Staffing Complete

You know how when you come to the end of a movie, book or television show and they leave you hanging? That usually means there is a sequel coming up. The post yesterday, ‘A New Staff’, ( no link, it is the post before this one) only introduced the new oak seedling that has been chosen to hold the magic crystal and the more important task of keeping me upright as I peruse the garden paths. It is now completed, and rests on the bench by the pond, as reflected in the magic mirror. Lots of magic going on here.This morning I went out with hammer in hand to pound the roots of the replacement walking stick and was pleasantly surprised to find the roots were quite pliable. The living tree had been dug only the day before so rigor mortis had not settled in. There was some hammering on the larger roots, but the encasement of the smokey quartz stone went quickly and with little effort. Little Whimsy Bongo Congo looks on with approval at the transferred gem from pine to oak. Click here to read about the day of her birth last July.With the stone secured we decided to remove the bark only from the area where my hand will grasp the sturdy pole. The difference in heft between the dead pine seedling stick and the living oak seedling is startling. It is heavy! It is assumed that the drying process will lighten it some. We went up to the shed to locate the tool shown above. There is a remarkable story about why we acquired that tool and the coincidence that follows. When we moved from California to Tennessee in the late eighties, we fell in love with the folk art and primitive antiques of this area. We started collecting bits of metal, old tools, baskets, we even took classes to learn how to make baskets instead of just buy them at craft fairs from the weavers. This tool was one of those purchases to hang on the wall for decor in our rustic home in the woods. Over the years we became a little more minimalist in our tastes and put away those things that cluttered up the house. You should have seen it at the peak though, there were branches with moss and birdsnests hanging in the living room from the ceiling. A dusting nightmare! Time marches on and we moved to Texas in the late nineties. That tool somehow made the move too, and was in the garage, where tools belong. The place we moved to was called The Woodlands, north of Houston. There were trees everywhere. In fact they build the houses around the trees, a good thing, but take none of them out. They were much too dense for any of the pines, the predominant tree, to grow properly. We did a major thinning and were left with a stack of nice straight poles. Of course we jumped right in and began building arbors, benches and gates with the wood. We learned as usual by trial and error. Offspring Gardoctor, still in high school had learned about building with logs at a camp and helped us get started. He said we needed to take the bark off for the wood to last longer without rotting. You may see where this is going. He described a tool called a draw blade. I went into the garage and produced the tool shown in the photo above. I had no idea what it was called or used for when I purchased it, many years before, but it was just what we needed to build those projects. We sharpened it up with a file, also shown above, and it stripped the bark off easily and cleanly. I am still astounded at the impulse to buy that blade, and how it figures in our story today. My left knee in black cotton leggings and right foot in pink sloggers are also shown in the shot.As I was working, the little rose Fairy Queen was looking very sweet on the steps next to me and asked politely to be in the post too.Back up to the knot garden we climbed, yes using the staff, with the handle grip ready for sanding. We used medium and fine sanding pads and then applied a coat of boiled linseed oil to the entire staff. We were a little sloppy and spilled some, alot on the bench and gravel. We wanted a nice thick coating to help preserve the wood and bark left on the oak.The wood was gray before the oil was rubbed on, but look at the transformation afterwards. What a lovely shade of green was revealed. We hope it remains that color.The finished staff, oiled for preservation, glistens in the sun with a little gratuitous muhly grass behind.

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16 Responses to Staffing Complete

  1. Lola says:

    Job well done. Staff ready for use. Glad it wasn’t a big old Great pics as usual. I always like the bench area. A perfect place to sit & contemplate.

    Hi Lola, thanks. It is ready to use and is in the umbrella stand by the back door in the mudroom. Sorry that photo of the bench area wasn’t any better, I should have taken more, it really is nicer than that. Now is a good time to sit there, for it looks out over the top of the house to the large trees in the distance that are starting to turn pretty colors for fall.

  2. Gail says:

    Frances, Good morning! You are a multi-talented woman! Your new staff is fantastic and the green is a perfect garden color. Is it possible that Pink Muhly is the new Practically Perfect Pink for fall? I am heading out to find it or mail order it! Have a lovely day my dear friend, Gail

    Good morning to you Gail. Thanks so much, but as you know multi talented is code for hard worker. LOL That muhly is pretty darn perfect and good luck to you to find it, remember it needs sun, or does better in sun with the flowering anyway.

  3. Marnie says:

    I thought this was very interesting. I’m always bringing home twisted roots and small hollow logs. Like you mentioned, they decay very quickly. I’ll try your linseed coating to see if that delays it any.

    Hi Marnie, thanks. I bet your garden is pretty cool with all those found items. They add such character and age even to a new garden. I haven’t used the linseed oil before, but saw it in the shed so thought it sounded good for this project. I was going to poly it. I bought that oil to use on the handles of my good shovels, several years ago in fact, and never had used it until yesterday LOL.

  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    What a fun project. Gandulf would be proud of you. I just love your mirror in the garden Frances,another of your successful projects.

    Hi Lisa, thanks. I have been trying to find a way to insert that mirror in a post LOL

  5. tina says:

    You did all this this morning? Wow you are super woman! I am still trying to get myself started on this cold day in middle Tennessee. That staff is a wonder and I tell you I really enjoyed the story of the draw blade. It is amazing how things somewhere in our past have a way of touching us in our future. We remember these little things for sure. Birds nests hanging from the ceiling?? lol

    Hi Tina, no, I just didn’t change the wording from when I wrote it yesterday. Since I published it at 6AM it would have been hard to get that done the same day, LOL. It was 45 degrees here when I went out, pretty cool, but heats up to a perfect 75-80 quickly. Glad you liked the story of the draw blade, I wasn’t sure if it would come across clearly, not my best telling. And yes, birds nests, dried flowers, grape vines and spanish moss, all hanging down. The Financier is an angel, never complaining even when stuff would fall on him as he was watching TV! The kids loved it though, and their friends had never seen anything like it. That was a great house.

