“Little Monsters”

by ESP on November 6, 2011

Halloween was met once again in the Patch with a lot of enthusiasm, though it did require some last minute costume design decisions:

Was it to be Harry Potter this year?

Or perhaps a dandy pirate?

I even had an interview with a vampire on the actual night:

But the scariest thing that happened to me on Halloween happened during daylight hours while I was removing a big circular carpet of this dense groundcover.

Now everyone who is a regular reader to the Patch knows of my (ahem) “deep-rooted” hatred of Bermuda grass, but the removal of this Asian Jasmine

Trachelospermum asiaticum

offers up a myriad of spine-tingling horrors that makes Bermuda grass removal seem suddenly quite “tame”.

If left to its own devices this plant will cover very large areas in its quest to slowly but surely take over an unsuspecting property, the local neighborhood and eventually the world.

I read somewhere that you can even use a glyphosate product, half strength, over the top of it to control weeds and it will still be okay – though don’t hold me to this.

It will circumnavigate low walls and structures to crawl into adjacent areas to further spread it’s aggressive green wings.

It also has to be one of the most horrible plants to remove from a landscape, think roaches…roaches…and many more unmentionables, all lying-in-wait to run up your legs, get into your gloves and generally make you extremely paranoid. Think grown men dropping shovels and performing ridiculous sideways dances while frantically beating their legs with flailing arms.

(Note to self: Never ever wear those shorts with the ripped hem and the hanging-down bit of fabric whilst removing this groundcover again)

Oh yes, I had multiple phantom leg roaches, then a real one just had to run over my shoulder…brrr (involuntary sideways jaw movements followed by left knee elevation etc…etc).

I have developed a technique that aids the removal of this plant…digging it out does not work, pulling on it is futile, but slicing and rolling it back on itself like a carpet works quite well. It is by no means perfect or remotely pleasant, but it works better than anything else. This particular carpet removal had a couple of “what is that?” moments, first we uncovered a bunch of rib bones, yes rib bones, then this emerged from the dark undergrowth:

This was just a little too realistic at first glance.

The foot was followed by:

a furry toy masquerading as dead animal. The next time I have a large amount of this groundcover to remove?

I will be better prepared.

Halloween week would not be complete without some spiders, now would it?

And I naturally encountered quite a few lurking under the jasmine, and under rocks.

Lets get started with the plastic-looking woodlouse hunter,

Species Dysdera crocata

The “two-tone” look, with the abdomen much lighter than the cephalothorax, is really quite striking… (pushes up thick glasses on nose bridge, emits a tiny snort).

Woodlouse hunters are often seen in the autumn in basements and other cool areas of homes; presumably they are looking for winter shelter. These spiders have very large fangs which they use to pierce the armored bodies of woodlice and beetles.

Next on my shovel is a Wolf Spider –

Schizocosa avida

Wolf spiders are members of the family Lycosidae, from the Greek word “lycosa” meaning “wolf” as their method of hunting is to run down their prey. They are robust and agile hunters that rely on good eyesight, well, having eight of them arranged in three rows helps.

And last but not least, what I believe to be a velvety Black House Spider,

Badumna insignis

Okay, okay…I get the hint!

Moving On:

Mist flowers are the stars this week in the Patch, from the blues…

…to the fragrant, they are putting on a fine show right now and attracting a multitude of insects.

It is also the time of Celosia,

pampas grass,

and the Austin Celtic Festival:

A fallen warrior trying to impress a nonchalant maiden.

“My name IS William Wallace, now, go get me some Cotton Candy”!

I also want to shout out a big thanks to all my Austin blogging friends who showed up for the “Patch A GoGo” happy hour.

Finally, I would like to share a design that I have recently executed for the Mary Lee Foundation on South Lamar in Austin:


I worked with a local architect Jiří Hájek from HÁJEK & Associates, Inc. and Steven Zack, the coordinator for the project from the foundation to develop a wish-list of design criteria for the space. The goal for the garden was to create an interesting, organic space that offers a variety of destination points with multiple ways to get to them. Seating and social gathering places are intrinsic to the final design. The scheme incorporates “character-areas” each offering a range of different visual and tactile experiences and stimuli.

Stay Tuned for:

“The Wheels of Change”


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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