by ESP on January 6, 2010 · 15 comments

carnival052009Brrrr, another freezing front blows through Central Texas, but what do I care,  I hear the carnival setting up camp in the Patch…


Okay we might not have all the lights, rides, and well practically anything else you would normally find or associate with a carnival, but we do have this…



“Looking good now ESP, with all your psychedelic ghost canopies and ****!”


Oh yes, the carnival tents are popping up in the patch…


…and the ESP is filling up with colorful carnival folk, why? Let me explain.


This Mexican Lime tree took a hammering in our last cold snap and with an even harder and prolonged one arriving I feared for its life.  I broke down, shattering my principle that if it can’t survive the Texas winter, it should not be in the Patch, yes folks I “covered” it, at least partially.  I looked in my shed for my large linen painting sheet that I usually use, but I could not find it, (it has been a long time since I have covered anything).  I settled on these rather dapper sheets from the house that really do look totally ridiculous from the road.  They are bright enough to cause yet another Chevy Tahoe to veer off the street and head toward our property, the occupants slurring…”what is that”? Hic! “Do you see that”? “Is that a carnival man?” Hic! etc,etc.

I also have a hunch that these tents will be totally ineffective, but talk about adding winter color!  I walked out around dusk to see if the wind had already blown them off the tree (it is only a matter of time after all, with the sheets overly complicated system of pegs and granny knots holding them down) and found John Merrick already scoping out the temporary carnival-like structures and atmosphere…He wastes no time.



“Very Pleashhed to meet you ESP.” (Or perhaps that was Sean Connery under the hessian sack?) Hard to tell considering their similar accent and facial angle.


Oh come on Gandalf, it wasn’t that funny.

What was funny was the way these sheets looked the next day after overnight winds had predictably compromised the overtly complicated system of pegs and granny knots…


Oh yes, they had provided extremely effective coverage during the brisk night…not.  Interestingly, with all their nonsense night flapping and billowing around, they had somehow managed to exfoliate most of the previously frost bitten dead foliage from the tree. At least they were good for something!

Once again I will not be covering anything in the Patch this year it seems, I am just rubbish at it, and anyway now I remember how this “survival of the hardiest” philosophy started in the Patch in the first place…because… I HATE THIS COVERING PALAVER!

Good luck Lime tree, you are on your own I am afraid…

STAR TREK“May your roots grow deep and prosper.”

Moving quickly along before my fingers freeze…

eskimo_plantPicture of Eskimo lady 1929 by Edward S.Curtis.


‘little lemon’ is already adorning it’s Eskimo-esk fur coat in anticipation of the freezing weather to follow.  Also known as goldenrod, solidago has wrongfully been accused of being a source of pollen or an allergen thought to have affected numerous allergy sufferers.  Not true, the pollen of solidago is too heavy to be carried by air currents and must move from plant to plant on the bodies of insects.  The pollen from ragweed, which flowers about the same time as goldenrod, is the pollen source that causes many individuals to suffer from hay fever.  Trust ragweed to place the blame on this little plant.  It should be ashamed of itself.

A big thank you for this plant  http://www.gardeninggonewild.com/ and http://www.highcountrygardens.com/

DSC01910Color in the Cold:


This kale is loving the frigid temperatures. Very aquatic!


As is this verbena, this individual plant has gotten huge recently…


…producing bi-colored flowers as abstract as my lime-tree canopies!


When the temperatures seriously dip, one look at this amaryllis on our galleon ship’s galley table always warms the cockles. ARRrrr.



And when the cold has locked us inside for too long and we have become too stir-crazy in the house, the final resort:  Dave & Busters of course for some high speed fun, and hopefully a prize.

What else would he pick!

Inspirational image of the week:


“The “WheelEasy LE” is a folding wheelbarrow, replacing the heavy steel or plastic tubs of conventional haulers with a 3-cubic-foot, vinyl-coated nylon basin which can hold up to 150 pounds. You won’t be carting around concrete or bears*, but when it comes to dirt or lawn clippings, the WheelEasy has one clear advantage over solid barrows: because it can lie completely flat on the ground, it’s easy to quickly rake it full without shoveling stuff up over the side”.

