The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 72
"Several months ago we published from the Christchurch Press a series of articles by Mr. Girling Butcher upon perfume-farming in New Zealand. Since then we have had an interview with Mr. Butcher, and learned that he had decided upon starting the industry in the middle Waikato district. The following particulars of this new industry have been furnished by Mr. Butcher to the Weekly Press at Christchurch: Mr. John Brooks, of Churchhill, Waikato, has some thousands of acres of land which are in the opinion of an expert admirably suited in the various requirements of soil and climate needed for both English and French perfume-farming. This land it is proposed to cut up into small farms of from 20 to 50 acres, which settlers are invited to take up on advantageous terms. Mr. Brooks's idea is that on his undertaking that an expert's knowledge and practical experience shall be at their disposal the settlers would be glad to enter into the cultivation of such plants and flowers as he should direct; and that, when the produce of such part of the land as they would devote to this special branch was ready for the manufacturer's hand, he would purchase at a fixed and remunerative rate all they could grow. This plan commends itself at a glance as benefiting both parties. The small farmer will be saved the expense of the machinery necessary to render the produce of his few acres fit for the market; he will be enabled to utilise the labour of his child- page 16 ren whilst at home from school, and be certain of a market for whatever he produced. In Bulgaria, the valley of Kezanlik is called the valley of roses, because there the ottar of roses is the principal industry. The latest statistics, dating from 1885, give the total production of this region as 1,650 kilogs of this perfume, representing about 1,000,000 francs. Consequently the population of this region is fairly prosperous.
"The following is an extract from one of a series of papers on 'Our Barbarous Prison System,' contributed to a London journal: 'Amongst the many employments followed by the women in Sherborne Prison, Massachusets, is that of rearing hothouse-flowers, which are sold in the Boston market, and are a very fair source of revenue to the prison. It was most encouraging to witness, as one passed through the gay and perfumed hothouses, the evident pride and pleasure the toilers took in their toil. "You see, the flowers can't answer them back, or irritate them," said the governor; "and it is amazing how soon they become gentle and well-behaved, and how greatly they enjoy being set to work in the houses. Then, the women, who have attained the fourth—that is, the highest grade of good conduct—are allowed to have flowers on their table at which they have meals, also a white tablecloth."'
"On the coast of the Mediterranean, within fifty miles of Marseilles and of Nice, the manufacture of perfumes from flowers is a special and lucrative industry. The climate approaches that of New Zealand and Australia, with, however, colder winds at times during winter. The old-fashioned, and not the latest florists' novelties, are the plants chosen, on account of their stronger perfume. The harvest is continuous. First, the violet, jonquil, and mignonette are gathered from February to April; these are succeeded by roses, orange-blossom, thyme, and rosemary until June; jasmine and tuberoses come in July and August; lavendar and spikenard last till September; and the floral harvest is terminated by the acacia in October and November. The rose and the orange-blossom season of May and June is the time of the greatest activity. Peasant proprietors supplement the growth of the grape and the olive with the lesser industries of thyme, rosemary, and lavendar. Their simple distilling apparatus suffices for inferior essences, which are used to dilute the products of the large establishments.
"The history of a typical example of a flower-garden is furnished in the 'Journal of the Society of Arts' for August of 1887. At Scillian's, near Nice, twenty miles from the Mediterranean, and situated at an elevation of 2,000ft., the proprietor of a steep hillside plot of ground, 23 acres in extent, and worth as many pounds a year in rent, determined in 1881 to commence flower-culture. The steep slopes were terraced by means of walls, and the spring of water at the top was utilised for irrigating. In the Autumn 450,000 violet-tufts and 140,000 roots of the white jasmine were planted. During the following spring the laboratory was erected, and geraniums, roses, tuberoses, and jonquils were planted. Five years after the page 17 value of the produce was £8,630, giving a net profit of £1,553, or a clear profit of £310 a year.
"How many thousands of acres of such hill-sides have we in New Zealand well adapted for flower-culture, but of little value for any other purpose.
"In the Petit Journal Mr. Thomas Grimm describes the method by which, in the districts of Cannes and Grasse, enormous quantities of perfumes are annually manufactured. Mr. Grimm estimates that something like 62,000 acres are given up to the growth of flowers between the right bank of the Var and the chain of the Esterel. At one of the largest perfume-factories of Grasse, Mr. Grimm found that the three principal operations in the making of perfumes were the preservation of the odour of the flowers by distillation, by enfleurage, and by exhaustion. The last-named process, which is applied chiefly to roses, is perhaps the most important. The Liverpool Mercury remarks that 323 tons of cut flowers sounds an enormous amount—and so it is, no doubt: yet this was the weight of the cut flowers packed and sent out during the four months from November to February from Cannes alone. Their value would be estimated at £65,268. And the trade is said to be increasing."