“Not so fun in the Sun”

by ESP on July 9, 2011 · 10 comments

Our vacation shells have all been poured out around these baby jewels of Opar and this juvenile pinwheel sotol, the shells are a welcome reminder of our cooler and relaxing days spent at the beach. My brief holiday reprieve was immediately tempered on my return with an immediate 100+ degree jolt back into garden install reality. With my iced turban tying skills apparently lacking finesse (lack of practice), I have been forced to adapt to our current heated Texas temperatures the hard way…with a wayward turban combined with some plain old-fashioned hard work in the sun.

By the end of my first week back, I looked pretty grim.

I am hoping the Texas Sage,  (barometer plant)  that has been blooming all over town knows something the weatherman doesn’t.

One of my favorite tough shrubs.  Both of these will be getting a hard pruning after this flush of blooms.

My celosia plants are curling on a daily basis as if they are trying to protect and shade themselves from the scorching rays of the death star,

rays that seem to be getting hotter and brighter with every passing day. The baking sun has been good for one thing though…

It has dried out these dead giant timber culms enough that when I pulled on one the other day It surprisingly moved a little at the base. This could not be a good thing, massive culms teetering over my neighbors house. Oh no, these needed to come down immediately. The bamboo roots had completely rotted and with a sharp twist they came away easily at the base, no saws or machete hacking required! I was feeling quite proud of myself until I realized that I was now wielding a forty foot spear.

“Ach ESP, thats nuthin’ we’ve bult spears twice that lungth before…and used them against the English in batt…”

Pie-hole William, shut it.

After cutting them to size these culms made great additions to my ever expanding bamboo fence.

Talking of fences, okay gates, remember this east side design?


Here is the rendering (left), and here is the hardscape (minus planting) installed and awaiting a softening fall planting. The Tejas black gravel and pale boulders reference the home colors, offering the visual illusion of widening the preexisting pathway.

Moving on:

If this sunken stock tank did not have a Madame Ganna Walska growing in it (now there is something you don’t get to say every day) I would be in it, squatting to my neck with some ice from the corner store attempting to cool down under the canopy of this Arizona ‘blue ice’ cypress.

My goal is to train this beach vitex and keep wrapping it all around the perimeter of the stock tank. (Sorry Les)http://atidewatergardener.blogspot.com/

These purple fountain grasses,

Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’


have sprung up so fast this year, basking and swaying in the heated breezes.

This grass will look good well into the fall.

I keep planting the seeds from the background pride of Barbados all down this fence line, every year I seem to gain another couple of plants…

well worth the effort.

Datura is also in full-flight at the moment,

pushing out its psychotropic napkin blooms.

I dug up this star hibiscus late spring and replanted it in a large pot, placing and treating it like a marginal plant in my pond (thanks for the advice Bob, http://dracogardens.blogspot.com/ ). It first went into shock, I kept a close eye on it, then it rebounded with vigor and is doing better then it ever did in the ground.  It has grown taller and developing a set of very decorative looking blooms.

Another stock tank experiment is slowly taking shape and filling in slowly with dwarf papyrus and horsetail reed.  This tank is commonly referred to as the “disgusting tub’ by my halflings for a number of reasons.  First of all I go around systematically prodding it with a bamboo cane, it generally responds with a few flatulent noises to the delight of everybody, secondly, as I filled the tank with Dillo Dirt, conversation wandered to exactly what Dillo Dirt was made from…well the “disgusting tub” obviously gained even more relevance. The event that sealed it as a place to avoid was when a bamboo prod led to the expulsion of the nasty stuff in a particularly violent air-bubble that sent some of the contents airborne and onto the side of my face. (Insert lots of ewwing).

 I no longer prod this tank.


Things tend to get quite surreal in the Patch when we hit three digit temperatures for a long period of time…

Brains get a little scrambled,

animals start going insane.

“Meoww…Kumo…look what I caught!”





“Is that a Carolina ‘pant’ Saddlebag dragonfly?”

Tramea carolina


” I believe it is my,eoww feather grass loving friend”

“Are you going to eat it?”

“Not immediately Kumo, I just need to torture it a little meow-more.”


