A long time before commercial air fresheners became available, dried herbs and flowers were used to freshen the immediate environment. These fragrant mixes, later known as potpourri, were displayed in homes and carried in small sachets on one’s person to disguise foul smells. We still make these today, of course, not so much to hide our own bad smells, but to provide beautiful scents for our own homes.
Dried rose petals retain their scent well and are usually the main ingredient in potpourri, but pretty much any scented flower, fragrant leaves and spices can be used, together with essential oils and a fixative, usually orris root.
To make potpourri, use 2 cups dried scented rose petals or buds, 1 cup other dried scented flower heads or petals (such as lavender, delphiniums, carnations – as well as marigolds for colour), 1 cup dried rose geranium leaves (or use lemon balm, verbena or marjoram), 2 tablespoons whole cloves, lightly crushed, 1 tablespoon whole allspice, lightly crushed, 3 cinnamon sticks, crushed, 2 tablespoons orris root powder, and 10 drops rose geranium essential oil. Combine all ingredients, then store in a lidded jar for 4-6 weeks to mature.