Portia Says Hello! – Review: Hermès Un Jardin Sur Le Nil

Editor’s Note: When I met Portia in Vienna a few weeks ago, she generously offered to write for OT now and again and since I have a hard time doing too much of that myself lately, I gratefully accepted and am happy and proud to present to you the inimitable Ms Portia Turbo. She starts this week with a firm favorite of mine, Hermès Jardin sur le Nil. Enjoy!

By Portia

Hello to you at Olfactoria’s Travels,

Portia from Australian Perfume Junkies and Perfume Posse here, I’m thrilled to be guest writing for Olfactoria’s Travels.

Recently I was in Austria and was lucky enough to get to spend time with the adorable Birgit and Sandra, who are both great Hermès fans, as I myself am too. They have scarves and jewellery, famously Birgit has a couple of their fragrances on heavy rotation and Sandra too wears Hermès fragrance. It was like a meeting of a not so secret Hermès fan club. Coming home from my adventures I was determined to re-look at some of my Hermès bottles and give them some extra attention and skin time.

Un Jardin Sur Le Nil  was created by Jean Claude Ellena for Hermès in 2005.

Un Jardin Sur Le Nil Hermes FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: green mango, tomato, carrot, grapefruit
Heart: orange, peony, bulrush, hyacinth, lotus
Base: labdanum, iris, musk, incense, cinnamon

Though fruity fragrances are stuck with a bad stigma I feel Jean Claude Ellena manages to give his a sense of occasion and gravitas that many in the genre are lacking, even the succulent opening accords of Un Jardin Sur Le Nil have a warm resinous and furry depth that is often missing. I am surprised too when wearing Nil that it has a really good heft to it initially, good projection and excellent sillage for the first hour and a half before it gets closer to the skin.

Un Jardin Sur Le Nil Hermes Mangoes Ana Rodríguez Carrington FlickrPhoto Stolen Flickr

Un Jardin Sur Le Nil is fun and frivolous, the fruits and vegetative florals all play together beautifully and though you can pick the notes it is not about them as much as it’s about smelling like a shimmer of spring. Even through the depths of winter the joyous burst of fruit and gentle wash of the bouquet which is still sparkling with dew will have you, if you close your eyes and breathe deeply, in an outdoor flower/fruit market as the warm spring sun comes over the rooftops to warm everything, even you.

Many people poo poo the Ellena style and if you don’t like his watery wash then Un Jardin Sur Le Nil will probably not be the one to change your mind. I do think it a very good cross between his usual almost linear simplicity and a more adventurous story as it moves steadily through its paces from high fresh cut fruit to the flowers in their cool metal cans and the water they sit in to a still cool but more living, human or animal, warmth as it dries down. That warmth still cut through by wet carroty iris and a very soft incense that becomes closer and less intrusive and then finally at around 4 hours fades away.

Un Jardin Sur Le Nil Hermes Nile River MikiMediaPhoto Stolen WikiMedia

You can purchase Un Jardin Sur Le Nil at all Hermès stores and in department stores, also for very good prices at the online discounters.
Further reading: Birgit on Olfactoria’s Travels and Bois de Jasmin
My Perfume Samples has samples starting at $3/ml

Do you like the Ellena aesthetic? Have you tried Un Jardin Sur Le Nil? How was your experience?

Portia xx


About Olfactoria

I'm on a journey through the world of fragrance - come with me!
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34 Responses to Portia Says Hello! – Review: Hermès Un Jardin Sur Le Nil

  1. Lady Jane Grey says:

    I like the Ellena style (in geneal, I like when somebody has a distinctively good style …) – his creations remind me aquarells done by a great master’s hand. I wear two of his Jardins (en Mediterranee).
    BTW, I also like the name “Un Jardin sur le Nil”… – it sounds like an era by-.gone, when the crime stories were still written by Agatha…

    • Oh Yes,
      Absolutely it could be an Agatha Christie story. Did you ever read her autobiography? I found her very charming and such a stand alone game changer. A woman who really dealt with the world on her terms, and never let being a woman in a time where they were often a good deal less than equal stand in her way. Bravo for the reminder Lady Jane Grey
      Portia xx

  2. Safran says:

    Welcome on board, Portia, great read! The not so secret Hermès fan club would actually be a club I’d love to join, even if you’d take me as a member….. I love a lot of Jean-Claude Ellena’s work, but Un Jardin sur le Nil is not one of my favourites, the (for my nose too) prominent incense note always bothered me in this composition. But I love the monsoon garden and some of his Hermessence scents and above all Jour d’Hermes. Last night, I finally started reading his book “Perfume – the Alchemy of Scent”, which was sitting on my shelf since it came out, what a fascinating read and homage to Hermès!

    • I loved that book too Safran, are you enjoying it?
      The monsoon garden is gorgeous and I had to toss up between the garden series because I love them all, I can understand the incense being annoying if you don’t like that particular note, anything like that takes over and can completely ruin a fragrant adventure.
      Of course you’d be welcome in our club we are NEVER exclusive.
      Portia xx

  3. Sandra says:

    Hey there Portia! Wonderful review. I love many of Ellena’s perfumes, including Un Jardin Sur le Nil. I do not need to think too hard when I wear his perfumes. xo

    • Sandra!!
      Thank you. What a great time you showed us in Vienna. I can’t wait to come back and hang out again, in the Cat Cafe no less. Everyone I have spoken to about it thinks it a grand idea.
      I absolutely understand the spritz and go thing with JCE stuff, but if you do have time to sit down and follow the story they are interesting too. I think he finds a nice balance. What is your most worn Hermes?
      Portia xx

  4. annemariec says:

    I like Nil but it’s not a favourite. I’m not sure what it is but I just don’t make an emotional connection with it. I do agree that it has good lasting power for a fragrance of its type, and it tends to make unexpected re-appearances late in the day. In the summer it’s also a welcome change (I think) from traditional, dry herbal colognes. Nil has a lovely juicy quality without in anyway become too sweet.

