Capture Garden Scents

Bring the delightful aromas of nature’s sweet scents indoors.

| August/September 2001



Potpourri gathers the sweet scents of summer’s fragrant blossoms, leaves, fruits, and roots and preserves them—via drying or salting—for the dull, dark days of winter. Since at least the time of Shakespeare, country folk and townsfolk alike have known that there is no better antidote to February blues than a scoop of hope from a scent-jar. No wonder potpourri has always made such welcome gifts for showers, weddings, holidays, lovers, dinner guests and convalescents.

There are two kinds of potpourri: moist and dry. Either type will delight your senses. Dry potpourri, the more common of the two, is made from fragrant flowers and leaves, spices, essential oils, and fixatives to preserve the scent. It is easily assembled and set aside to cure. The finished product looks lovely displayed in a bowl or packaged in attractive containers for gifts.

Moist potpourri, which can retain its fragrance longer, even for years, is made mainly from fresh plant material that is allowed to wilt slightly and then layered in a crock with salt, spices, fixatives, and alcohol. It is very aromatic but not much to look at, so it is stored in a closed container and opened up only long enough to scent the air of a room. Both types are aged to allow the individual scents to blend and meld to a smooth finish.

Moist potpourri may be the older form of the art, for the very oldest recipes in my possession, some of which date back to the seventeenth century, are for moist potpourri. Another clue is that the word potpourri itself is derived from two French words that, literally translated, mean “rotted pot,” a reference to the curing process.

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