Preserving Summer’s Perfume: Pot-pourri.



It’s getting near that time of year, alas, the beginnings of the end of summer. This is the season when food lovers and gardeners do our best to preserve summer’s bounty,  by making fragrant oils and tinctures of our favourite herbs, by canning jams and jellies and tomatoes and pickling cucumbers. And for those of us who love the perfumes of summer, preserving their lovely essence is as simple as making pot-pourri with herbs and flowers planted in our own gardens.

potpourri waiting to happen...

potpourri waiting to happen…

Potpourri is essentially a mixture of several different dried flour petals, herbs and spices that are either sewn in a sachet or placed in a vessel to add a touch of delicate or robust fragrance to a room, linen chest or to hang in your closet. And it’s not just lavender and roses that go into a potpourri: robust aromas and oils from lemon rind, cloves, thyme, rosemary, allspice add a hearty counterpoint to the more floral notes of a potpourri and give it a balance on the nose that might otherwise be lacking.


Honeysuckle is a great addition to any potpourri

Honeysuckle is a great addition to any potpourri


I just returned from visiting my mother, Rose-Marie, an avid gardener who lives in Prince Edward Island, these photos are from her house and garden. One of her favourite pastimes during the summer months is to collect assorted leaves, petals and flowers from all manner of plants growing in her vast gardens. Over the summer she layers the flora in large jars, alternating layers with a variety of spices.


Jars of petals and layered spices

Jars of petals and layered spices


Each jar of potpourri is a little different, some delicate, some vigorous, but all are guaranteed to keep the scent of summer alive throughout the year, and in fact for years to come.And the aroma? Heavenly! What a difference from those strange jelly things that dry out in a week, or trotting around the living room wielding a can of floral “air-freshener” Moist potpourri can keep its integrity for up to twenty five years, all it needs is a little refreshing every now and then, which can be done by popping the potpourri in the oven for 10-20 seconds once or twice a year.


sewn into soft velvet sachets...

sewn into soft velvet sachets…

If you’re interested in making your own potpourri, check out this link which has some great tips on how to do it. You also might want to invest in Margaret Robert’s charming little book, Pot-pourri Making, which has recipes for both moist and dry potpourri that should enliven and freshen your bathroom or chest of drawers, closets, suitcases, and backpacks for years to come. Flipping through the pages, or indeed checking out the recipes for potpourri might also inspire you to spend a little more time in the garden, and influence what herbs and flowers you want to plant. Bonus; the little velvet sachets make adorable and thoughtful gifts too!



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