Monday, 17 January 2011

Smells like a sixteenth century Italian glove


I was talking to Richard Glover on ABC Sydney 702's Drive Show today and he caught me slightly flat footed by asking me to describe the perfume of a frangipani flower. I could almost conjure up the aroma in my mind but could I describe it in coherent English? Well, no.

But luckily I remembered that the common name of the frangipanni has something to do with its smell. Marquis Frangipani invented a perfume in the sixteenth century that I gather was popular for scenting of leather gloves. When the frangipani (Plumeria) flower was first sniffed it reminded the Italians of Frangipani's perfume. Or so the story goes.

So I told Richard the perfume of the flower was like a sixteenth century glove. Quite rightly he wasn't happy with that so I mumbled about heady odors, about summer, about the sea and about sweetness. Not really very helpful so I ended by saying returning to the Italian gloves...

If you want to find out something more useful about frangipanis you should visit the Tropical Centre at Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens this weekend (10 am to 4 pm). It's our second annual Frangipani show, held in conjunction with the Frangipani Society of Australia.

There you'll learn that the best way to grow frangipanis is to stick them in the ground and then leave them (although it's better to let the segments dry out first - see my earlier posting on frangpanis).

You'll hear that it's a bad season for flowers this year, due to all the rain.

On your way there take time to look at the 'hot pink' frangipanis outside the Conservatorium, and our new collection of species on the west side of Government House.

Image: Just in case you are inspired to buy the inspiration for the name, this image is from http://www.4leathergloves.co.uk/

2 comments:

Caro Webster said...

You're right. You struggled with a description ;) Although I thought Richard mean. I would have left it at Sr Frangipani ;) xx

Tim Entwisle said...

Funny actually how hard it was describe a smell. I hadn't thought about it before but after you say 'a sweet smell' or 'strongly perfumed' where do you go? OK if it smells like something - citrus, chocolate etc - but what about a perfume that is...perfumy. This could be a guy thing :)