Camp Frémont

Gardening, Photography, and Homeschool.

- by Sarah Fremont

  • Sarah Fremont

Many months ago, we were walking along the paths on our property to gather wildflowers— sage, guara, primroses, and daisies. “Let’s make a few arrangements for the home and tuck a few away in the barn to see how these look dried out,” my twelve-year-old said. We placed a few bouquets in little vases and scattered them throughout our house, and took the remaining flowers out to the barn. In a cool, dark spot among the rafters we have bunches and bunches of wildflowers hanging upside down. We like to see how the colors, leaves, and stems of the flowers change in appearance as they dry. After drying out they can be placed in vases as dried bouquets or used for various crafts. With Christmas nearing, we decided to make mini wreaths to adorn our gifts.

Placing a little extra intentionality with the wrapping is really fun, and a mini wreath can really elevate the presentation of a gift, especially if made from flowers you grew months ago. A dried bouquet wreath can also become a gift itself and saved to hang someplace fun. And the process to create one is so simple.

How to:

  1. Make your wreath base. I like to use grapevines to create a simple wreath. For this example, the wreath is 5 inches in diameter. If you are using fresh living vines, you can let them dry out for a couple of days after you cut them. Then simply make a circular coil, secure with florist wire, and tuck in the ends. (Hobby stores also have pre-made wreaths.)

  2. Make your mini bouquet. Gather your dried flowers into an arrangement and trim for size. For this wreath, I used an 8-inch bouquet. Secure the ends with twine.

  3. Attach your bouquet to the side of the wreath. I attached using florist wire.

  4. Attach your mini wreath to your gift and voila! (I like to loop through using brown twine.)

A mini wreath is such a beautiful addition to your Christmas presents. Tuck away a few

bunches of wildflowers from your spring nature walks and you will have the dried flowers

ready for you come winter. Happy crafting! xo

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  • Sarah Fremont

We tend to adopt “neighbor grandmas” wherever we live, and our time in New Mexico was no exception. We stood in line next to Miss Norma at a garden tour in Albuquerque, and after chatting for a bit discovered she lived right down the road from us. We invited her over for tea and very quickly formed a sweet friendship. When her lavender was in bloom she called us down to pick fresh stems from her front yard and taught us how to make lavender wands. She showed us a few wands she had made years before and they still smelled good. We were so excited to learn this beautiful new craft!

I've always been smitten by lavender and Albuquerque's high-desert climate was the perfect environment for growing this fragrant herb. Our local organic farm, Los Poblanos, was famous for their gorgeous lavender fields and had this to say about their lavender crops: “Lavender is a low water use plant that thrives in our arid environment, and our fields have grown to hold thousands of plants after years of hand propagating the original lavender plants in our historic greenhouse.” I planted dozens of lavender plants around my property and was excited to make lavender wands every fall with our own crops.

How to make lavender wands:

  1. Gather 15 freshly picked stems of lavender and about 50 inches of narrow ribbon.

  2. Remove all the leaves from the stems.

  3. Line up the bottom of the flower heads and tie them together.

  4. Turn the bundle upside down.

  5. Gently bend each stem down around the blossom heads.

  6. Start to weave the ribbon under and over the stems.

  7. Continue weaving until you have covered all the flowers. Wrap the ribbon around the neck of the wand and tie it off.

Miss Norma had wands from years ago, and to release more scent she simply rubbed the wand in her hands. We still have ours that we made with her that day and they still smell so lovely. I hope you will invite your neighbors over for a lovely time of crafting lavender wands. Xo

* We have since moved away to Tennessee, but Miss Norma packaged up her fresh lavender and sent it to us so we could make this project again.

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  • Sarah Fremont

PRONOUNCIATION: pot . .uh . .JAY. (the J is soft)

DEFINITION: a French word originally defined as “kitchen garden,” but it has not come to mean “a part of the garden in which vegetables, herbs, fruit, and flowers are grown and arranged as much for their visual impact as for their edibility.”

I entered my grandparent’s home to the smell of applesauce cooking on the stove. My

grandfather was making two kinds, cinnamon and rhubarb, all made with apples grown in their

backyard garden. I sat down at the table and he scooped me up a warm bowl of goodness. As I ate, I looked out the window and could see the apple trees arranged in lovely rows at the far end of the property, box hedges lining the sides, and roses and wildflowers intermixed with the fall vegetables of beets, carrots, radishes, and turnips. They definitely took great pride in their potager garden-- it was fruitful and very beautiful!

When designing my own gardens, I am definitely influenced by the memories of my grandparents’ garden. I always create my gardens within view of the kitchen so i have a beautiful view when I look out the kitchen window. And I make sure my gardens are producing delicious things to eat! Here are a few elements I like to add to my gardens to elevate them to potager.

Trellises: They add height and visual interest to a garden. Plant vining vegetables or flowers at the base and watch them climb.

Box hedges: Plant along the border to create a natural fence and lovely structure.

Roses: The beauty and smell add a softness to the garden and bring in pollinators.

Fruit trees: Grow at the back of the garden or train them to grow vertically along a fence.

Garden paths: Rocks, woodchips, or bricks make lovely paths through a garden.

Garden beds: Vary their shape- rectangle, square, triangle, etc.

Consider all the ways you could add beauty, creativity, and color to your garden. Potager gardening is a way to express yourself in the garden and provide good food for your family. Happy gardening! xo

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