This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V22", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
The use of perfumes dates back to the most remote ages. From those ancient times to the present they have been a delight and almost a necessity. The Egyptians burned them as offerings to their gods, and used them in embalming their dead. Their physicians prescribed them as medicines, especially for diseases of a nervous kind. That they ward off contagion is an acknowledged fact. It is affirmed, that " after the destruction of the clove trees by the Dutch in the Island of Ternate, the colony suffered from epidemics unknown before; and in times when the cholera has prevailed in London and Paris, those employed in the perfumery factories have escaped its ravages".
The Orientals used sweet odors profusely, perfuming their wines and their baths. Musk in large quantities was mixed with the mortar used in the construction of their mosques, and the odor was retained for years. It was particularly perceptable when heated by the sun. This imponderable fragrance embodied in various substances in nature, is sometimes called the "life" or u breath," because of its preservative qualities. Odorous blossoms remain fresh much longer than inodorous ; perfumed woods last as long as their perfume remains. Chemists find some odors are easily and quickly extracted, while others require months of patient effort. Some are extremely volatile, while others are retained for centuries.
One of the rarest odors in nature, is the violet. A perfume resembling the true violet has been obtained from the root of Iris of Florence, and perfumers have sold it for the attar of violets. Until within a few years comparatively, the real odor of the violet has never been separated from the flower; it refused to separate its odor from itself; it was to be met nowhere but in its own coralla. But at last the true smelling of otto of violets has been isolated by M. March, of Nice. The alchemist by skillfully combining certain odors obtains a semblance of the perfume of almost every flower. The jasmine alone is unapproachable. The odor of this flower is delicate and sweet, and so peculiar that it is without comparison, and as such cannot be imitated. For this reason the odor is very costly, - fifty dollars per fluid ounce. The late Charles Dickens, alluding to the assertion that the fragrance of the jasmine has never been imitated, says in Household Words: "Is jasmine, then the mystical meru - the centre, the Delphi, the Omphalos of the floral world? Is it the point of departure, - the one unapproachable and indivisible unit of fragrance? Is jasmine the Isis of flowers, with veiled face and covered feet, to be loved of all, yet discovered by none? Beautiful jasmine ! If it be so, the rose ought to be dethroned, and the inimitable enthroned queen in her stead.
Revolutions and abdications are exciting sports; suppose we create a civil war among the gardens, and crown the jasmine empress and queen of all".
Perfumes are obtained more or less from every part of the known world; but perhaps from those countries bordering on the Mediterranean in the greatest abundance. At Adrian-ople the rose gardens extend over from twelve to fourteen thousand acres, and are called the Rose Farms of the World.