“Garden Coffins”

by ESP on July 9, 2010 · 26 comments

Don’t panic, I have not buried anybody in my back garden. It is traditional that a deceased Naboo tribesman (right) is buried alongside all his tribal paraphernalia (left).

Have I not communicated that the Naboo are certifiable hoarders?

I am not trying to be morbid, but when I see an entryway planter to a restaurant looking like this…

I can feel the life-force drain out of me – what is this? (Apart from depressing).  A crypt with bits of a broken crypt scattered on top of it?

“Be strong Luke Strip-Mall-Walker”.

(whispers)…”I like the planter Sookie”…(whispers) “Me too Bill”.

All that is lacking here is an epitaph etched into the anemic concrete grave and perhaps a handful of mourners dressed in all-black surrounding it, staring at the floor and sobbing occasionally for dramatic blogging effect!

This cannot be a good first impression for customers walking up to a dining establishment, can it?…But you know what? I am a repeat customer regardless of this planter, in fact, this planter is the main reason I keep returning …I just have to see what is going on in this odd monstrosity!

As a patron, this scene has disturbed me for quite some time. The random selection of pots do move around occasionally, and I must say, this current layout has the concrete planter, seat, whatever, looking better then I have seen it for quite some time!  Oh yes, believe me, it has looked significantly “graver” (coughs), than this in the past.  To see the planting and broken pot shuffling activities in and around this planter, as a short, time-lapse movie would be riveting.  Zzzzzzz.

A few broken pieces of terracotta strewn here and there, a random hodge-podge of pots, (two are amazingly the same…could this be an attempt at repetition)?  Okay that was mean! And a few randomly positioned herbs complete this stark sarcophagus scene.  There must be a friendlier solution to this difficult, no irrigation, covered strip-mall scene?  I thought I would give it a quick go…

A lick of “Photoshop” concrete paint from a virtual paintbrush…dark at the base to visually elevate the structure then brown accents reflecting the door to the establishment make it a little less morbid.  A few small boulders, decorative pea-gravel and a xeric “oasis” planting scheme that is built-up and elevated toward the center, makes the structure and planting look a little more “intentional” and less flat.  A larger rustic planter in the background replaces the existing undersized one for a little more presence.

It is still a very, very odd structure, but at least it could be a visually warmer, more inviting one!

Talking of “Oasis” It is amazing what is going on up there:

Flying quickly back to the Patch:

A very trusting Neon Skimmer posed for me like a poorly waxed runway model this afternoon…are those tiny whitened teeth?  Brrr!

Libellula croceipennis

The surface of each eyeball is faceted with up to 30,000 individual ‘eyes’ called ommatidia.  If you zoom in to the above picture you can see them, (just keep clicking on the image).  These ‘eyes’ combine a surface lens with an internal cone-shaped crystalline lens which feed information and data to the tiny brain of the insect. This gives dragonflies multi-image vision and super-sensitive motion detection – moving objects pass from the view of one of the tiny lenses to another, making them practically impossible to catch.

Dragons possess 6 legs (like any other insect), but they are not capable of walking.  The creature has two sets of many-veined, long, rigid wings which beat alternately (when one is up the other is down).  This gives it excellent aerodynamic efficiency and precise flight control.

“Oh come on ESP!!!”

The wings beat 1,600 or more times a minute…no wonder they are often found resting on agave spikes!

Against all the odds of catching a dragonfly it has been a popular hunting activity in the Patch since they first appeared this year…

She is determined to prove my “you just can’t catch them” statement wrong…if successful, I would never, ever hear the end of it:  “Well daddy said you couldn’t…blah, blah, blah, blah… (repeat until):

There is one other popular activity I failed to mention, it involves tadpoles, buckets and copious amounts of mosquito spray…

Although it all looks rather uncomfortable, hand-catching tadpoles keeps her quiet for at least an hour.

Talking of net hunting, this Pride of Barbados really pulls in the butterflies, particularly the swallowtails, when it is in full bloom at this time of year.

Moving on…

Looking like striped sea-side rock or candy canes, (if you are American), the variegation on this Bambusa multiplex ‘Alphonse Karr Bamboo’ is quite something.  I have a bunch of new culms shooting up right now.  Each new segment on the same culm offers a completely new and uniquely striped design and color scheme.  This clumping bamboo makes an excellent privacy screen, getting up to about 15ft in height and remaining quite compact in its habit.  Interestingly, it also did better then my giant timber, Buddha’s belly and my Mexican weeping and black bamboos through our harsh winter.  The giant timber was hit the worst, especially this one, sadly my oldest one:

I am still in denial about it…I know I should cut these culms down, it is like I just cannot admit to myself that they are DEAD…DEAD,DEAD,DEAD! Perhaps thinking what I can use these culms for, might push me into getting my hook-saw out of my shed?  Perhaps an enormous bamboo chair? (These culms are each about 40 feet tall after all) or…

…how about a new water-wheel to harness all the rain that has been flowing down my decomposed granite pathways recently?  Mmm, could be a bit tasking for a complete novice?  I probably have just enough bamboo to construct a new Patch structure, a bit smaller then the one on the right naturally…wait, I have it!  Why had I not thought of this?

