A Few of Our Favorite Old-Fashioned Lavender Ideas for the Home

Sweet Scented Armchair

In one of my favorite old books Pot Pourri from a Surrey Garden {1900}, by Mrs. C.W. Earle described a delightfully fragrant household idea: ‘On the backs of my armchairs are thin Liberty oblong bags, like miniature saddle-bags, filled with dried Lavender, Sweet Verbena and Sweet Geranium leaves. This mixture is much more fragrant than the lavender alone. The visitor who leans back in his chair, wonders from where the sweet scent comes.’
This is a Victorian elegance developed from early ideas described by Parkinson in the seventeenth century of tying fragrant bundles of lavender, costmary, and rosemary to ‘lie upon the tops of beds.’
A more sophisticated way of dealing with the ever-present problems of moths in clothing was developed in the seventeenth century. Clothing was sprinkled with a fragrant concentrated moth-repellent liquid before being folded.
Here is a seventeenth-century recipe:
To make a special sweet water to perfume clothes in the folding being washed. Take a quart of Damask-Rose Water and put it into a glasse, put unto it a handful of Lavender Flowers, two ounces of Orris, a dram of Muske, the weight of four pence of Amber-greece, as much Civet, foure drops of Oyle of Clove, stop this close, and set it in the Sunne a fortnight; put one spoonful of this Water into a bason of common water and put it into a glasse and so sprinkle your clothes with it in your folding.
Lavender Wash Days
Plant a bush, or better yet a hedge, of lavender near the laundry door-French, Mitcham or English-and on sunny days dry lingerie and pillowslips over the bushes.
An old tradition.
We grew lavender in our old Maryland garden and the sheets in my Mother’s house always smelled of it. What sweet slumbers come to one between Lavender-scented sheets!
Louise Beebe Wilder, The Fragrant Garden
 Store sheets fresh from the sun and wind with lavender bags between each folded sheet.
Lavender Tea Cozy
Nothing could be more old-fashioned or more deliciously fragrant than the warmth of a hot pot of tea releasing the fragrant oil of English lavender flowers.
Make a tea cozy from a flower sprigged cotton with wadding between the layers. Fashion two large pockets to line the two inside layers of the cozy. Place inside each pocket a large flat sachet of lavender potpourri. This way of making the tea cozy allows you to remove the old potpourri and replace it with fresh when necessary. A pot of herb tea with the fragrance of lavender floating in the air is one of the most relaxing of indulgences in the middle of a tiring and busy day.
Lavender Insect Repellent
Lavender oil is a powerful insect repellent.
Rub a few drops diluted in a little safflower oil on your skin before indulging in the great outdoors to repel flies, midges, and mosquitoes.
Or throw a handful of the dried stalks and branches leftover from the harvest onto the barbecue or picnic fire.
With stored fruit, sprinkle dried lavender leaves over it.
Moth Repellent Sachet Mixture
Lavender oil and lavender flowers have long been recognized for their powerful insect repellent properties.
Lavender was always an ingredient in moth repellent sachets to store among winter woolens.
Here is my favorite mixture of dried herbs for moth bags which are made of voile or silk or organdie and tied with bows of satin ribbon.
2 cups dried lavender flowers
1 cup dried lightly crushed camphor laurel leaves
1/2 cup dried lightly crushed costmary leaves
1 cup dried wormwood leaves
1/2 cup dried pennyroyal
1/2 cup dried peppermint
1 cup dried lavender leaves
This fresh mint-and-lavender scent with astringent undertones really seems to keep the moths at bay.
Hang a sachet on hangars and pop one in each drawer.
Lavender Incense
If you have a little incense burner, this is an easy incense to make and use. It is particularly useful in the sick room that has remained closed up for some time, quickly dispelling mustiness.
Even better, it needs to cost nothing.
2 tablespoons fine sawdust which has been sieved to remove coarse pieces
2 tablespoons finely crumbled dried lavender leaves and flowers
5 drops essential oil of lavender
Bath toiletries and cosmetics are another way of incorporating sweet lavender fragrance into your life.
Make your own soap is a great deal easier than many people imagine. Homemade soaps can be incredibly luxurious, rich, fragrant and good for your skin!
Making soap to save money is a very minimal goal. You should consider making soap because it is fun, because it is creative and because it opens up a whole new world of fragrance experiences-and yes.at the end of it all, you will save money.
Washing balls are a good way to start working with soap products. They are a very old idea. The washing balls are compounded with a finely grated pure quality unscented soap such as Castile, mixed with skin softening and aromatic ingredients.
Ipswich Balls were once very popular. For ‘almond cake’ use 14 g of finely ground almond meal from your health food store or other suppliers. Oil of spike is lavender oil. Use a few drops of oil of musk or tincture of musk in place of the musk and ambergris in the recipe and you will have a creditable Ipswich Ball.
Here is a famous recipe from The Queen’s Closet Opened by W.M., Cook to Queen Henrietta Maria, published in 1655. Take a pound of fine white Castile Sope, shave it thin in a pinte of Rose-water, and let it stand two or three days, then pour all the water from it, and put to it half a pint more, and let it stand a night more, then put to it half an ounce {14g} of powder called sweet Marjoram, a quarter of an ounce [7g} of powder of Winter Savoury, two to three drops of oyl of Spike, and the oyl of cloves, three grains of Musk, and as much Ambergris, work all these together in a fair Mortar, with the powder of an Almond Cake dryed, and beaten as small as fine flour, so roll it round in your hands in Rosewater.

