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Native pot pourri

Native plants can furnish the base of a decorative and sweet smelling pot pourri bowl for any room – it need not be the same old mix of exotic lavenders and roses.

The general method is to collect a variety of plant material and dry it crisp in the sun. Material may be laid out on a rack such as a cake cooler or basket. Once dry you can store it in a sealed container or zip lock bag until you have enough – a good few cups makes the effort worthwhile. Flowers could include everlasting daisies, kangaroo paws, flannel flowers and banksias. Leaves and seed pods should be a range of sizes, and add in a couple of larger decorative pods such as kurrajongs or some of the many types of eucalypts. Grass seed heads would also dry well, and provide the background bulk to replace traditional lavender. Some lichen would also look interesting.

Dry it well, and check for bugs. Dry plant material often attracts small beetles and weevils and it needs to be discarded. If you have some, the silicon desiccant sachets can be added to the stored material to absorb any further moisture.

Once you have collected enough, a quick way is to put a few drops of essential oil on the mixture and then mix gently before placing in a decorative bowl or glass jar. The oil will have to be renewed every so often.

A slower way which fixes the scent, would be to mix up orris root powder (from craft shops), some borax powder (from the chemist) and the oils of your choice (about 1 tbsp orris root, 1 tsp borax and 5 drops of oil to every 3 cups of material). Mix the power and oils together, and then mix through the plant material. Reserve some for decoration, as this powder dulls the colours. Store in a container you won’t use again (it will be impossible to remove the scent) and stir every week or so for a month. An ice cream container is ideal, as you can just shake it.

Place in a bowl, adding your most decorative leaves and seed pods on top.

Sandlewood chips available from craft and health shops are a nice if not native addition. Other decorative items can be interesting bits of wood, rocks or crystals.

This should last some time, as the borax retards moisture and repels bugs. Make sure you wash your hands and any utensils well after mixing as the powders and oils are strong and slightly toxic. Don’t reuse containers or non-metal utensils for food.

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