A Tiki-hut!

Not having ever built anything with bamboo before, and like my garden bench, http://www.eastsidepatch.com/2010/04/garden-benches/ there will naturally be no construction plans in sight.  This promises to be a somewhat interesting endeavor that has all the hallmarks of a potential future Darwin award, an award I am no stranger to: http://www.eastsidepatch.com/2008/05/wind-chimes-and-my-post-oak-a-darwin-award-nominee/

Even more disturbing then my dead bamboo…you guessed it:

Cactus Man “junior” apparently has a lazy right eye! I fear this could this be the result of in-breeding?

I still cannot believe that this opuntia paddle is:

a) Growing in almost the identical position and orientation as and where I murdered the original “Cactus Man”‘ RIP (along with his family and friends) with my naive face carving exploits: http://www.eastsidepatch.com/2009/10/halloween-2009/ Could he be reanimating himself to reap his revenge?


b) This is the only paddle to develop these very animated eyes with absolutely no “help” from me this time whatsoever, this has to be a good thing…It is HIM I tell you!


Lily Pads have officially taken over my pond!

Can somebody please tell me what this is?

I believe this is a weed, but I quite like it, well, at least enough to allow it (perhaps foolishly) to grow to maturity (about three feet). It has a very distinctive waxy, smooth stem, but those seed-pods are now beginning to concern me! …anybody?

The ESPatch putting another bright Moi Grande bloom in her lapel.

Everything is enjoying these frequent summer soakings.

Stay Tuned for:

“Kate Bush – Withering Sights”

All material © 2010 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late  (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.

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1 jenn July 10, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Those seeds look like Pokeweed. I’m surprised the stalk isn’t a red/burgundy color like the ones I knew in Michigan, but still could be pokeweed.

2 ESP July 10, 2010 at 1:32 pm

Hi Jenn.
Ahh, and yet another toxic plant, steeped in history, mysteriously finds its way into the Patch. It looks like an unripened Pokeweed indeed. The stem is green but with a tinge of pink, perhaps as the fruit matures the stems will also darken?

3 Jenny July 10, 2010 at 3:18 pm

AH-someone beat me to it. Yes, pokeweed. Eventually those seeds will ripen to an amazing purple color. One showed up in my garden several years ago. Soon it was tree sized but I couldn’t pull it out because the color was gorgeous. Eventually, though, I got out the pickaxe. The mockingbird loved the berries and pooped them all over the patio. That was enough. Every so often a new one popped up.
Blackpool rock indeed- very attractive but I think you will have to find a use for the bamboo canes. A great trellis maybe.
Now to the coffin planter. It looks to me as though people have left offerings to the dead in the form of small plants and pieces of their old funeral urns. Love your photo shop edition. Let them know about it. Offer to do it! Tell them the blogging world now knows all about it.
Everything sure looks green and lush. No weeds, I bet!

4 ESP July 10, 2010 at 7:36 pm

Hi Jenny.

And you are usually so quick on the draw…almost as fast as Robin with her gun-slinging trowel!…Pokeweed, I look forward to seeing this unexpected guest and its fruit mature in the Patch. Just like my milk thistles it just “appeared,” I love it when this happens, especially when you have no idea of what it is doing during certain stages of its development, can’t wait for the berries to turn dark, to think I almost pulled it up…twice!

Mmm, Blackpool rock indeed, I remember being mesmerized as a child watching the soft rock being placed on those stretching machines.

I think I have settled on a Tiki bar to make use of these culms, it will be great falling off a tall seat, knowing all of the bamboo was grown and harvested right here in the Patch!

Ah the sad coffin planter…there was an employee sitting outside taking a break as I took the pictures of this depressing area, he must have thought I was completely mad! It must have looked like I thought the area was quite amazing and worthy of a dozen pictures!!! I intend to drop the image off to the manager next time I go…and I really want to do it!

No weeds? After all this rain? Jenny you jest…I cannot begin to keep up…I intend to do a post that is dedicated to the weeds that I frequently interact with and describe the thoughts and psychological effects the different weeds have on my psyche as a gardener. I know them all like old, irritating friends.

Cheers J…Come on the Dutch!

5 Bob Pool July 10, 2010 at 10:15 pm

In the south, that would be southern U.S., your mystery plant was known as Poke Salad. It was either steamed or fried, usually with pork, some times with possum. Or so I’ve been told by relatives in Tennessee.

