Gossiping Wheelbarrows

by ESP on January 8, 2018 · 1 comment

Here is a project that kept me busy this summer and fall.

This was the scene that greeted me as I walked up to meet my latest clients at a large sweeping property near lake Travis.

Most of the plantings were as old as the house and were not doing anything to visually lift the property.

The random assortment of pruned boxwoods (You know how I feel about pruned boxwoods) felt cluttered and claustrophobic on approach to the front door.

Boxwood Island!

Everything was lined with small pieces of mortored limestone, the dark mortar made them look like dirty little niblet teeth, teeth that need flossing…no wait, extracting!…

With a sledgehammer!

The homeowners wanted a more modern look and were very open to suggestions and change…a great place to launch a design.

Here are the visuals that I used to communicate the design intent:

The design went through multiple iterations,

especially this front horseshoe area.

And then the real work begins…

First the turf (and it was very thick turf) in this front island bed.

The more we took out, the more it apparently expanded.

A disheartening fact in blistering 100 degree temperatures.

My client cooled everyone down with a steady supply of Paletas…thanks E! 

And there goes the final mound of boxwoods!

Up closer to the house…

I think we can safely say the ‘Normandy’ phase was well under way.

New irrigation and electrics going in by Steve Serum of ‘Keepin’ it GREEN’: keepinitgreen@gmail.com:

Turf was also removed left and right of the sidewalk to open up the entryway.

Four or five dumpsters later (I lost count) and the area felt so much better, the house could breathe once again.

The space felt much larger.

Area prepped for the steelwork framing, electricals going in for lighting.

This side area was also very cramped, it all had to go.

It was very satisfying to take out the niblets.

A three-piece basalt water-feature getting positioned in front of the living room window.

These rocks, from some distant alien asteroid, are extremily heavy and have to be supported on a reinforced central cylinder in the cage.

A water top-up valve was installed inside the cage to ensure the water level remains constant even in the middle of summer.

The final result:

Large arcing steel panels expand and better proportion the area.

The steelwork on this project was executed by Andrew Miller (aminc13@gmail.com)

The front horseshoe area also went through a significant transition:

From a sloping mound of thirsty turf to

being a focal point when looking from the house to the street.

A central pathway was introduced to break up the area.

Steps were incorporated to traverse up to the now flattened top grade.

Colors in the flagstone reference the rust of the steel and grey of the gravel.

Back in the Patch:


And I have barely made a dent.

‘Stay in the Christmas spirit…stay in the Christmas spirit’…


‘Fal-a-la-la-la—la la la la’

There is only one thing worse than getting leaves out of sagos – it is getting them out of soft leaf yucca.

Staying with such yuccary for a second,

I have followed the demise of this plant on I35 for years.

I find myself staring at it at the stoplight, wondering how this had happened…what had caused it to buckle over halfway into its existence?

A small low-flying aircraft perhaps, making an emergency landing on the highway?

No, more likely stem rot.

Look the vines are starting to take it over.

Could it be saved?

I have a chainsaw in the back,

Perhaps I should…



‘Par rum pum pum pum’

rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pummm’


Fall Aster and Celosia put on a good display this year.

My satsumas are still on the tree.

No reason to pick them really, they have a particularily disgusting flavor and mealy texture this year.

Great color for late December.

Looks are deceiving.

“Who wants to try a satsuma kids? They look really amazing this year!”

Oh yes, they WILL have one each in their stockings on Christmas morning.

With the year quickily drawing to a close,

the wheel barrows are out back relaxing by the shed, gossiping about varying tire pressures and how badly constructed they now are.

The pipes hung on the tree.

And just remember Kumo,

“He knows when youve been good or bad,

…stop eating crap for goodness sakes.”

“Merry Christmas!”


from us all in the Patch.


Stay Tuned For:

“The Cold Shoulder”


All material © 2017 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.


“Cosmic Cacti”

by ESP on August 26, 2017 · 1 comment

Our third Bollywood installment also comes from Ram-Leela:

So much has happened since I last posted…

Cosmic solar eclipses, a hurricane, a trip to Canada,

Kosmik Kactus?

Wait, What…No?

“Aye, it’s no right at a’ ESPatch!”

This has gotten out of hand.

I find this obsession with tinkering and making cacti more colorful somewhat disturbing?

