“Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart”

by ESP on November 20, 2011 · 9 comments

Scary things agaves.


Talking of being scared…

This was the scene shortly after Kumo had managed to rip the beak off his second mallard to get access to the stuffing. This is his:

“schave me from my-shelf” face. He is especially partial to the plastic quacking part.

After our recent rain, (yes we finally got a little), the moss and lichen on these moss boulders quickly reanimated.

This is my favorite type of rock to use in a landscape for a number of reasons;

the life,

The color,

and the shine.

I have recently moved quite a few tons of moss boulders into this back garden that I have just finished installing.

The homeowner was tired of trying to keep the turf grass alive and desired a more native and drought tolerant planting scheme to reduce water usage…perfect.






There was a lot of scale-inappropriate shrubbery and a rather random island that was filled with my favorite Asiatic ground cover,

of course this had to go…immediately.

This was the proposed design scheme. The grade rises toward the back wall so I opted for a natural retainer wall of…you guessed it, moss boulders. I initially considered limestone, but I required more height.

But first it has to look worse before it looks better, a rather disturbing phase if you are not accustomed to it.

At this stage there is a certain “Battle of the Bulge” or perhaps “Operation Market Garden”aesthetic going on, but thankfully it does not last long.

It was time to bring in the heavy artillery to lay a rather large array of moss boulders.

Here they are before they are leveled and orientated. After the tear out, the existing yucca now really stand out

And here is the final garden with decomposed granite and Tejas black gravel, back-filling the boulders and reducing erosion.

These miscanthus grasses worked out really well, catching the late afternoon dappled light.

Here is a panoramic view of the area. Taking out those overgrown shrubs against the house (the over-exposed area) really made the space feel so much larger and less claustrophobic.

Here is the newly planted replacement bed for those overgrown shrubs, that is a sabal major against the far fence and a sweet olive in-between more dwarf miscanthus for fragrance.

Back in the Patch:

One more shot of these fragrant mist flowers.

I just recently found out that these plants can tolerate shade…I had no idea.

One of my favorite plants at this time of year is the copper canyon daisy.

I lost all but one of my mature plants in this summers furnace, their replacements are providing some sporadic blooms.

Flowers are not a problem for the blackfoot daisies in my hell-strip.


I have never seen so many tiny sryphid flies as this year:

They apparently like the strange gasoline odor of this epazote which was given to me from Cheryl over there at: http://consciousgardening.blogspot.com/

This Mexican herb is really good if you eat a lot of beans,

and develop some of this. (I decided to spare you the video clip).

It has been used in Mexican cuisine for thousands of years dating back to the Aztecs who used it for cooking as well as for medicinal purposes. The herb is poisonous in large doses.

On that (ahem) “note”:


Stay Tuned for:

“The Incredible Bulk”


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

“Was that you”?

“No, that was not me, that was you”

“I assure you it most certainly was not”…Wait, aren’t we the same person?…

…Kumo! Kumo!


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1 Steph@RamblingWren November 20, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Your dog cracks me up. Probably not as comical for you:) He is especially partial to the plastic quacking part. – HA, HA!! Great job on your landscape design project. The grasses really soften the look. Love your mist flower. This is on my list of plants to add to my garden.

Hi Steph.

Kumo has the best “oh boy, am I in serious trouble now face”…but he cannot help himself, he is a puppy. Right now he gets whacked with whatever he decides to chew on, usually underwear, socks or my baseball caps, but he is hilarious, his regretful expression always succeeds in softening the blows.

Yes you should certainly get some mistflowers…make sure to get a combination of the fragrant and the blue and plant en-masse to ensure a fall insect frenzy…you will not be disappointed.


2 Laura Munoz November 20, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Oh so funny! I, too, have a dog like Kumo. I have stuffing all over my back yard from the last pillow she distributed and the blanket and the pieces of towel.

If you need a really good reason to eat the Epazote, I can give you some Jerusalem artichoke tubers. (Just Google them and their history, which is interesting.)

Hi Laura.

