Book Reviews

Book 3

Potpourris and Other Fragrant Delights

By Jacqueline Hériteau.  


This slim Penguin book could have been yours in 1973 for the princely sum of 80p,  and modest though it was, the book was a common enough addition to many a perfumers’ bookshelf. The author herself had previously edited The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Encyclopedia of Gardening no less and was a collector of recipes that lead to the writing of cookbooks.

The 137-page book covers chapters on methods of Potpourri construction – methods, constituents, recipes, cover the subject comprehensively at a practical level. The author divides potpourris into moist and dry potpourris, and also features the rose bowl (mainly comprised of rose petals and rosebud) and the sweet jar. And more minor mentions of strewing herbs, tussie-mussies, wash balls and herbal vinegar’s which is topped by final chapters on sweet bags and pomanders.

An intriguing recipe “to enable one to see Fairies” seems to involve rose water, marigold water, the buds of hollyhocks, and flowering tops of thyme. My problem with the recipe is that the thyme “must be gathered from the side of a hill where the Fairies used to be”. There’s always a catch!

Although much of the information contained in the book is now more widely available, the book is still an important marker, if not quite a milestone, in home fragrancing literature, and also of course is useful as an inventory of potpourri recipes. This could explain why it has survived several reprintings…..     

Copyright © 2001 by Tony Burfield