I spent two weeks in California just as the weather was changing in Washington. That was not a smart idea. It’s freezing in Seattle. All I want is summer back. While I’m overheating the house (and refusing to adjust my temperature expectations), I came up with a smelly idea to help me let go of summer. This also will make a lovely holiday decoration come December.
Early this past summer, I pressed a ton of wildflowers. I also inherited the compulsion from my mother to dry all my bouquets. When they start wilting, I hang all my flower bouquets upside down for a few weeks–high enough to be out of the range of the cat. Hot, dry summers are the ideal weather for flower drying. I had no idea what I was going to do with them. Thankfully, the whole potpourri idea dawned on me.
If you aren’t a flower packrat like me, you can drop a hint to your husband that you’d like a fresh bouquet, go around the neighborhood collecting tree blossoms and foliage to press, or request some clippings from your neighbor’s garden. Garden flowers are just going to rot and fall off anyway. But honestly, if you don’t have a wildflower obsession, I suggest you cultivate one.
Flowers–pressed or dried–are just the base of potpourri. Almost anything can be used to add texture and aesthetic. This is where the ‘summer adventures’ part comes in. I used rocks from a family outing, pinecones from my California trip, and feathers from a walk on the beach. More options are dried fruit peels or slices, dried leaves, cinnamon sticks, sticks in general (especially of sweet-smelling wood), bark, seed pods, nut shells, and dried herbs or grasses.
Although the primary ingredients are fragrant, the backbone of potpourri scent is essential oil. You can go to your local grocery store and choose what smells best, or you can choose essential oil based on their health and mood-affecting properties. I recommend everyone stock a good aromatherapy guide in the home, just like a first aid guide. I put together an anti-anxiety combination while referring to mine. Let’s face it–the holidays are coming soon. We could all use a little calming aroma in our lives.
Volatile essential oil can evaporate over hours or day. To preserve and bind the scent you need a fixative. There are a host binder options, from ingredients that require a trip to the store to your kitchen spices to less volatile essential oils. I raided the kitchen because pulling out a guidebook was enough work for the day. Gently mix all your ingredients together and then seal in a container for 4-6 weeks. Leave sealed longer if you want the scent to be strong enough for a larger room.
Arrange the result in a basket or vase, sit back, and be surprised how impressed people are with homemade potpourri. It also makes an excellent gift (and mesh baggies make excellent party favors), but you probably don’t want to part with your summer mementos when making gift potpourri. Better start collecting bits of autumn nature for Christmas. Down the block, my neighbor’s tree is dropping chestnuts.