Herbs are known as the useful plants and through the ages have filled many needs. Herbs as an air freshener in the form of potpourri can be traced back to early England when the scents of herbs were used to mask unwashed bodies and open sewers in the cities.
Today we continue to use potpourri to add a pleasant fragrance to our homes and to add beauty. When made properly potpourri can last for many years by adding a few drops of essential oil or alcohol to the dried flowers and herbs.
I harvest herbs and flowers throughout the growing season, drying as I go, and when I have enough of the dried material, I create my potpourri, usually in the fall. Here are the herbs and flowers that I grow and harvest for potpourri. To learn how to create ones own potpourri check out my article on How to Make Potpourri.
Harvest herbs for potpourri after the dew has lifted in late morning or early afternoon. This is when the herbs essential oils are at their peak. Spread the herbs out in a warm place with good circulation or bunch using a rubber band to hold together and hang upside down. When ready to turn into potpourri remove the leaves and flowers from the stem and proceed according to the recipe.
For fragrance I like to gather and dry:
I grow many different varieties of mints including apple mint, orange mint, peppermint, lemon mint and spearmint. I also harvest and dry lemon balm a member of the mint family. Along with adding scent mint adds bulk to potpourri.
I harvest and dry both the flowers and the stems throughout the summer months. Don’t harvest too heavily in late summer as one wants the lavender plant strong going through winter.
The culinary herbs and flowers; sage, thyme especially the lemon thymes and orange thyme, rosemary, basils , cinnamon basil and Thai basil are a favorite, anise, coriander seeds, and bay.
Sweet woodruff is grown for its woodsy vanilla like hay fragrance when dried and also its use as a fixative in potpourri.
Roses are collected through out the summer and dried to add fragrance, color and beauty to the potpourri. The flowers and leaves of scented geraniums serve the same purpose.
Other flowers are collected and dried and used to add color, losing their fragrance as they dry. These include pansies, nasturtiums, larkspur, iris, American statice, globe amaranth and bee balm.
Growing the necessary flowers and herbs, harvesting , drying and turning them into potpourri is a wonderful way to enjoy the beauty of nature throughout the year.