Secret Garden by Aftelier Perfumes

This afternoon, I picked up a bouquet of peonies for my apartment from Trader Joe’s, but that’s about as far as I go in terms of taking care of flowers or plants. I’ve never been into gardening. However, I loved the book The Secret Garden as a child, and the story has stuck with me. The 1993 film with Maggie Smith as Mrs. Medlock is also a gem. You don’t need to have a green thumb to appreciate Aftelier’s Secret Garden. You don’t need to have read the book either, but I’m a literature student at heart. I’ll never pass up the opportunity to make a connection to a book!

The first thing I smell when applying Secret Garden is damp soil. I do not smell lively greens or blooming florals. For me, the opening is earth and just a touch of damp green moss. It makes sense, if you think of the story, Mary and Dickon begin by clearing out the garden and nurturing it back to life (they do the same with Colin, nurturing him into being a healthy child). Damp soil is one of the first things you need for new life to grow.

The florals come in during the heart notes for me. I can sense rose, jasmine, and even a hint of carnation. The floral accords are full-bodied, but not in your face. Everything is very carefully balanced here. We’re at the stage where the garden is being carefully tended and maintained. The jasmine is most prominent to my nose and it’s a jasmine with depth: creamy, spicy and rich. I believe the touch of spice is what’s making me think of carnation. I don’t think it’s actually an intended note here, but, when I close my eyes and smell my wrist, I picture carnation blooming in my mind’s eye.

Secret Garden has great staying power for a natural because the base is so dense. The earthiness persists, less damp but more rich. It has been enriched now by the spice and the blooming florals. There’s a bit of a civet animalic presence, and I also get a touch of minerality. The mineral aspect makes me think of the key to the garden, which Mary finds buried in the earth. Secret Garden begins to fade away for me around the 5 hour mark. After 6 hours, I have to re-apply or perhaps move on to another scent.

I really appreciate the sense of realism I get from Secret Garden. Gardening is hard work! It’s sweaty and dirty. It’s dirt, it’s mud, it’s dampness, and manure. You get a sense of all of that here. However, don’t be fooled! Secret Garden is a grounded and earthy scent, but that doesn’t mean it’s not dreamy. It’s a Romantic composition. The jasmine really adds a sensuality and the unexpected touch of spice adds so much depth. I highly recommend trying Secret Garden, especially if you don’t typically like florals. This one might surprise you! There is nothing typical about it.


I purchased a sample of Secret Garden from Aftelier online. I originally wrote about my first impressions here. Nothing in this post was gifted or sponsored.

The photo was taken by me. The background picture is a detail of a painting by Claude Monet, Villas à Bordighera. I own the Monet book by Taschen.

6 thoughts on “Secret Garden by Aftelier Perfumes

  1. Have you ever tried St Clair Scents Gardener’s Glove? It was nominated for a perfume award. I think you might like it. Middle aged brain cannot remember if you have tried any of Diane’s beautiful scents yet…..if you haven’t, I highly recommend all of them!!!
    And happy to see you posting today 😃

    1. I’m glad I got this posted today too! I’ve missed a few regular weekly posts recently so I’m glad to get back into it.

      I have not tried Gardner’s Glove or First Cut. However, I have written about Frost and Casablanca here on the blog.

      1. Ah yes!!! I remember that you really liked Frost!! Now I feel silly for NOT remembering that!! Gardener’s Glove might remind you of Secret Garden (which I have not sampled) which is why I mention it…. beautiful florals but also a tomato leaf note and a bit of leather. It’s an interesting perfume. I hope you get to try it one day. Same with First Cut. To me it smells of sweet lavendered hay but other folks get a tobacco vibe. Diane uses a high concentrate of naturals so they smell different on different wearers and I love this.

        1. I definitely want to try First Cut and Gardner’s Glove for summer! I’m trying to prioritize my samples so that I only have a few to test at a time. Sometimes I overwhelm myself by testing too much at once.

          And, of course, I’m trying to save a bit for a bottle of 1957. That will be the rest of my summer perfume budget for sure! The life of a perfumista!

  2. Thank you so much Caitlin for this magnificent review. I am so moved by your deep understanding of my work and what I was trying to accomplish with this perfume. It really means so much to me! ❤️ Thank you!!! Mandy

    1. Mandy, it’s so thoughtful of you to take the time to read and comment here. I can’t wait to get a bottle of Secret Garden once I’ve drained my sample! I’m trying to use it up slowly and savor it. (Emphasis on trying!)

      Thank you for sharing all of your lovely works with us!

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