|Potpourri by most dictionary definitions, is a blend, or medley of complementary things. The word originated with the fragrant blend of plants that became popular around the 12th century for scenting the castles or manors of relatively rich people. But the poorer sector had their own scent sources, in the wild and cultivated herbs that were picked each Fall, and hung from the rafters of the kitchen to dry, and to be at hand for use in cooking.
Where there were gardens, there were highly scented flowers in Spring and Summer. Eventually, the idea of preserving these scents by drying the source blossoms and leaves caught on. Naturally occurring plants and flowers were used as the base for most potpourris, and with the advent of trade between Europe and the Far East, mysterious spices brought a new piquancy.
One thing that had not developed at this period in time, was personal hygiene. Bathrooms were non-existent, baths were a yearly event, and regular washing of clothes was unheard of. To freshen themselves, ladies developed a wooden dish that hung from a belt inside their voluminous petticoats, and held a scented mix of herbs and flowers. This would later become a material or leather pomander hung from the waist on the outside of dresses.