White Rose & Lemon Leaves is one of the fragrances released by Jo Loves, the brand launched by Jo Malone in 2011 when she was able to do so following the sale of the “Jo Malone” brand to Estee Lauder. It is inspired by the white rose “Norma Jean”, a strongly fragrant white rose that is popular for wedding bouquets and arrangements. The website describes its ingredients as white rose oil, lemon peel, rose absolute, and cedarwood. This is one of my favorite rose fragrances, because it is so aromatic. It isn’t sweet AT ALL. Interestingly, the actual rose that inspired it is supposed to have particularly sharp and large thorns, which of course are removed before use by a florist. By the way, although I’m not able to share the photo with you directly, I found the most gorgeous floral arrangement using white roses, lemon leaves, and actual lemons by a California-based florist here: Lemoncello Beauty, by Margo Florals. If I lived anywhere nearby, I would order that so fast, or at least request it for Mother’s Day! Local florists and growers are really hurting during this pandemic since so many in-person events have been cancelled. I read about one floral grower in California that is now selling flowers to individuals at its farm, mainly so it has enough operating funds to keep its rose bushes alive. Most of the cut flowers we see for sale in the USA are imported from Latin America; if you like buying cut flowers (or live plants), please consider “buying local.”
The lemon note is true to the way some roses smell lemony, but here it is greener, which matches the name’s reference to “lemon leaves.” Lemon leaves are in fact aromatics that are used in cooking as well as in fragrant garlands and wreaths in some cultures; they contain lemon oil themselves, although the major source of lemon oil is the peel. While looking up some of these facts, I learned that lemon oil contains a natural aldehyde, citral, and that makes sense with regard to this fragrance: it has a lightness, a sparkle, that I associate with aldehydes. This isn’t a heavy fragrance, it has “lift” instead of heft. It levitates off the skin like a ray of dappled sunshine twinkling through green leaves.
White Rose & Lemon Leaves would make an ideal wedding fragrance, and not just for the bride! I could see a bridegroom wearing this scent with great style, and with a boutonniere to match. The green, aromatic nature of this scent and the lightly woody drydown bring it well within the unisex camp although so many of us associate roses and rose fragrances with femininity.
I grow several roses in different colors in my garden, but not a white one! I did try, one year, with the lovely English Rose Claire Austin, but it did not thrive or survive in our heat and humidity, and probably not enough sun where I had planted it. It may be time to try again for a white rose, maybe Desdemona.
Do you recommend any rose fragrances for men? Or have you tried any Jo Loves fragrances? I highly recommend a visit to her boutique in London, when travel and shopping are advisable again. It is just beautiful, and on the same block as the legendary perfume store Les Senteurs. I was there on Elizabeth Street last May, during Chelsea Flower Show Week, and hope to visit again in the not too distant future, when I can resume my perfume tourism!