“Frost Bitten, Twice Shy”

by ESP on January 11, 2010 · 10 comments


Oh yes we remain gripped in a Harry Potter craze in the Patch, can you tell?


Only this time the craze requires copious amounts of Ibuprofen upon completion of a reenactment.


The latest, and repetitive request in the ESP is to be repeatedly “flown” around the decomposed granite pathways whilst “the flyer” is playing a strategic fantasy game of Quidditch. I call it  Rubbish Quidditch because apart from the obvious, there are no hoops to score a goal through, and my Nimbus 2000 broomstick does not seem to function like it does in the movies.


Unfortunately for us, this hobbit is getting to the size that this activity can give the parental unit an immediate hernia. It is ridiculous to watch though. See for yourself… Oh, and who said that the golden “snitch” is hard to catch, pah! – not in Rubbish Quidditch, it is the size of a gazing ball:

Music by the EastSidePatch Recording Studios, Austin, Texas. :-)

DSC02059This player got a rogue bludger that knocked her out of the Quidditch field into this Variegated Pittosporum / Variegated Mock Orange. This shrub is about five years old, I keep it pruned up high.


Only another thirty five years to go until it hopefully turns into a monster like the one at Zilker Botanical Gardens.


This is a Pittosporum right?



Monsters, or “motners” as he calls them, are also not far behind Harry on the popularity scale, especially ones with strange hand shadows that is…


She found this sago stump in Zilker Botanical Gardens, here in Austin, I don’t even know what she had in her other hand, but she was having some eerie fun playing with her dinosaur claw shadows as you can see in the video, it really was quite effective, very film noir.


I love this ornate gate at Zilker.

Back in the now recuperating Patch…


It was time to access the true extent of the damage of the recent and continuous hard freezes we have experienced, damage that is only now showing its true devastating impact on our gardens. What was once a vibrant gerbera daisy is now a small and truly representative messenger of the damage the patch has endured. The frosts have hit a number of plants worse than others, though I think the damage looks worse than what it actually is (he says hopefully).  I am just happy that CTG did not film the Patch this week, though it would have been rather funny with Linda’s calming voice:  “ESP gardens with a keen eye for contrast, he loves the challenge of incorporating errr dead or decaying plants along side healthy ones and is never scared to adopt soft, decaying succulents in a mass planting scheme.”


My fingers are crossed for this Mexican lime tree that bore so much fruit this last year. The leaves, or what is left of them, are now looking like dead dragon scales. The trunk is still green so I think although it looks really bad, it will pull through.


All of my bamboos have taken a harsh cold beating also, here is my sad Buddhas Belly, looking as crispy as some Oscar Meyer’s bacon. Like the lime tree, the culms are still green which gives me some glimmer hope, hope that I do not share for my poor dwarf bottle brush shrub in the foreground of this picture.


Even my Giant timber foliage have turned a distinctive shade of silver, a first in the Patch.


My artemisia looking sufficiently “cool” with this winter sunlight hitting it. After the frosts and then all the rain it perked right back up.  I left it a little while longer then took a deep breath and walked to the shed to get my pruners. I hate to cut this plant back because it is like Jekyll and Hyde.  It looks fantastic most of the year until it comes to pruning time. I find that to get the desired look for most of the year you have to be quite brutal in the cut-back department a couple of times a year. When this plant gets leggy it really does get leggy and then it tries to hide the fact that it is even leggy at all.  The above mound of wormwood consists of a mere six plants.



“Oh yeah…Looking good now ESP”

I told you it was a Jekyll and Hyde plant, look at it now. I just won’t look this way for a few months until it fills back in!


Now what did I do with my blinkers?


Even the sago palms did not escape totally unharmed, Jack Frost picking off what he wanted.


“I will have THAT sago palm leaf, and THAT one…some of that, and a little bit of that, or my name is not Jack irritating Frost.”


The rosemary did not even flinch, this one seems to thrive on the cold, blooming, at least a little, once again right now.


I not sure this little plant was going to pull through, then it greened up with central new growth. Now if I could only identify it!  It is like a tiny sotol.


My ghost plants have shrunk back to the bare minimum, mostly stalk – very little plant, but they live, they live I tell you.


