|Violets. Photo: Nikolay Dimitrov.|
"A pot pourri, as it is called, if properly made up, forms an elegant and beautiful perfume, though it costs some months to complete. You should begin it while the violets are in bloom, as they add greatly to its excellence. There are, however, plenty of flowers that are available. Get a china jar four or six inches deep, with cover. Prepare layers of damask and other sweet-scented rose-leaves and buds, also layers of orange-flowers, if you can obtain them, jessamine, lavender-flowers, clove-pinks, sweet-scented stocks, marjoram, orange-mint, lemon-thyme, balm of Gilead, and rosemary. Have some orris-root sliced, and the outer part of the rind of Seville oranges. Have also a few cloves reduced to powder, and small quantities of benjamin, storax, and musk, and some bay salt, all in fine powder. Mix the powders and the salt well together; then put a layer of leaves, as you collect them, into your jar, sprinkling each layer with a portion of the powders, and so proceed till your jar is nearly full; stir all together now and then, press firmly down, and cover close. When the cover is taken off in a warm room, a very agreeable scent will be diffused."
|Carnations, or Clove-pinks.|
Early spring in San Jose means the flowers begin to bloom! Although I have yet to see scented violets anywhere in the Bay Area (African violets are common houseplants, but they have no scent), fragrant roses, star jasmine, lavender and other sweet flowers can usually be found in home gardens as well as florist shops. Ask around among your neighbors and friends to see what flowers are included in their gardens or landscaping. You might be able to get some rose petals from the San Jose Memorial Rose Garden. Fragrant herbs like lavender and rosemary are often used in commercial landscaping, so ask to see if you can cut a handful or two for your potpourri. Orange blossoms appear on orange trees around Easter time. The Master Gardeners' Sale at History Park (April 1 and 2) will provide many sweet herb varieties in pots for purchase. Orris-root, benjamin (benzoin), storax, musk and bay salt can be purchased online from herb and spice merchants, but you may find them at a health-food store or specialty herb and spice shop.
Copyright 2011, Elizabeth Urbach.
For more information:
"How to make a Victorian potpourri" http://www.ehow.com/how_4879594_victorian-potpourri.html
"Orris root" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orris_root