Why are they not picking on the succulents in the background?

Oh wait…

As if sticking in fake flowers was not enough, Kosmik Kactus have resorted to just blasting their poor plants with rather bright coloring…just to jazz up the apparently REALLY boring and natural GREEN color of the plant.

“Boldly going where no plant has gone before…”?

Borg Queen:  Cacti! We used to be exactly like them. Flawed. Weak. Organic…green. But we evolved to include the synthetic…fake little flowers, spray paint. Now we use both to attain perfection to sell in the box stores. Your goal should be the same as ours.

Okay that was a stretch, moving quickly along to a recent trip to Canada…

Yes the Levwolds were once again taking to the air, 

this time headed to Montreal for to compete in the North American Pipe Band Championships in Maxville with

The Silver Thistle Pipes and Drums.

At cruising altitude the window frost resembled Celestial cartography.

Coming in to land.

Time to unpack, hang up the kilt and have a quick ‘dab’ in our hotel room.

Of course I called it a ‘dub’ and got laughed at then reprimanded for apparently doing it completely wrong.

We were hoping to escape to some cooler temperatures in Montreal but unfortunately for us they were in a heatwave, of course they were.

It was hot, really hot and like Europe, not many places had A/C, fans, well, anything really.

I almost lost my mind in a store in China Town.

Hmm, okay?

Sweat was running down my nose, the air was completely still, a sweltering combination of Peking duck and raw sewage hung heavy in the air.

I felt some involuntary head movements coming on, a sure sign my tourist tolerance valve was rattling and about to blow.

Everywhere I looked was shelf after shelf of tourist tat, umbrellas that, we were told, could never blow inside out (naturally we bought 3), chopsticks, fans, jade elephants, you get the idea…I mopped my brow, eye twitching.

I finally cracked at the excruciating duration of time it was taking to pick out some Squishies and a wooden Samurai Sword.

This was an interesting find (well, for me) on a busy street in Old Montreal.

I will forever wonder if the celosia had been growing in there or if someone had dumped it in there?

He found lots of opportunities to cool down on our excursions.

historic district of old MontrealOne of our journeys took us to the historic district of old Montreal, to the Notre-Dame Basilica.

The church was built in the gothic revival style,

and is insanely ornate and colorful on the inside.

We passed a lot of street art installations.

This one strangely reminded me of when I used to try to protect my citrus trees from frost.



These rotating seats were an instant hit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts:

And then there was the food.

Some traditional,

some extravagant,

and some rather challenging, well, for some people.

Escargot kids!…Dig in!

Let’s take a closer look at that middle one.

The sheer distress.

Moving along…

We headed out of a now rather blustery and wet Montreal for the hour and a half drive to Maxville to compete with another 50 or so bands in the Glengarry Highland Games.

Here is our MSR (March, Strathspey and Reel) performance.

The rain and wind really picked up at the end of the closing ceremonies making surprisingly short work of the umbrella that could not be blown inside out by quickly blowing it inside out.

Time for one last trip, this time to the Montreal botanical Garden.

Exiting the metro we had a great view of the Olympic Park. an impressive structure that would not look out of place in a Star Wars movie.

It was massive!

An elevator runs up the spine.

Entrance to the Gardens.

Impressive sedum,


lots and lots of coneflowers.

The grounds were extensive (about 190 acres of thematic gardens and greenhouses), you could spend days in here.

The grounds are also home to the Montreal Insectarium. 

So many specimens. 

But by far the strangest critter I encountered was this odd looking chap:

I mean,


All the walking found us a little peckish…

It had a very progressive menu, but after the escargot adventure nobody seemed too keen.

Stay Tuned For:

“Gossiping Wheelbarrows”


All material © 2017 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.


“The Perfect Specimen“

by ESP June 26, 2017
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King Tut unfortunately dies once again this week and I take on a challenging side garden.
There is a bit of brain eating and freezing, I contemplate remodel madness.

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“The Magic Carpet”

by ESP May 3, 2017
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A predictable smattering of magic carpets, King Richard the 3rds, deposited aliens and hot Racoons, oh…and a cabin in the woods.

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“The Funeral Pyre”

by ESP January 30, 2017
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I set fire to my vitex, all my fish die, I rip out my front and back yard. Simple as that.

