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Preserving Flowers from a Potpourri Garden

Fresh cut flowers all spring and summer are one of the bonuses of having a flower garden. Wouldn’t you love to extend that bonus throughout the year? By choosing the right flowers and learning methods of drying and preserving flowers, you can fill your house with the beauty and fragrance of potpourri all year long.

Growing a Potpourri Garden
Potpourri is a fragrant mix of dried flower petals, leaves, whole flowers and spices. It can be sewn into sachets, simmered in a potpourri burner, or displayed in an open bowl. By choosing herbs and flowers that dry well and maintain their fragrance when dried, you’ll be well on your way to scenting your home with the natural fragrance of last summer’s garden.

Your potpourri mix should include both flowers and herbs from your garden, and be chosen with an eye toward color and a nose for scent. A potpourri garden might include several (or all!) of the following:

Fragrant Herbs and Flowers for a Potpourri Garden

Lilac – this flower is both beautiful and fragrant. To use in potpourri, dry the flowerets separately on a drying screen. For use in dried flower arrangements, use silica gel to dry whole flowers.

Lavender – another fragrant purple flower, lavender dries well. Hang in bunches upside down in a dark, dry room. Both leaves and flowers carry the fragrance of lavender and can be used in potpourri.

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Roses – Roses are a beautiful addition to any potpourri. For fragrance, separate the petals and dry on a drying screen. If you want to include whole rosebuds from your potpourri garden, they’re best dried in silica or another desiccant, but small, delicate rosebuds can be dried on screens as well.

Mint – There’s an amazing variety of mints available, and nearly any will add a hint of fresh spice to a potpourri. If you choose to grow mint in a potpourri garden, be sure to ‘cage’ the roots so that it doesn’t take over the entire plot. To dry, either air dry tied bunches, or dry separated leaves on a drying screen.

Lemon Balm – This perennial herb has a light lemony-mint scent that enhances the fragrance of roses and lilacs. The leaves should be picked before the plant flowers and dried quickly – it’s one of the few herbs that benefits from drying in a low oven on a screen.

Violets – Sweetly scented and brightly colored, violets preserve their color well through drying. To dry, nip the flower off just at the base of the head, and lay on drying screens in the sun.

Flowers and Herbs for Color in a Potpourri Garden

Many of the herbs and flowers listed above are brightly colored as well as fragrant. There are some flowers, however, that will add little to the fragrance of potpourri but dry so prettily that it’s a shame not to include them.

Calendula – Bright yellow or blue petals make calendula a pretty addition to a bowl of potpourri. To use, you can either dry the entire flower head, or separate the petals to dry on a flower screen.

Pansies – A relative of violets, pansies retain their bright color when dried in silica gel. They’re a wonderful addition to a potpourri garden – besides their appearance, they’re edible and wonderful in salads or as candied decorations on a cake. In potpourri, the dried petals or whole-dried flowers make a beautiful accent.