“The Haunted Garden”

by ESP on September 22, 2011 · 5 comments

“Ah, ha ha ha ha ha, look at your garden now ESP, even the ghost plants are dying…Ah, ha ha ha ha ha.”

Oh very funny Ernie.

Oh wait they have!

This used to be a proud stand of

Graptopetalum paraguayense

here it is in the good old days when we used to get rain:

and here they are now looking like the Fallen Trees at Tunguska:

Another one bites the dust…and another one down, another one down…blah,blah,blah,blah,dust.


From ghost plants to ghost ants…

Really, these are ghost ants, 

Tapinoma melanocephalum (Fabricius)


they have clear abdomens and turn the color of whatever they eat.


In Malaysia they are known as “corpse ants” because of the unpleasant odor they secrete when crushed.

There are an increasing amount of corpses down at the bottom of my garden, I am sad to say that my already large compost pile has got a little larger of late, especially considering that I only hand water once a week at this point,

a fact that this gopher plant did not seem to care for one little bit.

The cactus man even needs a little eye moisturizing lotion at this point, his pained expression summing up the summer.  I won’t even mention how the Botox Lady’s appearance has deteriorated in the heat….

Shocking, I know.

As you would expect, the cactus man and his family are weathering the dried up tide well.  Look at his head now…quite surreal.

It is interesting that his cousins located in my hell-strip appear a lot more stressed out than him…

…so much stress in fact, that veins are now standing out on the shrunken paddle heads.

It appears that even opuntia is not totally immune to the effects of our prolonged drought and our 2oooth consecutive days of above 120 degree temperatures…well that is how it feels. [Insert the general weather moaning you are accustomed to here].

Now this could make for a terrible camping accident.

Even this pine cone cactus seems to be conserving its energy, very little new growth this year.

Yucca and sotol are still looking good, they are the stars of the drought, though I have noticed some whitening of the leaves…it is not the weevil…it is not the weevil…it is n….

I rather like the new look.

This is one severely parched Patch. I really need a substantial nursery trip to fill in all my bare areas.

But I will wait, bide my time…

just a little longer, (drumming fingers) until our hot weather dissipates once and for all.

The front of the Patch has received only a couple of waterings over the last three or four heated months, a true testament to some extremely adapted-tough and native plants.  It has done relatively well with only my gaura and artemesia, oh and some blackfoot daisies and the odd loquat kicking the dried-up bucket (though I have not fully given up hope for my artemesia Powis Castle just yet).

On a lighter annoying note:

My Mexican feather grasses are looking really good now, especially flattened in front of one of those bare patches I mentioned.

 Oh and do not get me started on this mess again, this is only a weeks-worth of squirrel-nut debris…deep breath…and relax.

I recently came across these detailed illustrations by Si Scott Studios.…amazing detail:

Stay Tuned for:

“Counting Sheep”


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 jenny September 22, 2011 at 6:24 pm

And we thought fall was on the way last week. Now summer is back with one difference; the mornings and evenings are a little cooler. Sorry for all your losses. We all share your pain because we all have the same problem. One minute I like my garden the next I hate it. It depends what time of the day it is. We are all just hanging in there. The detail in those drawings is amazing.

Hi Jenny.
We did indeed, and now temperatures (after a quick front tonight) are expected to climb once again into the upper 90’s…it appears this hellish heat is not going to leave us without a fall-fight, somehow I expected this summer to go down this way, kicking and screaming, biting and clawing at whatever withered plants we still have left in our gardens.

Yes, it is a tough year for every gardener, especially Ernie :-)

picture by sassymoore39


2 Les September 23, 2011 at 3:49 pm

As I write this you can barely see out the window for all the rain, rain worthy of the Amazon. We have only seen the sun once or twice in two weeks. I am not writing this to gloat, but really, really wish I could send you and your garden some of it, and so I will not be housebound for yet another weekend.

I love those ants!

3 ESP September 23, 2011 at 6:35 pm

Hi Les.

I am happy that somebody is still getting a good drenching these days! That sounds like exactly what we need right now – two weeks of substantial rain, but still nothing really on the horizon weather-wise in central Texas.

Those ants are very psychedelic.

4 Bob Pool September 24, 2011 at 9:03 pm

I feel your pain at the loss of so many plants.Lyn is still laid out with her back but is scheduled for surgery next Tuesday. With taking care of her, doing all the shopping, cleaning, washing and then their is that work for a living thing, I haven’t had much time for the garden. I’ve lost 7 roses at least, maybe more.

I used to get upset when my dog would just lay out on plants like that but it doesn’t bother me now. I have had so many people step on plants while visiting the garden, I hardly even cringe now. I said hardly, I do still cringe though. You would think they would know better than a dog though.

I like your new ability to add pictures to the comment section. I thought I could do the same but it didn’t work. Probably for the better though. I don’t want people to stop talking to you.

5 ESP September 25, 2011 at 8:16 am

Hi Bob, yes lots of brown crusty things this year, (Ernie B/L) It has been a tough one in many ways…I wish you well with your surgery on Tuesday Lyn, I hope it makes you feel better and gets you mobile once again.

It does not really bother me that kumo has taken a liking to these three feather grasses, his natural mattress. What does get to me are people / contractors who apparently do not even “see” plants and pound them to death under size eleven boots as if they were not there…I am convinced these people are from another planet.

I did open your hanging squirrel and dog picture though and yes, I am sure it may have stirred some emotions for some non-country folk :-) Our springers also used to catch them when they would venture too far away from trees in the open space, it was their favorite sport.

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