Stay Tuned for:

“Thanks CTG”!

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 January 7, 2010 at 10:44 pm

My you are colorful at your house. Been there and done that and with no greater success than yourself. Can’t do anything about it anyway. At least yours are in the ground which will likely help them out. I’m just thinking that this is surely going to be good for getting rid of a few nasty overwintering bugs, like the harlequin. Surely something good must come out of this. Hurrah for the Texas verbena.

2 ESP January 7, 2010 at 11:04 pm

Hi Jenny.

It was a bit loud, wasn’t it?…in fact the whole carbuncle is still out there right now, flapping in the wind, ridiculous! Yes in the ground helps, and I made sure everything had a good root soaking before this front blew in, it is the least I could do.

I do this covering paranoia once every year, it fails, then I am done for the year, it is a process that I have to go through again and again? There needs to be a step program for this…”Hello, I am ESP, I am 41 years old, and I cover plants needlessly every year. I have been putting covers on my plants for three years..blah..blah..blah”
“Thank you for sharing this with the group, now just stop”!

I agree on the bug front – should be a better year next year for the blood-suckers (infamous last words)…
and hurray indeed! Verbena the total winter “rock” star!


3 Pam/Digging January 8, 2010 at 11:56 am

I am still laughing, ESP. You write the funniest posts out there. I wondered where you were going with the carnival shots at top, and then burst out laughing at the sight of the colorful bed sheets over the top of your poor lime tree. And then afterward, with the sheets flapping like torn sails on a ship!

I do hope your lime survives (along with my pitiful Mexican weeping bamboo). Also want to add that I love getting glimpses of your Arizona cypress, standing tall in the back in all its blue glory. I want mine to look like that. Today. And it’s good to get a peek at one of your prize plants from the GGW contest too.

4 ESP January 8, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Hi Pam.
I was laughing at the sheets as we pulled into our driveway after picking up the kids. The wind was hitting the sheets hard and the pink one was billowed out like a sail, as if attempting to pull the tree out by the roots and fly away. That would be one for fox news…”We have just received a report of a Mexican lime tree flying over I35, motorists are advised to take caution”… (news as it happens)!
My fingers are crossed for the tree though, it was just getting to be a fair size after all. Interestingly my much smaller satsuma seems hardier.

I love my Arizona cypress trees, after seeing the ones at Central Market way back when, I knew I needed a couple. They have grown steadily over the years and look great with the artemisia.

Keep warm.

5 Germi January 8, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Poor cold ESP!
But I think props are in order, because your collaboration with the frigid wind seems to have made a WONDERFUL cocktail gown! I think you could show that draping and color combination on Project Runway and hold your head up high!
I love verbena, but can’t have ANY – not the groundcovers, not V. bonariensis, and not even my favorite Verbena rigida ‘Polaris’. It isn’t the climate – it works perfectly here – it’s my french bulldog, Dexter. He eats them. If I buy one and tuck it in secretly, in a completely out of the way place, he finds it and devours it, then runs around foaming at the mouth and barfing. He also performs the same song and dance with Echiums. Dang dog.
My fingers are crossed for your Mexican lime. If only you could get the denizens of The Patch to light smudge pots – surely the Witches would do you the favor!
That photo of the girl with the bejeweled elephant head – my heart stopped!
Things are always hopping in The Patch – thanks for the laughs, as usual!
Witchy-G (I’d light a smudge pot for you!)

6 ES January 8, 2010 at 8:44 pm

Hi Germi.

“The best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry” and my plans for covering plants from the frost always goes awry…this years plan seems to have be worse than other years it seems. A cocktail gown it was indeed, it did not stay situated on the tree very long after sunset! (insert an Austin Powers face here).

