They are over here,

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they are over there,

I have never seen so many eight spotted foresters everywhere.

moth

Alypia octomaculata

 

These colorful moths are often mistaken for butterflies as they visit flowers during the day.

moth

They seem particularly fond of sand cherry flowers, I counted five on the small tree.

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There are plenty of flowers in the hell strip at the moment,

cactus

don’t get too close to that swash buckling opuntia!

johnny-depp

opuntia

“Shiver me paddles”

paddle

Has to be rum.

hell-strip

This pyracantha has so many blooms it looks like it is covered in snow.

bloom

I keep meaning to move that bat box to a higher location but there are always anoles living in it.

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“We really should go and visit Bill and Margaret in the bat box sometime dear.”

I took a picture through the round hole to see if I could capture the anoles “at home”…

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…it was amazing what they had done to the place.

blooms

The pyracantha’s pungent aroma is not everyone’s cup of tea.

Feather grasses are looking well groomed at the moment,

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with our recent breezy weather they have been reeling all around the patch.

“Take your panicles by the hand…”

groan

Behind the feather grasses…

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…inland sea oats on their fast rise.

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I needed this image on St Patrick’s day.

She is still on the hunt for a four leaf clover.

Lucky for her I have plenty of it in some of the most inaccessible places in the patch.

hunting

There is a fine stand of it below this mature sotol.

hunting

This works brilliantly for me, as in…

“You will find one in there I am sure of it, just keep pulling them out.

When you are done here there is another patch around the base of the barrel cacti you can search.”

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“right over….

clover

…there. I bet there are a few four-leafers in there.”

Stay Tuned for:

The Silent Observer

 

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

 

KateBush

The logistics, design and installation of this next back garden had me “Running up that Hill” more times then I care to mention.

Installation

This garden had very narrow access, just wide enough to fit a wheelbarrow.

Once through the initial entryway an immediate hairpin bend to the left needed to be circumnavigated before embarking on the relative luxury of stretch of straight pathway.

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A third of the way way down the home straight are some steps that take you up to a patio on the upper level…the hill.

These steps, and the strategically placed double glass door at the bottom of them (just to add to the overall stress levels) in combination with trying to roll rather large and unwieldy slabs of 2″ thick over-sized Oklahoma flagstone up them, provided ample ‘excitement’ during the installation process.

images (3) 

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The concrete pathway on the lower section terminated in a sticky poorly-draining area at the other end of the house. The dirt from the hill had washed down into the trench and was creating pooling when it rained.

Here is the top plateau receiving a good clear-out, grade leveling and excavation:

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This top area lacked definition and had no real function or purpose, a no-man’s land.

Time to hit the drawing board…

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I wanted to link the top and bottom areas with a pathway that would connect up with the top patio (and the “stressful steps”) providing a walkable loop around the entire space.

These are the renderings that I used to communicate the design intent to the client, and oh yes…is that another hardy red oleander in the plan TD?…You bet there is!

Although this winter has been hard on even the hardy:

frost_damage

It will soon recover though.

Back to the plan:

back_one

Sunken flagstone steps would be required to get to the upper plateau which would be planted with drought tolerant and tough plants on either side of the flagstone. Trailing rosemary and lantana were added to take advantage of the front limestone cliff.

Here are the flagstone steps getting hacked and leveled into the existing limestone shelf:

Before:

landscape_design

And here is the finished top plateau freshly planted:

landscape_design

hardscaping

hardscaping

The alternating trailing rosemary and basket grasses will eventually fill in up to the flagstone, cover and stabilize the limestone rocks and earth on top of the cliff.

Basket grass (Sacahuista)

Nolina texana

 

works great on dry limestone slopes like this.

Basket grass is not a true grass, it is actually a member of the agave family. It is evergreen, requires no pruning (unless to remove an old flower spike), it is heat, cold and drought tolerant, resistant to deer, slow growing, low maintenance and best of all it can tolerate almost all soil types.

Oh yes, this plant packs an impressive and versatile xeriscape resume.

Nolina texana

It is happiest in the rocky soils of West and South Texas – its native habitat.

The silver-blue color pairs well with rosemary and opuntia offering a lot of winter structure and color. Be careful not to plant too close to a pathway as the long flat blades can be quite sharp.

This installation took an intensive four days to complete, the intensity clearly evident by the state of my truck by the end of it:

truck

Urgh!

 Back in the Patch:

chin_face

I am really happy to report that his front pearly whites (both top and bottom) are now in the tiny hands of the fairies and once again I can relax when he approaches me although, I have noticed a substantial increase in wet projectiles as he talks.

