“Panic in the Patch”

by ESP on October 22, 2009 · 26 comments

Panic Button

“Hit the button! Hit the button, now!”

Panic is setting in, in the patch. My eyes are being called upon to be extra critical… what needs to be changed?  What would a set of fresh eyes see?  More importantly what would a camera lens see?  Is the lens forgiving?  Perhaps there is a camera “weed” filter for the camera?  Linda, tell me this exists?

The ESP is scheduled for a “Central Texas Gardener” film shoot shortly, and the Botox lady is very pleased about this indeed.  She now shouts at me in her over-the-top Austrian accent every time I pass her…“Yoo-hoo, over zere, over zere,  Are the cameraz zere to film me yet? Tell them to get my good side ya ESP, the side with my green hair, …Are the cameraz here ESP, Ya?”

She is diving me nuts!

Botox Lady's new updoOh, have you seen her hair recently?  The Botox Lady has turned into one icy, green-headed-mama, well at least on one side.  She also has a new gained confidence based on the fact that she now has half a head of the finest green “ice-plant” hair! (She used to be the silent bald-type).  She is obsessed with getting her five minutes of fame, I think she desperately wants to impress Bob over there at Draco Gardens, (I hear her mumbling his name occasionally when I am weeding).  I can see her from my back window, straining her stone neck to try to see her reflection in the closest golden gazing ball,  and she is constantly reminding me that the camera crew will certainly see all my horticultural negligence as soon as they arrive in the patch, UNLESS I clean up the area directly around her head.

Perhaps I will leave that little irritating patch of gravel in her eye and nose for just a little while longer.

DSC00092The gathering of the Clan “Aphid” also seemed more agitated than usual, I caught them on this satsuma, discussing when to get their kilts out of the dry cleaners. I broke up their discussion rather quickly with a rather strong blast of my hose, which resulted in a lot of “colorful” language.

Unite the Clans

“Aye, but will all ye wee bugs re-unite and fight wuth me, William Wallace, on the battlefield, against the English”?

Oh shut your cake-hole, William.


Here they are, shortly before becoming high-speed, aquatic projectiles.

Satsuma PeelingThis little Satsuma tree is completely buckled over with the weight of the fruit it is wearing…I have not counted them but it is well over a hundred.  This is really good as a few people in the patch can really trench their way through these fast. The fruit are really turning orange rapidly now, but are totally palatable for those individuals who just can’t wait.

DSC09976I have the small branches propped up with anything that will work…chairs, stepladders, grandma Esther?  What?


“Oh you think that is funny ESP”?

In an attempt to take some of the strain off the branches.  I did not thin the tree earlier in the year, deciding to let nature run its course. The fruit that is touching seems fine, and all is ripening into what should be a bumper crop!  And talking of bumper…

potato vinesThese potato vines are on the rampage!  I planted these two plants, late spring this year. I always plant about five or six of these vines every year, mostly to hide parts of the patch I have yet to get to / figure out what to do, or areas that are just plain ugly.

invisibility-cloakThey make great invisibility cloaks!  These two plants are attempting to cover-up some pond hardware.  I like this combination, and use it a lot in containers, for some fast, dynamic foliage color.

Canna and PampasSome more foliage color comes from this Burgundy Canna-Lily that I have just shuffled over into its new home between a weeping bamboo, a large pampas and this palm grass (front).  It took a bit of a beating in the move but will quickly recover, just in time to die back for the winter. The Canna will provide some well-needed tropical color to this predominately green area.  It is satisfying to move something that immediately fills an aesthetic gap.  The burgundy color works well with the steel gray of the pampas.  Now, why did I not do this a few years ago?

Another new resident who has also moved into this area is this…

DSC00032Thryallis, center. Nestled into a small pocket of shade, this should provide a small splash of color in here next year.



Another plant not lacking in the “tropical-look” arena is the mighty Century plant or maguey (Agave americana). This plants tribal markings makes it a favorite with the Naboo tribe and myself alike. If you are lucky enough to have a Westerly facing garden these plants take the sacrificial limelight at sunset. Needless to say, I have a “substantial” amount of these scattered perilously around the patch. Can you have too many?

The latest craze in the patch is “races around the pathways”, which invariably leads to “band-aids on the kneecaps” – granite hurts when you fall on it, like falling onto sandpaper…Oh yes, the ESP is so kid-friendly!  Hey, it enhances coordination skills.


DSC00073 DSC00070


DSC09945These tattoos are also all the rage.

Moving on to something you may remember from my last post…

DSC00026Yes another hoverfly, this time in the depths of a Madame Ganna Walser, performing a precarious balancing act!  I have to show one more shot as they are everywhere right now.

