“The Rock”

by ESP on April 20, 2011 · 4 comments

Shocking…I know!

I rounded the corner and my jaw dropped and cracked against the side of the concrete tomb-planter. I had an intuitive feeling something may have changed with it as I reached for my camera, leaving the house.

Read about the continuing saga of the restaurant sarcophagus here :


and here:


I am not holding my breath for these plants’ survival, but I was happy to see that someone had actually cared enough to try to brighten things up.  Oh yes, the sarcophagus planter has had a new lease of life, and it is looking better then I have ever seen it, ever!  A veritable garden of Eden compared with some of its previous incarnations.

I actually got busted by the restaurant’s front of house staff taking the above picture, the youngsters seemed very “amused” that a patron (must surely be a tourist) was actually nerdy enough to take some pictures of it, if only they knew!

Now to something completely different…

I am currently working on an installation on the top of Mount Bonnell in Austin.  I turned up early one day last week  to direct a delivery of 15 yards of decomposed granite. While I was waiting for the truck, I spotted this tarantula

Aphonopelma sp.

by the side of the driveway, and it was a great specimen, I watched it for quite some time, until I forgot how close my hand was to it, and just how fast, despite their size, these spiders actually are.

I knew it wanted nothing to do with me but still, when it got spooked and suddenly jumped laterally a few feet and landed with a thud beside me, I have to say I had a full-on conniption.

Lucky for me it was early morning, limiting any witnesses to my over-the-top elaborate “Matrix” recoil…it has to have been my most spectacular to date.  My camera finger even clicked a final shot in mid-recoil panic. These spiders are big (over three inches), bites of Texas species are generally not serious to humans. When disturbed, tarantulas maneuver to face the threat and will raise up on their hind legs and stretch out their front legs in a threatening posture. When disturbed they also may rapidly brush the top of their abdomen with their hind legs which dislodges urticating hairs from the spider abdomen which irritate the eyes or skin of an attacker.

You can just make out my trusty steed, as I landed on my back, capturing mostly sky.

Digging on the same property I also unearthed this…

No this…


Back in the Patch:

Unbelievable hot weather and drying hot winds have wreaked havoc this weak in central Texas, wild fires have been rife and I even ran a sprinkler as precipitation is already so low.

It was warm enough to have my halflings pressure me into purchasing a new Patch pool, which was naturally an instant hit.

The new pool even took her mind off her loose teeth which she is now obsessed with.

She got right up in my face the other day (as she does knowing it “bothers me”) on my back deck and said “look at this daddy”, she then proceeded to push her tongue into her ridiculously loose tooth, forcing it into the aesthetic realm of Stephen King novel, tilting it forward and sideways, all the while “smiling” in my general direction.

On this particular occasion I think she pushed it a little too far.

Horsetail reed is always so colorful this time of year, looking like glazed pottery that…

Okay, like I fooled anyone!

These black swallowtail caterpillars

Papilio polyxenes asterius Stoll


make quick work of these young fennel plants. I plant fennel every year just for these colorful and hungry visitors.

These parselyworms or caterpillars can reach 2 inches in length and are smooth and green, marked with black bands and yellow spots.

The orange horns (osmeterium), are an intricate defense mechanism and are usually concealed. If the caterpillar is disturbed, it rears up and reveals these orange fleshy organs that release a foul odor.  I tapped this one gently with a feather grass stalk to get the desired effect. I did not witness a whiff of the bad stuff though.

Staying with feather grass a moment,

The recent windy weather has had the Patch once again feeling like the high seas,  these grasses add so much movement to a landscape.

They are currently in their fuzzy phase, it is always something with them, you have to be prepared to work with this particular grass to keep it looking its best.  These fuzzy panacles are about to stick together and form some serious knotty dreads which will need to be “combed”. This combing also dramatically reduces the amount of self-seeding this plant has a propensity to do.

Moving on:

Evergreen wisteria breaking like a wave behind my bench“Hold your breath son”!


Madame Ganna Walska displaying a crazy pine cone root structure, it is amazing how little organic matter these water lilies require to cast-off a root anchor.

Pond life is currently in full force, gulf coast toads, lilies and burgundy canna dictated filter maintenance this week, new young fish have been spotted and water striders are present in unusual proportions.

Organ-like star gazer lily seed pods have developed strange alien embryos:

“Game over man!”

(obligatory Lector noises, naturally)

Jungle canna,

and larkspur color in the Patch along with some cilantro that has gone to seed.

Sand cherry, flashing mauve leaf undersides in the breezes.

Stay Tuned for:

“Daddy Long Legs”

All material © 2011 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.

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1 Gardenista April 27, 2011 at 7:08 am

I keep fennel around to attract those gorgeous caterpillars as well – they are so very high fashion. Plus I fancy the fronds to be a softer greener version of feather grass. Haven’t quite gotten brave enough to take the pond plunge…yet. Are you finding evaporation a problem with this particularly dry/windy year?

2 ESP April 27, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Go-on, make the plunge, it really is easier then you would imagine and the benefits are huge, water breathes so much more life into a garden. My major evaporation months are July / August (naturally) I do top it up every once in a while in periods of low precipitation (like just about now) but it is not a big issue this time of year. The gulf coast toads are going crazy at the moment, another reason to get a water feature…have I convinced you yet? :-)
I hope we get some rain soon.

3 Gail April 29, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Loved the pictures of the halflings..they look like old fashioned “southern” children.
Will be watching to see how the “tomb planter” makes it through the summer. :)

4 ESP April 29, 2011 at 7:10 pm

Hi Gail.

It was funny to capture the halflings in full-on laughter mode on the Alice and Wonderland bench.

Yes it will be interesting to see how the tomb planter deals with the heat, the poor light and generally everything stacked up against anything growing in it. Come on the sarcophagus!


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