Friday, January 26

Do you know potpourri?

Potpourri is a mixture of dried, naturally fragrant plant material, used to provide a gentle natural scent in houses. It is usually placed in a decorative wooden bowl, or tied in small bags made from sheer fabric.

But I was told to light a candle placed at the base of a terracotta stand and place the potpourri on the top so that the mild heat generated the fragrance gently.

These are some of the naturally scented plants used in traditional potpourri:

* Cedar wood shavings
* Cypress wood shavings
* Incense-cedar wood shavings
* Juniper wood shavings
* Lavender leaves and flowers
* Mignonette leaves and flowers
* Pinyon pine cones
* Rose flowers, hips, or oil
* Cinnamon bark
* Marjoram

Much modern potpourri consists of any decoratively shaped dried plant material (not necessarily from scented plants) with strong synthetic perfumes (and also often strongly coloured dyes) added, with the scent often bearing no relation to the plant material used.

Sometimes, items which do not originate from plants are mixed in with the potpourri, to give it bulk and to make it more aesthetically pleasing. It is possible to spray scents onto potpourri, however a fixative is needed so that the scent is absorbed. Generally, orris root is used for this purpose.

The word potpourri comes from the French word "pot-pourri," which was the French name for a Spanish stew with a wide variety of ingredients called olla podrida. In English, "potpourri" is often used to refer to any collection of miscellaneous or diverse items.

In ceramics manufacture, a potpourri vase is a vase specifically designed for holding potpourri. In the traditional designs a potpourri container is provided with a pierced fitted lid, through which the scent may slowly diffuse.


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