“On The Chain Gang”

by ESP on August 1, 2010 · 12 comments

My Pride of Barbados have put on a terrific show this year, getting, along with my amaranth, the tallest I have ever seen them.

Here are a couple of them (and I do not mean the hobbits) that start off in the shade, then, fight their way up and up until they find the full sunlight…a good incentive for them to stretch their legs it seems.

That blue tee shirt was actually my tee shirt when I was his age, they don’t make them like that anymore, 100% polyester and a potent concoction of petrochemicals…still, I have to admit that it has held up well enough to now become an heirloom!

There it is, in the early 70’s, on holiday in a caravan park in Wales, UK.

That hat is a winner big sis, do you still wear it around town? …You should :-)

“Look aunt sally, she be wearin’ my Welsh vacation ‘oliday hat”

“Strangely, I thinks I knows that Caravan Park ESP”.

As you can see my sister had a matching tee shirt with her name emblazoned on it, it was apparently the craze back then for families to occasionally dress in the same outfits. (Or perhaps we just couldn’t remember who we were?)

If memory serves me correct…I believe we also had matching ponchos at one point, yes I said ponchos, but I flat-out refuse to post that picture.

This is the amaranth that is apparently on some form of steroids in my hell-strip.  I have never seen amaranth this size at this time of year, even the seedpods are at a late September length.

The fungi have also been reveling in our (so far) moist-for-Texas summer:

I said fungi!…

This moist storybook scene sprouted up in my papyrus stock tank.

I have a couple of these moon-flowers growing up some large bamboo poles at the entrance to the back garden, they have loved the late afternoon rains and frequent soakings, one has even reached the top of the pole. I grew these from seed planted out early May, they have and continue to put up a great night time show as a backdrop…

to my datura.

This is the twisted ice-cream cone of the moon-flower, just before blooming.

Moving on…

I feel like I have been “On the Chain Gang” this past week, initially digging my way through the earth to prep three fall planting beds, then this familiar sight rounded the corner…it could only mean a couple of things…

Pain and sweat!

A full truck load consisting of 12 yards of my “favorite” substrate, decomposed granite, and another truck loaded with boulders, beach pebbles, and mulch turned up on the previously posted design scheme I am currently in the process of implementing.


I thought the rounded blue-white rocks would work well strewn around the base of this young Spanish oak tree.  I love these Mexican beach pebbles, in fact I like them so much I have ordered another 1/4 ton!  They also totally change character when wet, going to a much darker shiny dark gray/blue state.  I need these in the Patch!

I strangely felt some granite already stuck in my teeth before I even started to hack at the granite mound’s snow-capped peak that at this point looked insurmountable.  I made a makeshift base camp on a lower shelf and started to mentally prepare myself.

The wheel guard on my wheelbarrow immediately fell off and it’s tire once again deflated in its now customary defiant manner. (It always does this when a delivery from Custom Stone pulls onto a work site.)

I need a new wheelbarrow, though with the amount of sweat, blood and toil I have gone through with my “old unfaithful” I could never get rid of it…oh no, it will end up having holes drilled into it and perhaps planted?  Or maybe I will mount it on hooks and attach it to an elaborate pulley system where I can hoist it up high on my living room wall… like a moose head?

“Naturally I prefer the hook idea ESP”

The digging began and continued and continued and con…, with frequent resting points in “base camp” to cool off with a traditional iced turban or ten.  More on this excavation next week, if my arms and hands are still capable of typing.

Here are a few creatures that were spotted in the Patch this week (sadly, no more Naboo sightings): http://www.eastsidepatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/ESP-garden-2-copy.jpg

A dragonfly and an anole not talking to each other. I wonder what they argued about?

I tried the newer sinking dunks today (left) to kill a few thousand of these wigglers

A day or two later I noticed a greasy, oily film had appeared on top of the water. I think I will revert back to the doughnut brand.  I also like that you can see these floating dunks disintegrate over time, they sort of let you know when another application is required.

