As the heat rises and cicadas chat in gentle tones, an aromatic scent fills the air. On hillsides across the Mediterranean, cypress is the signature fragrance of these lands. Fresh, green, almost spicy. In parts of the world, there are cypresses that survive today 4,000 years after they first emerged from the earth. Slender and noble, the Etruscans revered cypress trees, believing the reason they didn’t shed their leaves was because they held supernatural powers. They appeared to be ageless and indestructible, their wood resistant to fire and their verdant flush never diminished, in spite of being able to live for so long. And yet, if cut back too severely, they would fail to flourish again. A reminder that they should never be taken for granted.
In the hanging gardens statuesque Cypress trees are thought to have been a part of the wonderous terraced gardens, lining walkways and providing lush evergreen with a welcome aroma. Rather romantically created by a king for his beloved queen said to long for the mountain meadows of her homeland.
In classical mythology, the cypress symbolised eternal life, thanks to their longevity, evergreen foliage and ability to endlessly bear fruit (those tiny round cones). In its capacity as an artist’s muse, the cypress in Van Gogh’s famous painting, The Starry Night, reaches up like a flame into the swirling sky. Some say it represents uniting heaven and earth. A flash of immortality – perhaps a moment of hope when least expected.
In Provence, not only did cypresses protect against the belligerent mistral, the number of them planted outside a house was traditionally a code for astute travellers passing by. Three in a triangle was said to signify the offer of shelter for the night. Two trees apparently an invitation to stop for a bite – but some say one was a warning not to come knocking. Tall, sleek and elegant, the cypress has a language of its own, at once both guard and host to those in the know.
The aroma of the cypress is a spell-binding moment forever captured from the Hanging Gardens, infusing its surroundings with that unmistakable fresh aromatic scent, powered with the woody notes of trailing grapevines. This woody evergreen fragrance compelling and gallant encapsulates the majesty of this ancient wonder of the world. A spell that can never be broken.