Best stay at ‘DEFCON 3′ for the time being.

WarGames2

DEFCON 5: Normal peacetime  / home readiness, general and peaceful couch / movie / gaming / relaxing ESP family time.

couch

DEFCON 4: Normal, increased intelligence and strengthened security measures:

This generally relates to screen-time abuse / Minecraft server / WordPress logins / Password and Username issues, DEFCON 4 has a direct effect on weekly allowance and can sometimes involve internal WIFI connectivity issues, domestic bills, Amazon ordering debates and sparrows populating our purple martin box.

sparrows
DEFCON 3: Increase in force readiness above normal readiness:

Including intermittent and unintentional saliva evacuation, flies in the house / on food and gross things found in the garden and pond that are subsequently brought into close proximity and presented on our back deck or worse, inside the house…as in: “Dad…Kumo has a….

…Lets move to DEFCON3 people!”

Example of a DEFCON 3 incident:  http://www.eastsidepatch.com/2012/04/exploding-goldfish/

stinky_Kumo

DEFCON 2: Further Increase in force readiness, but less than maximum readiness:

This includes the wiggling of teeth at obscure angles and involves me directly should a major domestic appliance or vehicle suddenly stop functioning. We ALWAYS move directly to DEFCON 2 should the toilet plunger see some action or the compost bins are full and require immediate evacuation.

liquid

images

DEFCON 1: Maximum force readiness:

Obnoxious odor-emanation at close quarters, instantaneous projectile vomiting, high-fevers and stepping into any unmentionables. Rats, roaches and toilet overflows warrant an immediate DEFCON 1 emergency response.

Internally we classify the degree of a DEFCON 1 incident by the height of the reactionary jump:

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Moving more sensibly along:

winking

‘Cactus Man Jr’ is now in a somewhat unnerving state of perpetual winking, and

acne

his acne is getting alarmingly worse.

For anyone who does not know this somewhat disturbing story, I killed the original Cactus Man in a horrible, overtly aggressive face-carving incident which, in turn, killed all the other paddles in the adjacent area (his family).

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Some time later the paddles started growing again and Cactus Man (Jr) popped up in exactly the same place where the mutilation originally occurred, only this time the paddle had already grown some eyes!

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The recent winking transformation is like his way of acknowledging the botanical irony.

John Edward

Finally:

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Yes once again I got bullied, as I do every year around this time, into buying another ice-plant from the nursery.

burnt

I tucked it into a secluded spot around this yucca where it was was not in my direct line of sight.

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Out of sight – out of mind.

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Madam-Ganna_Walska

The first Walsker lily pads are showing up in my ponds, these early pads always carry some of the most vivid coloration.

new leaves

This sand cherry does a pretty good job also.

I need some burgundy canna around the base of this shrub.

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I will leave you with a couple of performances on Saint Patrick’s Day:

http://youtu.be/WAAth4KMqyQ

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 Stay Tuned for:

Blooming Canthas!

 

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

“The Doll House”

February 23, 2014 · 4 comments

Okay now that that is out of my system, and the tune now firmly stuck inside your head,

I will begin.

front_tooth

I have resorted to singing Saruman’s tune every time he sticks his face into mine and pushes his front tooth toward me at an alarming angle, he knows it bothers me…

“Trol-lol-lol-la-looo

snaggle_tooth

la-la-loooo, la-la-loooo…etc, etc.”

The tune (like his tooth) seems oddly fitting.

cymbal

Houston

She had been looking forward to this day for a long time, it was her birthday and we were going on a road-trip to Houston to visit the American Girl doll store (or ‘AG doll place’ if you are YouTube hip).

Creepy-Doll

I really had no idea what to expect,

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I had heard talk of a hair salon and restaurant,

Chairs

but I had no inclination it was where you took ‘your dolls’ for a makeover and a spot of lunch.

I contemplated the long list of $20 doll hair services, then glanced over and saw the tiny salon seats and I must have immediately glazed over. The next thing I knew I was being dragged over to one of the large doll cabinets – she had located the new doll that she had been coveting,

doll #33 apparently.

Houston

#33 was quickly renamed Avery, Edith, Ruby, whatever…and she immediately became part of the family.

American_Girl_Doll

I was just happy she was new and did not require any hair services…at least this time.

Houston

We stayed overnight at a friend’s apartment on the 24th floor (thanks B) in downtown Houston.

It was an initial shock to the sensory system stepping out onto the elevated patio.

yikes

You can see from my white knuckles how comfortable I am with heights.

