Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Gardner And His Tools

Whilst attending a vendor's fair I had the good fortune of meeting Bob Denman, tool man extraordinaire. Bob and his wife Rita Denman own and operate Red Pig Garden Tools. Bob is a master Blacksmith and what he doesn't know about tools would not be worth mentioning.

Bob and Rita purchased the wood from old barns that had to be demolished and are building this new Barn which will house the blacksmith shop
Years ago he retired from a tool manufacturing company in Southern California, moved here to Oregon settling on a little farm in Boring Oregon (yes it is a city). He spent years being told how tools needed to be manufactured for the home gardener even though he felt that these tools were of poor standard. So after settling in Boring he opened up Red Pig and offered tools designed to last as heirloom tools.

The first barn they built from recycled barns became the store which also has a second story loft that is used for the classes that Bob and Rita conduct on all aspects of gardening and land management.
 All of the tools that have the Red Pig label on them are of original design and are manufactured right there on the Denman property.

My goal is have at least one of every original design

Some shots of the tools I have purchased over the last few years.
The large scoop on the left was wisely purchased when my greenhouse was built and it made quick work of the endless loads of pea gravel that made the greenhouse floor. The center is a sodding spade that he recreated for me using an ancient and much loved one that has a nasty crack in the metal.
This is the wrack from the upper photo. We have a giant Sequoia that drops debris which is extremely difficult to remove from the lawn, but with this purchase the work is easy and as you can see each of the tines are replaceable.
The spade, also one of my very favorites was re-worked by Bob and he fitted a proper handle at the correct length for my height. As he explained when one pushes the blade into the soil the tip of the handle just reach your breast bone.
The three pronged tiller second from the left was one I purchased elsewhere and Bob put a longer handle making it a tool that I use every day without back pain. The large two pronged tiller is an original design that I purchased recently and use it to pull yard debris out of my eight foot trailer at the recycling center. The thatching rake on the right was a very sad looking tool that my DIL purchased at a yard sale, I gave it to Bob who not only put a proper handle on it but sharped and straightened the teeth and put on a nice coat of paint. 
I purchased the claw for MeMa who says weeding among the perennials is so much easier. The center tiller I use in the greenhouse to break up peat when making potting soil. The bottom tool is absolutely imperative when trying to remove those pesky weeds and clumps of what ever that grows along the street curb.
As always I had a wonderful visit and made to feel one of the family. Bob is a fountain of information which he gives freely while I sit on a stool in his temporary "Smithy" shop watching him work his magic on a customised tool to add to my collection. A proper tool for every job!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

An Updated Update

I have had so many e-mails asking why I have not done a post in so long, as well as colleagues stopping me in the hall asking the same question.  I didn't realise I had followers out there that are unregistered or silent but follow the goings-on of Menagerie Manor.  So here is a short update........
You may remember that MeMa fell while playing soccer with "Little Terrorist #2", Brooklyn and broke her wrist.  Last Thursday she had surgery to put in a plate with six screws as the wrist was not healing properly. She could not keep down the pain medication so had to go that road without.  I can't imagine how she did it as I would have been a bawling baby.  She returns in two weeks to get a permanent cast put on which should make mobility a little easier.  She is a very stubborn lady and tries to do everything for herself but has finally resigned herself (sort of) to the fact that she does need help even with the simplest things.  We have been blest with  a good friend living with us several days a week who helps out at home as well as driving MeMa to work and errands.  Today they are going to the Care center to visit MeMa's father and hopefully play a game of Cribbage with him.  It is times like these that remind one how precious ones partnership is, and I am truly thankful for mine.  We go through our daily routines accomplishing life's tasks together and most of the time don't realise the impact if that balance is upset by events which are out of our control.  So I would like to take a moment and thank my partner in life, also one of my aforementioned silent followers and tell her just how much I love her.  I have always appreciated the power she goes through life with, the devotion to home and family and the love she sheds on all of us.  So my love, just face the fact that this (although unscheduled) is a time to sit back and be pampered a little.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Parade Hopefull


For the last two years neighbor and well known Portland artist, Ann Stores has organised a "Halloween Day Giant Pumpkin Parade". All are told to enter a pumpkin of their own and last year we had a few entries but Ann's was the only Giant pumpkin entered. She saved the seeds and packaged them for distribution among the neighborhood in hopes that others would grow a giant of their own for this years parade. A giant takes up a fare amount of garden to grow its best so I first started mine in the greenhouse but since the gardens at Menagerie Manor are all planted I asked  my mother and father if I could plant my Giant in their garden plot. So a spot by the garden shed was given over to raising a giant.

Not looking like much at this point but soon it will start to flourish and give forth a giant.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Quick Report

Thought I had better do a little something on my blog before I forget how.  It is not that I have nothing to report about family and gardening, its just that all my time is devoted of late to just keeping things maintained so that I can devote most of my time to helping MeMa in her recuperation.  We went to the hospital yesterday and they removed the large cast but there was not a significant change so they put another large cast back on (bright pink) which is most uncomfortable because they had to tweak the position in order to get a proper mend on the bone.  MeMa is a normally overactive lady with much to do at all times so being forced to let others do for her is probably the most painful of all.  So here are some shots of an early morning stroll before the house comes alive.
I was up early, coffee in hand and fortunately camera as well. I just love this little rose, it is a rambler "Apple Blossom" from 1932

At the footbridge my favorite Acanthus mollis or Bears Britches is lush and green overhanging the path and back wall of the Koi pond

And at the other end of the pond sitting gloriously to the left of the Budgie aviary is the giant leafed Gunnera which we thought we lost this last winter.

My clump of light blue Delphiniums are just coming into their own along side the unusual looking yellow Phlomis russeliana, one of MeMas favorite for dried flower arranging. 

Peace and tranquility of my early morning stroll was interrupted when MeMas "Ladies" heard me clicking my camera and started calling to me for a treat of cracked corn, so in order not to wake the rest of the neighborhood I quickly ran and grabbed the tin......
Noisy lot!
They even managed to startle the family of song sparrows nesting in among the large Clematis jackamanii growing on the chicken yard fabric
A quick water in the greenhouse and back inside to fix a nice breakfast for the recuperating MeMa.  I hope all is well with everyone, sorry I have not been able to follow as much these days.