I bet you already know that the oldest known mosquito with an anatomy similar to our modern species was found in 79 million year old Canadian amber, 79 million!

While I was inspecting all my rosemary plants, I noticed this jumbo jet of a moth, hanging down on one of my prostrate…prostate…oh whatever…rosemary sprigs.

This is the stout body of the Nessus Sphinx Moth.

Amphion floridensis

These are a class of day-flying moths sometimes known as Hummingbird moths because of their flight characteristics.  The median band may be very pale or almost absent, or it can be wide and even double banded. The rustic brown coloration and wing shape of this bird is superb.

Moi Grande Hibiscus and phlox still putting out blooms!

Stay Tuned for:

“It Ain’t Half Hot Mum!…ESP on Tour”

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 Bob Pool August 1, 2010 at 9:38 pm

Moving and spreading granite in this heat? Your a machine, a machine I tell ya. Did you wait until we are expecting temps over the hundred mark to start this project, on purpose, Philip? That’s death defying right there.

Lyn said to tell you how cute the pictures of the Water Bug and the Fashion Queen are, very cute.

In the picture of the dump truck, do you have blood on your hand? A dissagreement with the Naboo perhaps?

2 ESP August 1, 2010 at 10:09 pm

Hi Bob.
Like Data, the heat has no effect on me, though logic does denote that yes, this is the completely wrong time of the year to be moving what will end up being 15 yards of granite!
Oh an android I wish I were, who am I kidding, the heat on this scheme has been quite intense, but the end is nigh! I will post the final hardscaping minus planting (of course), in my next post.

It was blood!….Leah said it was my “Stigmata” moment, most bizarre! I had just opened up the palette of rocks with some pliers kindly loaned to me by my friend and granite deliverer driver. I was about to hand back the pliers when Leah exclaimed, hey, your bleeding! It was the sort of thick congealed blood that looked like a major vein had been severed, it did! Panicking, I scoured myself for the gaping wound, but most strangely, never found one…in fact I had no recollection of feeling the initial injury or ever found a wound that quantified that amount of blood! eeEEK, eeKK, eeKK, eeEEk! I found a hairline scratch a day later on the top of my hand.

Cheers Lyn, (ohhh, if you only knew them)!!!


3 Pam/Digging August 1, 2010 at 11:38 pm

Priceless, that family picture from the fashionable 70s! I could hardly believe it when I read that your son’s shirt used to be yours, but then you had the family picture to back it up. Perhaps I can top it with my confession that, when I was about 14, my parents, younger sister, and I consented to being seen in public in matching (well, we each had a different color) Members Only jackets. Ah, the 80s.

Do I spy your agastache in the background in that hibiscus photo?

Hi Pam.

For some reason your comment went into my spam folder? Yes that T-shirt is like something from Dr Who…popping up at different points in the time-space continuum! Haha Member Only jackets! I had at least two of those, a ghastly light blue one is the one that immediately jumps to mind…what were we thinking! Very funny though.

I believe that is a salvia back there (a very tall crimson one)?


4 Laura August 2, 2010 at 12:36 pm

We have a lot of river rock here. It has much the same shape and texture, but the colours vary more. I love it wet! It’s an entirely different look than when dry. One of my favorite landscaping materials for those low maintenance areas. Your garden is looking bizarre and amazing as usual! Your kids are adorable! How great that your son got to reuse your shirt. They just don’t make clothes the same. I’m looking forward to when my girl will fit into my 80’s mickey mouse sweater. Classic!

Hi Laura.

These rocks do look great with some rain, after completing this job I now, (as usual), want to put a pile of them somewhere in the Patch, oh yes, I WILL find some spare room.

That tee-shirt appears to travel in time…I recently noticed it in an old Victorian newspaper clipping in a museum in Frankfurt of all places. There is also a hieroglyph in an ancient Egyptian tomb where it is clearly depicted in ancient pigments.


