Anyone can plop down a bag of store-bought potpourri - that fragrant mix of dried flowers, leaves, herbs and spices. But this summer, bring the essence of the outdoors in - while controlling the color and fragrances in your mix - by crafting a batch of homemade potpourri. This activity is especially well-suited to kids and families.
- Elana Ashanti Jefferson,The Denver Post

1. Pick flowers and herbs you want to use in mid-morning, after the sun has dried up the dew, but before the day is at its hottest. The flowers and herbs should be absolutely dry.

2. Choose flowers that have not fully opened. These will have the strongest fragrance. Make sure you avoid picking those that are bruised or damaged.

3. Rose petals are most popular for potpourri because they keep their fragrance longer than most other flowers. Old-fashioned damask roses have the strongest scent of all. You can also use carnations, jasmine, French marigolds, larkspur, statice, hydrangeas, violets, French marigolds and honeysuckle, along with lemon verbena, lavender, thyme, lemon balm, mint, chamomile, basil, fennel and rosemary.

4. Pull off the flower petals and spread them in a single layer on sheets of paper. Put them in a warm, dry, dark place such as a cupboard for a week or two.

5. Hang the herbs upside down in bunches in a warm, dry place. When they have dried, strip off the leaves.


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5. Mix together a half-teaspoon each of grated nutmeg, crushed cloves and cinnamon with three teaspoons of ground orrisroot. Put alternating layers of rose petals and dried herbs in a jar with a tight-fitting lid, and sprinkle the spice mix between layers. Close the jar tightly and store it for two weeks.

6. Tip some of the potpourri into a shallow bowl so that its sweet scent fills the room.

Source: "Summer (Starting Points)," by Ruth Thomson with Peter Millard (Franklin Watts, 1990)