All perfumes called Cherry Blossom fall far short of reality. I say this with confidence as I lie on the grass in my grandmother’s cherry garden, gazing up at the blossom-covered branches. The flowers are so white and dense that if I squint, the trees seem to be draped in snow. A gust of wind shakes the petal confetti onto the pages of my book, and after a while I shut my worn volume of The Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol and daydream in the pale sunshine.
Of all the delicate scents of spring, that of cherry blossoms is the most elusive. It smells neither fruity nor sweet like most perfume interpretations, but rather bitter and green. If you bury your face in the petals and let the yellow pollen settle on your cheeks, you notice hints of Amaretto, honey and green sap. It’s delicate but assertive, with enough character to stand out next to the pungent aroma of blooming pears and the sugary sweetness of apple flowers. I wish I could distil it all into a fragrance.
On the other hand, spring does bloom in many perfume bottles. Balmain Vent Vert (£61 for 75ml) is a blend of green leaves and sticky stems. Created in 1947 by legendary perfumer Germaine Cellier, it is exhilarating and bracing, a much-needed reminder of spring after a long, gruelling winter.
Romantic and gentle, Ann Gérard’s Perle de Mousse (£100 for 60ml) weaves a layer of white petals into a tapestry of leaves, grass and soft moss. Vero Kern’s Mito (£138 for 50ml) also takes its inspiration from a moss-festooned spring garden, but it’s awash in magnolias and a note of lemon sorbet.
Dior Eau Sauvage (£66 for 100ml), Hermès Eau de Narcisse Bleu (£61 for 75ml) and Frédéric Malle Angéliques sous la Pluie (£85 for 50ml) are my potions of choice if I’m dreaming of an early spring not yet bedecked in flowers. Nevertheless, my ideal spring always needs a scattering of cherry blossoms, and I find them in Guerlain Après l’Ondée (£77 for 100ml), a watercolour of an early morning orchard and the best representation of my grandmother’s blooming garden in May.