Camp Frémont

Gardening, Photography, and Homeschool.

- by Sarah Fremont

  • Sarah Fremont

Updated: Sep 30, 2021

When we first moved into our fixer upper, the outside of the home looked like a haunted house—the limestone in front had blackened, the front door had rotting wood, and weeds had run amok in the yard. We had worked very hard to renovate the inside, but It was a great endeavor to get the house looking lovely, cheerful and welcoming on the outside. We began by replacing the front door, cleaning and repairing the limestone, weeding, and sowing native grass and wildflower seeds everywhere. But to add even more inviting curb appeal we decided to add window flower boxes. Is there anything more delightful than seeing a home with window boxes overflowing with well cared for flowers? I think not!

The origin of window boxes dates back to ancient Rome. Urban living in small homes, one on top of the other with no yards, a window box was an economical way to grow food with limited space. Eventually flowers were added to the growing of herbs and food, or replaced entirely. In the Victorian Age, terra cotta and metal planter boxes became very popular for displaying flowers and herbs, and eventually the boxes came to the United States. Many cities are still known for their colorful displays of window flower boxes attached to Victorian homes and older buildings—New Orleans’ French Quarter (Louisiana), Charleston (South Carolina), and Savannah (Georgia).

Would you like to add lovely, inviting flowers to the front of your house? Here are few things we learned when adding our own window flower boxes:

1. Purchase or build your own window box. There are many varieties of window boxes available for purchase online. We found ours on etsy. A window box hanging below the window with minimal house contact and ease of water draining is best and will prevent any damage to your home.

2. We lined our wood window boxes with plastic to prevent the boxes from rotting.

3. Fill with organic potting mix soil.

4. Choose your flowers! We have varied ours every year—all one type and color, a mix of only purples and pinks, cascading plants to hang over the edge, and taller plants in the back with shorter plants in the front. It’s so much fun to try new things every year and see what makes you happy!

5. *BIG TIP!* Pack your flowers in! (Throw away the spacing requirement tags!) Do not worry about leaving space for growing. Plant for it to look good now, not later.

6. Water often. Because the flowers are hanging outside they are more apt to dry out quickly. In Texas, our window boxes needed to be watered every morning!

7. We left our window boxes out year round. In the winter we replaced the withered flowers with cut evergreen boughs for a whimsical holiday look.

Well cared for flowers in your window boxes will create the cheeriest welcome for you and your guests! They are well worth their initial effort and the hanging flowers will make you feel happy every time you see them. Find the perfect boxes for your home and get planting! xo

313 views4 comments
  • Sarah Fremont

I was eleven years old and it was a glorious early spring day in the southern, rolling hills of Indiana. I walked down the street to play with my friend, Elizabeth, and as we were playing outside, I smelled something deliciously sweet and flowery. The smell captivated me long before I could even see what was blooming!

“Elizabeth! What is that delightful smell?”

“The sweet pea vine. Haven’t you grown them before?”

We had never grown sweet peas, but I was definitely storing the remembrance of this blossom away in my brain for the future.

Elizabeth and I picked the delicate, butterfly looking flowers from the vine and made fairy crowns. The more we picked the flowers, the more they seemed to bloom. We had a splendid month of harvesting the fragrant beauties for our play and for bouquets in our homes.

The sweet pea is an annual flowering and climbing plant. It can grow to a height of three to almost seven feet tall and flowers in a variety of pastel shades of blue, pink, purple, and white, including bi-colors. When we lived in Minnesota (cold winter climate) we always sowed our sweet pea seeds in April, so I was surprised to find out that in Texas (mild winter climate) we sow them in the fall (October or November) for a spring bloom. Sweet peas can handle a light frost, but do not like the heat. They prefer cool days and nights and will start to fade when temperatures go above 65°F.

Tips for growing your own sweet pea vine:

1. Soak your seeds in water overnight before planting in the ground.

2. Be sure your soil is rich and lovely. We always mix in good compost and a bit of bone meal for our sweet peas.

3. Sweet peas will need a trellis to climb. As the vine grows, be sure to help it find its way up the trellis.

4. Plant your seeds an inch deep and about an inch or two apart. After the seedlings are three inches tall, thin to one every six inches.

5. Keep the soil moist.

6. Pick the flowers often for indoor bouquets, and the vine will produce more blooms!

Sweet peas add such an enchanting burst of color and aroma to your garden. Consider growing this captivating spring vine in your garden.

Happy blooming! xo

309 views4 comments
  • Sarah Fremont

“. . . arriving at Moonacre possessing nothing in the world but the clothes on my back and ten flower-pots with cuttings of geraniums in them, those glorious salmon-pink geraniums that are the pride of Cornwall.” The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge

I was ten years old and my grandmother had brought me a gift. “For you!” she said. And she handed me a potted pink geranium. My first foray into my own personal gardening. I placed the geranium in my bedroom window and cared for it all by myself. A little watering and occasionally removing any spent flowers and the plant survived and thrived for a very long time. It seemed to bloom continuously and always made me think of my sweet grandmother.

Now, years later, my own children and I read a lot of British literature written before the 1950s, and so many of the novels write about geraniums—geraniums in pots on the windowsills, geraniums on red and white checkered cloths on the table, or geraniums in the garden. Succumbing to the influence of British literature and the remembrance of my own grandmother, we decided to fill our windows with the potted plant as well. Such a lovely touch of cheerful color and so easy to care for. The only caveat is that the plant often does so well that it eventually needs repotting into a larger pot. We are limited by the space of our sil, so to save money and the overgrown plant, we've begun geranium propagation. Geraniums are one of the easiest plants to propagate and so far we’ve had a 100 percent success rate.

Plant propagation is the process of growing new plants either from seeds, cuttings, or other plant parts.

If you want to try your hand at propagating geraniums, you will need a mother plant, a sharp knife or shears, seed soil, and a pot. Then follow these steps:

  1. With your mother plant, select a healthy six-inch stem, and cut in a straight line above a leaf joint or node (the swollen part of the stem). The cut stem end will naturally heal over and not be harmed.

  2. On your new cutting, make another cut just below a node, so that the length from the leafy tip to the node at the base is between four and six inches. Tidy up your leaf cutting by rubbing off any stipules (flaky parts) and strip off all but the leaves on the tip. This is the part that you’ll be planting.

  3. Place cutting into damp, fresh seed starting soil and set in a warm, bright location. Do not let the cutting dry out. In a few weeks, the cutting will form roots and can be potted.

  4. Carefully remove your rooted cutting from its seed starting soil home (gently shaking any excess seed soil) and place in a small pot with potting soil. Keep moist at all times.

A newly propagated geranium makes a cheerful and easy handmade present. Add a lovely tag and label to your pot and it is ready to be gifted. As long as geraniums have light, warmth, and water they will grow and flower year-round.

Happy propagating!

368 views5 comments