Camp Frémont

Gardening, Photography, and Homeschool.

- by Sarah Fremont

  • Sarah Fremont

I am sorry to say that Peter was not very well during the evening. His mother put him to bed, and made some camomile tea: and she gave a dose of it to Peter! “One table-spoon to be taken at bed-time.” But Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail had bread and milk and blackberries for supper.

From The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

In the afternoons we would walk over to our neighbor’s house. As we entered her home, we were greeted with the smell of freshly baked muffins and the sounds of classical music in the background. The table was set with a lovely white linen tablecloth, blue china she found at an antique shop, and fresh flowers in a beautiful vase. We felt like the most honored guests for the simplest of occasions—afternoon poetry and teatime. Chamomile tea was poured in our delicate tea cups, honey and milk were passed around, and a delicious muffin was set on our plate. Our dear neighbor would begin reading her book of poetry while we ate and sipped. It was a treasured and dreamy time.

Do you enjoy chamomile tea? The soothing apple and sweet honey flavor is a delight. Chamomile has been found to help with insomnia, anxiety, and digestive upsets. Peter Rabbit’s mama gave him tea to settle his tummy and to help him sleep. We were pleasantly surprised to find how easy it was to grow our own chamomile indoors, so naturally we had to give it a go.

What you will need:

  1. Seeds or seedlings: We use the German variety of chamomile and found our organic and heirloom seeds at our local nursery. Alternatively we found seedlings ready to ship on Etsy.

  2. Soil: Always spend the extra money on healthy, organic soil.

  3. Terra cotta pots: They are the best pots for breathability.

How to grow chamomile:

  1. Fill pots with soil.

  2. The seeds are very tiny and can be gently pressed into the soil. Keep soil evenly moist and place pots in the sun.

  3. Once blossomed, harvest the open flowers in the morning, and lay them out to dry inside on a paper towel.

  4. Once dry, store them in a sealed container until ready to brew.

  5. Place dried flowers in a tea ball and steep for 5 minutes. Add milk or honey to taste and enjoy.

The flowers can also be dried for floral arrangements, pressed for crafts, or woven into charming wreaths. Leaves are edible too, and can be tossed into salads. Enjoy growing this sweet and useful flower. And happy teatime! xo

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  • Sarah Fremont

As we were driving home in November, I spotted a brilliant, beautiful red-berried shrub alongside the road. It was growing on an abandoned lot, so I took a mental note of its location. Naturally, I went home for my garden shears and returned later that day. It was a very spiky shrub, but I was smitten by the festive color of the berries. I snipped several of the branches, and placed them in the back of our van. At home, I assessed my treasure. Were these fit for a vase or wreath? With Christmas on the way, I decided on a wreath and gathered the necessities: an old metal wreath form from a previous project, twine, and a table to handle the mess!

The history of wreaths dates back to ancient Greek and Roman times. Ring-shaped wreaths were made using fresh tree leaves, twigs, small fruits, and flowers. Worn as headdresses, these wreaths represented one’s occupation, rank, achievements, and status. Christians have adopted the circle shape of the wreath to represent Christ’s eternal love, his strength, and the creation of new life. Evergreens are commonly used in the construction of the wreath due to their heartiness throughout harsh winters.

Have you ever made a homemade wreath? They are quite simple in their construction but delightful in their beauty and the way they add a bit of nature in the home during the barren winter months. Here is what you will need:

  1. Wire wreath frame. I purchased my wire wreath at my local craft store. They come in a variety of sizes to suit your space and design. For this project, I used a twelve-inch wreath form. I save mine so I can make a new wreath every year.

  2. Floral wire.

  3. Shears to cut the branches and the wire.

  4. Branches. There are so many options (evergreen, grapevine, berry branches, etc.). I used Ashe Juniper branches cut in nine-to-twelve-inch long pieces.

  5. Ribbon for decoration and for hanging.

How to make a wreath:

Gather three branches, wrap the bundle together three times with your floral wire, lay the bundle on your frame, and attach the bundle to your wreath form by wrapping the wire around the form at least three times. Take a second handful of branches, repeating the process and covering the stems of the first bundle. Continue working in a clockwise fashion, adding branches until you have gone around the entire wreath form. Tuck the last bundle under the first bundle. Finish by tying your ribbon around the top or bottom for added color and for use in hanging the wreath. I like to keep mine very simple, but you could always tuck pinecones or other bits of nature into the secured branches.

Any size and variety of wreath makes an excellent gift for a friend or neighbor. Gather a few evergreen branches and make your own. You will find them to be so simple you will want to make one every year! Happy Christmas! xo

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  • Sarah Fremont

One of our favorite traditions during every Christmas season is to bring a bit of the garden indoors during a time when most of our plants are resting. We do this by forcing bulbs, specifically the bulbs of the Paperwhite Narcissus. To "force" a bulb means to coax them to bloom indoors out of season. There are many bulbs that can be forced, but we have found the Paperwhite to be the easiest. It does not require a chilling period for the bulb before you begin and can be done in a simple glass jar with rocks or pebbles, instead of soil.

How to force the Paperwhite Narcissus bulb:

  1. Purchase bulbs. Paperwhite bulbs are often sold at hardware stores at the beginning of the Christmas season or online. After bringing the bulbs home, we like to peel any loose bits of the brown outer layer before beginning.

  2. Find a clear glass jar or vase. They can be any size, but we have found that taller jars help support the stem of the flower as it begins to grow. (Paperwhites will grow twelve to fourteen inches.)

  3. Layer an inch or two of rocks or pebbles at the bottom of the vase to give the roots space to grow.

  4. Place the bulb root side down into the rocks or pebbles. The larger the vase, the more bulbs you can use. Feel free to squeeze them in tightly, as long as all the bulbs have room to grow up and form roots below.

  5. Pour water into the vase so just the bottom of the bulbs is touching the water. If too much of the bulb is covered, it will get soggy and rotten. The bulb will absorb water, so you will need to periodically add water to keep the bottom of the bulb touching the water.

  6. Place the vase in an area of the house away from windows, until you see signs that the bulbs have rooted. When you see fleshy white roots poking through the bottom of the bulb, you can move the vase to a sunny windowsill.

The Paperwhite Narcissus will begin to produce clusters of small white flowers within four to six weeks. For Christmas blooms, begin forcing your bulbs around the third week of November. The flowers of most varieties produce a moderate to strong musky fragrance. We have several people in our home that enjoy the smell and a few that don’t!

Forcing Paperwhite bulbs is a lovely way to bring a bit of green and bloom into your home during the Christmas season. Additionally, prepared forced bulb vases make beautiful homemade gifts.

Happy blooming!

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