DSC00019I caught this hover, hovering almost motionless around this lily.  I must have been so annoying to this fly, do flies get annoyed? With my camera lens repeatedly blocking its path back to the lily interior.

DSC00062This fly requires a panel beater, he has been in the wars apparently and dented his body armor.  It sort of reminds me of my old pick-up truck right now, similar body color, (albeit less shine on my truck), especially after the “Dude, Where’s my Car” incident, unfortunately my trusty old granite-hauler has been declared “totaled”, but…



I will rebuild her…better than she was before, better, stronger, faster!

One final insect…or is it an antelope?

Awww!I keep this gazelle in a matchbox and take her out of my pocket in business meetings occasionally to feed her a carrot or two. It always gets a few strange looks, but I don’t care.

Moving more sanely on…

DSC00051This pin-stripped pink trumpet vine/desert trumpet vine

Podranea ricasoliana

This vine always puts on it’s finest suit this time of year. The vine is popular in South African gardens where it is known as jacaranda. Many South African botanists suspect that this climber may not be indigenous to southern Africa and that it was introduced here by slave traders. All the sites where both Podranea ricasoliana and Podranea brycei are found have ancient connections with slave traders, who frequented the eastern coast of Africa long before the 1600’s. It has become such a widely grown garden plant in all the warmer parts of the world that it may prove difficult to find its real origin.

DSC00119Podranea ricasoliana can be propagated by means of layering, or by removing side branches that have rooted by themselves. To encourage Podranea to root by layering, take a low growing stem, lay it along the ground without breaking it off the mother plant, bend the tip to a vertical position, stake it in place and bury or cover the part that is touching the ground with soil. My plant actually did this naturally, without any human intervention. These two vines in close proximity have created a monster!

DSC00168My Amaranth has got so large so fast, I am staking quite a few of them to stop them falling over.


1120satellite_dishAnother purple that pops up sporadically are the morning glories.

Finally, a little more hardscaping…


This area has been looking a bit ratty for some time, there was a completely dead dwarf miscanthus in the middle that I removed, and the one on the right of the picture was also not looking too brilliant, with its half torched side. While I was getting dirty in this little area, I had the idea to have another access point to the main pond.  I ripped out a bunch of inland sea oats and the remaining half-baked miscanthus, then moved the potted canna ( the one that I featured earlier).  Finally I transplanted the little Mexican feather grasses to make way for a new short granite pathway.


Here is the final, more orderly result. It is really nice to have another angle to view the pond from.

And to finish…


Gregg’s mistflower Oops Mist flower Eupatorium havanense (thanks for the correction Bob) and an ornamental pepper. Candles and fireworks!


One of the first Mist flowers opened up only today.


clockwork-orange2Stay Tuned for:

“A “Patch” Work Orange”

All material © 2009 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by  late  (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.

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1 Jenny October 24, 2009 at 9:53 pm

What a fine crop of satsumas. I bet they are delicious. It isn’t good enough to spray those orange nymphs. You need to squish every one or you’ll be sorry next year. They are the nymphs of the leaf footed bug and they do bad things in the garden.
Is that mist flower the fragrant one that someone was talking about? I have that one and also the blue but the deer always nibble the flowers on the white one. The pink trumpet vine is gorgeous. I think I need to get one for next year.
Don’t be in a panic. Your garden is fabulous Philip. Good luck with the taping.

2 ESP October 24, 2009 at 10:10 pm

Hi Jenny.

The satsuma crop has surprised me this year, for such a young tree it has achieved great heights in terms of fruit setting, and in about a week or two, when they are totally ripe, they will be very tasty…as you know, things always taste better when you grow them yourself!

I have three mist flowers planted along side each other, I planted them last year, and I have no idea if they are the fragrant ones or not! I will go and have a good sniff tomorrow! They are magnificent insect magnets though.

I think the pink trumpet vine would work well for a section of your garden J, the aesthetic would be so fitting!

Thanks for your supportive words…and I am always in a panic!


3 TexasDeb October 25, 2009 at 7:53 am

How much fun! Having the CTG tribe in your very own Patch. I will admit to OCCASIONALLY wandering around my house imagining how a shot might be framed so as to make things appear larger, more organized, more appealing, less well, weedy…. To have gardeners I “know” from their blogs on that show is always delightful. Kevin Bacon six degrees sort of. Speaking of which…

The garden tour was partly in my neighborhood Sat AM although I had other work to do. I drove by slowly watching a few folks walking away from one of Rollingwood’s best, and wondering to myself, “is that ESP?”. “Transplantable Annie and Philo?”. Didn’t really recognize anyone and had to move on so as not to block traffic but it was a moment of fun. Also noted, for the record, a high percentage of hybrid cars in the garden tour bunch’s parked cars. Gardeners are a green lot overall it would seem.

