“Put the Petal to the Metal”

by ESP on January 20, 2010 · 9 comments


Eeek, Eeek, Eeek, Eeek!

What manner of witchcraft is being performed here?


She has been watching too much “Wally”.

It turns out it is “invention day” tomorrow at pre-school, which translates into “better rustle an invention up pronto.” I found this battery operated light that looked about the diameter of a chunk of Giant Timber bamboo. She wanted to make a light of some sort after all. I cut the culm into a small length then she marked out where I was to drill the holes, she totally disappeared as I drilled.

She HATES loud noises.


I cut a small slot in the back of it to allow finger access to the on/off button, then I secured the light with some trusty old duct-tape, actually the same tape that I have used on the the Botox Lady a few times.


The light / flashlight came out very tropical looking, casts a decent shape on the wall too.


Temperatures have risen considerably in Central Texas this last week after our damaging freeze.  Bulbs are on the rise as is the desire to get planting, but for now I will resist.

jack20frostI have a bad feeling that Jack “irritating” Frost has not relinquished his rule quite yet, he is, in fact, trying to trick us into making that fatal too early in the year trip to the nursery…

oh, who am I kidding, where are my car keys…


“How much further to the Natural Gardener sis?”

“I don’t care bro…I am writing in daddy’s crossword book, hehe.”


Jack Frost always looks like he is present on my Arizona cypress ‘Blue Ice’ trees, even in the middle of summer.

Moving On…


“The man in the moon came down too soon,
and asked his way to Norwich,
They sent him south and he burnt his mouth
By eating cold pease-porridge.”

I think this was left when the strange carnival folk packed up their colorful tents and canopies and moved mysteriously out of the patch.

DSC02128As colorful as the carnival folk, this dwarf miscanthus is incredible right now, I do not cut these back until the very last minute, until I see the new growth starting to emerge. Hard to beat this for winter color.


The colder it gets the deeper the color of the foliage, this year has created some deep saturation.


The extremities of this young barrel has been nipped, making for some unexpected coloration of its own.


This was one tiny succulent that I did not expect to endure the frosts uncovered, but endure it did, in fact I rather think it liked the abuse.


With some really nice weather hitting me as I picked up what seems like an endless amount of fallen leaves, it was down to a tee-shirt for me… in January!  I love Texas winters. Having bare arms is naturally the cue for me to end up gardening somewhere near my Sotol, it never fails.  I get so caught up cleaning and pruning, that I never think of stepping back to think that this activity really does call for some more appropriate arm protection.  Oh no, that would break the momentum, take me out of the present and that simply is never going to happen, anyway it was time for my annual arm flogging and the Sotol always delivers the goods. The lower razor-leaves were interfering with my leaf gathering activities as well as the aloe in the foreground, they had to go, and they had to go now.


A healthy arm flogging later and it is all pruned up and myself? …


Oh, I’m okay!


The colors and patterns on this variegated agave ‘Americana’  looked like a satellite image of a martian landscape.

Inspirational image of the week:


The Crazy House, Delat, Vietnam.

Antoni Gaudi would be proud!

On a final note I want to thank all of my friends on Twitter that are helping me.

Stay Tuned for:

“Jagged Little Pill-Bug”

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 Gail January 22, 2010 at 8:06 am

The colors on the dwarf miscanthus are amazing . Definitely want to replace some of our dead plants with that in the spring. Also it’s interesting to note which of the succulents survived the freezes. Maybe more of those for the botox lady’s hair?!

Nice invention for “invention day”. She may discover it’s a nice magic wand as well. :)

Hi Gail. the dwarf miscanthus is a star this time of year, keeping areas looking “filled in” and non-winter like, and the colors are a bonus. Yes we should sneak a couple in at the very front, or that small sunny area at the back. This tiny succulent would make great hair for the Botox Lady, the ice plant made her look like she was having a perpetual bad-hair day. Now of course she is bald again, and she is most definitely not happy about that.

I would love to be a fly on the wall when she presents her invention.

2 TexasDeb January 22, 2010 at 9:09 am

Whenever I work around my Spanish Dagger plant I’m grateful I wear glasses, otherwise I am sure I’d have poked out an eye by now. It is SO hard to maintain proper care when lost in the moment and the task….

Watching my own grasses for any signs of new life with this warmth. I have the hardest time cutting them back, as I do the salvias. Say, did you ever decide when/whether to cut back your verbenas (or did I see that and miss it!?)…

3 ESP January 22, 2010 at 1:38 pm

Hi Deb.
It is! I never learn. Pruning this sotol requires a contortionists balance as there are a multitude of agave needles pointing up at me in all directions around it…one slip and well, you can imagine. These bottom spikes are also well protected from the ones above them, oh no they are not going down easily.

I am brutal with salvia pruning, I hate the leggy look I see on so many commercial sites.
I think you are thinking about my artemisia as to when / whether to cut back? And I did it a week or so ago. Verbena pretty much tells you when it is done and ready for a good whacking.

Thanks for popping in Deb.

4 Jenny January 22, 2010 at 6:10 pm

I think you had better watch out or you will have another car in the house. How goes that, by the way. Does dwarf mis. always do that, the color thing? It really is attractive. Also the little succulent. What is that? I really like it.

5 Pam/Digging January 22, 2010 at 9:59 pm

Like Jenny, I’m smitten with your little succulent. It looks fabulous after the cold snap. Some of mine surprised me with their hardiness also. I have ‘Adagio’ dwarf miscanthus too, but my best color came in December. Since the hard freezes of a few weeks ago, they bleached out. I think I’m colder here than you, probably. What did you get down to, do you know? We went to 15 F by the house, probably lower by a couple of degrees in the lower garden.

6 ESP January 23, 2010 at 9:37 am

Haha Jenny, we do not want another car event to happen again, thats for sure! The repairs are going well…wall fixed window in, floor repaired so yes the galleon ship is looking ship shape. I am trying to identify this little succulent, I will let you know, it is tiny, AND hardy, a great combination. I will be using this plant for the Botox ladies hair, next rev.

7 ESP January 23, 2010 at 9:45 am

Hi Pam.
You know, I do not know what we got down to in the Patch. I really need to sort out my monitoring equipment, must get a rain gauge etc.etc. I do know that it was cold enough to fry the foliage on my bamboos, barbados cherry, and bottlebrush. Fingers crossed for the spring. I want to know how the mosquitoes got through it, or returned so quickly! Unbelievable. I also found it interesting that the loquats all made it through unscathed when the wet freeze we had a couple of years back hit them hard.

8 Linda Lehmusvirta January 23, 2010 at 5:12 pm

Wow, I want that light! What a great invention! And I want some of the miscanthus, too. I do hate to cut grasses back too soon, as well, and any plant that has that rich winter-frost color. I find it joyous. And oh, yes, where are my car keys? Need to head to the nursery.

9 ESP January 23, 2010 at 10:33 pm

Hi Linda.
All of us in the Patch want to thank you for your referral for the Patch to be included in the Austin Garden Conservancy Tour 2010. We are proud to be officially part of the tour! Cheers!
The timber flashlight came out okay on the day, the duct-tape made the design sing…as it always does! You cannot beat duct-tape after all!
I also want more of the dwarf miscanthus, a true trooper and just the best for supplying winter color and form.

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