MUSK

Gardens Illustrated Magazine - - Travel -

Musk comes from the scent gland of a small deer na­tive to the Hi­malayas and east Asia and has been used as a per­fume from an­tiq­uity, first in China and sub­se­quently in the Mid­dle East. Not sur­pris­ingly, the deer is now near­ing ex­tinc­tion and is a pro­tected species. Robert, one of the few peo­ple to have smelled the orig­i­nal, says mod­ern chem­i­cal im­i­ta­tions are “like the sound of a plas­tic vi­o­lin com­pared with a Stradi­var­ius”, but is happy to search out hints of the scent in his own musk roses.

In musk roses, the fra­grances are pro­duced by the sta­mens rather than the pe­tals and are char­ac­terised by a prom­i­nent clove char­ac­ter sim­i­lar to that in di­anthus and car­na­tion. An­other type of musk fra­grance is that of the wild field rose, thought to be the ‘musk rose’ beloved of Shake­speare. Here, Robert says, the fra­grance is “al­most pun­gent, or alde­hy­dic, as in orange peel”.

In many roses, a musk fra­grance com­ing from the sta­mens min­gles with the fra­grance com­ing from the pe­tals, as, for ex­am­ple, in the hy­brid musk, ‘Buff Beauty’, which Robert says smells of musk, old rose, tea and vi­o­lets. “It’s a com­plex but very beau­ti­ful fra­grance and would be a can­di­date for my desert is­land se­lec­tion.”

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