Panic away ESP, I cannot imagine anybody better suited to provide the balance of CALM than Linda L. If she is not as calm in person as the persona she exudes in the voice-overs then I don’t want to know. It will be like finding out there is no Santa all over again.

4 TexasDeb October 25, 2009 at 7:56 am

Oh, PS. As much as I enjoy and admire your close up shots (and I totally DO!) I truly love the wider shots that give us more the view of your entire patch. While I understand completely why we don’t see more of those shots (weed filters!) in blog posts I really enjoy getting that “here is the entire view” glimpse every once in a while. Thanks!

5 ESP October 25, 2009 at 1:12 pm

Hi TD.
I know, I am excited and concerned at the same time. It will be really interesting to see how they film it. I am praying the Naboo don’t shoot anyone with their poison tipped arrows, they are not accustomed to strangers, particularly ones with cameras in the Patch! As for the Botox Lady’s incessant rantings?…well I have a rather cunning plan that involves a rather large strip of duct-tape, that should take care of her for a little while at least.

I only found out about the garden tour while I was hacking at an enormous mound of decomposed granite… maybe next year. I think I may be a little out of place vehicle-wise though, with my hill-billy, rear-ended, paint faded, Dodge Ram pickup, hardly the most “green” forms of transportation. In fact the only thing green about it, is its paint color, and that has all but faded! I would be afraid that normally mild mannered gardeners would turn into a lynch-mob, (armed with shovels and rakes), witnessing my truck rumbling and sputtering up to view the first garden.

Linda does provide the balance of calm, I am relying on this as I want her to handle the “right of passage” negotiations with the Naboo to allow people to temporarily enter and film in the Patch. I think they will respond well to Linda’s calm demeanor. What do you mean there is no Santa? :-)

I am right there with you on the wider, bigger-picture shots in blogs…I like seeing them too. It gives a sense of the “garden” how it is laid out and structured. Glad you like the shots. Thanks Deb.


6 Pam/Digging October 25, 2009 at 9:16 pm

I didn’t realize you had two stock-tank ponds, Philip. Your new access point looks nice—good for the Naboo tribe, no?

And no, you can never have too many variegated American agaves, in my opinion. They do light up beautifully in the evening light. And yes, Linda’s camera is very flattering. You need not worry one bit. The camera is going to absolutely love your garden; it’s very photogenic. Do let us know when your episode airs.

Also, I love your description of potato vine as an invisibility cloak for ugly areas. I planted one for exactly the same reason in early summer, and it’s doing a marvelous job of making me forget why I planted it.

7 Bob Pool October 25, 2009 at 9:39 pm

The flying Hover Fly shot is the bomb. I am totally impressed, however I think there may have been some fly herding going on from your miniature heathen buddies. Botox lady looks good. I haven’t found the perfect one fo me yet but have the spot all ready and it is a must have. I make notes of “must haves” from blogs all the time and the Amaranth is one of them. I look at the notes and ESP seems to be next to most of them.

I’m sure the kids get hurt occasionally but I see your place as a wonder land for kids. I saw Cheryl’s on Saturday and it was wonderful for kids as well. Besides, a few injuries build internal fortitude. Waterbug is definitely not going to be a sissy.

I think your Greggs Mist flower is actually Thoroughwort, Eupatorium havanense, commonly called Mist flower.

A question I’ve been meaning to ask you. Is the Giant Timber Bamboo the same as Tonkin Gulf cane? You know, the kind they would temper and make fly rods out of. Until next time, Bob

8 Bob Pool October 25, 2009 at 9:44 pm

I almost forgot, congratulations on the CTG shoot. I think the garden looks great and will film just fine. Don’t get too nervous and if you do, remember alcohol can be your friend, in moderation of course. Bob

9 ESP October 25, 2009 at 10:34 pm

Hi Pam.
Yes, two it is…I use the smaller one to dechlorinate water before I run a tube from it’s pump into my main tank, for “topping off” purposes in the summer evaporation months. The smaller tank is actually quite a deep one, buried into the ground, this system works a treat. It is also a good back-up pond, should I need to move the fish temporarily for cleaning purposes etc.

My Agave americana have really started to get large this year, I love these plants…so much spiky drama…they are also extremely kid-friendly! I will most definitely let you know when the episode airs, unless I say something completely stupid, then I will be sure to give everyone the wrong date! :-)

The potato vine really works as an invisibility cloak, what a great filler. If I need to sneak around the patch at night, I just grab a small container, drape the chartreuse and burgundy leaves over my head and shoulders and convince myself nobody can see me! Then I can walk into my kids room to check on them, knowing that they will never be aware of my presence…can you ask more from a plant?

