“King Richard III”

by ESP on September 10, 2015


One more quick Scottish fling…err?

Beavis and Butt-head

Thankfully this one does not involve roaches or any other unmentionables…well, apart from a few King Richards.


Devil's Beef Tub“It looks as if four hills were laying their heads together, to shut out daylight from the dark hollow space between them. A damned deep, black, blackguard-looking abyss of a hole it is.” Sir Walter Scott

This deep glacial hollow is called the Devil’s Beef Tub it is located five miles north of the small tourist town of Moffat in the Scottish borders. It is surrounded by four hills; Great Hill, Peat Knowe, Annanhead Hill and Ericstane Hill (which used to be a Roman signal station), the valleys form the headwaters of the River Annan.

The Beef Tub is also known as MacCleran’s Loup after a tumbling highlander. Fleeing the aftermath of the failure of the Jacobite rising of 1745 the soldier decided his only course of action to escape certain death amid a hail of enemy gunfire was to curl up and roll down the hill, that’s right, roll down the hill’

It worked and he escaped but I bet he was a wee bit sore the following morning.


“Oh yesh, and at a fair rate he mushed have been going ashwell with that incline.”

Did you know EshPatch that dotted acrosh these hills are shmall relic stands of rare mountain plants..and the occasional pocket of ash and hazel woodland – a reminder of landscapes pasht.”

I did not but thank you Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez!


“Your very welcome EshPatch”


You can get a sense of the scale of these hills from the sheep in the distance.

If you are visiting the area, mind you don’t step on a King Richard the 3rd, the sheep roam everywhere up here.



DSC00127The landmark’s unusual name is derived from its use as the hiding place for cattle stolen by the notorious Border Reivers, otherwise known as the Johnstone clan, who were commonly referred to by their enemies as ‘devils’.


“Calm down William I have not forgotten”…

William Wallace is reputed to have used the concealed hollows of the Devil’s Beef Tub for covert gatherings with men from the Border Clans and the Ettrick Forest ahead of his first attack against the English in 1297…and this concludes my final timeline-disjointed history installment from the Scottish borders. Programming will be back to normal next week with a re-run of the popular “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”

dietrich01Illustration: Christian Wilhelm Ernst Dietrich (1712-74) Sea Storm and Shipwreck

Back up to date in the Patch:


Ah yes it is that time of year again, lets see if these wolf pumpkins will hold their integrity until Halloween – I really do not want an oozing repeat of last years stinky porch disaster.


Talking of things stinky…


Starfish Flower, Carrion Flower

…This Stapelia gigantea stinks!

Also known as “Starfish Flower” and “Carrion Flower” the plant looks like a cactus, smells like an abattoir, but actually belongs to the milkweed family.

blowfly Female blowflies, attracted by the stench, deposit their eggs in the corona of the flower and subsequently pick up some pollen to fertilize other stapelia plants…

Black Adder

…at least that is the cunning plan.


I hatched a cunning plan of my own this week:


This pond-side planting bed has been bothering me for quite some time.


As the Mediterranean palm on the right gets larger (it will eventually get very large):


the pathway was getting too narrow.

The scene needed more breathing space.


So much more space!


All It needs now is a fresh top-coat of granite.


I will leave you with a few before and after shots of a back garden I recently designed and installed.


The space lacked definition and structure and the client was open and excited to remove the existing turf that was (contrary to the next shot) struggling due to a lack of sunlight,


and very poor drainage:

unnamed (1)

Here is the design intent superimposed on the same house image:


The idea was to offer multiple branching flagstone pathways to visually break up the rectangular space, at the same time addressing the drainage issues by raising the grade a couple of inches.


The flagstone pathways would expand out into a patio area and lead the eye down to a destination, in this case a stock-tank pond.












In-progress flagstone layout, bed definition and a shiny new stock tank -(label strategically orientated to the rear)- well lets face it, there is no point trying to remove it!

Here is the finished design with fledgling planting scheme:


A new designated patio area:


and no more walking out of the back door directly onto mud or dirt:


The new pond now has fish in it,


and its first water lily.


