Hedera helix is the botanical name for Ivy as well as a perfume I created in April of 2007. Two months after the formulation of the Greenwitch, I choose to further the concept of green by stepping onto the spiraling path of purposeful Ivy.
"Greenest of the pastures, sweeter than grasses."
The fragrance was commissioned by a friend and writer in the "natural perfume" arena named Tonie Silver. Her request was not something I had anticipated, nor looking forward to.
This perfume was made at a time when I was removing large amounts of Ivy from my garden in order to plant California natives. I had witnessed how destructive Ivy was to the oaks and other plants that grew alongside it. Thus, had Tonie Silver not made the request for this fragrance it probably would never have manifested.
Ivy is not indigenous to the southern California area and it is extremely water greedy. In fact, Ivy is considered an invasive, meaning it will crowd out native plants and create habitat destruction.
This is from the "Don't Plant a Pest" handout form The California Invasive Plant Council":
English ivy or Algerian ivy
Hedera helix or Hedera caneriensis
Some ivy species in the Hedera genus are a problem in California.
They can smother understory vegetation,
kill trees, and harbor non-native rats and snails.
It's difficult to distinguish problem species from less invasive ones.
Do not plant ivy near natural areas,
never dispose of ivy cuttings in natural areas,
and maintain ivy so it never goes to fruit.
Researchers hope to determine which ivies can be planted safely.
I discovered that creating a “Green” scent was fairly easy, however, creating a masterful botanical perfume that conveyed “Green” and “Ivy” was a challenge. Most especially given my particular orientation toward the plant.
Recognizing that Ivy isn't bad, and that I was having a reaction, I took a deep breath and dived in. The first task was to study the aroma of crushed Ivy leaves, which to my surprise contained powdery notes, along with green and hints of citrus.
The structure of the fragrance has the characteristics of a traditional Chypre with a very classy air. The oakmoss and resins in the base give the liquid perfume some powerful longevity. The aromatic notes are woven very tightly so that individuals are not easy to perceive. The best words I can use to describe the scent are: mossy green, floral Chypre.
I utilized many essences with a green profile as well as those that come from green leaves. On the skin of those who have tested it for me it is quite beautiful with fabulous silage.
I then made a list of essences which smelled green and Ivy-like and composed created five different sketches labeled Ivy 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Number five in the end prevailed, reminding me of the story of Coco Chanels first perfume.
The list of essential oils, C02 extracts and absolutes is quite vast
including thirty three individual essences from a variety of families:
RESINS, GUMS & BALSAMS
- Peru Balsam
FLOWERING TOPS, LEAVES & TWIGS
- Clary Sage
- Peach Leaf
- Rhodedendron Leaf
- Violet Leaf
- Lotus, pink
- Orange blossom
- Choya (sea shells)
- Orange peel
- Tonka Bean
The composition also includes tinctures and infusions such as a Lavender flower. This fragrance is neither feminine nor masculine, but does contain more yin like qualities.
Tonie was quite happy with the end result and wrote this for Sniffapalooza Magazine:
"My favorite potion from Roxana was a special commission per my request.
Hedera helix~ the mighty Ivy Dark green leaves, reddish,
yellowish pink vines, and that special sharp tang that ivy possesses.
This is the big, aged, thick leaved ivy of my Grandmother’s front porch,
climbing and twining in the shade.
Cool and crisp, an inviting home to innumerable dark creatures."
Here are more shared scent impressions:
"It reminds me of her wonderful sea chypre GreenWitch, but Hedera Helix takes another direction. Instead of being of the sea, it is essentially of the forest, a walk in magical woodland where every step brings up the aroma of the greenery underfoot and the slightest breeze brings the scent of living things in all their mystery”" ~ Donna Hathaway
"Profoundly fresh! Strong evergreen with clean citrus, and a clear balance of soft heart-opening florals (rose, neroli). An incredible invitation into the deep woods and the true heart." ~ Jenna
"Roxana, Wow, from my first small samples your scents just grew and grew on me over time. Now as I squeeze the last drops from the sample vials I simply must have more. I fell completely in love with Rosa and Hedera Helix. I love that Hedera is connected to the Ogham and that the tenacity of Ivy lives in this scent -its an energy that is in much need for me. I am also very curious to compare the liquid and solid perfumes so I have ordered the six sampler. I would like to re-order Hedera Helix, Rosa and Oak as solid samples. And add Vera, Blanc and Aurora to try.
