A propensity for visual dominance can be found in many aspects of Western culture, to the extent sounds and smells of landscapes can often be overlooked. It frequently requires, therefore, different forms of attentiveness to rediscover these other sensory elements of our landscapes. However even so attuned, we may journey through a landscape with certain preconceptions, levels of knowledge from our broader experiences, which act as sensory filters. For example, when we travel to the Highlands of Scotland we may in part anticipate the heather covered mountainous vistas, the stag silhouetted on a distant hill top. Perhaps we will expect to hear the haunting tones of the bagpipe, or in certain locations the swoosh of wind turbines.
But what is it we anticipate smelling ?
Some landscapes have been given special status, perhaps due to their outstanding scenic values or their ecological importance. Of these, it is perhaps the National Parks which most people are aware of (as opposed to Ramsars, AONB, SSSIs). Many National Parks sit in our historical consciousness, are culturally potent (often landscapes which have long been a source of inspiration of poets and artists) and attract huge numbers of visitors who wish to experience their distinctive characters. Do they have sensory qualities which are distinct from the landscape beyond the boundaries?
We may expect that the aural qualities of some National Parks are different, perhaps quieter, and there may be an association with an anticipation of fresh clean air, …. but are there other ways in which we might be preconditioned to anticipate other scents of landscape?
Could a range of domestic scent modification products, the ‘National Parks Fragrance Collection’, from ‘a leading home fragrance brand’ in any way change our olafactory relationships with certain landscapes?
Available in a range of products (such as candle, premium reed diffuser and fragrance gel), you can fill your house with scents inspired by fifteen National Parks. For each National Park there is an emblematic scent combination with a brief explanation about how it is inspired by the character of the landscapes.
Brecon Beacons – Wild Blossom & Fresh Mountain Dew – ‘Let the scent of fresh mountain dew and white floral blossoms transport you to the striking hills of the Brecon Beacons.’
Cairngorms – Spiced Apple & Snowy Mountains – ‘Indulge yourself with spirited and wild aromas inspired by the evocative Cairngorms mountains.’
Exmoor – Sea Spray & Ocean Minerals – ‘Inspired by the fresh ocean breeze sweeping across the dramatic sea cliffs of Exmoor.’
New Forest – Golden Woodlands & Sweet Nectar – ‘Let the sweet warming scents take you back to walks in the sunshine in the New Forest woodlands.’
Snowdonia – Mountain Sunset & Vibrant Zest – ‘Create a glowing ambiance in your home with the invigorating scents inspired by the Snowdonian Peaks.’
Yorkshire Dales – White Rose & Pink Sweet Pea – ‘Bask in the playful scent of the hay meadows and gardens inspired by the Yorkshire Dales in full bloom.’
The UK National Parks (‘Britain’s Breathing Spaces’) explain that these fragrances
‘help re-ignite memories of the experiences you’ve had with family and friends in one of the National Parks, as well as inspire you to get out and explore even more’
It is further explained:
‘In addition to raising awareness of the National Parks family, our partnership with Air Wick will help generate funds for vital projects to conserve heritage and improve facilities for the National Parks and the communities within them.’
‘We hope that this partnership will help raise our profile and the diversity of the UK National Parks with a new audience that might be unfamiliar with what we do. We are looking forward to working with Air Wick to bring the delights of Britain’s breathing spaces into people’s homes.’
The producer explains:
‘Our scents reflect the changing seasons and intense variety of the British outdoors, evoking the beautiful landscapes the National Parks represent.’
I wonder if in any small way such scents will provide a precondition for sensory perceptions of our National Parks,
when you visit the Lake District will you always anticipate the smell of:
Midnight Berry & Shimmering Mist