One of my favourite adventures in Bangladesh last month happened while exploring Lawachara National Park, which we’d actually visited before. The park is fantastic for walking in: with an impressive variety of flora, it’s very lush, free, and expansive – and one is bound to come across a cute little monkey or two. On this visit, we were made aware that that the park contains a lemon garden. The zingy prospect of a lemon orchard really excited me, as not only must a garden dedicated to the brightest of all fruits feel magical, but it was quite a few months I’d been longing to discover what scent the lemon blossom’s spirit would yield.
Upon reaching the garden’s gates, however, we were faced with a minor problem: the gate was closed with a ‘No Entry’ sign. Perhaps at this time of year, which was winter in Bangladesh too, it was a key time for cultivation taking place (as opposed to harvesting), which is why they didn’t want guests strolling through. Nevertheless we could see that the garden was full of promising lemon-trees with a fair amount still blessed with lemons at this time of year, and, to my delight – lemon blossoms. As everyone I was with knew it was my plan to smell one, my bhai, Raju bhai, climbed over the gate picked one, and gave it to me (ethical note – I straight away put the flower in a small bottle of water when I got home, and I knew it was the only opportunity I would have in x number of years to smell a real lemon blossom again).
The scent reminded me of neroli (which is of course from the same genus) in that it had that quality that might have been medical if it wasn’t so soft. Although very magnetizing, it’s a mysterious essence that one ponders at, rather than instinctively wanting to consume or indulge in. I’ve only smelled orange blossom essential oil, but compared to it lemon blossom has a brighter, fresher, fruitier quality, while still as weightless as sunlight. In contrast though, the appearance and texture is hardy, with creamy petals curling over with their own thickness; and from the physical impressions combined with the scent characteristics, it’s reflected that the plant is as great for the body as it is for the mind.