Eleven Old-Fashioned Potpourri Mixes You Can Make

Cottage Garden Potpourri

1 cup dried lavender flowers
2 cups dried pink rose petals {preferably from extremely fragrant old Damask, Alba, Centifolia and Moss roses like ‘Gloire de Guilan’, ‘Ispahan’,’Marie Louise’, ‘Petite Lisette’, ‘Quatre Saisons’, ‘The Rose of Kazanlik’, ‘Felicite Parmentier’, ‘Belle Amour’, ‘Fantin Latour’, ‘Old Cabbage Rose’, ‘Mme Louis Leveque’ and ‘Gloire des Mousseaux’}
2 cups dried lavender leaves
1 cup dried clove pink petals
1 cup dried rosemary leaves
2 cups dried rose geranium leaves {choose from ‘Dr. Livingstone’, ‘Dwarf Rose’, ‘Attar of Roses’, ‘Round Leaf Rose’, P. graveolens}
1 cup dried blue delphinium flowers
2 tablespoons orris root chips
1 cup dried mignonette flowers
1 cup dried Westmoreland thyme
1 cup dried wallflowers
1 cup dried violets
1 cup sweet myrtle leaves
1 cup dried jasmine flowers
2 cups dried double hollyhock flowers
20 drops essential oil of lavender
20 drops essential oil of rose geranium
1 tablespoon coarsely ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon coarse ground cloves
6 quills cinnamon bark broke roughly into pieces
Provencal Lavender Potpourri
4 cups dried rose petals
2 cups dried lavender flowers
1 cup dried orange blossoms
1/2 cup dried powdered orange peel
1 cup dried small-chipped orange or lemon leaves
1 cup dried violet flower
1 cup dried small-chipped cinnamon bark
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
5 drops jasmine oil
20 drops oil of neroli
Lavender Lace Potpourri
Mix together the following ingredients in the proportions by weight given:
8 parts dried lavender flowers
1 part dried thyme or lemon thyme
1 part dried sweet vernal grass or sweet woodruff
2 parts dried powdered orange peel
1 part oak moss
1 part eau-de-cologne mint
1 part dried violet flowers
1 part dried southernwood
4 parts gum benzoin
1 part fine cinnamon bark chips
 This old-fashioned potpourri has a delicious woodsy scent like wild lavender. A few drops of essential oil of lavender may be added if wished.
Summer Bowl
This recipe is based on a very ancient one little altered other than by translation:
4 cups dried red rose petals {preferably from fragrant old Gallica roses like ‘Sissinghurst Castle’, ‘Duc de Guiche’, ‘The Apothecary’s Rose’, ‘Charles de Mills’, ‘Tuscany Superb’ or ‘Surpasse Tout’}
2 cups dried rose geranium leaves {P. graveolens, ‘Attar of Roses’, ‘Dwarf Rose’, ‘Dr. Livingstone’,  Round Leaf Rose}
2 cups dried lavender flowers
1 cup dried rosemary leaves
1 cup dried lemon verbena leaves
2 tablespoons each of ground allspice, ground cloves and finely broken cinnamon bark chips
3 tablespoons orris root {chips are preferable to powder if the appearance of the potpourri is important}
 3 tablespoons gum benzoin {pieces preferred to powder}
20 drops damask rose oil
10 drops lavender oil
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Old-Fashioned Brown Sugar Potpourri.

This is an old recipe which is known to retain its fragrance for fifty years. Firstly prepare the bay salt. To 500 g common {non-iodised} salt, add ten {preferably fresh} bay leaves and pound in a mortar. Remove the remainder of the leaves when finished and the salt will have absorbed the pleasant fragrance of the bay. A number of the old recipes for moist potpourri contain this ingredient.
Take 16 cupfuls of ‘leather-dried’ rose petals. Measure the amount of salt calculated to cover the rose petals in alternate layers and prepare an equal quantity of brown sugar mixed thoroughly with allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, 30 g orris root, and 125 g gum benzoin. To the rose petals add partly dried lavender flowers, whatever other ‘leather dried’ fragrant flowers you have to hand, together with semi-dried rose geranium leaves, lemon verbena, and lemon geranium. Lemon or lime leaves are another suitable addition.
Alternate layers of the floral and leaf mixture with the bay salt and brown sugar mixture. Pour over a good wine glass of brandy.
Mature as per the general instructions, stirring daily. When the mixture is fully matured place in its final containers.
Of course, as with all these recipes, the quantities can be reduced or increased proportionately to cope with the supply of materials available to you.
A trick to remember for those who make lots of potpourris is that an electric coffee grinder can be used to readily powder dried citrus peels and spices. The problem is that a separate grinder from the one in which you grind your coffee is advisable as there may be carry-over flavor.
Dry potpourri is easier in a sense for all the ingredients can be gathered and dried separately as the season progresses. In this process, each ingredient should be dried to crispness. Heat and light destroy fragrance and color. Petals, leaves, and flowers should be dried thinly spread on papers or screens. Herbs, fragrant foliage, and lavender spokes should be tied in small bunches hung upside-down and well spaced from each other. Larger bunches are likely to mold and partially ferment inside, losing much of their fragrance and all their color.
