“French Fork”

by ESP on October 12, 2011 · 13 comments

I learned something new today.

I learned that the “French Fork” facial hairstyle has absolutely nothing to do with gardening but was named after the utensil the French use for eating escargots.

They call it “fourchette à escargot”and I keep threatening my daughter that I plan on growing and adorning one, just to push her buttons…(the facial hair, not the fork).

The French Fork is a little too straightforward for my aesthetic, but these on the other hand, these will turn heads!  You could even elaborate and install tiny pots into the circles and plant them up with some trailing Sedum morganianum…it would be magnificent. Imagine one of these combined with an iced turban at a stop-light.

A large client install and an upcoming garden bloggers shindig at the Patch has successfully depleted our supply of Epsom Salts and Aleve, but thankfully it is cooler and we have even had some rain, yes rain!

It was such a rare and exciting event he forgot to put his pants on in his eagerness to get outside at the crack of dawn.  (Stray sock courtesy of Kuminus Fangstratus).

This is his “Oh boy, I am in trouble again” face.

I spent the entire day working out in the rain, whistling and humming annoying tunes to myself.

The rain really helped to perk up everything, the first to react to the introduction of the strange wet substance was the sad loquats and

my hoja santa.

White stone-crop eagerly drank-up the moisture and doubled its dimensions overnight.  You have got to hand it to these tiny succulents and their ability to handle prolonged drought.

Opuntia paddles thickened,

and satsumas ripened,

but oooohh how the artemesia looks bad. Look at them now!…

…They look like a louisiana swamp cypress trees, yes that is what they are, swamp cypress trees, very small ones…dwarf in fact.

With that confusion all cleared up,

I decided to do some clearing up myself.  With the luxury of a steady rain falling on me, I pulled out the remains of my ghost plants which strangely made me want to go and eat blackened soft-shell crabs at Pappadeaux.  Which I did that very evening!

Naturally she wore her new, favorite dress. She has been devastated since…

Her favorite pizza restaurant closed.

I now fear that I may never get to implement a scheme for that strange sarcophagus planter.


With the rain and cooler temperatures, naturally I had to try out some new additions in the Patch, like this strangely named

Agave potatorum,

‘Kichokan Marginata’


or (Dwarf Variegated Butterfly Agave).

It looks like a variagated Agave parryi and I like it.

It is a small growing agave to 12 inches tall by 18 inches wide with short gray leaves margined with pale yellow streaks and blood smeared spines. Another new variegated addition to the Patch is this Hydrangea,

I have never tried growing them before so I have to give it a try.

And this one was listed on my receipt as just “plant” anyone know what this is? 

Can you tell this was an impulse purchase?

What great marginal frosting to the leaves.

Yes it has been quite the variegated week.

This sabal major unfurling a new frond caught my attention – very whale like.

And what is this?

Flowers in the Patch?

I think you can guess who was behind that chrysanthemum container.


plant of the week has to be this desert trumpet vine which is gradually spreading down my fence line.

Stay Tuned for:

“It’s Electrifying!”


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


This may take a while to load.  Pause it, let it load, go have a cup-of-tea, then check out the hilarious asymmetrical mustache, this is the one for me.


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1 Toni - Signature Gardens October 13, 2011 at 12:26 am

Variegated Hydrangea? Really? In the Patch? If the ‘Powis Castle’ Artemisia did not make it, I give the hydrangea, oh, about a nanosecond in your VERY drought-tolerant garden. I have one that I’ve had for several years and it looks just about like your artemisia does now. Chalk that up to the record-breaking Summer of 2011. But you are growing the African Hosta, so who am I to say that you can’t grow the hydrangea! Shame on my negativism raining on your newly rain soaked garden! I really will be interested to find out how it does next summer, though. Your variegated impulse purchase heretofore known as “plant” is CHRYSANTHEMUM PACIFICUM (commonly known as Gold & Silver Chrysanthemum). I have grown that before, but I found that the bottom 6 to 8 inches of leaves turn brown and was left with a tuft of variegated foliage at the top. Wow, I am just the bearer of encouraging news today, am I not? Sorry. That was just my experience. Maybe I kept them too wet, too dry…who knows. I just ripped half of them out at a client’s yesterday because they were doing too well. So there. I hope you have the same experience. And that new agave is gorgeous! I am willing to bet some of those blood stained thorns are stained with YOUR blood. Those thorns sure look like they could do some serious damage to whatever they come in contact with. Oh, speaking of chrysanthemums, I love the container of mums! And I love the dirt under your daughter’s nails! A girl after my own heart :-) I always say, “A day without dirt under your nails is like a day without sunshine!” Thrilled you are finally getting some rain down that way. We are enjoying some of the wet stuff in DFW, as well.

Hi Toni.