Then you know my elevated blood-pressure levels :-) It is tough in a small house with two small kids and a dog / langolier!

I think I will pass on the Jerusalem tubers thank you very much, “a filthy loathsome stinking wind within the body?”…Hmm, I think I can certainly do without this, at least for the time-being :-)

3 Laura Munoz November 20, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Oh and I too love mossy boulders. Great job.


4 Gail November 20, 2011 at 10:52 pm

Those shots of Kumo! Is he posing for you now? Funny!!

Hi Gail.

It is amazing what a few treats can do, he is just like the rest of the family! :-)

5 Linda/patchowrk November 21, 2011 at 10:56 am

Great design.

With your cute kids and that dog, you’re never without entertainment.

Hi Linda.
Hmm, entertainment…that is one word to describe it!

6 Gardenista November 22, 2011 at 10:18 am

Oh Kumo….. The post-bean musicality might be the dog but it just might be what we call “barking spiders”. Hard to spot but impossible to miss once they “manifest”.

Love the boulders as part of the turf removal project. I’ve got lots of neighbors with biggish boulder borders (try saying or typing that fast 3 times!) and have dutifully developed “Boulder Envy”. I now extend that phenomenon to your Patch and your project(s).

“Barking spiders”? Never heard that one before TD! A bit odd but quite effective (post-bean) I am sure :-)

I try and get at least one large boulder into every job I do to add another dimension of scale to a space. The garden I featured in this post needed good sized boulders to act as a retaining wall for the slope. The “pockets” behind the rocks can be planted after they are laid as part of the back-filling process (no digging required) I used blackfoot daisies in the sunny parts and bamboo muhly in the shadier areas.


7 Michael - Plano Prairie Garden November 23, 2011 at 7:07 am

I really like the moss boulders. So many things I could do with them if I had the equipment to move them around. You made nice changes in that backyard. How deeply do you normally spread decomposed granite? Do you usually remove some of the existing grade before adding the DG?

Hi Michael.

Yes always a bit of a struggle moving large boulders around. This garden was very confined spatially so a lot of these rocks had to be twisted and coaxed into position with a rock bar.

With DG, I usually lay down a good layer which will pack down with feet, wheel-barrows and machinery etc running over it, then I go back in with a top-up. In terms of removing material it really depends on what the DG is going over and what the specific design calls for. If it is going over St Augustine I typically will remove or “skim” and turn over the top layer, depending on the density of the turf.


8 Landscape Design Katy November 24, 2011 at 12:30 am

That was an absolutely lovely landscape design. But of course, Kumo stole the show :)

Thank you Kate, and yes, he is usually stealing something.

9 Toni - Signature Gardens November 25, 2011 at 1:23 am

I remember seeing that pic of Kumo in another post, but how appropriate for this one! Cracked me up. Amazing design transformation!!! Wow! What other plants do you use for the dreaded dry shade besides bamboo muhly? I know the mistflower will work, but up in these sometimes wetter parts of TX it can be invasive. Hey, if all else fails, throw a boulder (or 20) in :-) Easier said than done. Those all look like 300 or 400 pounders. I recently wanted to add some large boulders to my backyard, but then realized I can’t get a forklift in my backyard and up steps — small details! Had to settle for 3 smaller moss rock. Gotta do what you’ve gotta do. Rocks just make a landscape…especially in your design style.

Hi Toni.

Yes, that last picture will most likely be used again, probably the next time Kumo gets into trouble.

Glad you liked the latest design, some of my other dry shade favorites are thryallis, Japanese aralia, inland sea oats (also can be invasive, but never been a problem for me), pittosporum, plum yew, sago palms to name a few. I only found out recently that mistflower tolerated shade so I will be getting a few more of these in the near future.

These boulders were not the largest I have used, but still big enough to make one acutely aware of digits and toes as they are twisted into position. I would like some large ones in the Patch also, but like you, there is no room to get machinery back there. I hope to lay some in my hell-strip when I get chance, rocks do anchor a landscape, I agree.


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