A New Staff

We live on a slope. When you stand at the back property line behind the main house, you can see over the top of the roof. The boundary behind the garage is fifty feet closer to that structure because the former owner sold that land to the person directly behind. I wish we owned that extra land, but really have as much as we can handle now. Anyway, the point being made here is that walking around the garden entails climbing or descending steep paths. Shown above is the view from under the garage deck looking at the original steps of the house that was torn down that lead up into that part of the yard, the yellow/white garden,  the shrub border and beyond. Yes, glad you noticed that the pee gee hydrangea is pinking up with the cooler temps.Rock steps lead from the first terrace behind the main house up to the veggie bed and beyond. This is a secondary path, steep and precarious, especially coming down. I have fallen here, really I have fallen everywhere, when coming down and carrying some plant or shovel or tub of weeds and the stones are wet and slippery. Mostly the falls are of the land on your hind quarters kind, just an annoyance. And yes, that is a solitary muhly grass stuck at the foot of a rose trellis for a little fall kick.Recently we had a dizzy spell, a pretty bad one actually, and not being able to stay inside on these gorgeous early fall days, we used a walking stick/staff that we had fashioned in a fit of Gandalf wannabe-ness a few years ago when the third LOTR movie was released to help steady our gait.  To fashion this a dead pine seedling, a victim of the Southern pine beetle attack of 2000,  was dug up and the roots were wrapped around a crystal for added pizzazz. Please note the narrowness of the bottom of the stick on the left. If I really started to fall, it would not even begin to hold my weight. Another tree has been selected to take its place, an oak seedling was dug, carefully trying to preserve some roots to wrap around the magic crystal. And yes, that is the hedge of Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Gold Mop’ that forms the front border of the veggie bed, looking very golden indeed lately.A close up of the smokey quartz stone shows that the roots are not the only weaving that holds the source of magic in place. Copper wire was needed so we don’t lose the gem of power in the garden somewhere.I love this shot of the C. ‘Gold Mop’ next to the end shrub of the hedge, C. obtusa ‘Crippsii’. The difference in form but similarity of color makes for a striking combination. The roots of the little oak will be soaked and pounded to soften the fibers enough to wrap it around the quartz. The bark will be peeled with our special rosewood handled pruning knife purchased from a formerly glorious garden tool emporium that has been sold a couple of times since its founding and now has its wares sold at discount houses. Oh, the fall from being special to appealing to the masses is a tumble into overpriced mediocrity. Someday I shall write about that topic, but not today. Today is a project in the making. After the bark is removed, the trunk will be sanded smooth, stained and sealed for future wielding. The tips of these staffs are very useful for lifting things with loops and scaring squirrels bearing walnuts looking for a choice piece of real estate in which to bury said nuts.It was mentioned that the golden hedge forms the front outline of the veggie bed. The arborvitae in the second photo forms the back border. It is a narrow space with a retaining wall making the ground more level and offering a place to sit while planting, weeding and harvesting. Look what is being harvested even now, at the end of the growing season. The golden raspberries of Anne are giving us healthful tidbits as we create our new garden helper. I was glad to have the staff of pine, and look forward to using the staff of oak to bring us much needed equilibrium.
About the title, did anyone think that maybe we had fired our many blog writers, computer experts and photographers and replace them with all new employees? Oh, I didn’t think so.


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25 Responses to A New Staff

  1. Me. I got it wrong. I thought you had employed a gardener (or a team of them) to help you out while you are giddy!

    It sounds like a long project. When will your staff be ready?

    By the way, I find your new type face and size of print much easier to read – which makes it even more enjoyable to read your blog.


    Hi Esther,thanks, yes, I figured you might, since you have some similar issues of staff needs. ;-> It is so hard to find good help, isn’t it? I hope to work on the softening of the roots today, we’ll see how that goes, then secure the crystal. After that the cleaning up of the trunk can take as long as I feel like working on it.

    I am so glad that you are liking the font. I have gone through many changes to get to this one, and like it also. How do you feel about the color? It needs to be fairly light but I would like to change it to match the header occasionally.

  2. TurboLotte says:

    You have a lovely garden. I have a garden in a steep slope myself. With the house in the middle. It has its challanges, but also creates a different view, depending where you go.

    Hi Charlotte, thanks. I think having the slope makes the land appear much larger, it does here. Imagine if your property was flat and how different it would look. It would be easier to get around in however. LOL

  3. Gail says:

    Frances, my dear friend, Good morning! I couldn’t imagine where you were going, but I knew it would be good! Faire Garden continues to look great and as always it’s a pleasure to have coffee and toast with you first thing each morning. I see we haven’t lost our blue skies and that we continue to need rain. I will bring my staff/tall walking stick when I visit, we can look like Wise Woman as we wander about the hillside. Gail

    Ah Gail, back from your travels, we missed you terribly. Right about the blue skies, no rain in the forecast either. Sigh. Do bring you staff, we can have a spell-off! HA

  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I can just see you and Gail roaming the paths through your garden. I hope you are feeling better Frances. Your garden is looking great as usual. I like the single muhley grass waving at us.