  5. Anka says:

    I want to smell like a shimmer of spring now – thank you, Portia, for a wonderful review and the wanderlust inducing pictures!
    The combination of tomato leaf and this particular warmth you described so well is what I love about Sur Le Nil. To me it feels refreshing and uncomplicated, yet complex enough to be interesting.

  6. Tara says:

    Portia joins OT! What a happy day. Of course writing about a Hermes is very fitting. I’m not as huge a fan as Birgit or Sandra (who could be?!) but I am a big admirer of the Hermessences in particular. They prove that while Ellena may work from a minimal pallete that doesn’t mean all his fragrances are minimalist. I loved reading about Un Jardin sur le Nil in The Perfect Scent and am going to dig out a spring-like perfume tomorrow to hurry along winter.

    • We are OT team mates Tara. I’m so excited to be included in this wonderful crew.
      Yes, thanks for taking me to Hermes in Selfridges too. I am about to embark on a couple of days in Santal Massoia thanks to you and I am quite excited about it.
      Which is your favourite Hermessence Tara? Mine is Ambre Naguille so far.
      Portia xx

      • Tara says:

        I like Ambre Narguille, particularly around Chrstimas time but my favourite is Osmanthe Yunnan. It’s very me 🙂

        I hope you enjoy Santal Massoia. I think you will.

  7. Olfactoria says:

    Thank you very much for this post, Portia and welcome to OT!
    I love Hermès as you pointed out and I actually think Ellena is the bee’s knees and the cat’s pyjamas. 😉
    My most used Hermès are Rose Ikebana and L’Ambre des Merveilles, but I love the Jardins as well. JCE can do no wrong… 😉

    • Ha Ha Ha! Birgit, JCE is a cool cat, no doubt. I even love some of his older stuff L’Eau du Navigateur and First are regular spritzes in the house too. Without having a big look I think he may be the best represented nose in my collection,
      You are thanking ME? I am honoured to be here.
      Portia xx

  8. ringthing says:

    Hi Portia, it’s a treat to read you here (I’m rosarita on the Posse). I am a fan of JCE and his minimal yet effective style and Un Jardin Sur le Nil is a warm weather staple for me – sometimes I layer a bit of L’Artisan Passage d’Enfer with it. The lily blends well and the incense gets amplified; I like the way the breezy sheerness of the opening of Sur le Nil is grounded by incense but sometimes it’s not enough alone.

  9. FeralJasmine says:

    Portia, what a pleasure to tune in over here and find you! I’m not an Ellena fan, or rather I am a fan because I admire the brilliance of his work, but I never wear his perfumes. The washy style is not for me. But he has certainly built a body of work with a consistent aesthetic vision.

    • YAY! FeralJasmine!!
      There are many who respect but eschew JCEs work. You are definitely not alone. I wear them when a mood takes me and a couple last about 30 minutes on my skin but when they work they sparkle on me.
      Portia xx

  10. Sarah K says:

    I have to confess that I am not much of a fan of JCE’s work, when it comes down to actually wearing it. Everything of his that I have tried I have thought classy and very worth of respect, and I actually own small bottles of Sur le Nil and En Mediterranee, which I find very evocative, but I never end up wearing them. Somehow, the airy style of his more recent work seems more suitable to scent a room than my skin (JCE lovers, please don’t hate me too much!). The only one of his creations that I really enjoy wearing so far is L’Ambre des Merveilles – probably because I find a lot of ambers too dense, and his is not.

    • Interesting SarahK,
      Now that you mention it, I think so many would make excellent ambient fragrances. You are in good company with your love of L’Ambre des Merveilles as it’s Birgit’s fave too.
      JCE lovers won’t hate you, they understand that tastes differ across the board.
      Portia xx

  11. Dionne says:

    On the whole, I respect JCE’s aesthetic more than love it, I’m not sure why. Thus far, none of the Hermessences are FBW for me, although sometimes Santal Massoia just hits the spot for me. But oh, I do love L’Eau d’Hiver!

    • Hey there Dionne,
      Lovely to see you.
      I am surprised that the JCE aesthetic isn’t for you. Do they turn pissy or is it just to amorphous on you?
      Portia xx

      • Dionne says:

        I’m not sure, exactly. There are a few that turn sour on me, which unfortunately includes Jardin sur la Nil (bummer, because I love a fig note) as well as Jour d’Hermes, and Osmanthe Yunnan is gone in 15 minutes, but on the whole they just don’t move me. I don’t know why, other than the heart is an unpredictable thing. 😉

  12. Jordan River says:

    Portia is there a continent that you are not on? Great to find you here. Intellectually I like Ellena and I loved reading his contemplative diary. When I went to find a Jardin I ended up with Spice Bomb instead. But if I was floating down the Nile with you then I would wear this one.

  13. Figuier says:

    Thanks for a great review – & how nice to have a ‘guest appearance’ after Birgit’s posts on your earlier European visit! JeN is on my ‘test further & possibly purchase’ list at present; I bought En Med soon after it came out & wore it for a long time, but now it feels almost unbearably nostalgic to me, and Nil might be a good alternative in the summery-but-complex category. But there are so many other fantastic Ellena Hermes scents that I’d happily own a bottle of: Vanille Galante, Jardin en Mousson, and all the various Eaux…In the bright, breezy, evocative style he’s king 🙂

  14. cookie queen says:

    Hi Honey. 🙂

  15. Undina says:

    Hi Portia! Nice to see you here 🙂

    Un Jardin Sur Le Nil is the only “garden” that I own and wear. They all are different but not different enough to have more than one.

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