The final rolling in rosewater helps to smooth, polish and scent the ball. Let it stand for up to six weeks to harden otherwise the ball is used up too quickly. The soap is prevented from darkening if you add 14 g of powdered gum benzoin to the original recipe.
Here is the ‘delicate washing ball’ described in Ram’s Little Dodoen in 1606:Take three ounces {83g} of orris, half an ounce {14g} of cypress, two ounces {37g} of Calamus aromaticus, one ounce {28g} of Rose leaves {petals}, two ounces of Lavender flowers: beat all these together in a mortar sieving them through a fine sieve, then scrape some Castile sope, and dissolve it with some Rose-water, then incorporate all your powders therewith, by labouring of them well in a mortar.

Form the mixture into small balls about the size of a large golf ball and set aside to dry thoroughly for six weeks.
It is possible to fashion all manner of fragrant soap balls based on finely grated Castile soap and incorporating finely ground cosmetic aromatic herbs, herbal oils and finely ground almond meal. The only limitation is one’s imagination.

5 Lavender Craft Ideas To Try At Home…

Lavender Bottles.

19, 21 or 23 fresh supple lavender stalks in full flower
Lavender-colored satin ribbon 0.5-1.0 cm wide

lavender wands

Tie the bunch of heads together tightly just below the flower spikes. One end of the lavender should be about 30 cm, the other as long as possible.
Gently turn all the stalks up around the bunch of flower spikes to make a cage. Tie the stems together above the flowers so that they are completely enclosed in a cage of green stems evenly spaced.
Use a bodkin {or thread onto a hairpin or use a safety pin} to weave the long end of the ribbon in and out of the stalks, working round and upward until the flowers are enclosed.
The short end of the ribbon should be brought down with the flower heads so that it is enclosed in the weaving. Now wind the long end several times around the stalks to secure them and finish with a bow of ribbon. I like to tie the second bow at the top of the stalks.
Dry the lavender bottles, preferably on drying frames in a well-aired, warm place out of direct light.

Lavender Dolls and Lavender Mice

Lavender dolls are a pleasant pastime for rainy days, but you must first locate a source of old-fashioned wooden clothes pegs. Use a strongly lavender-scented potpourri and place it in an 8 cm wide circle of pretty sprigged cotton fabric.
Tie onto the top of the peg with a lavender satin ribbon to create the effect of a mob cap finished with a bow.
For a truly professional effect, tie a bundle of some fine black or brown wool at one end to form a little wig on the top of the peg, and fasten it on with PVA glue. It can be plaited in various ways.
Paint a face on the peg. Then tie on the mob cap of lavender when hair and face are fully dried.
Paint the base of the two prongs to imitate shoes. Then either paste on a simple wrap-around cloak, or, if inspired to finer things, make a pretty little neck to ankles old fashioned dress with a lace ruff at the top.
The loveliest Lavender Mice by far that I have seen were being sold at the popular Salamanca Market held each week in Hobart in Tasmania. The upright body, made of grey felt, with a very pretty bewhiskered face was filled with fresh fragrant dried Tasmanian lavender. The mouse was finished with a lavender sprigged white cotton mob cap, lace-trimmed Victorian dress gathered around the neck and lavender ribbon.
The effect was pure Beatrix Potter.
lavender wreath

