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Aromatherapy Projects - Pot Pourri

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Aromatherapy Projects - Pot Pourri from Walkabout CraftsPot Pourri

Although there are many recipes, the ingredients fall into four main categories: flowers for scent or colour; aromatic leaves and herbs, which also add to bulk; spices and citrus peel to sharpen the pot pourri's floral scent; fixatives to preserve the blend.
Once you are familiar with these basics, you can vary a recipe by adding essential oils to intensify a favourite scent or by introducing seed heads, bark, cones or wood shavings for visual interest. Display the mixture in a bowl or use it as the basis for herb pillows or scented sachets.

Materials

Flowers, leaves and herbs
Make sure that all plant material is thoroughly dry before making up the pot pourri.

Spices
Cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, cloves and allspice are traditional, but anise, cardamom, root ginger, coriander and vanilla pods are sometimes used in exotic mixes. Freshly ground or grated spices have a stronger, clearer aroma than ones bought as powders. Cinnamon sticks, allspice and juniper berries are sometimes used whole, for textural interest.

Dried citrus peel
Traditionally, oranges and lemons are used to add a refreshingly sharp contrast to floral scents, but limes, grapefruit or satsumas are also fine. Use thin skinned fruit, or use a sharp knife or potato peeler to remove the skin with a minimum of pith attached. Dry flat.

Fixatives
These are used to absorb, blend and preserve the scent of the dried flowers, herbs, spices and oils. Musk, ambergris and civet are traditional fixatives, but today gum benzoin, in resinous form, or powdered dried orris root, the root of Iris florentina are used. Both are sold by herbalists and some chemists; orris root has a lovely violet scent of its own.

Essential oils
Rose, lavender, lily of the valley, rose geranium, sandalwood, lemon verbena, almond, gardenia, cedarwood, eucalyptus and citronella oils are sold at many chemists and body care shops. Use them sparingly to enhance pot pourri.

What to pick

For fragrance:
Provence roses; damask roses; lavender; wallflower; chamomile; verbena; tansy; sweet woodruff; hyacinth; heliotrope; narcissus; clove pink; tobacco plant; cotton lavender; sweet violet; lilac; sweet pea; mock; orange; freesia; mimosa; lime blossom; mignonette; jasmine; honeysuckle.

For colour:
Florists roses; unopened rosebuds; zinnia; clematis; hydrangea; golden rod; larkspur; calendula; delphinium; peony; helipterum; cockscomb; marigold; pansy; mallow; nasturtium; campion; borage; globe amaranth; heather; yarrow; statice; buttercup; helichrysum; hibicus

For bulk and aroma:
Lemon verbena; rosemary; scented leaved geranium; lemon balm; lemon thyme; artemisia; sweet basil; sweet marjoram; costmary; bay; bergamot; myrtle; tarragon; dill; sage; various mints

Picking and drying
Try to pick all flowers, buds, leaves and herbs on a dry morning, after the dew evaporates but before the suns heat evaporates volatile oils, the source of the plants scent. Plants that are picked wet from the rain or dew are liable to rot. Flowers are most fragrant when fully open, and herbs are most aromatic when starting to flower.
Dry material as soon as possible after picking, and treat each type of flower and leaf separately, or place them on separate areas of paper, since drying time vary.

Drying whole stems
You can air dry small flowers by hang the stems upside down in small bunches in a dry, dark, well ventilated spot, such as an attic. Once the petals are papery and crisp, carefully snip the heads from the stems.

Drying small flowers
Alternatively, snip small fresh flowers where they join the stems and dry in a single layer on a sheet of kitchen paper, placed on a wire mesh screen or baking rack so that the air can circulate. Place in an airing cupboard, on top of a night storage heater, or other warm, dry, dark spot, for about a week, turning them over once or twice. With large flowers, carefully remove the petals and dry in a single layer in the same way.

Drying leaves
Leaves can be air dried on their stems, as above, then stripped from the stems when dry. Alternatively, strip the fresh leaves from their stems, tearing larger leaves into pieces, then dry on kitchen paper.

Traditional Recipe
This recipe gives a fresh, floral mixture, balanced by the sharpness of lemon and scented geranium.

You will need:
1 cup each dried rose petals and lavender
1/2 cup each dried rosebuds, lemon verbena leaves and scented leaf geranium leaves
1 strip dried lemon peel
1 teaspoon allspice berries
1 1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 cinnamon stick
2 teaspoon dried orris root powder
2 drops rose oil
scissors
pestle and mortar
lidded jar

1. Mix the dried petals, buds, lavender and leaves in a large bowl. Using the scissors, cut the lemon peel into small pieces, and add to the bowl.
2. Using a pestle and mortar, crush the allspice berries and cloves. Break the cinnamon stick into small pieces. Add all the spices and mix thoroughly.
3. Sprinkle the orris root powder over the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Add the rose oil, and mix again.
4. Place in the lidded jar and store for four weeks, shaking or gently stirring the mixture every few days. Display in a glass container, a basket or use in scented sachets.

Lavender and herb mixture
This fresh, spicy mixture is ideal for scenting clothing, sheets and towels.

You will need:
50g dried lavender flowers
25g dried lemon verbena
15g each of dried peppermint and dried rosemary
2 tablespoons cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons cinnamon stick crushed
2 tablespoons orris root powder
4 drops lavender oil
2 drops each of lemon verbena and peppermint oil.

Mix the ingredients and put into a polythene bag. Seal the top and leave for six weeks to mature.

Sweet rose mixture
This sweet sack mixture has a soft, luxuriant scent that is perfect for placing amongst your personal linen and summer clothes.

You will need:
50g dried rose petals
25g dried marjoram
25g dried lavender
2 tablespoon dried orange peel, crushed
2 tablespoons orris root powder
4 drops rose oil
2 drops lavender oil

Mix the ingredients and put into a polythene bag. Seal the top and leave for six weeks to mature.

Moist pot pourri
Dry six cups of fragrant rose petals until leathery: two to three days in a warm, dry, airy spot. Combine 1/4 cup coarse salt and 1/4 cup table salt. Using a 2 pint wide necked ceramic jar, place the petals, in 1.2cm thick layers, between layers of salt. Place, uncovered, in a dry, airy spot for 10 days, stirring daily.
When the mixture is dry and caked, crumble gently and add 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 3 dried lemon verbena leaves, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/4 cup dried lavender, 1 tablespoon dried orris root powder, 1/2 cup dried rose buds and 2 heaped tablespoon dried rosemary. Cover and leave for six weeks to ferment.

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