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DIY Thursday: homemade potpourri

Knitting, baking, and bikes with wicker baskets have all become hip again – maybe it’s time for a potpourri revival?
These collections of scented, dried flowers, popular in the 70’s and often found in bathrooms, have had a bit of a daggy image.  But with today’s focus on biodegradable, recyclable and repurposed materials, they couldn’t be a more perfect fit for the eco-friendly home.
Give the traditional a modern makeover by putting your potpourri into sleek, square vases or on quirky silver plates; in pretty coloured wine glasses as a table centrepiece, or even in mason jars as a Christmas gift.
Let your imagination run wild with the materials – you can use wood chips, pine cones, whole flowers, petals, leaves… and going outside to collect them is a great activity to get the kids involved with, too.
Home-made Potpourri
You’ll need:
  • An assortment of fresh flowers - whole or petals -, stems, wood chips, pine cones etc.
  • A 'fixative' such as Orris Root powder, available at health food shops, etsy or on ebay.
  • The sun, and patience!
Pick or collect your fresh ingredients and separate them from the dried.  You can use different types of flowers or just choose one – roses are popular because they already have their own pretty scent, which is often retained when dried.  When choosing roses from your garden, select ones in full bloom that are almost ready to fall.
Separate the petals if desired and lie the flowers – not touching each other – on a flat surface in, or near, direct sunlight (such as a well-lit window).  Leave for several days to let the moisture evaporate.  You’ll know they’re ready when they feel dry and ‘papery’ (but don't leave them too long, as they'll lose colour and become brown). Dry out any other damp plant materials this way too – damp will give your potpourri a mouldy smell which you definitely don't want, so make sure everything’s very dry. 

DO NOT dry materials in an oven - twigs and petals could easily catch alight.  For quicker results you can use a food dehydrator (found in electrical stores and variety retailers), but always follow manufacturer’s safety and usage instructions.
When the fresh petals/ flowers are dry, mix with the dry ingredients.  For every 2 cups of potpourri, add 10 drops of your “blend of choice” of essential oils.  We’ve used Bosisto’s Lavender Oil for its calming, relaxing properties and its fragrance lasts a long time, requiring less top up.   

You'll also need a "fixative" which is a porous substance that absorbs scents you add, helping reduce its evaporation rate to make it last.  Orris Root Powder is a perennial favourite but you can also use Sandalwood bark, Cellulose, vanilla pods, cloves or dry lavender buds.  Mix this in with your ingredients prior to adding the essential oils.

“Top up” the fragrance with essential oils as required - should last several weeks at least.
NOTE:  Potpourri is a lovely way to make use of all the beautiful flowers in your garden which would otherwise go to waste.  But if you don’t have many flowers in your backyard, try asking a local florist if they’ll save (and inexpensively sell you) flowers that have broken stems or missing petals