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Placed strategically around your home in open bowls or hand-decorated jars, potpourri helps keep your home smelling sweet. Potpourri is a mixture of dried herbs and flowers, spices, other ingredients such as peach pits (!), and fixatives. Essential oils can be added to strengthen the scent.

When making potpourri, keep in mind the visual effect you want as well as the scent. I find potpourri made with whole leaves and flowerheads to be much more attractive than when everything is ground up. Cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans, and peach pits add visual interest as well.

To make potpourri, choose a variety of herbs and flowers whose scent and appearance appeal to you. These can be purchased or homegrown. They should be completely dry. You may choose to use a fixative; these help the scent last longer. The most widely used is orris root; this is the ground rhizome of an iris. It has a faint scent of violets. You don't have to use a fixative; instead, you can scent your mixture with essential oils and replenish them regularly. Place your chosen herbs and flowers in a large mixing bowl. Add the fixative, if used, and mix well with your hands. Add the essential oils if you're using them and stir again. Place the mixture in a large paper bag, secure it closed, and put the bag away in a cool, dry place to cure for a few weeks before putting your potpourri on display.

Some suggested ingredients for potpourri
Roses, either petals or rosebuds Bay leaves Cinnamon sticks
Cloves Dried citrus peel Peach pits
Sprigs of dried herbs Whole flower heads Wood shavings
Vanilla beans Slices of dried fruit Eucalyptus leaves
Wood shavings and peach pits add visual interest; they may be impregnated with essential oils. You can use shapes cut from balsa or plywood as well.

Display uour potpourri in a variety of ways, matching the appearnace of the potpourri to the container. Wooden bowls, earthenware pots, glass and metal dishes all work well. For gifts, try showcasing your potpourri in a Mason jar with a cross-stiched lid; the embroidery design can be customized to fit the gift occasion. Or use paper maché or wooden boxes you've painted with appropriate designs. Glass bowls and jars can also be decorated using special paints, or Gallery Glass which gives the look of stained glass. Baskets are another favorite.

Vanilla Rose Potpourri

5 cup dried rose buds
4 or 5 vanila bean pods, broken
4 or 5 cinnamon sticks, broken
1/4 cup cloves
Peel from one orange, dried
4 drops rose geranium oil
1/2 cup ground orris root (optional)

Marigold Potpourri (from Jane Newdick's At Home with Herbs)

4 cups dried calendula petals
1 cup whole calendula flower heads
1/2 cup small sticks of cinnamon
1/2 cup powdered orris root
1/4 cup frankincense crystals
1/4 cup ground cloves
1/4 cup ground nutmeg
3 drops bitter orange
3 drops lemon oil
3 drops cinnamon oil
Decorate with whole rings of dried orange

Leaf Bar


  MIDI Selection: Country Gardens