Sorry to hear about Dexter (named after the Showtime series?) and his behavior with Verbena, I wonder what it is about the plant that attracts him? Barfing and foaming is never a good combination, I know from my experience as a student. If I remember correctly, your bulldog also has a thing for the stink-horns does he not? “Dexter don’t go near that…Dexter, do not….Urghh, DEXTER! There can never be a dull horticultural moment with him around.

My Mexican limes’ foliage is shrinking by the day…I have my four gangster pine cone fingers crossed as well for its survival, no thanks to the ESP Witches. A smudge pot? Patricia, Isabel and Chrissie are complete “wimps for witches” when it comes to cold weather. They never leave the warm sanctity of their cauldron and ramshackle home that is perched perilously at the top of my Post Oak at this time of year. I will see them again when the gulf coast toads return in the spring and I will let them know what I think of their lack of help in these cold months…hmmm, on second thoughts, perhaps I wont, they can be a dangerous trio you know…and their breath!!!

Thanks Witchy-G.

7 Barb January 9, 2010 at 8:24 pm

Beautiful (and highly entertaining) blog! So glad I happened onto it.
Last year I decided not to haul out the sheets, and I carried on the new tradition this year. I find that my life is richer for not having to run around out in the wind as a cold front approaches, and the garden is none the worse.
Where did you get the photo of your house in its youth? My great grandfather was a building contractor in Austin in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. He built many houses on the east side. Yours could be one of his.

8 Linda Lehmusvirta January 10, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Every garden should have pretty sheets in winter! I actually hauled out old bedding that had been in the trunk for years, since cold times haven’t been this cold in awhile. And yes, some of the “exterior decorating” blew off in the wind. The ones that worked I clamped together. Hope the lime tree is okay. Maybe that beautiful amaryllis can give it a pep talk.

9 ESP January 10, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Hi Barb and a big welcome to the ESP!
Last year was an easy year frost-wise in Austin, in fact most of us made it through with out a single freeze. This year on the other hand!!! Wow!
I am officially retired from any further linen dragging activities, oh no, no more lugging linen sheets around the ESP like Will Smith dragging his alien around in “Independence Day”, for me. I retire my linen.

Interesting on the house front. The previous owners of our house were green architects and they obtained a copy of the old picture from the historical center here in Austin. Not many houses around when this photograph was taken.

Glad you happened upon the patch.

10 ESP January 10, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Hi Linda.
The sheets looked very 80’s to me, Cindi Lauper etc,etc! I bet your clamps worked better than my elaborate succession of granny knots…futile I tell you! There should be a large cylindrical tube at the center of the garden, in it is stored a large parachute-esk (space-age material, naturally) canopy. A frost on its way? Simple, press the remote big red “deployment” button and return to your house as a massive canopy is ejected and then gently falls over your entire garden. Press the green button and everything automatically retracts neatly back into the cylinder ready for next year, or the next freeze…my sort of system.
I think the lime tree will live, at least half of it is left!

11 Amy January 11, 2010 at 8:52 am

Hope your lime tree makes it! All the covering up is a pain! However, yours is very festive and colorful. I’m at the point that I am wondering …what do I have left? Also, I think I need one of those WheelEasy wheelbarrows :).
I remember the Dave and Buster day outs with our boys. Actually, we would go to Chuck E Cheese…what fun and loud :/ Stay warm!

12 ESP January 11, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Hi Amy.
Me too!
My covering plant days are over…officially.

I know what you mean on the frost bitten front. The tops of my giant timber bamboo are brown now, never seen that before! and the damage to the aloes and succulents is only now appearing. Ahhh!

I am going back to D&B to take my mind off it.

13 Alan August 2, 2013 at 6:48 pm

I was curious about the carnival picture. I’m with a Dallas local band and love this image. We’re recording a new CD and are looking for a cover for the album. I was wondering if you own the rights to this photo. If so I was curious if it’s available for use.

14 ESP August 5, 2013 at 8:18 pm

It is a great image Alan.
I do not own the rights to it, it was captured from the HBO series “Carnivale”.

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