There is so much depth that goes into seeing into someone’s heart through scent. Typically a process of creating scent is relegated to glass bottles and vials - at red flower and with Molly Hardie, the creative force and owner of Keswick Hall, the process of creating a scent started in the dirt and stayed close to the uncultivated forces of nature.
The first time we met was a few years ago in tall rubber boots in November, not a typical time of year for getting a sense of nature’s possibilities. The air was chilly and skies grey, walking through Keswick’s surrounding gardens we rubbed myrtle branches between our fingers, looked at the helibore’s last turn to crimson, pulled carrots from the ground that still managed to have some life to them and we got to know each other a little better as we filled a basket with clippings. There was her love of butterflies, her scientist understanding of pollination and her refreshing wonder at just being in this place, and yet we both felt that our inspiration was still to be tapped into - that the garden, while beautiful, had too much the touch of purpose and we wanted to get even closer to Keswick’s roots, so there would be another time to meet and walk together.
"Here is where we found ourselves and recognized that for Keswick and for Molly the natural distillation, the gentle coaxing of this meadow and hill would produce something gentle, beautiful and strong. Something true and an expression of the freedom in the first light."
A few months later boarding a train from NYC to Charlottesville in late February there was a sense of anticipation to see what changes in colors and scents awaited at the fringes of winter. This time we walked toward the hills surrounding Keswick. Keswick Hall is located in Albemarle County in the Piedmont region of Virginia. Piedmont directly translates from the French to at the foot of the mountains. If you have never seen these hills as they are losing their winter chill, a wonder awaits. There is a feeling of openness and time, of possibility and beauty. With gloves, clippers and a day ahead we looked over and in and up and down, everywhere there was an abundance of things coming to life. Old cedar trees shaped into unconventional curves by the winds. Their scraggly bark giving the whole region an earthy, smoky smell. Magnolia trees upright and strong holding in their resplendent capacity to burst into big, flowery most fragrant spring flowers. Carpets of mosses just hinting at green cover the shale like soil. Bursts of geranium, snowdrops, violets, iris, lily of the valley begin and as a soft hue in colors the flow of every change in season. There are so many wildgrasses that give this place it's uncultivated distinction from warm bluish oat grass, to long sedges, cheery bottlebrush and soft mystical carpets of clover. Warmed in the sun this hill will soon become an abundant field of flowers and little red clovers, bumble bees and butterflies, but now it is still awaiting its unfurling, the time just before when its resilience is in equal to its longing to be free and bloom. Here is where we found ourselves and recognized that for Keswick and for Molly the natural distillation, the gentle coaxing of this meadow and hill would produce something gentle, beautiful and strong. Something true and an expression of the freedom in the first light.
Walking it again at dawn tinged in February frost would render this into being and as the hills came more fully into life and the distillation process began, it was exciting to share how a little clover or geranium leaf through steam distillation creates an essential oil that is the essence of the plant. There is a line in a Dylan Thomas poem that, taken out of context, expresses this moment of distilling, “the force that through the green fuse drives the flower”. One by one we distilled and shared the essences and Molly allowed them to come together in her mind, letting them blend as they would in nature throughout the seasons becoming one. It is good to be here, in the optimism of the meadow at dawn.
Dawn Meadow Collection +
Keswick Hall Partnership
Keswick Hall owner and creator, Molly Hardie knows the Virginia Hills soil from years of cultivating the land and watching its uncultivated wild. It is her sense of wonder for nature’s beauty and depth of understanding for its habits and seasons that make the Keswick scent Dawn Meadow possible. She chose to work with Red Flower in crafting Dawn Meadow because she could see a capability to listen and a sense for the unspoken language of flowers. Paired with a life-long dedication to sensory biophilia, exploration of botanical scent extraction and belief in the power of global bathing traditions, Red Flower founder Yael spends time through each season clipping and distilling oils from wildflowers, trees and herbs to create the purest aromatherapies and drew special inspiration from her time with Molly walking the hills surrounding Keswick Hall.
Dawn Meadow captures the resilience of nature, the optimism of dawn and the freedom of rolling hills. In every season the meadow bursts forth with promise and yields the simple and fresh aromatics that are steam distilled to become a signature and beneficial scent that captures the essence of a Keswick stay. Feel the clean herbs, flowers and grasses that fill every naturally vibrant moment with wild geranium, wild rose, mint leaf, lily of the valley, wild meadow grass, red clover, amsonia, iris root and butterfly plant whole essential oils and extracts.