A curtain of jasmine flows across an aromatic room in Africa’s first ever sensory garden, delivering one of the most complete stimulations offered by any plant on earth.
For as it gives out its fragrance across the sun-path walking tunnel in Nairobi’s newest botanical gardens, jasmine delivers an exquisitely beautiful scent.
So fine is the fragrance of jasmine that it forms a foundation for nearly all of the world’s perfumes.
The beauty if its white flower and golden centre is also a wonder, placed in water bowls and on towels, bed sheets, and table settings across East Africa as a simple piece of natural grace.
But in its impact on the human mind and body, jasmine is a far more extraordinary flower. Thought to have originated in Persia, jasmine gives off a scent that improves the mood, relieves stress and balances hormones. Indeed, so powerful is its uplift that jasmine has been used in Asia for hundreds of years as a cure for depression.
In aromatherapy, it is one of the world’s most widely used flower oils, first to hand in easing anxiety, emotional stress, low libido and sleeplessness.
Simply living with the smell of jasmine on the air is a tonic, positively impacting the nervous system, and regulating heart rate, body temperature, stress responses, alertness, blood pressure and breathing.
For these reasons and others the Chinese began scenting their green tea with jasmine as early as the 13th century, and still use it today to treat headaches, bone pain and insomnia.
Moreover, it’s seductive scent, carried on the night air, has seem it called the ‘queen of the night’ for its qualities as a natural aphrodisiac.
Wrote New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn in her novel Whisper of Jasmine:
“Child, jasmine is one of the most seductive scents imaginable, and the stuff from Grasse is the finest in the world. In the little village where I collected that, the farmers won’t even let their nubile daughters walk through the fields when the flowers are ripe for fear they won’t be able to control themselves.”
Thus associated with love, jasmine also symbolises beauty and purity, and in some cultures represents appreciation and good luck. It’s a symbolism that more than 80 years ago saw the Philippines adopt the flower as its national symbol, holding it up as a representation of purity, simplicity, humility and strength.
In fact, its name, the word jasmine, literally means the Gift from God. And jasmine truly is a gift, dispelling melancholy and improving the wellbeing of people across the globe.
For the residents of Enaki Town, the night air will simply be laden with its scent, wafted from several of the garden’s aromatic rooms into the woods, and over the grass and lake to the floating restaurant.
A scent that brings joy and health, permeating the first town Africa has ever seen built to embrace the sensory wonders of our world.