The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

How to make potpourri: starting out


Photo: Roses

Photo: Roses

I’ve been interested in drying flowers since I started growing them in earnest this year. This would be a way of extending the ‘sales’ season and getting 100% out of the flowers.

Recently a kind reader emailed me and suggested that I dried rose petals as confetti. This would be a great use of our old French climbing roses – these go over fairly quickly so I can only really sell them in bud. I had also been toying with they idea of making a range of really good potpourri – this could be sold all year and wouldn’t be expensive to send by mail.

So I got out my ladder and snipped loads of frothy flower heads. I used the dehydrator to dry the petals – this was a very fast operation as the petals are so delicate. Today I’m going to try drying them on the garden table using free energy from the sun.

I’ve invested in two books to give me some pointers on potpourri and dried flowers. These are books from the late 1980s and are still in print as their content is as relevant today as it was back then. On the American Amazon site they both have excellent reviews. They must have had enormous print runs as they are both available for just a few pounds second hand. I ordered copies described as ‘Used.Very good’ and they are both fine. Barbara Milo Ohrbach’s The Scented Room: Cherchez’s Book of Dried Flowers, Fragrance and Potpourri is a glorious book. Richly illustrated and beautifully written, this book is packed with inspirational tips and suggestions. I was excited to read that her potpourri recipes should keep their scent for years.

The second book Book of Dried Flowers: A Complete Guide to Growing, Drying, and Arranging by Malcolm Hillier and Colin Hilton. Is an excellent book too.  When this book was published the authors already had seventeen years experience drying flowers. It has a slightly more technical approach with illustrations of dried flowers by colour, good arrangements and advice. There is also a handy guide at the back which pin points which flowers to pick when and the best way to preserve each flower. A perfect balance to The Scented Room.

On my hunt for orris root powder (this sets the scent and is essential in potpourri) I discovered that you can but a lot of spices such as cloves for pomanders, cinnamon and star anise at rock bottom prices. These spices are not for culinary use – hence their price.

This new project is fascinating and fun. I can’t wait to see how it develops. Meanwhile I must track down some silica gel.

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  1. Care For Roses

    Fantastic site for Roses lovers on how to do it yourself flower arrangement and decoration. Lovely Roses featured.

  2. amalee issa

    I know this comment is a bit late, but if you click onto cox and cox’s website, you’ll see a lovely picture of paper cornets holding rose petal confetti. You’re so creative, you’ll be able to knock up something equally fabulous.


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