Taking a moment to contemplate beauty: the fierce, passionately real, full-on mesmerising beauty of the plumeria (frangipani) flower. Vivid, sun-drenched tropical colours soaking in velvety petals, a deep breath in gives an intoxicating scent. It’s the inspiration for the Frangipani Sargasso Botanica soap. Here’s the story.
The plumeria plant (common name is ‘frangipani’) is native to Mexico and Central
America, but it thrives in nearly every tropical climate. Plumeria is commonly grown as a shrub, but it’s also a tree.
I was surprised to see one shading an outdoor courtyard on a recent trip to India. Later, in my room, I found a lovely bowl of floating blooms, left by the staff. This natural room scent was not only thoughtful, but soothing and relaxing. With a soft, warm notes and a spicy attribute, frangipani puts pleasure in the air.
The cultural connotations of the flower beyond the Americas are diverse. In Oceanic Pacific island cultures, it’s become a symbol of welcome and happiness, used to make leis, or flower garlands–or as a simple jewel for the hair.
In the Far East, the connotations are very different. White plumeria blooms are sometimes used in funeral rites, as white, highly fragranced blooms are often used in ceremonies of death.
At home in the Americas, it’s a forgiving plant which doesn’t need too much water or care, and so usually finds its way into a flower pot or two in a hot, sunny garden. . .
And now it’s a Sargasso soap.
Blooms of pink, white or yellow (depends on my mood the day I’m making it), set inside the soap. It’s a several-day process to first make the coloured blooms and then settle them into a new batch of soap, timing it just right so that everything coheres as it dries. Though I use a perfume version of frangipani for the soap scent, I’ve got a vial of the flower absolute (real perfume from the flower) sitting near my desk and big plans for it in a natural perfume blend (coming soon. . . I promise!)
Frangipani Sargasso Botanica soap, side profile view.
Always available online at sargassotradingcompany.com or at Chatsworth Road E5 market some Sundays. Check our social media for market trading days!