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.

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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.

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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.

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