Sheri Ann Richerson's exotic gardening, elegant cooking, crafty creations, food preservation and animal husbandry... all on two and a half acres in Marion, Indiana!

Potpourri Recipes

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Fresh botanical aromas found in essential oils can help prospective buyers remember your home while it’s on the market.

(BPT) – When a home smells good, it makes a favorable impression on visitors. This is exactly what home sellers want when they put their house on the market.

The concept of ambient fragrancing started to trickle into the real estate market years ago. Savvy real estate agents advised sellers to bake cookies or cinnamon rolls in the homes they were showing to create a comforting, deliciously scented atmosphere meant to entice buyers. If you’re trying to sell a home in today’s challenging real estate market, you may have tried this technique. However, with the excess of available homes, you may need to think a bit more creatively to make your home stand out.

The essential oils used in the practice of aromatherapy offer a more practical and potent way to use scent marketing to move buyers to feel good about a property. Tiny amounts of familiar, tempting aromas like cinnamon, clove, vanilla and orange, can fill a whole house with pleasant ambient fragrance. An added bonus is that essential oils are all-natural and distilled from plants. They are less likely to elicit the kind of adverse reactions that harsh synthetic fragrances do.

Aromatherapy expert Tom Havran has several ideas to help you sell your home. He crafts blends for Aura Cacia, purveyor of 100 percent pure and natural essential oils and aromatherapy products. A passionate expert on the properties of essential oils, he has been crafting essential oil blends for 15 years.

His first suggestion is an easy and sleek way to create a warm, comforting atmosphere that can help put potential property buyers at ease. Havran recommends using vanilla essential oil blended with jojoba for this first recipe.

Vanilla Amber Aroma Crystals

Ingredients:
1 cup coarse-grained, chunky sea salt
1 teaspoon jojoba or grapeseed oil (just enough to make the salts glisten and gleam)
25 drops vanilla precious essential oil
10 drops lavender essential oil
10 drops sweet orange essential oil

Directions: Mix salt and oils, pour into a decorative dish or bowl and set out on a table. Placing the crystals in a warm sunny window or near a heat register will help diffuse the delicious aroma throughout the room. Stir in additional essential oils to boost the scent as needed.

Fresh flowers and bergamot vacuum powder make a light and transparent floral/citrus scent that will create a cheerful, friendly and clean atmosphere to impress visitors. Since you need to vacuum before each property showing anyway, this is a great way to turn the chore into a smart real estate marketing move.

Flowers and Bergamot Vacuum Powder

Ingredients:
1 cup baking soda
35 drops bergamot orange essential oil
5 drops ylang ylang or neroli (orange flower) essential oil

Directions: Mix baking soda and essential oils in a canister and lightly sprinkle over carpets, then vacuum.

Because essential oils are so concentrated, a little goes a long way. An initial investment in a small 1/2 ounce bottle of oil will provide you with enough applications to conduct dozens of open houses.

Using essential oils to craft your own bit of psychological scent marketing might provide a good return on a small investment. Aromatherapy may give you that much-needed unique and surprising edge-up on the competition. Learn more at www.auracacia.com.

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Orris root iris in bloom.

Making your own orris root powder to use as a fixative in potpourri or other crafts is easier than you might think. Orris powder is made from the rhizome of the Iris x germanica var florentina, often referred to as orris iris. The pale lavender flowers appear almost white.

Use a sharp knife to cut through the orris root rhizomes.

Once this iris is established, the rhizomes multiply rather quickly. Allow the plants to grow until they are beginning to get crowded, then begin to harvest what you want. Some people remove their iris rhizomes from the ground and divide them that way. I leave mine in the ground and use a sharp knife or clean pruners to slice through the rhizome removing only the ones I wish to harvest.

The smaller the orris root rhizome is cut, the easier it will be to powder once it's dry.

Once I am back inside, I cut off all the roots and foliage. This discarded material goes into the compost pile where it will break down. I then wash off the rhizomes to remove any dirt remaining on the rhizome. I pat the rhizome dry with paper towels, then put it on a cutting board and slice it into thin strips. Some people prefer to grate the rhizome because that gives you smaller chips that are easier to powder.

Dried orris root ready to use.

Once the rhizome is cut or grated up, lay it out on a drying screen to dry. You can put it in a dehydrador on the lowest setting if you prefer. Give this root plenty of time to dry. You don’t want to put it away wet and risk mold ruining your stash.