5 Jenny August 2, 2010 at 5:26 pm

Are you sure you don’t want to go back to your other job. Before you know it you will be stricken with arthritis in the shoulders. I barrowed so much stuff at our other house that I think they are shot-We were out at a party one time and someone asked what I had been doing all day.”Wheel barrowing” I said. She looked at me and asked- ‘What’s that?’ You would have know, right? Can’t wait to see the end results, which you will be posting, right? What is up with that amaranth- It’s not supposed to do that until the fall- especially October! I had not seen the sinking mosg. dunks but will keep away from them. I threw a whole one into my water feature before I left and hope it keeps the wigglers at bay. We don’t get many over at our house- mainly because it is so rocky and dry. Has its advantages I guess.
Is your tetanus shot up to date?

6 ESP August 2, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Hi Jenny.

I am actively working on getting an industrial design position, in-between shoveling 15 yards of granite, and hauling a few tons of rock that is! It is a crazy world I live in! Check out my professional site and fledgling design blog: http://www.leveridgedesign.com

It is my right elbow that takes the brunt of the shoveling forces it seems. Leah, “My day laborer” and I moved the final three yards today and I could feel it. Still, the installation is finished now and I am sitting with a celebratory large glass of claret and an iced turban over my elbow! The process was extremely satisfying though, to see the rendering come to life, and to have a delighted client…what can be better! I will feature the new hardscape in my next post, though It will not be planted up until the fall.

What IS up with that amaranth! I have never seen anything like it…it is up to about 8ft already! If it keeps growing up into the fall I think It may be a contender for the largest amaranth ever! I have a feeling I may be doing a lot of staking this year. My Mex. bush sage has also gone insane, I am going to give them yet another trimming tomorrow to keep them compact for a good show at the you-know-what, you-know-when :-)

Yes I was not impressed with the sinking dunks, they also are quite messy…leaving a dark chalk-like residue on your hands after handling them…doughnut dunks for me from now on, thank you very much.

Is my tetanus shot up to date?
Nothing in my life is up to date…I am typing this reply on a pimped-up Commodor 64…I really am! :-)


7 Germi August 3, 2010 at 3:00 pm

ESP, count me as another lover of Mexican pebbles – I use them whenever I can, where budget allows.I’m mad about a black/dk blue/burgundy mix just now – thinking about scraping all of the pea gravel out of my back yard and plunking it down in the conversation / aloe pit. But it would cost thousands, I checked. Sigh. I need to save my pennies. Or stage a heist at my local stone yard – but they know me … I swoon over the pebbles every time I’m there and ask if that is how much it REALLY costs (wide eyes, fluttering lashes…), so if a bunch suddenly went missing I’m sure they would trace it right to my house. Damn.
Now I have NEVER seen a dragonfly in my garden EVER (embarrassingly, I don’t have a water feature – I know… what’s THAT about), but yesterday I looked up while gathering tomatoes and saw a dragonfly perched on the rebar that I use to stake the floppy vines – and I SWEAR it was the exact same dragonfly as the one in the argument with the anole. I looked at him, he looked back at me – we stared at each other – then he flew off … back to Austin I think. Do you think he was delivering messages to the Naboo warriors who have been staking out my garden ever since the fateful picture was snapped? I know they are here, even though they try to be inconspicuous. My white eggplant have tiny bites taken out of them … I suspect they are snacking while lying in wait.
That Amaranth is a giant – have you ever eaten any? I have been eating all manner of things reputed to be edible – I must say, just because a thing doesn’t poison you doesn’t mean it is edible. The amaranth I had (sauteed like spinach) wasn’t bad. But I wouldn’t call it good. I’d call it apocalypse food. To only be eaten in the event of.
Congrats on your project – it will be smashing, I know! More pics – can’t WAIT!!!
Best to all!

8 ESP August 3, 2010 at 7:25 pm

Hi G.

