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Camp Frémont

Gardening, Photography, and Homeschool.

- by Sarah Fremont

  • Writer's pictureSarah Fremont

Our friends had recently bought ten acres of land outside of Nashville and invited us over for a fall hike. As we were meandering along the trails they had cut through their property, my family and I were gathering bits of nature: dried grass, sprigs of native trees, and spent blooms. A visiting friend looked at us with such perplexity, “What will you do with all that stuff?!” We were more surprised that they didn’t collect nature. “Display it on our nature table, of course!”

A lot of the overflow of the beautiful nature we gather also gets stored on a table in our garage and we often use it for crafting in the winter months. As we were considering how we wanted to decorate our home this Christmas season, we decided many of these bits would be perfect for creating a mantlepiece cloud.

How to create a mantelpiece cloud:

  1. Determine where you want to hang the cloud.

  2. Use chicken wire as the base of the cloud. Cut it to size with pliers and mold it into your desired shape. When you add foliage it will double the final size!

  3. Attach suspending wires (how the cloud will hang).

  4. Begin building up the base with the dried materials you collected. We included dried grass, dried asparagus fern, branches with dried leaves, and branches with rose hips. You want to continue adding to the base until the wire is no longer visible.

  5. Once the wire is hidden, hang the cloud, and finish adding the final bits of nature details: dried flowers, berries, and dried seed heads. Step back occasionally to see how it looks from a distance until you have created the perfect piece for your mantel.

Viola! Your mantlepiece cloud is finished and it was the perfect use for some of the lovely bits of nature you collected in the fall. Happy Christmas! xo

  • Writer's pictureSarah Fremont

Driving around Tennessee, we noticed a profusion of native pink roses blooming from a wild bush growing along the country roads—stunningly beautiful and thriving with no attention from anyone. I was hoping to find it growing wild along the edges of our property so I could get a few cuttings to plant around our home. We found one growing on the edge of our neighbor’s property, and with permission nabbed our cuttings!

My favorite horticulturist in Texas is Greg Grant. He specializes in finding plants and flowers growing along highways, in cemeteries, and behind abandoned buildings—plants thriving in Texas with obvious neglect. He cultivates his findings and brings them to local nurseries for others to enjoy. I used to buy dozens of his Henry Duelberg sage, a plant named for the botanist Henry Duelberg since the plant was discovered growing on his grave in a Texas cemetery. A low maintenance, heat tolerant, native perennial with masses of showy blue flowers. I would plant them en masse around our Texas homestead.

Cultivating native plants and flowers growing in wild spaces is a delightful way to add blooms to your own nook! And you can feel good about propagating beauty that is suited for the local conditions and require less maintenance from you.

How to cultivate your own roadside finds:

  1. Pay attention: Look for blooms in offbeat, neglected places.

  2. Sow seed pods:The easiest way to get natives on your property is through sowing found seeds. If the flower or plant is in the “going to seed” phase, grab a few to sow at home.

  3. Cuttings: Taking a few cuttings with a sharp knife will not damage the mother plant.

  4. Research: We use a plant identification app to determine mystery plants. Every plant has a particular way it is best propagated. We have always followed the guidelines closely and have had great success.

Find your own native, neglected blooms and bring them home to enjoy!

Happy gardening! xo

  • 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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