Lavender Fragrance Wreaths

Florist’s wire
Fresh lavender flower spikes and fresh herb foliage eg. silvery artemisia, thyme, rosemary, lavender cotton, sweet marjoram, etc. {Cut more than you expect to use.}Frames for herbal wreaths vary according to tastes. You can make your own from a single circle bent from heavy gauge wire. This is then encircled with dry sphagnum moss, binding it on tightly and evenly to make a padded base for the wreath. Raffia or thick natural string is best for creating the herb base.
Frames can also be made from various vines such as grape, Japanese honeysuckle, wild clematis {which can reach pest proportions on our property, smothering valuable shrubs}, or wisteria. Create the basic circle, then twine lengths of vine continuously in and out around the basic circle until it has reached the required thickness. Tuck ends into the wreath base as you go so that a neat but rustic effect is created.
Or visit your local florist for a wireframe which should then be bound with sphagnum as above, or a straw wreath base, or a professionally made grapevine base.
To obtain a professional appearance for the wreath, all materials need to swirl in one direction. I prefer to work with fresh materials for the base and allow the wreath to dry almost completely before wiring or gluing on the flowers and other ornaments. Dried foliage is brittle to work with and it is far easier to work with fresh flexible stalks of herbs. It’s important to cut much more material than you imagine you will need. Wreaths positively swallow herbs.
Gather the chosen foliage material into numerous small bunches and begin wiring these to the frame with florist’s wire. Spread each bunch over the frame carefully to cover it and overlap progressive bunches so that they will hide the stems of previous bunches. Continue swirling the material in the same direction until the frame is complete. Now tuck in extra sprigs of foliage all around the outside and inside edges, continuing to work in the same direction.
Small bunches of lavender are now wired into position in a swirl through the center of the wreath. It can now be given to a friend as a fresh green herb and lavender wreath or placed in an airy, cool,  dimly lit place to dry and further decorate.
Dried lavender and herb wreaths can be further prettied up with small bunches of dried flowers like pinks, oregano, lavender mint and sage flowers, pink yarrow or pink and lavender statice wired to florist’s picks and arranged around the wreath to hide the stems. Tiny lavender potpourri bags secured with lavender ribbon can also be wired or glued into place.

lavender basket

Lavender Basket

I began making these several years ago and they proved so popular that I have continued ever since. They can be of any size, from tiny cane baskets with handles up to substantial ones.
 Lavender baskets are very fragrant as they are filled with dried lavender potpourri as a finish to the product.
Basket with handle
Dried whole stems of lavender flowers {French L. dentata looks great but English will look good if used generously}
Lavender potpourri
Oasis cut to fit the basket and reach half its height {florist supply shops are a source}
Florist wire
Dried stems of thyme, silver flowering stalks of wormwood, oregano flowering stalks, golden achillea flowers, dried pink rosebuds wired through the base, dried sprays of white baby’s breath {gypsophila}, pink everlasting daisies, dried sprays of silver lavender cotton, cream, pink and lavender statice, dried stalks of pink larkspur, or any other dried flowers and foliage you like.
Loop the florist wire over the oasis and push through the basket to secure. Push the ends back into the basket neatly. Make sure the oasis is firmly fixed.
 Arrange the dried foliage material in the basket to form a framework for the arrangement, making sure all pieces are securely embedded in the oasis.
Now fill in with lots of dried lavender spikes which should predominate and a selection of golden or pink dried flowers to add color, Gypsophila will give a lovely misty airy appearance to the basket.
 Finally, sieve lavender potpourri into the basket so that the oasis is well covered.
 No two lavender baskets are the same, and they can be a very individual expression of their maker. A few drops of essential oil of lavender can be added to refresh the scent of the basket from time to time.
 If you are doing a substantial pruning of large lavender bushes you can even fashion the basket itself from dried lavender twigs.
lavender drawer liner