  6. Racquel says:

    Your new staff has amazing color & character to it Frances. I love your Knot Garden. What a nice place to sit & have a cup of coffee in the morning.

    Hi Racquel, thanks so much, I am happy with it. The knot garden is struggling with the drought, the hose barely reaches up there and it is such a hassle to drag it up that there is no extra watering done there. The plantings in the quadrants has gone to all thymes with heathers and santolina at the corners. It is too dry for anything else. I love to go up there in the fall because I can see the leaves turning over the top of the house in the distance, very nice.

  7. nancybond says:

    All hail the new staff! 😉 It looks lovely, and that crystal makes it so much more magical.

    Hi Nancy, thanks, LOL It is a mighty stick with great power. ;->

  8. Cindy says:

    Your new staff will be working hard for you now with the help of that magic stone for sure. I love the green color and hope it stays as well!

    Hi Cindy, thanks. That green was a wonderful surprise, it was like magic the way it went from gray to green with the oil. ;->

  9. Philip says:

    What an interesting story about the draw blade. How teriffic it has a useful new life. Was it meant for two people to use, or can one person manage it?
    It certainly brings to mind the pioneer life.
    I love the knot garden with the rosemary hedge.
    The staff is quite magical!
    Best regards,

    Hi Philip, thanks. The draw blade is about twelve inches handle to handle and is meant to be used by one person. The hardest part is holding the tree steady so you can draw it towards you with the blade at the best angle to strip the bark. It works like a charm.;-> I think it is very old, by the looks of the wooden handles, that is what attracted me to it. The hedge in the knot garden is Korean boxwood ‘wintergreen’. We can grow rosemary here and it would make a lovely hedge, but so much larger than the dwarf boxwood.

  10. tina says:

    I know you miss your old house. It is always hard to move. Falling on the Financier?? ha!

    Hi Tina, thanks for understanding that. It was the only move that I didn’t want to make. One acre of wooded land, lovely home, lots of friends. Sigh. I can’t believe I left that stuff up for as long as I did, it was so messy, but I loved the feel of being outside while in the living room. One whole wall was a greenhouse addition with a curved glass roof. Quilts were hung on drapery poles to keep us warm at night during the winter, but the view out the back was heavenly.

  11. Chloe.M says:


    What a lovely and unusual blog you have! I found you via Chuck B at My Back 40 Feet – and have enjoyed reading your posts!


    Chloe Marguerite at Garden Grit

    Hi Chloe, thanks and welcome. I read about your blog at chuck’s also and have bookmarked it to visit at length when time allows. I look forward to learning about your lovely garden.

  12. Siria says:

    Hi Frances! Oh what a gorgeous walking stick you made!!! I have quite a few next to my front door so you can grab one as you go out, but none as beautiful and unique as yours. I will have to try making one someday. You lived in the Woodlands in Texas…my youngest is a competitive springboard diver and so I am familiar with their beautiful diving facility, which I understand is no longer open and has been filled in. The Olympic gold medalist, Laura Wilkinson trained at that facility…she came and competed at our pool this past May. What a lovely person she is!

    Hi Siria, thanks. Having a collection for others to use is a great idea, thanks, I had better get working on more. I do think I remember the diving facility in The Woodlands, but my kids were all soccer players, so I am more familiar with fields of grass with goals at each end. ;=>

  13. deb says:

    Wow that is some cool staff. Now I want to strip wood with a tool like that. We stayed very near you during the master gardener conference in Conroe. The gardens we visited in your area were gorgeous. I have a little zone envy.

    Hi Deb, thanks. I suppose you know that we now live in Tennessee. ;-> Conroe was quite near us and there were great gardens there. We were only there three years so my own garden was still young, although we were loaded with pine trees and yaupon hollies. Roses were exceptional in that climate. We are zone 7 now, with four distinct seasons, and can grow tulips and lilacs as well as rosemary and muhly grass.

  14. Randy says:

    Frances, what a wonderful staff! And, such a large, gorgeous crystal. I’ve long been a fan of crystals and their secrets. I don’t have one as nice as the one you used in your staff though. You have inspired me to make my own someday.

    Hi Randy thanks and welcome to the new site. You are so talented I’m sure you could make a very fine staff with lots of power. I am always on the lookout for crystals, sometimes they have them for cheap at flea markets around here, at rock shop type places. I have some great hanging crystal earrings, very good luck with those.

  15. Randy says:

    Could you contact me at the provided email address. If you can send me a mailing address I think I have something you might enjoy.;-)

    Hi Randy, that is a very cryptic message, I love it! My address is in the email!

  16. walk2write says:

    I enjoyed this post, Frances. It’s full of memories, magic, “moving” stories, and messes. You know, the dusting nightmares (things we’ve collected and have hanging around) lend themselves quite nicely to holiday decor this time of the year. I’ve found the spider webs add a certain flair to the whole affair. ;>}

    Hi W2W, thanks. We do believe in cooexisting with the spiders most of the time. I do try and spiff up the place when company is coming though. Fall is the big fiesta at my house with the whole fairegarden clan in attendance and we like to keep the flavor natural in the decor. ;->

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