I made my belated potpourri today.
It\’s belated because, in order for the content of the pot to become properly pourri (which means rotten…but a lot of almost-rotten things are really good—think stinky cheese) it\’s supposed to be mixed and left to ripen for at least two months. But two months ago I was in the throes of infant dog care, so I didn\’t get around to it.
Today I got out my two-gallon glass jar and poured into it my summer harvest of dried lavender blossoms, orange mint, lemon balm, rose-lemon-scented geraniums and a ton (well, almost a ton) of rose petals. I also poured in my jar of dried citrus peels—from all those clementines we ate last winter–to act as a fixative, and then sprinkled lavender and rose oil (the peels and the oils being the only non-home-grown ingredients) and mixed it all well.
The colors, seen through the glass, were lush. The scent, even before I added the oils, was divine—summer in a jar. I have never made potpourri this good. But then, I\’ve never had a semi-wild, endlessly flowering, scented rosebush at my back door, or its cousins blooming generously at the edge of the woods. Every morning in June and July, after the dew had dried, while the birds were still singing, I would go out with my scissors and basket and, feeling vaguely Edwardian, snip off every single bloom. I would bring them inside, strip off the petals, and set them out on paper towels to dry. Meanwhile, behind the house, the rosebushes were busy making more roses.
Encouraged by the survival of the lavender that I had experimentally planted by our front stone wall, I put in half a dozen additional little bushes this past summer. Amazingly, they all bloomed and kept on doing so well into October, and I kept cutting. Through the fall, my curtain-less windows were adorned with little hanging bunches of drying lavender.
There is nothing like a ton of roses and a ton of lavender to make a good smell. In making potpourri, this time, for a change, I didn\’t worry about the proportion of leaves to flowers. I didn\’t follow a recipe. I just threw in everything I had, anointed it with oils, and said a blessing over it.
In a few days, I will decant the mixture into little jars and press my improvised, unripe, garden-grown and heartfelt potpourri into the hands of people I love.