I know, I know, it was one of those nursery trips, I like that…and that, I will have ones of those and yes one of those, you know how it goes:-) I did plant the hydrangea in an area that is covered with my only soaker hose, we will see – I will post about its likely demise later. Can you believe that artemesia? It looks atrocious yet a stand of it not 8 feet away looks fine, micro-climates.

Interesting on the Silver Chrysanthemum, I will let you know if mine do the same, it may not last long if this happens you bearer of doom and gloom :-)

The Agave potatorum, is my new favorite, so much color, It will more likely be blood-stained from Kuminus Fangstratus’s feet running over it, I am amazed he has not yet had a full-on impaling from my barrel cactus the way he tears around the garden. I keep thinking I will find him stuck up on the side of one some day.

That container did work out well, I have to admit that the colors work great in a sort of gravestoney sort of way, my daughter loves flowers and I do break down every once in a while to her constant nagging for more things “bright and beautiful”…”dad, why do you only buy green things?” “Because I do not care much for gaudy-looking flowers,” “But why? They are…blah,blah,color,blah” and so on and so on until she beats me into a purchasing submission.

Yes, so happy to get a bit of rain, though we really do require a lot more to get us out of this drought.


2 Desert Dweller / David C. October 13, 2011 at 6:39 am

That “Dwarf Variegated Butterfly Agave” is gnarly, and so is the sarcophagus planter! And we in the desert go outside in the rain and celebrate every time, like you do in dry years. The first clap of thunder and downpour when our summer monsoon season starts (and dry spring ends) can get applause, if one is in a building w/ others!

Glad to see your plants are rebounding well – we had such a strong recovery from historic cold and drought with just infrequent rain! Great story line on this post, as always.

Hi David.
The sound of the rain on our metal roof was a strange sound indeed and the thunder soon had us all squeezed into one bed…a true Willie Wonka scene.

Yes, really happy to finally get a drop of rain, I was so sick of the dust more than anything and the moisture sure makes digging holes a little less of a “mining” experience.

3 Cheryl October 13, 2011 at 6:56 am

Yeah, good luck with the hydrangea! Between the deer and the heavy water requirements I finally dug out every single one on this place because they always looked so dreadful. They are AMAZING in Portland, Oregon. :>) The container of mums is magnificent! Hope you get more rain soon.

Hi Cheryl.

I think I will need it, at least I do not have the deer to contend with, though it looks like water will certainly be an issue if we continue like this year. I will enjoy it, even if for only a short time:-)
Thanks on the container front and me too,


4 Gardenista October 13, 2011 at 7:03 am

Glad I read the comments section before heading out the door to buy my own hydrangea plant. Actually, all I have to do is think back a few years to curb that impulse – I killed a series of hydrangeas over a span of years. Never could find the right combination of sun/water for them to last more than a few months, tops. Never got blooms so I couldn’t even test out playing with soil acidity. For, you know, “Science!”.

The mums are grand, that punch of color (goes so well with the agave tips) will be worth the purchase for however long they last, hopefully until all your Patch Visitor traffic is happily relegated to history documented in a future blog post.

Hi TD.

I always have to try something once, okay two or three times, before I give up. My biggest blunder to date has got to be giant timber bamboo (I planted 6 now down to 1 and a half…(don’t ask about the half)), at least the hydrangea will be easy to pull out of the ground if it dies (note the optimistic if ;-)

You know, the mums do work in that planter, I was skeptical when I purchased them. They are “just” melancholy-enough to settle into the Patch aesthetic. I popped one of them behind the stone ear of the B/Lady…you can imagine the commotion. Luckily I was well prepared with an umbrella if you know what I mean.

5 Linda Phillips October 13, 2011 at 3:04 pm

I see Toni already gave you the name of the ‘plant’. I have one. I like the foliage. Mine’s a couple years old. It’s a little leggy, but still looks ok. It bloomed sometime back….little yellow buttons. The foliage is it’s best asset.
That agave is quite nice. Need to see if I can find one.
And, that is a very lovely dress…especially for crab dinners. And, who needs pants, when there’s good rain coming down out there?

The Gold & Silver Chrysanthemum “plant” is quite interesting looking (wonder where the gold comes in?…Adjusts nerdy glasses, quiet snort).

Mmm crab dinners, and it was all thanks to digging out those dead ghost plants…they looked just like soft-shell crabs! She always puts on her best garbs when we go out to dinner, she is also very dexterous around the box of mints when exiting.

You are right on the pants front Linda…who needs them indeed when there’s good rain coming down out there?
Ren and Stimpy sure do:


6 Steph@RamblingWren October 13, 2011 at 3:30 pm

I think you should go for it and grow a some “french fork” facial hair. Staches are so trendy and hip right now;) Love the expression on the dog’s face…does he get in trouble a lot??? I also love the Dwarf Variegated Butterfly Agave. I would get me one of these, but the hubby will not plant anything with thorns and since he does most of the planting and I do the picking out of plants…looks like it is a no go.

