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Dragonfly wings,

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buried in the sand?

It could mean only one thing,

we were off on vacation,

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and we had survived the “6 Harry Potters” worth of car-time to get there.

The 12 hour journey was accompanied by the repeatedly repeated phrases from the parental units trying desperately to hold it together…“If you do that again you will loose the iPad for one Harry, do you understand?” and at every gas station: “Did you go to the restroom…did you go to the restroom?

And “stop that humming!”

followed by the final blow

…”you have lost the iPad for a Harry”.

Oh yes, if it wasn’t for the sporadic in-car reading (courtesy of my wife) of the poaching exploits of

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I think we all would have all permanently lost it.

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We had arrived at Gulf Shores, Alabama.

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They jumped out of the car and were on the beach before you could say sunscreen.

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I was not far behind them with my fishing rod.

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A couple of pompano on my second cast (really it was) caught the attention of this Great Blue Heron down the beach:

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I released the fish back into the water but only one made it back to the deep, the other was gracefully harpooned by a formidable beak.

The heron never left my side after this.

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It was like the evil penguin on Wallace & Gromit.

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Always looming.

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This Remora Shark Sucker fish did escape the beak.  These funny looking fish have a sucker pad on top of their head that is used to attach themselves to Shark, Snapper, Cobia etc…they are cleaner fish.

If I had known this at the time I may have attached a couple of these fish to the seat-belt-smudged tattoo that ended up EVERYWHERE.

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The tattoo apparently lasts a month!

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Her hidden agenda at the beach naturally involved lots of these:

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and precisely seven of these:

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Time to get some refreshment at our favorite hangout…

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Let me guess, something to do with Minecraft and American Girl Dolls?

DSC06731Every so often a buzzer would sound and this would happen which was good as it was noticeably fading the tattoo smudges.

resultFinal day blues.

Thank you D&J, we had the best time.

We decided to break up the return journey and splurge with an evening in New Orleans at the

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In the heart of the French Quarter.

Lets just say it made a dramatic change to the Best Westerns we were accustomed to.

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Jaws dropped entering the foyer, and off to the side was the amazing

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Carousel Bar & Lounge where patrons circumnavigate at one revolution every 15 minutes.

The biggest hit was the mandavilla lined rooftop pool

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followed by fresh dressing gowns and chocolates that were found on the bed.

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Next morning it was Beignets at Cafe Du Monde,

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and a walk through Jackson Square with its specimen multi-trunked Mediterranean Fan Palms.

Chamaerops humilis

 

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Hmm, I think I may not have given mine quite enough space – good job they are slow growing.

Are those…it can’t be…

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…Oleanders…the size of trees!

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This is not what we looked like after the drive back to Austin.

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Stay Tuned For:

“Smouldering Looks

 

Jungle Babies

All material © 2014 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.

norm-106_0

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Here is a front garden in South Austin I spent a few days beating into shape and these are the visuals I generated to communicate the design to the client.

The first one incorporates pavers for a more formal look:

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This one introduced flagstone for a preferred meandering, organic look.

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Both designs called for the existing linear sidewalk to be removed.

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And removed it was, expanding exponentially with every tooth rattling blow from the 18lb sledge hammers.

This concrete expansion phenomenon is explained in detail in…

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The concrete expanded so rapidly it had filled a dumpster up in the time it took to say “why did my design have to call for the removal of the sidewalk?”

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Saving Ryan

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I refer to this part of the installation process as the ‘Normandy’ phase and it can be a little unnerving for the home owner should they come home in the middle of it.

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Next came turf removal, grade reduction, flattening and sprinkler capping.

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Here is the area almost prepped.

The hedge in front of the porch was removed to open up the view from the front porch. Removal of the sidewalk made the space feel much larger.

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Final Implementation:

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Grey Tejas black aggregate, Mexican beach pebbles and Silvermist flagstone blend up to the grey lower story of the house.

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No more sprinklers or lawn cutting required here.

A solar powered art installation by Melissa Borrell

http://www.melissaborrell.com/

called Glowave is designated for the rectangular area to the left of the front porch.