In fact, I may grab the same pot on the CTG shoot should I just want to “disappear” for whatever reason, like if the duct-tape becomes unpeeled from the Botox lady’s rather substantial lips, for example. I will be out of there!

Cheers Pam.

10 ESP October 25, 2009 at 11:08 pm

Hi Bob.

I was really happy to get one shot of the hover in motion, albeit not too sharp, (with a small point and click camera you cannot ask for much more)!
I am so happy the patch contributes to your “must have” list so prominently. I don’t want to push the amaranth too much, but it really is one of my most favorite plants…ever. The insects, the bees, you name it, they swarm it…and the color, the edibility! The plant also goes well into the winter, never to invasive for me… a really great addition to any garden. I spread the seeds every fall and thin out the inappropriately positioned plants as they develop…no big deal…and what visual rewards!

I wish the Waterbug was a little more sissy-like…but oh no, he is all physical…he runs at full tilt, usually pushing something around the granite pathways at a velocity I cannot bring myself to watch…he loves it. His latest fad is to fly around the concrete patio area with a cart of some sort, then slam into my “everything but the kitchen sink” water collection “system”… he thinks this is the business, especially with the noise this subsequently creates! He does call his big sis “sissy” though.

With regards to your question, I am not sure, let me look into it. I will get back with you on this.

PS. The Botox Lady has been bugging me as to what you think of her new hair? I keep telling her you are a busy man…but you know what she is like through your “intimate” letter correspondence.

Good to hear from you Bob.

11 ESP October 25, 2009 at 11:25 pm

And Ha-ha Bob. Considering the early hours of the shoot, it is even a little early for me to get some Dutch-(wine)-Courage. Nope, it is straight onto the whiskey for me! :-) Oh, and what is that term you used ….moderation? What exactly does this mean? This is a strange notion in the Patch!


12 Linda Lehmusvirta October 26, 2009 at 8:45 am

If there’s anyone who needs to panic, it’s moi! Good grief, maybe we should start at 4 a.m. to get it all taped before Christmas? It’s all too lovely. And we’ll have some luscious wide shots, too. Much easier to do with a nice little video camera. But we’ll make sure to get botox lady on her right side!

13 ESP October 26, 2009 at 9:19 am

Hi Linda.

And haha!
We should have plenty of material in our back garden, but you are banned from the front! Right now my hell-strip has grown to a couple of feet. Along with the elimination of all the grass in the patch, well, all except this patch, we also got rid of our lawn mower! This little strip of land was just dirt all summer, then with the rains we have been having, it has just shot up! Will will cut it with scissors if we have to!

I am hoping we can get through the shoot without hearing a peep from “the Lady”, (My duct-tape plan) I am afraid if she gets on camera her rather large head would get so big it would take over and fill my entire middle cacti and succulent bed!

Looking forward to it…
All in the Patch.

14 Lee October 26, 2009 at 9:27 am

Yo ESP. Couple o questions:

– is your satmsuma in the ground or in a pot? i planted one in the ground this year, and have my fingers crossed for future productivity like yours…

– do you think the desert willow vine is invasive or is it well-mannered? i’ve been hearing it’s name a lot this fall. seems like people are using it quite a bit.

good luck with the taping! garden looks great in pictures…


15 ESP October 26, 2009 at 1:06 pm

Hi Lee.

Yes my satsuma is in the ground, this will be almost year three I believe!…So far so good. This year is the first year for a significant fruit set, last year it managed only one! But it was a good one. It was like an episode of Little House on the Prairie” when it was time for us to all try a slice.

I have had no problems with my desert willow vine, as I mentioned it did grow a second one beside itself, but I have had this vine for quite some time. If it does sprout an offspring you can always just pull it out. This vine is not like a tangerine vine, / Cross-Vine, / Trumpet Flower whatever, which are really hard to get rid of, (should you ever want to get rid of one that is). I did about four years ago…I am still pulling out new growth on that vine, (desert willow vine does not come up from ground shoots). Usually dies back to the ground in winter to return quickly in the spring.

Thanks Lee.

16 Les October 26, 2009 at 7:03 pm

Best of luck on your film shoot. I have had a little experience on TV being labled “local gardening expert” (yeah right) and can say with good confidence that the camera does not see weeds. It also does not add ten pounds like you hear, but it does a really good job of showing you the ten pounds (or more) you know are there, but will not admit seeing.

