“Nosy Parker”

by ESP on February 15, 2015

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I will start with a design challenge I have recently completed.

My client had lived with this floating ‘peanut’ bed for some time and was ready for a change…

…a deserted island in an ocean of grass.


This garden had some great bones and great oaks, the layout was just lacking purpose, rationale and flow.


A recently refurbished back deck was in a spacial war with the encroaching peanut, a peanut that was lined with small ‘mortared’ chunks of limestone and holy rocks…what is this obsession with concreting things into a landscape?


To make matters worse, the mortar that was holding these small rocks solidly above ground had to be about a foot deep. Oh yes, I said a foot deep.


They were like little limestone icebergs, small above ground but with enough concrete below to half fill a dumpster and keep my crew busy for half a day. They were the first thing on my sledgehammers ‘things to hit’ list.

The second thing I wanted to address was the integration of the decking steps into the landscape to visually and functionally give them purpose and anchor them into the new scheme.


A visualization was generated to capture and communicate the design intent:


Over-sized Oklahoma flagstone was introduced to bridge the stairwells, creating an expanded central planting bed in the void between them.


Here is the new layout before any planting:


And looking the other way,







Fence-softening loquats and bamboo muhly grasses ease the transition between turf and flagstone. The new layout creates a flowing and naturalistic aesthetic.


An intense stare from this piece of flagstone.

Back in the Patch…

…somebody had been sticking his nose where he shouldn’t,


through a corrugated metal fence of all things to fight with a pit bull.

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The end result:


Fence / Napoleon complex: 7 stitches, Pit Bull: 0


The cookies have almost gone for another year.

I knew those pallets would come in useful.


Gopher plants are in full swing,

Euphorbia rigida



they look great around broad paddles and are particularly effective when weaving through edging boulders.


Fatsia Japonica have finished flowering and are now


producing thousands of green berries.


These will mature to shiny black as winter draws to an end, a great late winter feast for the birds.


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Now this is what I call an infestation!

I have this scale (Diaspis echinocacti) on two opuntia paddles.


I had no idea how these tiny oysters functioned.


Treatment was easy…snap off infected paddle and discard.


Stay Tuned For:

“Branching Out”



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



“The Appendage”

by ESP on January 23, 2015



I noticed it from afar, “wait, is that a ?”

“Why is it protruding out the side like that?”

“Thats not normal.”

I subconsciously tried to shield my kids from this sago’s rather confrontational appendage, bundling them quickly through the front door of Dave & Busters.



The reflecting window made the scene even more obscene. Upon leaving the establishment I made sure to comically obscure part of the strobilus with a white napkin.

Forrest-gump-originalThat’s all I have to say about that.


Cold temperatures and even colder rain have taken care of the usual frost-prone victims,


I knew purple heart was about to go. I used to cut all the mush back but found the faster way is to just snap it and pull from the base, slopping the frost-bitten blood and guts into Home Depot buckets for composting.

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A messy job, but much faster.


Canna lily wasn’t far behind, along with



some now ominous Hoja Santa Ring-wraiths.

In the darkness there was some light,


a solitary cone flower refuses to give in to winter,


and if there was sunlight, rest assured he was basking in it.


Fatsia Japonica catching some sun.


One of the best firework displays I have ever seen them produce.



Ghost plant,

Graptopetalum paraguayense


taking shelter from the cold winds under a ‘Hardy Red’ Oleander. Although they look and feel delicate, these ghosts can handle very cold weather, drought and a significant amount of shade apparently.


Stay Tuned For:

“Nosy Parker”


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


“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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