Mexican beach pebbles are the best…it is a pity they are not cheap, but then the best things usually aren’t. I know I could certainly use a delivery of these in the Patch myself! They also make a really great sound when clinked together, and I have been doing a lot of clinking recently. They also get extremely hot in the Texas sun, (eggs could most certainly be fried at this time of year.)

Come on Germi, you HAVE to get a water feature, you have to. You would never look back – Almost as soon as I had filled up my first stock tank it started to pull in a whole host of new creatures, and you know me…I do like creatures. Your dragon was most definitely a spy, I have also been under the same 30,000 eyes of scrutiny since “the picture” went public. I could not be sure, but I think I saw a naboo member flying on the back of a neon skimmer the other day, holding tiny reigns…most disconcerting. My golden eggplants (they are eggplants, they are, they are) have also developed small “jaw signs”, yes, this is Naboo sign.

The amaranth is completely out of control, it does not seem to know what time of the year it is! I have never tried to eat it, but I knew you could, apparently the leaves taste better when they are tiny “micro-greens” rather then the larger leaves which would be apocalypse food indeed, classic. Did you use small leaves Germi, did you? We do use our Hoja Santa leaves, great on the grill wrapping lemon grass and tilapia + serrano naturally. If only tilapia would survive in my stock-tanks…I would never have to leave the house.

Will post more on the installation soon.
Thanks G.


9 TexasDeb August 4, 2010 at 9:53 am

I now can add “hardscape envy” to my list of seemingly unavoidable sins. Hiring you for design/implementation work just rocketed near the top of my list documenting “What I Would Do If I Won the Lottery Tomorrow”.

With Mr Ankle just now beginning to tolerate weight bearing, I wobbled out earlier to survey what I am trying to STOP thinking of as “my domain” (if I can’t work it I won’t claim it!) only to see bazillions of bermuda seed pods waving in the breeze, poking up through a smothering blanket of morning glory vines. I yanked out what I could reach from the path (insignificant percentage naturally) and certainly know how I will be spending my time for the next few seasons. So whatever your Amaranth is up to the bermuda grass and wild morning glories seem to be imbibing from the same flask.

Up side of the injury is I am pretty sure I can now tell when it is going to rain via ankle twinges. Surely your elbow will begin to predict weather or horse race results or something if you’ll be properly attentive….

10 ESP August 5, 2010 at 9:16 am

Hi TD.

Well I guess your ankle should be somewhat less painful considering our zero moisture conditions of late. Glad to hear you are starting to be able to support weight on it again. We really take walking normally for granted until this sort of thing happens, (remembers a bad skateboarding accident). TD you do not have to win the lottery…I am totally affordable, in fact I pride myself on my availability to the average home owner. Though winning the lottery would also be nice :-) Island holiday…pina colada…palm tre….(looks away from keyboard to the window and drifts off).
Sorry to hear about your Bermuda grass issues, I still have areas that pop up the evil BG , I hate it with a vengeance…oh and do not get me started about the tiny patch that inhabits the base of one of my barrel cactus (of course it does) arrgh!


11 Germi August 6, 2010 at 12:09 am

Sigh. I used medium sized leaves – I should have gone the micro route. Am dying to try hoja santa and have spec’d a few in on a large project in Mexico – part of which is a tropical food garden. I wonder what kind of Naboo they have in Mexico? I’m going in a few weeks – will I still be watched? Maybe they think I travel and snap pics in hopes of exposing them? I am feeling watched…

Yes a water feature NEEDS to happen! I think I’ve identifies the right spot – now to find the appropriate stock tank!
G. again, bloghogging!

12 ESP August 6, 2010 at 6:06 pm

Hi G… I have read the micro route is the only route if you want to eat amaranth and not get lost down the bitterness lane? It may help elevate it from an apocalyptic food!…Having never tried it I really have no idea of what I am wittering on about. I really should eat it as I have a ton of it, front and back in the Patch…and it is one of my absolute favorite plants…ever!

As you know I love stock tank ponds, look forward to seeing what you come up with with yours.

I like you bloghogging!


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