Back on the ground:

Houston

Birthday dessert,

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then to bed…

for we rise at daybreak.

night time

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Back in the Patch:

pond

I found this poor anole floating upside-down in my stock tank and quickly netted him out.

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A few minutes in the sun and it took off into some gopher plants,

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that are flowering right now.

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A couple more Quince went into the Patch this weekend along with another hardy red oleander and some pink jasmine.

I would usually wait a few more weeks to make sure the temperatures were not going to dip again but with an 80 degree day this past weekend, well I broke down and swung the steed immediately into the local nursery.

flowers

African hosta is also on the move:

shoots

Along with datura,

shoots

and the mountain laurels.

early_bloom

The hell strip is also gearing up for some spring color courtesy of poppies and larkspur.

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Oh and I almost forgot,

third and final place for the ‘most aesthetically unpleasing plant after a freeze award’

frost_damage

has been awarded to this buckled, oozing brown aloe…

…fantastic,

applause

and well done!

Stay Tuned for:

 

“Running up that Hill

 

hill

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

February 11, 2014

“Taking the Hobbits to Isengarden”

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This week I tackle a pampas grass with my adapted zombie arm guards, enough said.

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January 25, 2014

“Why is the Rum Gone?”

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“Most aesthetically unpleasing plant after a freeze” competition gets underway in the Patch.
I visit a swashbuckling opuntia and Sherlock does a spot of detective work on a Mexican lime tree.

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December 30, 2013

“He’s Checking it twice”

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Christmas and New-Year in the Patch.
Alex Jones pops in briefly with a rant about chemtrails and I tackle yet another squealing instrument.

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December 7, 2013

“Up In Flames”

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The tree goes up, my strobilus catches fire and I play a wee tune on the pipes. Simple as that.

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November 14, 2013

“Deep Breath”

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My latest installation in north Austin is featured this week along with demonic ground covers, an exorcism and some nandina smudge cleansing.

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November 3, 2013

“An English Werewolf in Austin”

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Halloween…rotten pumpkins, agaves and masks that make you sweat in the night!

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October 26, 2013

“Extraction”

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This week in the Patch see how a mass planting of bamboo muhly can transform a boring concrete pathway into green water rapids.

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October 13, 2013

“One Man’s Treasure”

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This week inside the Patch we get down and nerdy with a spot of Geocaching. Get up close to a Sceloporus and, if you can stomach it, witness me perform some delicate surgery on my strobilus.

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October 4, 2013

“Waltzing Nitida”

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Lots of strange animal and insect happenings this week in the Patch…thud.
My wife reminisces about her childhood beetle flying escapades and I execute a narrow back garden revamp. Events that should certainly be read with a large Latte in hand.

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September 8, 2013

“Vomit on my Gromit”

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Kumo has a new experience, an Olympic roach gets the better of me and some mighty-fine agave feature this week in the Patch.

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August 29, 2013

“Plants Vs Zombification”

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A dark week of ancient Zuni legends and ritualistic zombification techniques.
I perform a painful exorcism on a malevolent entity…events that shouldn’t be read under candlelight.

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August 14, 2013

“X Marks the Scot”

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This week in the Patch: roach dancing, destruction and my hatred of the common fly. Witness my belly leaning in an uncontrollable fashion across one of my pathways…events that should never be witnessed.

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August 5, 2013

“Design Up-Front”

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Get an insider look into the design process for a new property. I take architectural drawings into three dimensions and visualize a new low-maintenance landscape design scheme this week in the Patch.

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July 28, 2013

“Blast from the Past”

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Nostalgic old family photos and lightning bolts feature this week…I ponder what cowboys did when all the mullein dried up and get you up close to a leopard and rhino!

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July 19, 2013

“Trouble with the old Strobilus”

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Shocking garden events this week will drain the color from your face.
Appendages are shriveled and lost and a yucca is under investigation for falling without just cause.

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July 13, 2013

“Journey to the Highlands”

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Final installment from Scotland: See how we all cope circumnavigating a really large mound of Scottish dung and join us on a train journey to Forres…rather diverse events that should not be missed.

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July 9, 2013

“Dog Daisies and Dandelions”

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This week we cross the Atlantic to the cooler borders of Scotland.
Join me as I perform a treacherous dance in an aircraft toilet and find out exactly what it is that lurks in the middle of some Scottish spit!

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June 6, 2013

“Megasporophylls!”

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I finally find what I have been looking for in a sago but then struggle to pronounce it. Lots of strange flowers and questionable activities this week in the ESPatch.

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May 24, 2013

“Takes Two to Tango”

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This week learn how to shake your strobilus to maximize fertilization of a sago palm. Enough said.

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