17 ESP October 26, 2009 at 8:06 pm

Hi Les. I watched a number of your segments some time ago and you seemed very expert-like to me!

The camera does not see weeds?…Now these were the words I was waiting to hear!!! I will sleep peacefully tonight :-0

I have considered dressing up like Edward Scissorhands, manically attacking some boxwood in my front garden just before the film-crew arrive, but…mmm, I may just get reported and bundled into a large white van, bad idea! I could also wear a fat-suit, like “fat Bastard” this would take care of the ten pound issue, it would be miserable if it turns out to be a hot day in Texas though.

18 Annie in Austin October 26, 2009 at 8:07 pm

How excellent it will be to see your garden on CTG, ESP! But with all the downpours in recent weeks – good luck at fitting the taping into one of the dry and sunny days. The only problem I can imagine if is you and Linda start trying to crack each other up and you can’t stop laughing. Yours could be the first CTG garden tour of the new Blooper seriesl.
Your hoverfly photo is terrific, but Stink bug nymphs in full color- no! Jenny is so right – kill them, kill them! Every one will be a little monster – I’ve had hoards of them on what’s left of the basil.
One hundred satsumas? Wonderful. Until I saw that photo our 17 Meyer’s lemons seemed a pretty good crop ;-]

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

19 ESP October 26, 2009 at 8:37 pm

Hi Annie.

I am really looking forward to the shoot…a couple more solid days in the Patch and things should be almost in shape. I hope the weather will make the day a good one, I agree, we are all over the weather map as of late in Central Texas…still, I love this rain! Very funny on the Linda front, if there will be a blooper, I am sure to provide one… it is what I do best! My goal though is to be the first person to crack Linda’s calm voice over up, and make her burst out laughing, can you imagine? half-way into a commentary? Linda starts giggling!…This could be difficult though as I believe this segment is recorded during the editing process, but hey, where there is a will there is a way, right?

Thanks on the hoverfly front Annie, and that is what the clan is?…stink bug nymphs? I was not sure, but I knew they were good-for-nothings.

The Satsuma is fantastic considering its small size. I will count the fruit tomorrow, when the weather fairs up. Nimble little fingers already know where these are, they are going to disappear extremely fast I think…and 17 Meyer’s is a great crop, double what mine has made this year!

Cheers Annie.
Thanks for popping in.

20 Cheryl Goveia October 29, 2009 at 8:31 am

I love that desert vine/trumpet vine and have it in two places in my yard. I’ve never heard it called jacaranda…we had a Jacaranda tree in Santa Barbara that bloomed lavender, I need to look that up. Your garden/blog never fail to amaze! So creative!

21 ESP October 29, 2009 at 11:13 am

Hi Cheryl.

The desert vine is putting on a great display at the moment…worth waiting for. I did not know it was called jacaranda either, until researching this post.
I totally missed out on the garden tour, I would have really like to see your garden. It sounds like you had quite the day…you deserve a pint or five of your home-brew!
Loved the bottle-cap snakes!


22 Wanda & John November 8, 2009 at 6:10 pm

Hey Phillip:

There is a well known Austin musician—-dobro player and has studio—-
named East Side Flash
your site makes me think of him!

John and Wanda

23 ESP November 8, 2009 at 8:57 pm

Hi W&J!
Interesting…and what a technique! I just checked it out, YES, you guessed it, I had no idea what a dobro player was!
So happy to have you finally commenting in here!

24 Sean February 3, 2011 at 4:32 pm

I stumbled across your site when searching for images of aphids and noticed the “Clan Aphids” photos. I believe those are actually assassin bugs, and I’m pretty sure you want those critters sticking around. I had one on my plumeria last year and also tried to scare it away. Then I found a link on dave’s web that helped identify it, and I learned that it actually eats the bugs that eat your plants. I spent the rest of the summer making sure it was comfortable, and I actually missed it when it was gone. ;)

Here’s the link to the image:

And here’s the link for more info on the bug:

Good luck,

25 ESP February 3, 2011 at 6:04 pm

Hi Sean.

Thanks for dropping into the Patch.
They do look like assassin bugs, but these do not appear to have the “beaks” generally associated with assassins and leaf footers? I have posted a few recent articles on assassins / wheel bugs recently, hope you can check them out, amazing creatures!
Thanks for the links.


26 Nicci December 22, 2013 at 3:57 am

Wow! Your photography is stunning to say the least. What a beautiful garden you keep. :)
I just wanted to add that the red and black insects you blasted with the water hose are actually considered beneficial insects, and are the nymphs of a species of assassin bug. However, don’t touch them, they can sting. They eat small arthropods that might otherwise damage your beautiful garden plants.

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