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Gift Ideas

by Barbara Payne(more info)

listed in aromatherapy, originally published in issue 95 - January 2004

As winter draws ever nearer, one might think that the last place you would be going is into the garden, but the days of November and December are ideal for making gifts from your garden and your stock of essential oils and bases.

Throughout the year I press flowers to make pressed flower pictures for pleasure. It is amazing how many leaves and flowers there are still available towards the end of the year to pick. It also keeps one in contact with the plants. Pressing flowers is not new. The Manchester museum boasts one of the world's largest herbariums with some pressed specimens dating back to the 18th century. This is the way some samples were brought home by the great plant collectors and it is still a way we can lean about the plants.

Aromatherapists and others who use plant substances could very easily build up a collection for reference.

Flower Pictures

I have a ready made flower press, but it is easy to press flowers and leaves under anything flat and heavy, as long as the object to be pressed is sandwiched between absorbent papers. The idea is to dry out as well as to flatten the plant matter. Make sure the material is dry when putting it to press as mould will grow if it is damp. When it has been set to press, leave it for about three weeks. After this time it is ready to be placed it its container. I use a plastic drawer liner with compartments for cutlery. Each compartment holds flowers of a different colour and the big one holds the leaves and grasses. Pressed flowers will fade in the light, so they need to be in the dark, ideally in a drawer.

Flower pictures are so aesthetically pleasing and seeing spring and summer flowers in winter is uplifting. They are very simple to make. Photograph frames make excellent picture surrounds.äää You will need a piece of paper cut to the size of the glass (it can be coloured if you wish), some paper glue and tweezers. Dismantle the frame and arrange the flowers on the piece of paper with the tweezers – without glue. When you are satisfied with the design, carefully glue them into place. Next place the glass over the top and the backing underneath – this will give it enough stability to return the whole item to the frame. The result will give much pleasure to its owner and they are a good conversation piece if you have made them yourself.

Flower Candles

Pressed flowers can also be used to make scented flower candles. I get a lot of comfort from lighted candles in the darkest days and find they make a room look very cosy and inviting, especially if they smell pleasant. The ingredients needed are a few drops of your favourite essential oil, one candle to be melted to attach the flowers and a candle on which the flowers are to be stuck. First, take your main candle and place it on baking foil. Set out the pressed flowers you intend to use, making sure they are not too large – this can cause a sudden flare up as the flame reaches that part! I would suggest smaller delicate flowers and leaves. Next gently melt the smaller candle in a pan over a very low flame and when this is done, add five drops of the essential oil. With the main candle on its side and holding the pressed flowers to it, carefully spoon the melted wax over the flowers. Please use a small spoon – this will ensure that, if you spill any wax, the damage will be negligible and none will pool where the candle lies. The flowers will quickly bend and adhere to the candle. When one side is completed turn over to the other side and repeat the process until the candle is to your liking.

Keep Warm Foot Balm

Cold weather seems to pinch at the hands and feet more than anywhere else. Apart from the obvious – wearing thin layers to allow the air to circulate – there is a product you can make for yourself which was tested for my clinic by spectators of an amateur football team. Keep Warm Foot Balm can also be used on hands.

You will need:
• 1 x 50 ml tub of thick base cream;
• 7 drops of black pepper essential oil (Piper nigrum);
• 7 drops of ginger essential oil (Zingiber officinale).
Drop the oils carefully into the cream and stir thoroughly.

Both these essential oils are well known for their ability to stimulate the peripheral circulatory system. This is due to their natural chemical make up. Piper nigrum contains 60% mono terpenes and 30% sesquiterpenes which are recognized as stimulating. Zingiber officinale contains 55% sesquiterpenes and 20% mono terpenes which are stimulating and slightly analgesic. Zingiber officinale is listed in the British Herbal Companion[1] as 'anti-inflammatory' and a 'peripheral circulatory stimulant'. It is also mentioned as exerting numerous pharmacological properties, including an anti-inflammatory effect on rheumatic and arthritic disorders.

Consequently, if you suffer from one of these, the cream may assist in removing some of the pain as well as comforting the area due to the warmth it generates. I encourage you to try these ideas as they are entertaining for darker days and will assist in having a positive approach to winter.


1. British Herbal Compendium Volume 1. The British Herbal Medicine Association. Great Britain. 1996.


British Herbal Pharmaceopia. British Herbal Medicine Association. Great Britain. 1996.
Caddy R. Essential Oils in Colour. Amberwood Publishing Ltd. Great Britain. 1997.


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About Barbara Payne

Barbara Payne taught clinical aromatherapy in various hospitals in the North of England, for School of Health, University of Hull, and was principal of an IFA and IFPA accredited college of clinical aromatherapy, for many years. She served as an inspector and examiner and was Chair of Education for the ISPA, (now IFPA). Barbara had regular interviews with BBC radio and appeared on national television occasionally and lectured annually for the RHS. Having contributed to Positive Health over many years, Barbara has now decided to retire from her PH Expert Regular Column after Issue 154 in Jan 2009. She can be reached on Tel: 01482 835358;


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