6 Bob Pool July 10, 2010 at 10:20 pm

Forgot to say, your rendition of what the planter could look like is very nice Philip. You certainly have a talent, not just in plant choices, but in the other things that can make gardens really look good.

Hi Bob.
Yes, I did read about the culinary use of this plant…but I must have purposely skipped the possum part for fear of drooling and involuntarily hurling over my laptop…

“And for you sir?”
“Err, I think will have the Poke salad special please”
“Would you like to add possum to that sir?”
“Would it be special without it?”

Glad you liked the planter redesign Bob, it was a fun little exercise.


7 Amy/goawayimgardening! July 11, 2010 at 7:11 am

I always enjoy visiting your blog. What an improvement in the coffin. It does look very dead and they might as well put dead plants in it because it has no interest and your right…it is morbid. If they only knew what it could look like with the changes. You definitely see things in a different light…”That looks like a ……” :)

Hi Amy.
Glad you like the new and improved coffin! :-) Pimp my coffin!
Next time I am in the restaurant I will slip a printed image of it in the wallet with the tip.
So people do visit some of the additional Patch pages! Which is your favorite “looks like” image?

8 Cheryl July 11, 2010 at 9:19 am

I too left a “visiting” pokeweed growing because it was “just SO pretty!” Now the darn things are popping up ALL OVER and I am constantly hacking them down. So beware…. the are VERY prolific. They grow ginormous roots. They do not give up easily. They are only edible for a short period and then they become poisonous.. or so I’ve read. No Poke Salad for me thank-you-very-much. (but dang! They ARE pretty!)

9 ESP July 11, 2010 at 10:45 am

Hi Cheryl.
Not even with a few slices of seasoned possum?

10 Cheryl July 11, 2010 at 2:53 pm

I’d likely try the seasoned opossum before I’d try the poke weed! LOL

11 ESP July 11, 2010 at 7:11 pm

Haha! Cheryl, I believe you!
You love this plant don’t you? :-)

12 Les July 12, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Even though I am from the South, we never ate Poke Salat (with a “t” not a “d”), however, the ripened berries were often crushed up and smeared to our shirtless bodies as we played cowboys and Indians in the fields around the neighborhood. Mother’s were not pleased.

13 ESP July 12, 2010 at 6:36 pm

Hi Les…I stand corrected, Poke Salat it is…from the German word for salad apparently. Is it true the dye in the berries lasts for a few days on the skin? No wonder mother’s were not pleased!

14 Pam/Digging July 13, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Love your improvement to the coffin container garden, ESP. But mainly I’m still cracking up over the coffin imagery. You always see things in such a new way, and once you point it out, it’s exactly the same to my eyes too. You have a gift for seeing things.

15 ESP July 14, 2010 at 9:07 am

Welcome back Pam, hope you had a great time.
Yes, the poor sad planter would look much more at home in a cemetery than out the front of a strip-mall restaurant! I had to give it a go!
Glad you liked my little bit of “help” It would be great if they will allow me to execute!
Thanks Pam.

16 ChrisG July 16, 2010 at 8:28 am

Oh, the Alphonse Karr Bamboo – I must have!

17 ESP July 16, 2010 at 9:29 am

It is the best…a very stylish clumper. I need more.

18 Jenny July 16, 2010 at 8:41 pm

Philip- Believe it or not I found a pokeweed growing in my garden. It was growing in between two of the citrus pots. It was already 3′ tall and was starting to bloom. I should say “is” because I have left it.

19 ESP July 16, 2010 at 10:00 pm

Jenny…I am so pleased for you :-)
I am tracking mine, sounds about the same size as yours…mine has just finished blooming and has a healthy amount of fruit just starting to turn color, pink right now.

I will also be letting my pokeweed develop into maturity, someone is going to love all that fruit. Did you know that the name is believed to be derived from the fruit, fruit that looks like it has been “poked”?
It does!

20 Marilyn Kircus August 8, 2010 at 5:29 pm

I wish I knew you had dead bamboo. I needed it to build my grandson a T-pee. I had to buy the poles and I think it took 16 of them to build a T-pee trellis that now has Easter egg gourds and Luffa sponges growing on it, giving him a little garden hide-out.

Maybe your kids would like one also.

21 ESP August 8, 2010 at 7:45 pm

Hi Marilyn.

What a great sounding “den” and T-pee for your grandson! I bet he just loves it…and such a creative planting scheme from you!
My kids would most certainly love this…want to come over and implement one for me in the Patch? :-)


22 Thomas May 4, 2011 at 10:56 am

I finally found a mistake after all of these years. Maybe the anole wanted to pray for rain, instead of looking for prey. Incredible writing son-in-law.

23 ESP May 4, 2011 at 12:58 pm

I still cannot find it? What post? Shock…Horror :-) Trust me there are plenty of mistakes, especially in my older posts, and I always get the pray/prey thing wrong for some reason.
Thanks T.

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