    Hi Lisa, thanks, I think. ;-> We will be quite a sight, LOL I am better, learning to function at a different level. Challenge is a good thing, I needed to slow down a little anyway. The single muhly gets a chance to spread a little and show more of the form instead of the big wad.

  5. Marnie says:

    I always enjoy your unique, fantasy items. I have some old, hollowed logs sitting here and there. The roots are even more eye catching.

    Hi Marnie, thanks. Cool about your logs, there is so much magic there.

  6. Brenda Kula says:

    You have a whole other universe within your gardens, it seems! How are you liking it at WordPress? I’m considering switching formats. Please email info if you don’t mind.

    Hi Brenda, thanks, one might even call it an alternative universe ;-> I am liking wordpress, but it is different than blogger, I will contact you.

  7. tina says:

    Nope, I knew what kind of staff. I need one too and found a great nice straight piece of a favored crepe myrtle. Mine won’t be as magical as yours with the crystal of power in the handle. That is cool! I do hope you are feeling better. Those raspberries sure look great.

    Hi Tina, no surprise that you knew. ;-> Crepe myrtle will make a beautiful walking stick. Maybe if you speak a few words and affix a stone, …… I am feeling better, thanks. The raspberries are so sweet. I am hoping the plants get larger to give us lots more in the coming years. Brokenbeat has one that has spread all over his berry patch, trying to take over. I would welcome that here.

  8. Shirl says:

    Hi there Frances! Oh I knew where you were going with this one – although I didn’t know why. I hope you feel better soon 😀

    Sorry, but I’ve got to tell you that this gentleman here http://www.rampantscotland.com/placenames/graphics/lauder1b.jpg was the first image that sprung to my mind when I read your title. Mm… looks like he had the same idea as you 😀

    Your garden is looking great at the moment – I love the character it has 😀

    Congrats too on your Blotanical awards. I would also like to take this opportunity to say thank you for all the posts of mine that you have submitted as picks. I really appreciate it 😀

    Hi Shirl, that is a great link, I love it. Anyone reading this, be sure and click to the the Scottish version of a walking stick! Thanks so much for the kind words, Shirl. Your blog is one of the very best around, you are way ahead of the rest of us. It is an honor to be the first to pick your posts, they never disappoint.

  9. nancybond says:

    I love your garden too, all of it. I like those old concrete steps very much, and your stone steps are lovely, too. Wonderful staff!

    Hi Nancy, thanks so much. Maybe some day you can come see it in person, it is much better in person. I would like that. The staff is coming along nicely, thanks.

  10. Cameron says:

    Your garden looks like another world — peaceful, tranquil and delightful. If we all had four legs like our canine or equine companions, those hills would be easier!

    Hi Cameron, thanks, it is the alternative universe HA. Now there’s a thought, scampering about on all fours, no wonder the squirrels and other critters can go so fast, no problem with two extra legs for balance and strength. I will have one extra leg with the new staff, though. LOL

  11. Tyra says:

    Thank you for the magical mystery tour. LOL Tyra

    Hi Tyra, thanks. We aim to please. ;->

  12. LindaLunda says:

    I think your garden neeeeeeds a dragon ore maby two :o)!
    It´s al magic in you garden and I LOVE IT!!!!

    Hi Linda, thanks. We do need a dragon, can you suggest one, or two? ;->

  13. Cindy says:

    Oh, I can’t wait to see the new staff adorned with that lovely quartz. I must learn from your slopes, we have many and I am trying to figure out how to plant them and turn them into something other than crown vetch weed patches.

    Hi Cindy, you won’t have to wait long, it is done and working well at holding me upright. The slope was terraced to make three level sections behind the main house when the addition was built there and the backhoe was here anyway to dig the foundation. The operator took it up the hill, started at the top and did a great job. You gotta start big ;-> The planting is the easy part once the paths are established. We built the large concrete steps ourselves, but should have staggered them more with zig zags so the climb is not so steep. Good luck taming yours!

  14. Rose says:

    If I’d only read your blog a time or two, I would have thought you employed a huge full-time staff to maintain your beautiful garden! But having read about your bout with vertigo, I did know what you were talking about:) Your new staff is very handsome; I hope it will have some magical powers along with it–perhaps turning garden trolls into stone?
    I never tire of seeing the many views of your garden, Frances; my dream is to see it some day in person!

    Hi Rose, I am an army of one! LOL Thanks for stopping by, I too hope someday for you to see that garden in person. It is so much better in real life than any photograph can portray, the movement and light and shadows, the birds singing, it does bring me lots of joy.

