In her latest flower diary Misti skips down olfactory memory lane, thanks to Freddie’s summer flowers, reminiscing about a beloved aunt and her wedding day…
A couple years ago I inherited some clothing from a beloved aunt who passed away. As I unpacked the pieces, I could smell her perfume. The fragrance wasn’t obvious but when I wrapped myself in her cashmere pashmina, like an apparition, it appeared–that ethereal, powdery, floral scent. Breathing it in felt like being in her embrace again. That is the magic of smell. We can inhale memories without knowing.
Here’s looking at you, lily
I am a sucker for sweet scents. This is why the delicate perfume of summer flowers like phlox intoxicates me. Don’t get me wrong–I love the primroses, tulips and hyacinths of spring, but it’s the really fragrant summer flowers like Freddie’s been sending that steal my heart. Take last week’s Casablanca lilies for instance.
Flowers to make you smile
The moment I opened the box I couldn’t help but smile. These beautiful summer flowers weren’t open yet. Every bud was tightly closed. Still, I became giddy. I knew what was coming. That gorgeous perfume, those bright white petals. My memories.
When I got married, I wore Casablanca lilies in my hair. The reason being that they had long been my favourite flower. Even when I lived alone, if the season was right, I would go to the florist each week to buy them. For me, Casablancas are the ultimate summer flowers.
The sweet scent of Summer flowers
Blackcurrants growing in the wild
My other favourite scent of high summer doesn’t come from a flower, but a berry. Wild British brambles are such a treat for the senses. They taste as nice as they smell and in my neck of the woods, they grow rampant. I love how after picking them their sweet dark scent lingers on my fingers and in the palms of my blue-black stained hands. No wonder perfumers try to capture this scent. It’s the sweetest, most luscious fragrance of high summer. In my opinion, it’s also the most delicious.
Misti’s blackberry jam
The jam icing on the cake
Presently my pantry is stocked with bramble jam. I’ve made jars of plain classic but also quite a few with lemon and bay leaves. The latter is wonderful. It marries such strong flavours, but surprisingly, this union yields a deliciously subtle and balanced result. At the weekend I baked a cake and used the jam to fill it. Then I sieved the jam into a buttercream frosting. I was amazed at how the bay leaves in the jam added an almost cardamom like flavour note.
Did I mention that we also made bramble gin and have at least a kilo of blackberries stashed away in the freezer? We do. This autumn is going to be ridiculously fat and scrumptious. Wait. I’m getting ahead of myself. Summer’s not over yet!
The Great British Summer
I still have one last British seaside holiday planned. You see last month, I went to Cornwall for the Port Eliot Festival which was great fun despite the torrential rain. Before that, my husband and I stopped off in Dorset to stay with some friends. A week later, we were watching the sunset with our daughter over the dunes in Camber Sands. Though none of these getaways have been particularly summery, they have all been extremely cozy.
Tomorrow I am off to Norfolk and while I’m crossing my fingers for sunshine I’m not holding my breath. My British summer clothes have been packed. You know the usual lineup–swimsuit, wellies, wooly jumpers.
A wonderful welcome home
Even if I can’t count on the weather being beautiful, I know a good time will be had. Besides, when I come home there will be another box of Freddie’s summer flowers waiting on the doorstep. Maybe some more gorgeous gladioli? Whatever he sends I know it’ll be equally bright and cheery. Oh the very thought leaves me so excited; I just can’t wait to go!
Misti Traya fell in love with an Englishman and moved from Los Angeles to London in 2009. After her daughter was born, she began a blog called Chagrinnamon Toast that won the writing category at the 2014 Young British Foodies. She was also named runner-up for the Shiva Naipaul Prize. She has written for Gawker, Jezebel, Look, Mslexia, The Pool, The Spectator, and Stella Magazine.