades, I have enjoyed the fruits of a new generation of beauty brands making provenance a priority. Locally sourced ingredients. Totally traceable formulas. Every bit as alluring as our (totally justified) obsession with local cheeses or the revolution in British wine.

Ingredients are a long-term investment and I truly believe that perfumers have a commitment to the planting and harvesting of them.

And where once the British countryside was awash with fine-fragrance ingredients, this once thriving horticultural scene has all but disappeared. I count myself as very fortunate to have had the land and the tools to be able to grow my own aromatic crops. This hands-on (as well as on-my-knees) education has imparted in me an incredible knowledge invaluable when sourcing ingredients from other growers too.

Through past harvests and working with my steadily growing library of maturing oils (along with copious notes and diaries) I better understand the conditions affecting the resulting oils. That the strength of the sun and the geography of the land are major considerations in the output and qualities of essential oils. That I need to regularly test soil samples for pH, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium.

Aromatics are plants that contain odorous volatile substances, and I started out with Mediterranean ones like rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, bay and clary sage as well as those encountered thriving locally - the gorse and the dogrose - because I had tested the condition of the soil.

Successful harvests increased confidence. This led in turn to increasingly experimental trial crops. I learnt that there were many half-hardy examples of aromatics such as mimosa and trachleospermum (jasmine) that would thrive because of our coastal aspect and that hyssop, yarrow and rose geranium were not only beautiful but also extraordinarily attractive to pollinators.

As yields increased and my crop was measured in acreage, I’ve needed to invest in some mechanised harvesting kit. Learnt to ride a tractor. And I’ve come to understand how even the method of harvesting can affect output.

Ultimately perfumes are harvests of nature. From the flowers to the fruits, from the woods to the mosses.

The perfumer attempts to perfect nature, making it tangible, but in doing so I have a responsibility to nurture this precious commodity.

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