  15. Racquel says:

    I like your magical crystal staff Frances. You are so creative in your gardening endeavors, but you must be more careful. I fall all the time too, tripping over plants or dogs. That is another subject all together though, lol. Hope you are feeling better now.

    Hi Racquel, thanks, I do need to be more careful and will be from now on. Thank goodness there is no dog underfoot as I traipse around the garden, I have enough trouble with the cats in the house running between my legs for fun!

  16. Kim says:

    What a neat idea – to use the roots around the crystal – where did you come by such a lovely, large crystal? Does it have special significance to you? Do you think a round glass ball would serve as well? Or a “magical” rock? I’ve seen lovely staffs made with small trees around which a vine had twined itself. I’ve been looking for one of those, but with no luck. Maybe one of the “volunteers” in the swale would do if I use the roots. You’ve given me (another) idea . . . . . 🙂

    Hi Kim, thanks. I got that crystal at a gift shop, but rock shops and even flea markets sometimes have them too. Most of the native rock in my yard contains crystal, just little bits instead of nice bigger ones like that one. I think a round glass ball would be great, or a special rock, anything really, but not too delicate. I was looking at Gandalf’s staff in the movie and it looked like roots around a gem so I figured why not try that. Make sure the tree you choose is at least an inch in diameter at the top, for that will be the bottom of the staff. Good luck with your new project! ;->

  17. Siria says:

    Hello Frances! So good to see you have felt good enough to get out and enjoy your gorgeous garden and the fresh Fall weather. I love your walking stick ~ it is so unique and just beautiful! You will have to show us the finished project once it is done. Magical indeed! Your entire garden is magical….

    HI Siria, thanks for your well wishes. The days are glorious, even though we still need rain. You must have esp, for today’s post is the follow up about the staff. ;->

  18. Siria says:

    Oh…and I love your new header! :))

    Thanks, that is one of the better ones I think too, but they change with every post. I will use that one again, though.

  19. Jean says:

    I have a question about your pee gee hydrangea. (I’m new to being able to grow them.) Is that one a standard? Looks like it in the picture. I’d like a pee gee but their size is a bit intimidating. A standard might work for me though.
    Glad you’re starting to feel better!

    Hi Jean, thanks, I am better. I wrote a post about the hydrangea in the photo last summer, click on the title below to read about it.

    Pee Gee Hydrangea Standards

  20. Lola says:

    Hi Frances,
    Glad you are feeling better. But do be careful.
    OMG, I thought the pic of the magical stone & roots was a giant alien bug of some sort. Had to look twice even after your id of it.

    Hi Lola, thanks, I am very careful, a wrong turn of the head sends me reeling into dizziness. Ha, I will have to study that, it never occurred to me!

  21. Patsi says:

    Love the roots that are weaving through the quartz stone…really wild!!

    Hi Patsi, thanks, glad you liked it. I have Gandalf to thank for the idea, though. ;->

  22. Anna says:

    Your copper rigging does look like two bugs fighting it out. Looks like they died a good battle. Another excellent post on your part and your staff!

    I Anna, thanks. I am going to have to look closely at that photo, yours is the second comment about it looking like bugs. Maybe the header picture that was showing the day that story posted with the bug on the hydrangea, since changed, led your eyes to look for insects. LOL

  23. Benjamin says:

    I hope you are feeling better–and yes, get a stronger staff! I find the best way to retain them are through fringe benefits like Friday afternoons off and extended pregnancy leave. I love your ‘Gold Mop!’

    HA Benjamin, I like that. I hope that you too are feeling better. The gold mop was supposed to be five feet tall by five feet wide. The width is correct, but some of them are eight feet tall at least, and growing. It’s okay where they are planted, but that could be a problem if it was a foundation planting. They have done well and were planted seven years ago as one gallon sized tiny guys. Glad I spaced them properly for the five feet, they were so little in the early photos you can’t even see them.

  24. joey says:

    Any issues with gold mops on the hill, Frances? I so love mine that seem to be waning this summer; water deprived perhaps? Stay steady dear friend (I often stumble down mine). We need your expertise 😉

    Hi Joey, thanks for your concern, I will try and be careful, you should see how slow I am now as I do the tour of the garden. The gold mops are not planted on the steepest part of the hill, they are at the edge of the veggie bed where the soil is like chocolate cake. On the steepest part the evergreen shrub is heather and the salvia greggiis. Sometimes the dogwoods look droopy and it worries me about the long term health of them. There is dwarf boxwood up at the knot garden that has shown no signs of drought distress either, thank goodness. I think the yellow chamaes are better at drought than the blue ones, spider mites you know. I hit them hard with the hose periodically and that helps.

  25. sandraraven says:

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

    Thanks Sandra and welcome!

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