Lavender Drawer Liners

There are quick and easy ways of doing these, but for something very special try this version.
Lavender colored poster paint
Silver green poster paint
Flowering spikes of lavender
Short sprigs of lavender leaves pressed for 2 to 3 days
Watercolor paper in appropriate sized sheets, around 140 – 170 g weight preferred
Lavender potpourri
Large plastic rubbish bin liner
The paper is decorated by means of flower and leaf prints.
Squeeze out each paint into a separate saucer.
Mix with a very little water to keep a reasonably thick consistency.
Use a lavender head to do some practice printing on spare paper. Place one side of the lavender head in the paint, then press gently along its full length to obtain a print. If the paint is still too thick, or you press too hard, you will end up with a sludged effect and no details will show. Adjust the consistency of the paint with a few more drops of water if necessary. If it is too diluted it will flood the paper.
Print the pressed sprigs of leaves by placing on one side in the paint, placing on the practice sheet, covering with a second sheet of paper and gently pressing down.
When you are satisfied you have mastered the art of print painting with the leaves and flowers, design your own pattern of lavender sprigs and flowers across each sheet of watercolor paper.
Dry the sheets overnight, then place flat in the plastic bag with a good layer of lavender potpourri. Seal and store flat. After a month the paper will be fully impregnated with the scent.
If giving this paper as a present, roll and tie with lavender ribbon and decorate with a little bunch of fresh or dried French lavender flowers.

Lavender Infused Smudge Sticks

Burning aromatic dried herbs are referred to as “smudging.”

Tied bundles of dried aromatic herbs, or smudge sticks, often figure in spiritual healing and cleansing rituals. However, you can simply choose to burn aromatic herbs to enjoy the scent. To make your own smudge sticks, gather a large handful of aromatic herbs and use a natural string {cotton is best} to tie it at one end. {Leave both ends of the string hanging evenly.} Hang the herbs to dry. When the leaves are ready, wrap the string around them, making a compact, cigar-shaped bundle, and knot the string up top.

To burn the smudge stick, light the herbs on one end, and let the stick smolder and release its aromatic smoke. You may hold the smudge stick, gently waving it in the air and carrying it from room to room, or simply prop it up on a fireproof plate, bowl, or ashtray and let it smolder. When you’re ready to extinguish the flame, lightly tamp the lit end of the smudge stick into sand or salt and make sure the fire is out. Continue to use your smudge stick time and time again until it has burned completely.

You can use a wide variety of herbs for smudge sticks. The herbs need to have long enough stems to be cut, bundles and dried. White sage, pinion, cedar, and sweetgrass are very traditional smudge herbs; they all smell wonderful either alone or in combination.

Other good smudge herbs include lavender, lemongrass, garden sage, pineapple sage, rosemary, mugwort, any aromatic evergreens, mints, thyme, eucalyptus, and sweet woodruff. Experiment with fragrant herbs found in your garden.

You can also burn loose dried herbs, such as lavender buds, rose petals, white sage leaves, or pine needles, using self-lighting charcoal discs designed for burning incense. These charcoal discs are inexpensive and very easy to use. {Caution: The type of charcoal used for grilling food is not suitable for burning herbs.} Light the disc using a match or lighter, then place it in a fire-proof container such as a ceramic bowl or ashtray. It will spark, then begin to glow red. Then simply sprinkle your dried herbs on the disc. They will smolder and burn, releasing their aromatic smoke. You can use nearly any fragrant herb for incense. I recommend gathering a selection of dried herbs and burning small quantities of each, one at a time so that you can experience how each herb smells while it’s burning.

Some of my favorite herbs to use as loose incense include white sage, lavender buds, sweetgrass, costmary, cedarwood chips, bay leaves, lemongrass, and rosemary.