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Camp Frémont

Gardening, Photography, and Homeschool.

- by Sarah Fremont

  • Writer's pictureSarah Fremont

When we began building our garden beds for our Tennessee farm, we wanted it to feel like an intimate garden setting, even though it was being constructed in the middle of a five-acre plot. We planned the boxes to fit within the boundaries of existing trees and added archways and trellises to bring the eye upwards. We also felt like it needed a snug back of the garden border. Our solution? A bramble of blackberries! Fortunately, the outskirts of our farm had wild blackberries growing everywhere, so we carefully dug up a few plants and transplanted them into the back row of the garden. They looked a bit shocked at being uprooted, but after overwintering this first year, the shoots are all budding and adding a lovely natural green backdrop to the garden.

We grew blackberries in our Minnesota and Texas gardens, so it feels very homey to also have them here in Tennessee. Blackberries are lovely summer fruits of a garden and will fill in the garden beds quite easily. And because they are hardy perennials they will come back year after year—our favorite!

Tip for growing blackberries:

  1. Because they will create a natural hedgerow, plan their location with care. Find a sunny spot along fencing, the back of your yard, or contained in a garden bed.

  2. Starter plants will not produce fruit the first year, but they usually do the second.

  3. Be sure to water weekly.

  4. Weed to prevent competition for nutrients and water. We weed our garden every Saturday.

  5. New fruit will start off green, then turn red, and finally turn black, which means they are ready for picking. If you don’t harvest the blackberries right away, the birds will happily eat them!

If you are looking to add a little snuggery to your garden or property, consider adding a bramble of blackberries. The fruit is a summer delight and the plant will provide a beautiful natural border. Happy gardening! xo

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We had moved into our 5-acre homestead in February—trees, plants, and grass were still very much in hibernation mode, but I was anxious to start planning our garden. I had no idea what would pop up in the spring, but I had the good fortune to be just down the road from the previous owners. So with paper and pen, I strolled over for a visit. After a bit of catching up, I asked “What sorts of plants and flowers should I expect to greet us in the spring?” I got my pen ready for the list. They looked at each other sheepishly. “Errrr. Ummmm. Volunteer plants?” This was code for weeds. I was so disappointed. They had lived in the home for 40 years, but did not have the foresight to plant perennial gifts for the future. I would have to start from scratch.

Whenever I read books, and they talk about the fruit trees around their properties, the flowering vines gracing an arbor, or the bulbs popping up in the spring, I always think about how someone planted each of those things. They did not just happen by accident. And I think that’s one of the most special things you can do for any place you live—plant something for future generations to discover and enjoy.

As I returned to my homestead, I considered all the ways I could beautify the property. The one vine I knew I had to find a place for was clematis. I’ve planted evergreen vines in the past, but nothing compares to the friendly, cheerful blooms of the clematis that will arrive in the spring and summer and return year after year. You must add one to your garden this spring!

Tips for growing clematis:

  1. Install a trellis or plant the clematis next to a structure it can climb. Chicken wire around posts could also be used for plant support.

  2. Plant in full sun, but add a few low-growing annuals around the base of the vine (or use rocks) because they like to have their roots in the shade.

  3. Keep watered thoroughly.

  4. After the blooms fade, seed heads known as “old man’s beard” will appear, and they can be used for beautiful, dried flower arrangements.

Head to your local nursery this spring and pick out your favorite color of the clematis vine. You will find so much joy with their showy blooms and future folks will share in the happiness!

Happy gardening! xo

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  • Writer's pictureSarah Fremont

February in Minnesota is cold and dark, and finding ways to feel cozy and warm is imperative: candles, fires, twinkly lights, warm drinks, and gatherings with friends helps. So when our neighbor invited us over for yummy treats and mugs of cocoa we were delighted. Heading over in the darkness (at 5:00 p.m.!) we were greeted with homemade glowing ice lanterns illuminating our path to their door. Welcomed into the warmth of their home we were captivated by the smells of good things. The greatest delight was the table decked out in a whimsical display of foraged greens. So simple, lovely, and inviting!

A winter tablescape of found nature is a beautiful way to use your creativity to create a place to gather that makes your guests feel welcomed, thought of, and cared for. And the cost is only time and imagination. Here are some ideas to inspire you to decorate the table for your winter dining festivities:

  1. Linens wrapped in twine with cinnamon sticks and a sprig of evergreen tucked in.

  2. Pinecones as holders for seating place cards.

  3. Candles add height and a beautiful glow.

  4. Evergreen branches to create a garland along the table.

  5. Evergreens and twigs for simple vase arrangements.

  6. Hanging wreath made from foraged branches.

Set the gathering in motion by inviting guests over on a specific date this winter—potluck style so all are involved in the food—and you can spend your time creating the cozy atmosphere. Happy gathering! xo

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