All the ivy has turned burgundy green, it really looks great at this time of year.


My pine-cone cactus fingers are now broken and appear to be pointing and gesturing as if they are trying to tell me something.


“Pssst..ESP,  treasure from the Black Pearl they be pointin’ too”!


“They better not be imitating my nose?

Finally, and I could not believe this early-year sunbather…


a winter dragon metaphorically hanging on for its’ life after the frosts.  This old man has one foot in the grave judging from his lackluster complexion and dull eyes. But here he his proving that warm weather life can still endure.  I have my fingers crossed for some life returning to all my warmer weather green dwellers in the spring.

Inspirational image of the week:

A word from the designer:


Stay Tuned for:

“Put the Petal to the metal”


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intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by  late  (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.

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1 Pam/Digging January 18, 2010 at 11:06 pm

Jack Frost was busy with his paintbrush, wasn’t he? First we had Heat Miser, then Cold Miser. What’s next, I can’t help but wonder. Hoping your Buddha’s Belly pulls through, ESP. I’m still feeling rather sorry for myself over my Otatea, but I do hold out hope it will pull through.

2 ESP January 18, 2010 at 11:47 pm

Hi Pam.
Yes, quite the tumultuous weather patterns… classic Texas, now back to warmer climes…still, I still say there is a lot more inclement weather to come this year. Fingers crossed Pam for all the bamboos this year.

3 Pam/Digging January 19, 2010 at 12:18 am

I suspect there’s more to come also, ESP. And yet, and yet, there I was planting to my heart’s content all day on Monday. You can’t keep a gardener down for long.

4 Les January 19, 2010 at 6:10 am

Those monster shadows are very scary, but nearly as much as SPROUT.

5 Jenny January 19, 2010 at 7:39 am

Yes, We had all better watch out for more of the same before winter is over. I remember once going to a gardening series at Zilker shortly after I came here and the speaker warned us about that ‘sun on the back of the neck’ syndrome.How the nurseries love those of us who think that after a few warm days winter is over, I was sorry to see your frost damage, especially the sago palm. I had 2 beauties in pots at the front gate, This is the week I find out what happened to them, It is going to be an interesting spring for us all.

6 ESP January 19, 2010 at 9:13 am

Hi Pam.
That is what the nurseries are relying on, the true garden die-hards, somehow I knew you would be one of them! :-)

7 ESP January 19, 2010 at 9:19 am

Hi Les.

8 ESP January 19, 2010 at 9:30 am

Hi Jenny.
I was really surprised at the Giant Timber, well, actually all the bamboo damage. The black and my Alphonse Karr seemed hardier than the rest, or perhaps they are in warmer micro-climates? Hard to tell. And yes the poor sagos, though I do think they will recover, they might not look good for a while, but I think they will make it. Good luck this week with yours.

’Sun on the back of the neck’ syndrome? Pam? Haha! But what gardener does not struggle with this when the temperatures get into the seventies? Well at least they were supposed to be!

An interesting spring it will be indeed Jenny.

9 Linda Lehmusvirta January 21, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Fabulous pictures & stories as always! And great video, too! I’ve been scratching bark, like you, to see green, and I think all will be well. Cut back the cycad fronds in a few weeks to see what happens. On the bamboo, I’d check The Great Outdoors for advice, and I will, too.

And yes, I think this is going to be a year when more surprises are around the corner. Well, at least we won’t get bored! And I think your garden would still be lovely in all mush. Plants come & go (as you well, know), but the concept is forever. Well, at least until you change it. . .(!) But you’ve got the essential concept down!

10 ESP January 21, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Hi, and thanks Linda.
I am confident that the bamboo will pull through, even though it looks like I have never seen it before, it is a grass after all (that is what I keep telling myself). Would be interested what the “GOD” has to say about it though.
I have the conservancy tour gals coming over to the Patch on Saturday for a scout-about, thank you so much for the referral Linda. I have a lot of clean up work to be done before then, will keep me off the streets! Today I had my gloves dripping in sticky aloe juice, and boy was it stinky, all the tips took a beating.

Thanks for your encouraging words, and I agree I think there will be more surprises before this winter is over.


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