Haha Steph, seriously she would disown me :-) That clip at the end had me keeled over, the “asymmetric” chap particularly.

Yes, Kuminus Fangstratus’s sheepish face is quite the picture, he pulls this expression after taking yet another one of my socks out of the laundry basket and getting screamed at :-)

I find my socks everywhere now…under loquats, behind my clumping bamboos and his particular favorite, under the deck where, based on how many odd ones I now have, I surmise he has garnered a substantial collection.

I want to do a “Patch” of the Dwarf Variegated Butterfly Agave, maybe seven or eight of them bunched tight together, they are a great looking small agave.


7 Casa Mariposa October 14, 2011 at 7:17 pm

I finally just gave my sock stealing dog a few socks of her own. It didn’t stop her but it did slow her down enough that I could stay one tiny step ahead of her. I nearly laughed out loud when I saw your hydrangea!! The only place I know of more xeric than the the Patch is the moon, or possibly the Atacama or Sahara deserts. It will probably need its own cistern just to keep it alive. I’m glad you finally got some rain! It will delay the hydrangeas death by a few days.

8 ESP October 14, 2011 at 7:46 pm

I will most certainly try that sock-retention strategy!
Very funny on the hydrangea…and the Patch xeric front, lucky for me that this plant is situated right next to my “everything but the kitchen sink” water collection “system”. I plan on drip-feeding it this water and I have already buried some old batteries around the base of the planting hole in an attempt to extend its life for a few hours, a rather unorthodox approach, but I thought I would give it a try :-)
Yes, hydrangea, in the Patch?…Shocking!
I will keep you informed of its impending coughing and spluttering, should be fun.

9 Les October 15, 2011 at 6:13 am

I see your mystery plant has been ID’d. I grow this too, primarily for the foliage which will persist until it gets super cold. Mine usually flowers in November which I consider a nice surprise. The taxonimists have been busy justifying their positions and have renamed it Ajania pacifica.

Today’s theme must be soft shell crabs, as I have already written to someone else who brought the topic up. Here in crab country their arrival is anxiously awaited, except for me, who happens to think they look like spiders. Slapping them between two pieces of Wonderbread, smothered in yellow French’s (the PWT way to eat them) does nothing to make them more attractive to me.

Hi Les.

Thanks for the information on the Ajania pacifica, I like it, but I think need something in front of it to hide its lower (ahem) bald areas :-) I look forward to seeing if it flowers.

Very funny on the soft shell crab front, it is odd how things come at you in waves like that…but soft shell crabs? I have to admit they are not the nicest of things to look at, even lobsters may just have the aesthetic edge on these guys. I will have to try them that way, only ever had them fried and blackened…

10 Linda Lehmusvirta October 22, 2011 at 8:24 pm

So, the first and only time I ate escargot, minus the fancy fork, was after a ton of wine in New Orleans. I don’t think even a fancy fork would do it for me sober. But I’m glad to know what fork to use, just in case. And forget that fancy mustache! When it gets humid again, you’ll be in trouble!
I’m sorry about the plant loss, which mimics mine, but the Chrysanthemum pacificum weathers it all! Thrilled about your satsuma. Mine got too scared last winter, so no fruit this year. Hydrangea? Keep us posted on that one!! But I want to check out that agave.
And I want a cute dress, too! See ya on TV next week and in person soon!! Kisses to you all!

Hi Linda.

I used to eat them in Louie’s back in the day, all that garlic…mustard (insert Homer once again).

Mmm, you have a point on the fancy mustache, or perhaps the humidity would help it to curl more? Still, it makes for a good and quite effective threat for my daughter for time being.

My satsuma weathered the storm (or lack of it) very well. It turned a little yellow at the end of the summer but is greening up again with the cooler temperatures and the lick of rain we had. (fingers crossed for more later this week). I also received a small Rio Frio Hardy Satsuma (hybrid) from Daphne to test how it does in Austin. I planted it mid-summer with a bunch of compost and I was sure it would instantly bake, but no, it did remarkably well for such a small tree.

Yes hydrangea! And it is still alive!

See you soon.


11 Bob Pool October 22, 2011 at 9:58 pm

I may have to start waxing my stache up like those guys. It does look a little wuss like though.

My Powis Castle looks the same as yours. The Snow Cloud atemisia looks great however.

I’ll see you next Saturday. Bob

12 ESP October 25, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Hi Bob.

I think you should :-) You could also fabricate and weave in some custom steel “trinkets” incorporating them into the overall “look”.

Yes the castle is in complete disrepair and now requires a serious renovation to restore it to its former glory.

See you Saturday at the YKWhat.

13 Kristy Lynn Duke May 28, 2015 at 6:26 am

Hi if you still look at your site here after being 4 years can you please tell me what the succulent is in one of your pics that you named as the white stone crop succulent?

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