I keep large glass storage jars with screw top lids. Each ingredient as it dries is stored in its own container throughout the season. It is amazing how ingredients as mount up with regular harvesting and drying. The jars are stored in a dark cool cupboard. Dried leaves should be stripped from their stems before storing. The exceptions with foliage are lemon verbena and eglantine rose leaves which I like to dry in the same manner as petals so that they retain a separate shape.
Many recipes call for dried pounded citrus peel or citrus and cloves. This can be prepared in quantity as described earlier and stored in a bottle for future needs. It is a good idea to keep a supply of whole spices for grinding.
Dry potpourri is designed to be not only deliciously fragrant but visually attractive. While the great majority of ingredients are included in dry potpourri for their fragrance, color and decorative effect are important as well. Some non-fragrant flowers should be dried for their ability to retain their bright fresh colors when dried. Individual florets of the annual statice, golden florets of tansy-leaf, dyer’s chamomile flowers, tansy flowers, everlastings, flannel flowers {garden grown}, calendula flower petals, cornflowers, borage flowers, delphinium flowers, bougainvillea flowers {marvelous!}, colored freesias and zinnia petals all look pretty. I prefer to press flannel flowers which are particularly beautiful, like white velvet starfish, and pressed pansies, heartsease and rose leaves are lovely decorations. The pretty double flowers of Parma violets and the double soapwort or pretty Betsy are also delightful. I also like the flowers of the double wallflower and the double champions.
Dry potpourris do not have the longevity of fragrance that most potpourris have. However, they should last at least a year if properly prepared and many formulas last far longer. An old trick to revive a potpourri that is becoming faint is to add a jigger of brandy and stir it through.
As with moist potpourri, fixatives are essential to the longevity of the product’s fragrance and the maintenance of the quantities of the fragrance. The most commonly used fixative in dry potpourri is orris root which has the advantage of a sweet violet fragrance. The easiest way to use it in dry potpourri is as dry chips. If the powdered form is used the essential oils should be mixed into it before incorporation with the other ingredients. Other useful fixatives are the various aromatic resins such as gum benzoin, storax, balsam of Peru and balsam of Tolu. The general proportion of fixative to mix is one tablespoon to four cups of dried petals and leaves.
Many other ingredients find their way into dry potpourri: lichens like oakmoss and reindeer moss, fine chips of perfumed woods like the sandalwoods, cedar and sassafras, the rhizomes of sweet flag and vetiver, and the pods of the vanilla orchid and Tonquin bean.
Dry potpourri is made in a single mixing then set aside in a securely closed container to cure for at least three and preferably six weeks.
Spices have some fixative qualities in their own right. Cinnamon bark finely broken up, crushed cardamom seeds and mace are commonly included in the old recipes for this purpose as well as for their fragrance qualities. Remember that dry potpourri intended for display in see-through containers such as glass jars should not contain powdered ingredients, either fixative or spice. Instead use fine chips and shavings, otherwise, the surface of the container will be clouded over. People who suffer from hay-fever often sneeze, not at the ingredients of potpourri, but because of finely powdered orris root and spices acting as an irritant. If either the maker of the potpourri or the recipient of it suffers from hay-fever it should be prepared with sliced and chopped ingredients rather than powdered whenever possible.
See through containers of various kinds can be used for dry potpourri. Often bowls are pretty but impractical. Even well-wrapped dry potpourri has a short life if constantly exposed over a wide surface area to the atmosphere more so in hot summer months. Choose containers like old cut glass or crystal jars from antique and second-hand shops, enameled boxes, and old-fashioned glass apothecary jars that are in vogue again. Then when you wish to scent a room it is an easy matter to lift the lid and allow the fragrance to permeate.
Potpourri is also a welcome gift in little fabric bags decorated with lace and tied with ribbons, or in little flat sachets of various shapes. For this powdered orris root can be used as clouding of the container is no longer a problem.
It is a mistake to use inferior oils for potpourri work. Buy the best quality you can find and possibly afford. The same obvious difference that is found between a top quality perfume and a cheap one is also to be found between top quality oils and the cheap end of the synthetics.
Much time and love and effort go into making potpourri and the result can be enjoyed for a very long time. Inferior quality oils can turn that pleasure into an endurance trial for everyone with even the most modestly discriminating nose. Expect to find quite a difference in costs of various grades of essential oils. A considerable difference will be found, too, among various types of oils. Some are rare and quite precious, others more easily obtained. This will be reflected in their price. Seal bottles very securely between uses and store in a cool dark place to prevent deterioration, A small quantity goes a long way and unless you are making huge quantities of potpourri your initial investment will last, treated well, for a long time.
A Thousand And One Potpourri
Collect all the fragrant flower petals of the season; tea and other roses which should be the bulk of the mix; Jasminum Officinalis, jonquils, orange and lemon blossoms and their shredded leaves, tuberose, Acacia blossoms, clove pinks, lily-of-the-valley, honeysuckle, lilac, wallflowers, French lavender {L. dentata} which is the one flowering in spring, freesias, and others. Follow the general principles described above, alternating the ‘leather dry’ petals and salt.