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“Temporal Disturbances”

by ESP August 16, 2016
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A few trips, a few installs and a few videos here and there of this and that.

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“Seeds & Weeds”

by ESP April 11, 2016
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Large owls, freaky metamorphosis, some tips on how not to die while ingesting wild carrots and the usual splattering of old loquats, this week in the Patch.

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“Mountains & Meteors”

by ESP February 1, 2016
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Excursions, meteors, tumbleweeds, scat and contemporary art feature in this post.

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“Victorians Gone Wild”

by ESP November 2, 2015
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This week venture deep into the Amazon to look at giant water lilies. The Federation tries to make sense of some unusual Victorian activities…oh yes, it is all happening.

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“King Richard III”

by ESP September 10, 2015
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Start off in Scotland’s historic past, jump ungainly into Halloween before landing on some recently completed landscape designs.

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“National Leveridge’s European Vacation”

by ESP August 24, 2015
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This week we cross the Atlantic and head up to Scotland for some haggis hunting and a reprieve from the Texas heat.

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“Carry On Camping”

by ESP July 27, 2015
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Out and about…from a North Padre sand-storm to tranquil lily ponds, from knots to spiders, this post gets around.

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“Oh My Gourd, that Gourd is Gourdeous”

by ESP June 20, 2015
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Gourds, strobilus and some brightly colored mold feature in this weeks obscure edition.

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“Bridge Over the River Why?”

by ESP May 2, 2015
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This week I am out and about exorcising ligustrum trees with a chainsaw to cleanse an environment I have been working on.

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by ESP March 22, 2015
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Tulips, inebriated cactus and a bit of history feature in this weeks episode. Grab a Mocha mangave, your going to need it.

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“Nosy Parker”

by ESP February 15, 2015
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Stitched noses, Scale infestations and a new installation feature in this weeks episode.

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“The Appendage”

by ESP January 23, 2015
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An x-rated Sago-Palm, frost damage and the odd ghost grace this latest entry.

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“Whats in Your Stocking?”

by ESP January 2, 2015
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Christmas…New Year…drunk Largus bugs? Plus the usual splattering of fried eggs and purple mold.

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“Barf or Peach?”

by ESP December 9, 2014
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This week suffer leaf-drop, bad puns and equally bad Photoshop. I get up close to a particularly large Tachinid Fly.

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“Shelling Out”

by ESP November 16, 2014
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Cold weather, large fires and child-labor feature in this weeks random dialogue.

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“Under the Knife”

by ESP October 23, 2014
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This week I try my hand at some cosmetic surgery…as you do.
The infamous villain “Mr Snout-Nose” is up to his old shenanigans and I contemplate how ear-protection would look set against an iced turban?…Random events you could go the rest of your life without knowing about.

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“Beans, Boots & Mullein”

by ESP September 28, 2014
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This week it is about exhaling work boots, birds nest fungi and a bunch of other nonsense that you should now be accustomed to.

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“Wail of a Weekend”

by ESP September 13, 2014
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This week we hop north with the Silver Thistle Pipe Band to compete in the Capital District Scottish Games in Albany. See what rum does to an opuntia and witness some mites sucking the life out of rosemary.

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“Pain In The Neck”

by ESP August 17, 2014
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This week I get up-close to some damselfly parts.
A peek under one of my stock tanks causes me to break into yet another non-adjudicated Highland Fling.

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“Oh Drupes!”

by ESP July 29, 2014
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Snakes, drupes, you name it, I will be running at you with any dead critters I happen to come across in the Patch.

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“A Change of Scenery”

by ESP July 10, 2014
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This week we pack up the car and venture to Gulf Shores, Alabama and New Orleans. I make a heron friend and we check-in to a hotel that is not a Best Western!

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“The Normandy Phase”

by ESP June 20, 2014
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This week get to witness what the ‘Normandy phase’ of an installation looks like on a front garden in South Austin. I take a quick trip down memory lane and highlight a couple of plants that have waged war on me.

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“Oh Frass!”

by ESP May 26, 2014
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This week I discover a new word and use it way too much. Best put your food down to read this latest splattering from the Patch.

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“Uncle Wiggily wants his Ovaltine”

by ESP May 18, 2014
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Munching and hoarding insects, wizard wands and buried treasure this week in the ESPatch.

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