“The Perfect Specimen“

by ESP on June 26, 2017

Our second Bollywood installment is from from Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-leela.

It is getting hot out there!

nitrogen ice cream

When temperatures approach the triple digits it is time for some liquid nitrogen ice cream.

Followed by the obligatory sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia.

Dwayne Godwin, Ph.D., explains how it works:

“One thing the brain doesn’t like is for things to change, and brain freeze is a mechanism to prevent you from doing that,” The brain can’t actually feel pain despite its billions of neurons, but the pain associated with brain freeze is sensed by receptors in the outer covering of the brain called the meninges, where the two arteries meet. When the cold hits, it causes a dilation and contraction of these arteries and that’s the sensation that the brain is interpreting as pain.”

I digress.

No matter how high our temperatures rise, or for how long, I never have to water these three.

Desert Willow, Opuntia and Pride of Barbados.

This stock tank used to hold water and giant King-Tut papyrus but, like my fish tank it recently developed a hole somewhere underground.

End of a work day in summer.

The Tut, now lacking water from the Nile subsequently popped his clogs er-sandals, and the canna, no longer contending with his tyrannical roots, prospered and thrived.

They occasionally parade these red flags as a symbol of their victory.

Big changes are abound for this part of the Patch:

This whole back corner of the house and deck is about to be torn down and rebuilt (with us all living in it). We are enclosing the back deck and juggling the space inside to gain another bedroom and bathroom.

“No WiFi?…Having fun yet kids?”

I will be sure to track our slow family descent into insanity in future posts.

In the meantime here is a skinny side yard I recently finished for a client.

Rectangular in shape, the area had a significant slope and was a nightmare logistically in terms of getting materials in.

Looking up to the top of the slope.

Here is the area prepped and ready for action:

Hey I did leave one plant on the main dance floor!

Before & after.

A future seating area. I grouped a couple of weathered ceramics into the corner to reflect the top wall.

The aggregate also picks up on the coloration of the distressed bricks and urns.

Looking down the slope at the bones of a future side garden.

Lots of rocks and gravel to slow water down the slope.

A couple of loquats to fill in the two bottom corners. They will like the additional moisture.

Top shelf thryallis, trunking yucca, mist flowers and Mexican honeysuckles are dotted around to fill in the scene with foliage over time.

Staying with Yucca rostrata a moment, this one recently caught my eye:

Almost the ‘perfect specimen’ if you like the long haired look – which I surprisingly do.

I say surprisingly as I prune up sotols, softleaf yuccas, sago palms, basically everything, as fast as you can say “Is that frond over there touching the fiskaring ground?”

image copied from: http://www.achat-vente-palmiers.com


Trimmed up they almost have a somewhat surprised quality and look to them, something that for some reason bothers me…sort of.

Does it?

What do you prefer?

Au naturel or trimmed ?









I will find out soon enough as I have 6 of them now planted out front!

Call that 5 and 1/2…(there is a runt in the rostrata).

I will leave you with one of my sausage torturing sessions with Kumo.

I like to think of it as therapy.


Stay Tuned For:

“Horseshoes and Grenades

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


“The Magic Carpet”

by ESP on May 3, 2017

I encourage you to switch this video to full screen – it is visually stunning cinematography featuring Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh.

We are all big fans of Bollywood movies in the Patch.

In fact, keeping with the tradition and success of the Ancient Mariner series that I ran some years back (haha), I will share some of our favorite songs with you over the next series of posts.

That should take us well into 2020 based on the sporadicity of my recent postings and how many Bollywood songs we like!

Painting By Viktor Vasnetsov

Of course the magic carpet I am referring to in the title of this post is significantly less exotic and it certainly cannot fly of its own accord, (unless thrown in a wayward manner by a shovel).

It has nothing to do with King Solomon, teleportation or India. 

I am of course referring to rather large quantities (in my case 30 yards to be exact) of decomposed granite.

Delivered in rather large trucks.

To think I used to buy this aggregate in small bags from Home Depot.

Ah, those were the days.









“Watch out for the cables…watch out for the cables!”

“Back wheels coming off the ground!”

A few days later the DG carpet was laid,

and some colorful furniture had moved in.

My buying decision when it comes down to purchasing garden furniture is sadly based solely around excrement.

Due to the location of our family backyard hangout, under this large Post Oak,

there is an abundance of the nasty stuff – ah the price you pay for shade.

This generally negates purchasing anything too expensive with say a nice deep wood-grain or refined finish, because well, it will be literally be covered before you can say: “that’s a really nice garden chair, where did you purcha…oh dear, I am afraid that dove has just jettisoned an alien all over it.”

“Ash…we have a problem.”

No, for me it is about the greasiness of the releasing agents in the plastic of the furniture – the texture on the plastic – how easy will it be to blast and dislodge a particularly stubborn ‘King Richard the 3rd’ with a hose?

Another carpet was also laid in the front yard, this time in the form of Tejas Black gravel:

I got so tired of this manhole cover getting covered I finally did something about it.

“Aye, he’s gaan naiwhere!”

Tejas Black generates some great shadows and looks even better when wet.

Also with a few introduced berms it tends not to look so contemporary, a thick layer discourages weeds.

I like to plant plants that can be pruned up / trunking specimens, that way if weeds do blow in…and they will, they are very visible and can be easily and cleanly treated.

Moving along…

We had a surprise this morning before school.

Upon exiting the back door there was clawing and a few snorts coming from this mountain laurel.

A pair of young raccoons were trying desperately to get some sleep.

They stayed on top of the mountain laurel until the sun came over the top of the house, forcing them to move on

…just stay out of my attic, ok?

To finish…

I am always shocked after revisiting an install as to how much time must have elapsed for things to have grown to the size they are.

It just never seems that long for me.

Here is where this north Austin installation started:

I remember it as if it were a couple maybe three years ago – not 5…

…hoping these baby cypresses would make it, they seemed so distant from each other as saplings.

A new water feature. The fresh plantings were so small – you can barely see the vitex tree (in the lawn in front of the shed door).

Then with a little help from time and some solid pruning by the client on the vitex, the scene had transformed:

The space felt very peaceful, the cypresses were now rubbing shoulders with one another and most surprising to me – it did not feel like Austin.

Visually it looks and feels like it could be in a cooler climate, somewhere much further north…

of course it was a cool rainy day when I visited. 

I love the new suburban ‘cabin in the woods’ look to the garden shed.

Stay Tuned For:

“The Perfect Specimen


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

“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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