Once the initial aging process is completed, the second round of ingredients can be added. These should include a good proportion of the following: eau-de-cologne mint, lemon verbena leaves, lemon balm leaves, sliced angelica root, peppermint, lemon scented and rose scented geraniums, bergamot leaves, ground clove-stuck orange peels, rosemary, lavender foliage, sweet marjoram. {To prepare the orange-and-clove mixture, cut thin peelings from oranges, lemons too if you like, so that they have no white pith. Stud with cloves and dry in a very slow oven until hard and completely dried out. Place in a mortar and pound to a powder. The fragrance is utterly delicious.} The roots and leaves should all be dry before adding. Also add cinnamon, powdered orris root, allspice, gum benzoin, a jigger of brandy, oil of rose geranium and oil of neroli.
Allow the mixture to go through its second maturation, then place in its final containers.
Potpourri Pour L ‘Homme & Citrus and Fir Potpourri
Potpourri Pour L ‘Homme
Men do not often get offered potpourri, yet a bowl of this for a study or office is fresh, delicious and clean…and most appreciated.
1 cup dried rosemary leaves
1 cup dried lavender leaves
1/2 cup dried chamomile
1/2 cup dried crushed pineapple sage leaves
1/2 cup dried peppermint leaves
1/2 cup dried lemon thyme leaves
1/2 cup dried southernwood leaves
1/4 cup dried Balm of Gilead leaves
1/4 cup dried spearmint leaves
1 cup dried sweet basil leaves
1/2 cup dried eau-de-cologne mint leaves
1/2 cup orrisroot chips
5 drops essential oil of rosemary
5 drops essential oil of rose geranium
Here is another potpourri traditionally made for men.
Citrus and Fir Potpourri
 
1 cup dried lavender flowers
1 cup dried flowers of pineapple sage or red bergamot flowers
1 cup eau-de-cologne mint
2 cups citrus leaves
1/2 cup purple basil or lemon basil
1/2 cup dried powdered orange peel
1/2 cup sandalwood chips
1 cup dried crushed balsam fir leaves
20 drops essential oil of lavender
10 drops essential oil of lemon
1/2 cup orrisroot chips
Colonial Garden Potpourri.
Collect the various dry components during spring and summer and mix all the ingredients together in autumn. This mix looks gorgeous and smells fresh and delicious.
1 cup dried blue salvia flowers
1 cup dried blue hydrangea blossoms
1 cup dried clove pinks
1 cup dried rose petals
1 cup dried Queen Anne’s lace
1 cup dried wallflowers
1 cup dried double yellow jasmine {J. mesneyi}
1 cup dried orange blossoms
1 cup dried Balm of Gilead leaves
1 cup mixed dried bergamot leaves and flowers
1 cup dried larkspur flowers
1/2 cup dried sweet marjoram
1 cup dried lavender flowers
1/2 cup dried spearmint leaves
1/2 cup dried southernwood leaves
1/2 cup crushed dried sweet myrtle leaves
1 cup milfoil yarrow flowers
10 drops oil of rosemary
10 drops oil of rose
10 drops oil of bergamot
1/2 cup dried powdered orange peel
5 drops oil of neroli
1/3 cup orrisroot
1/2 cup small chopped cinnamon bark
An Elizabethan Potpourri
6 cups dried damask roses
2 cups dried lavender
2 cups dried clove pinks
1 cup violets
1 cup dried pink peony flowers
1 cup dried rosemary leaves
1/2 cup dried marjoram leaves
1/2 cup dried clary sage
1/2 cup dried costmary
1/2 cup sweet or white peppermint
1 tablespoon each of finely crushed cinnamon bark, powdered cloves, nutmeg and allspice
2 tablespoons orris root chips
1 tablespoon gum benzoin
5 drops essential oil of rose {damask preferred}
3 drops essential oil of sandalwood
Summer Herbs Potpourri
4 cups dried lavender flowers
2 cups dried fragrant tiny pink roses {particularly good are ‘Petite Lisette’, ‘Pompon Blanc Parfait’, ‘De Meaux’, ‘Spong’, ‘Petite de Hollande’, ‘Old Pink Moss’, ‘Little White Pet’, ‘Cornelia’, ‘Cecile Brunner’, ‘Blush Noisette’, ‘Orleans Rose’, ‘The Fairy’, ‘Dresden Doll’, and ‘Mignonette’}
2 tablespoons dried Greek mountain oregano {incredibly delicious fragrance and silvery gray leaves}
2 tablespoons dried sweet marjoram
2 tablespoons dried sweet basil
2 tablespoons dried lemon thyme
1 cup dried rosemary needles and flowers
1/2 cup of dried southernwood
1/2 cup dried spearmint
1 cup dried lemon verbena leaves
12 drops oil of lavender
2 tablespoons orris root chips {or powdered orris root}
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