Stay Tuned For:

“Sleeping on a Dry-Creek-bed


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



Guppies embarking on a perilous car journey to her Grandparents…



Direct 9 hour flight to London Heathrow,

excitement mounting…




In no time at all we were cruising high over the Atlantic. 


I adopted my usual in-flight facial expression; a combination of bewilderment and pain accompanied by brief interludes of hysteria (dependent on wine consumption).

Touch down in London.

IMG_0070 2

Having fun yet kids?


London, in August, doing tourist things!


My daughter has been YouTube researching the locations of the best London Kawaii shops.



She found exactly what she was looking for in a China town market…squishies!

IMG_0073Before you could say “Seven pounds for a painted piece of foam?!”

Annanwe were on a train speeding North to Brydekirk, a tiny village on the River Annan in SW Scotland.


There are great walks available on both banks of the river.


The pink plant in the foreground was brought to Britain for garden collections in the 19th century, it is the invasive annual, Himalayan Balsam

Impatiens glandulifera


Impatiens glandulifera

and it was everywhere. The plant produces large amounts of pollen which attracts bees. Unfortunately the bees love the balsam so much they don’t bother pollinating the native plants, reducing their seed production. An effort is currently being made to remove this plant (along with Japanese Knotwood) from the river banks of the Annan.


The 5 mile walk from Brydekirk to Hoddom Castle led us by huge silver willows,


towering pines,


and moss covered trunks.


We passed tall stands of Elecampane

Inula Helenium


Inula Helenium

The name ‘helenium’ derives from Helen of Troy…elecampane is said to have sprung up from where her tears fell.

The plant was also sacred to the ancient Celts and once had the name “elfwort”.


No trip to Scotland would be complete without mentioning a thistle or three, this Creeping Thistle

Cirsium arvense


was busy dispersing seeds from small shaving brushes:

Cirsium arvense

The seed number per plant ranges from 1,600 to 50,000!


Legend has it that a species of thistle saved the lives of sleeping Scottish Clansmen as a Norse army invaded.


In order to move more stealthily under the cover of darkness the Norsemen took off their shoes, but as they crept barefoot…well, you guessed it.


A soldiers cry alerted the Clansmen who went on to defeat the Norsemen at the Battle of Largs

(2 October 1263),

thus saving Scotland from invasion. 


The critical role that the thistle had played was recognized and the weed was subsequently adopted as Scotland’s national emblem.


After our walk it was time for a







I fell into a restless jet-lagged sleep plagued by dreams of strange mythical talking creatures…


Meeh, meeh?

Maa, maa?

Meh-eh-eh! Meh-eh-eh?

What sound do they make?

Moving along…


DSC00163 2

I said moving along…


We made a lot of new friends on this trip,


From Sally the dog to


the sweet wares of the local bakery:


The icing on the cake, (ahem), was once again being reconnected with family.

Thanks for making the journey.

LangholmMy parent’s gardens were packed with plants and color,



Here is another interesting thistle (I said there would be three):

'Veitch's Blue'

Echinops ritro ‘Veitch’s Blue’

globe thistle.

Echinops ritro

You can see why it attracts a host of pollinators.

A Perennial that adds a tropical flair to northern gardens is the aptly named Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’


Just standing next to this makes you feel warmer.


“Did you know that Crocosmia is so named because the dried leaves smell of saffron when rubbed ESP?

It is derived from the Greek words, Krokos for saffron and osme for Hell, my mistake, smell.”

Thanks Satan.

Native to the grasslands of southern and eastern Africa the leaves are a give away that it is in the iris family.



A slightly disturbing picture I know, but one that leads me to the non-botanical final thistle of this gargantuan post…




The band traveled to Scotland and competed at



Perth and the


World-Pipe-Band-Championships-2015on a packed Glasgow Green.


Last minute tuning before the competition.

Here is a link to Silver Thistle’s Facebook page:


and our official website:


We practice twice a week at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School and once a month publicly at Opal Divines Davenport and we are always looking for new pipers and drummers.

Opal Divines Davenport

Hope to see you there.

Here is a video of the new World Champions and their performance:

Back in toasty Austin it was time to retrieve the guppies and head home.


Stay Tuned For:

“King Richard III”


All material © 2015 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.


“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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