Panda's Pot Pourri

Another from the Department of I've Been Wanting to Do This for Years. Panda, as I may have mentioned, has a rather keen sense of smell. There cannot be enough perfume, body spray, hand lotion and so forth for her to sniff out. Give this kid a gift card to Bath & Body Works and she's in Heaven.

Lavender is high on her list of favorite scents, and I planted quite a lot of it this year. With the roses in full swing, I thought we could try making some pot pourri.

The technique of drying flowers runs the gamut from hanging them upside down and air-drying, to using the dehydration setting of one's oven, if one's oven has such a setting. Mine does (smug smile). But in high-80's heat with humidity, I don't relish running the oven if I don't have to. Can you dry flowers in the microwave?

Quick consult of the Oracle of Google. Yes, you can.

Come, child, into the garden so that we may collect items of sweet scent.  Here's what we came back with:

Clockwise from top: rosebuds (Zepherine Drouhin, as they have the most scent) to keep as buds; lavender; lemon verbena leaves; carnations; roses to dry as petals only, and hiding behind them is a pile of geranium leaves.

Put some paper towels on a plate.  Working in batches, spread the petals in a single layer. Microwave a minute, to a minute and a half. Just keep checking on them, you'll know when it's right. Repeat with all the petals and leaves. We even nuked the rosebuds a couple minutes, but we left the lavender buds and leaves as they were.

Get a small, clean jar with a lid (I emptied out one of my button jars), and start building layers: some petals, some leaves, some lavender, a bud. Petals, leaves, lavender, buds. Until all is used. For fun we added one clove and one cardamom pod. You could also add pieces of cinnamon stick, a vanilla bean, or a drop or two of essential oil. Store the jar in a dark place with the lid just resting on, and every day open the jar and give the contents a shake until completely dry. Then use as desired. Panda wants to fill little bags and put them in her drawers.

Make sure you photograph the jar of pot pourri with a bouquet of roses and a lemon, because that's what all the cool people do.