Once it is completely dry, put it in a glass bottle with a lid. Put this in a cool, dark, dry place. It needs to sit for two years at this point. Shake the bottle from time to time if you think about it. As the orris root ages, it takes on a unique smell similar to lilacs.

Store orris root in a sealed jar in a cool, dark and dry place.

Once the two years is up, mix the orris root up one last them, then it is ready to use. You can use it like it is or powder it as needed. To powder the root you need a heavy duty food processor or kitchen grinder.

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October is a great month for collecting the last of the season’s bounty. Pinecones, acorns, seed pods and rose hips seem to be everywhere you look. The ornamental grasses are flowering and the last of the season’s flowers are blooming. There are delightfully fragrant herbs to gather and overgrown vines such as grape or hops to cut back. All of this natural material is there just waiting for you to gather it to use in a slew of easy nature crafts throughout the winter months.

Pinecones, seed pods and rose hips are ideal additives to natural potpourri, as are dried flower heads and herbs. Grasses are good for using in dried floral arrangements or for making wreaths or baskets. Use vines to make wreaths or baskets. If you are making wreaths, you can shape the wreath before the plant material dries. Then simply hang the wreath form up where air can easily circulate around it and allow it to dry before decorating it.

Throughly dry any natural plant material you gather in a dehydrator or by lay the plant material in a single layer on a drying screen so it does mold. Once they are dry, freeze these items overnight. Place them inside a plastic bag or other freezer container before putting them in the freezer so they do not draw moisture. This should kill off any insects or insect eggs that might be hiding on the plant material.

A very easy nature craft to make with herbs is potpourri. Collect the herbs early in the morning right after the dew dries. This is when the plants are most fragrant because the heat of the day has not evaporated any of the essential oils the plant leaves produce. There are both moist and dry potpourris that you can make. I think making the dried potpourri is easier – and a lot prettier. Moist potpourri has a tendency to mold and is best kept in a sealed jar because it does not look pretty – although the fragrance is a lot more intense than dried potpourri.

Once your potpourri are dry, select the ones you are going to use and  combine them in a large glass container with a lid. Once all of the ingredients are added, mix them up taking care not to break the plant material. Set the container in a cool, dark place and allow the potpourri scents to mix. Shake the container from time to time. When you are happy with the smell of the contents, go ahead and put some out in pretty jars.

Here are a few recipes to get you started from my book 101 Secret Gardening Tips. Feel free to add or subtract botanical materials until you have a potpourri you are happy with.

Victorian Lavender Potpourri

1 ounce orris root

1 ounce lavender

1 drop vanilla essential oil

1 drop bergamont essential oil

 

Asian Potpourri

¼ cup camellia blossoms

1/8 cup rose petals

1 vanilla bean, cut up

1 tablespoon pine needles

If the idea of making wreaths from material grown in your own garden sounds like a lot of fun, here is how you do it:

Make a wreath base out of plant material such as grape vines or Artemisia by wrapping the plant material around itself in a circular shape. Take care not to wrap it too tightly. There should be space left between the plant material so air can circulate, otherwise the material could mold instead of dry.

Once you have your wreath base you will need to find materials to embellish your wreath. Flowers, herbs, twigs, leaves, acorns, rose hips and a slew of other natural materials can be used.

Here is an example of how to make an herb wreath. Remember this is only an example. You are limited only by your imagination!

Choose a wreath base. Select the plant material you wish to use and lay it out. As you gain experience making wreathes, you may find working with fresh plant material is easier, but beware of mold!

The first plant material to add to the wreath is the greenery or background material. This material is usually herbs, grasses, leaves or other types of filler material. Use florist pins or a hot glue gun to secure the plant material to the wreath base. Do not worry about covering the back of the base since it will face the wall when you are done, but do cover the front and sides of the wreath base.

When are satisfied with the amount of greenery or background material on the wreath, begin to attach flowers such as statice, strawflower or lavender wands. Rose hips, dried peppers, garlic swags or other natural material are also ideal additives. What you choose depends on the intended use of the wreath and your personal preferences. Play around and have fun.

Once you know what you are putting on the wreath and where it will go, attach the plant material. Don’t forget non-plant material such as bows or other decorations. These should be added last.

There are sprays you can buy to help preserve your wreath if you wish. If you do not preserve it, the wreath will still last quite a while. When it begins to look dusty, simply remove the bows and decorations, then toss it in the compost pile, if you have not added any preservatives to it.

Making easy nature crafts from your garden is possible with a bit of imagination. Easy nature crafts are a great way to get kids involved in learning about nature and crafting. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and collect some cool natural materials and start making your own awesome nature crafts today!

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