Stay Tuned for:

“A Star is Born”


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 Bob Pool July 9, 2011 at 10:05 pm

Wow, your garden is looking good in this exreme heat Philip. I have few blooms in the garden this year and am just trying to keep it alive. The Jewels of Opar that you gave me, at the you know what, is the perkiest looking plant in the garden. It’s light green leaves just look so fragile but it is very hardy and is 5 times the size it was when I got it. I now think it is a plant I will always have…I like it a lot.

Glad your Texas Star Hibiscus is doing well. Ours has had over 30 blooms this year, it’s best.

It looks like your choice in dogs was perfect for the Patch and should compliment Water Bug well.

2 ESP July 9, 2011 at 10:33 pm

Thanks Bob.

You cannot beat the Texas natives, which is a really good thing as I have had no time to tend to my own garden recently.

I am happy to hear Tarzan’s “Jewels” are doing well for you from the “you know what”…I like this plant too (one of my favorites as you know).

Kumo the dog is working out brilliantly, apart from his propensity to “dry-off” from the sprinkler on my feather grasses, (he has flattened two so far).

The water bug gets bitten at least 10 times on a playful daily basis. He has to apparently learn the hard way :-)…and, I am sure, he will become inseparable with this puppy in the long run.


3 Linda Lehmusvirta July 10, 2011 at 10:47 am

Even with the Death Star upon us, the Patch looks pretty darned good! The new landscape you designed looks gorgeous, even pre-planting. And yep, what’s the deal with the cenizos? It’s barely even humid, but I’ll take their offerings.

4 ESP July 10, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Hi Linda and thanks…the Patch is hanging in there by its topsoil.

Glad you like the design, I look forward to planting it up this fall.

What a great show the cenizos put on this last week, some plants were completely covered in blooms giving them a very surreal aesthetic. A refreshing sight through the dust.


5 Toni - Signature Gardens July 10, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Love that sotol!!! Is the purple fountaingrass perennial for you? Can I ask why you hard prune your Cenizo now (or after it blooms)? Just curious. Do you ever hard prune it in later winter? I’ve never grown one. And last question…what is the purpose of the dillo dirt tank…as opposed to just water? Again, I have an inquiring mind. I’d be eeewwwwing on the spewing, too!!

6 ESP July 10, 2011 at 6:44 pm

Hi Toni.

I have three sotols in the Patch all at varying degrees of maturity, they take so long to grow, but well worth it.

The purple fountain grass is a perennial (sort of) sometimes it comes back in zone 8b, sometimes it does not…pot luck in my experience. I always get plenty of it in the spring and plant bunches where I have some gaps, it works great as a filler.

I prune the Cenizo after it blooms because I like the blooms and because it is now out of shape. I prune this plant when I need to throughout the year (it tells you when).

The dillo dirt is required to grow the plants in the tank to fill the entire surface with foliage (it is a bog garden)…and yes, it was quite disgusting when it burped on me…I do not want to think about it.

I hope I answered your questions.


7 Pam/Digging July 12, 2011 at 1:27 am

I’m sorry to hear the iced turbans are not working for you these days, ESP. The death star is just too intense right now, perhaps. I enjoyed your dancing dog pics, and the beach adventure in your previous post.

Hi Pam.

I just had a slight hiccup on my turban tying abilities…all is good again after two weeks of a rather intense install in this rather intense heat…oh yes, in fact I intend to conduct an iced “wrapping” webinar in the fall :-)
It would be a quick training session to teach Kumo to walk and dance on his hind legs – I am hoping he is smart enough to learn the highland fling and adorn the traditional dress for next Paddy’s day.


8 Casa Mariposa July 12, 2011 at 9:04 am

Our heat advisory today is 107 but you’ve had such a brutal summer, I guess it’s our turn under the death star’s laser. The dancing dog pix are the best!!! The Pride of Barbados looks like a really cool plant but unless it’s a bitter ex-pat, probably wouldn’t do so well in our sometimes snowy winters. :o)

And we are really just starting our really hot summer months! Drought, drought, on top of more heat and drought, oh yes Texas is currently a painful experience. Glad you like the dancing Kumo, he loves the sprinkler and our kids paddling pool, well who doesn’t!
Pride of Barbados dies back to the ground in the winter…what zone are you in?

9 Gail July 12, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Kumo looks like one of the whirling dervishes…cute but a little nuts. :)

That sums him up perfectly Gail. He will so much cuter when he becomes totally house trained :-) ESP.

10 Les July 13, 2011 at 5:36 pm

No apologies necessary.

Haha, are you sure Les?

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