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The existing spineless prickly pear cactus and agave were pruned up and a couple of large limestone boulders were brought in to pull down the white of the house.

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Three sculptural whales tongue agave are given plenty of space to spread their spiny wings.

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And spread they will.

The rest of the plantings combine rosemary, basket grass, compact sage, gopher plant and a few muhly grasses that will fill in and soften the scene over time.

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It is very rewarding to see a space transform like this one. The final result is almost enough to mentally fade away the ‘storming of the sidewalk’ and the battered nerves of the Normandy phase…

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…almost.

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Back in the Patch:

Talking of transformations,

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it seems like only yesterday that he was a small man trapped in a box,

and she was only a few feet shorter than the first cypresses that I planted in the Patch.

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Nothing gives you a better appreciation of the passage of time than children and Arizona ‘blue ice’ cypress trees.

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Plants and trees have matured over the years, the neighboring house has now receded behind a tall wall of foliage yet

battles rage on and on in the Patch…

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…like the stand of Bermuda grass that insists on growing in the safe haven around the base of my barrel cacti

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urgh,

and this huge vitex that constantly strains and leans to scrape the roof of my front porch.

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The dollop of silver in the middle is ‘Silver King’ artemisia,

Artemisia ludoviciana

 

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a rapid spreader.

I keep mine in check by surrounding it with five rosemary bouncers.

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It pairs well with Gregg’s mist flower.

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Finally:

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The cone flowers have apparently liked the deep soakings we have received this spring.

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Stay Tuned For:

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“A Change of Scenery

 

All material © 2014 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.

“Oh Frass!”

May 26, 2014 · 8 comments

Caterpillar

“Just a little bit further!”

"Why you little!"

“Why you little…”

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The tobacco hornworms

Maduca sexta

 

have been bulking up on my tomato plants this past week and have now reached alarming proportions.

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Illustration from John Curtis’s British Entomology Volume 5.

Talking of alarming proportions…

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Really?

All this ‘frass’ from one caterpillar?

Yes I said frass.

I think I will affectionately adopt this term into my child-friendly, on-route vernacular, as in; “That frass on the bike just made me miss the green light!”

“What dad?”

“Never mind…

…Frass!”

I apologize if you are eating and reading, you should know better.

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You can just make out the caterpillars tiny real eyes near the top set of legs, hands, manicured fingernails…whatever they are.

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Look at this one eyeing up the already half-eaten tomato with one of its fake eyes,

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of which there are many. They remind me of lazy-looking anole eyes and the detail and shading around them is remarkable.

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I had four hornworms and they consumed around five green tomatoes and quite a bit of foliage before leaving the plants to pupate, a loss yes, but it was worth it for the daily competition to find them and to observe these bizarre creatures in chomping action.

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 Of course there is one other caterpillar that takes ‘bizarre’ to a whole other level of ‘frassyness’…

bird-poopI believe you know of whom I write.

A caterpillar-serpent or worse?

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Giant Swallowtail 

Papilio cresphontes

 

The first one of the year, lounging around in the open on one of my satsuma trees.

Well lets face it, it hardly looks an appetizing proposition.

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Aw come on Bear.

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Moving Along:

My opuntia tree is really turning into a tree.

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The trunk of this cactus goes from pliable green extremities to wooded and petrified at the base and when it blooms the bees swarm it.

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I have started another opuntia tree in my back garden which incorporates cactus man Jr.

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More on this in about a decade.

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Jewels in the fennel.

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A sago congregation.

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The pained expression of an iris.

Finally:

Excitement rose to fever pitch this weekend when we checked on our geocache canister.

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Someone had left a trackable artifact in our container,

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and it was a beauty.

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Stay Tuned For:

“The Normandy Phase”

 

 

All material © 2014 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques

May 18, 2014

“Uncle Wiggily wants his Ovaltine”

Thumbnail image for “Uncle Wiggily wants his Ovaltine”

Munching and hoarding insects, wizard wands and buried treasure this week in the ESPatch.

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