Thank you so much for these wonderful fragrances. I tried a few other all natural perfumes during this time also and now I know that you are the maestro!
Will be waiting for my order with anticipation.
Love and light to you,
and a long one, but oh so wonderful:
I received a sample of your Hedera Helix a couple of days ago. I read the review on Perfume Posse and grew too curious not to spend a few euros to have a whiff. Having worn this miraculous substance every day since (even though it's by no means an everyday fragrance in my book), I just had to write some fan mail.
I will not attempt to describe my impressions in expert terms because I'm by no means an expert, quite the opposite: this is the first perfume I have ever bought. I hardly know what's a base note. It seems that once more when entering a new field of experience I have begun from the top tier (I don't know if it tells you much, but first modern game I ever played on a computer was half-life2 :D). I saw the movie Perfume (didn't actually like it too much despite praises) but have been interested in the way things smell, man made or otherwise, for much longer. It's fascinating how some odors relate to feelings, memories etc., or just give pleasure/displeasure. Probably basic stuff for a perfumist.
Anyway, this perfume, once I got to try it, was overwhelming. The very first impression when I opened the vial was the antique quality. First, you think 50 years ago. But then you check again and say, no, 300 years ago. But when you inquire, there really is no beginning. It goes back in history so far you start to think about mythology. Circe could have worn this when she held the banquet for Odysseus. "For all the time spent in that room, the dollhouse darkness, old perfume"
I had no idea it is possible to create such complex flow of fleeting impressions. This was far from mere deodorant. There was something ancient and powerful, black even, behind the colourful play of the distinct and the sweet, dew droplets reflecting setting sun in spectrum hues against some shadowy forest. When it develops on the skin and the play of delicate colors fades, there comes this thrillingly pleasant, more constant thing. Then it deepens. And deepens. I absolutely love the fact that behind this pleasantness there is an undertone of something ominous. Just like being deep in the woods alone. It inspires profound feelings. It makes me think of mortality. But it's not grim, it's warm. It has a mysterious smile of an old wise woman. I want to experience this over and over again, like when you find some special piece of music and just listen to it every day and get more and more kicks, discover more and more meaning.
Okay, sorry if I got carried away but I'm really impressed. Thank you for this experience. It has been an eye-opener for understanding what fragrances can do. When I get rich I will buy a bottle and treasure it! You may also be pleased to hear that I'm a recently self-discovered trans woman, and for me this fragrance will always associate with discovering my true identity.
The Tree Ogham of Ivy
Ivy, the twelfth letter in the Tree Ogham goes by the letter G and the name Gort, meaning green field or garden. According to Blamires some legends and poetry refer to honeysuckle and woodvine interchangeable with Ivy.
We interpret the message of a plant by observing where and how it grows. Ivy is a very tenacious, evergreen which uses another plant as a host eventually smothering and/or killing it. Ivy in the physical world is witnessed growing as a ground cover, on trees, and the side of a building. The deep green waxy leaves have four or five pointed lobes growing from long vines which rapidly cling and wrap themselves spiraling upwards. Paul Rhys Mountfort in his book Ogam, The Celtic Oracle of Trees calls this a basic archetype of growth and endurance which we can witness in the structure of our DNA and the patterns of the
The survival instinct of the Ivy is fierce with the ability to grow in adverse conditions, exploiting anything found in its trail in order to prevail. Ivy is a ruthless parasite prepared to use what might appear unfortunate as a benefit. The lesson of the Ivy in our physical world is related to a aggressive warrior spirit. There are moments in our lives when an indomitable will force is needed to move forward, this is the positive aspect of the Ivy spirit which we can tune into. In doing so clear mindfulness is needed so that we do not choke others or ourselves in the process.
Find Hedera helix HERE
Find reviews over at my journal here.
The Hedera helix photo of artist Gwen Cunningham which I art directed in our garden when we lived in California, photo by Greg Spalenka. All photos ©Roxana Villa, please respect our copyright.