“I Sand Corrected”

by ESP on April 15, 2012 · 6 comments

Remember this…

What I thought was a living sand dollar, actually turned out to be a….

a sea biscuit!

An ocean sea biscuit that is.

I realized my mistake when I was perusing these shells in a knick-knack / antiques shop in Apalachicola, on my way home from Florida.

Clipiaster Riticulatus

Sea biscuits are puffy on top and concave underneath whereas sand dollars tend to be smaller and flatter.

I need to back up a little.

My time in Florida had come to an end.

I met up with my family at Ft Lauderdale airport…“Oh don’t you even think about hopping on that carrousel!”

We had a couple of days of recreation in front of us before embarking on the drive back to Texas.

We decided to visit the Miami Seaquarium where the original Flipper show was filmed.


Imaginations ran wild observing the dolphins roaming around in their aquarium.

Eyes grew even wider when the star of the show Lolita, an even larger dolphin (Orcinus orca) started soaking the crowd. Lolita was captured in 1970 from the Puget Sound waters and has been performing at the Miami Seaqurium for more than 40 years.

I know they are well looked after, and that some of these creatures are held in captivity because of unfortunate circumstances, but still I struggle with the performing aspect and their confines. In the wild these creatures travel 100 miles in a day.


It was a true Levwold experience.

One final trip to the beach,

for a snorkel,

a sandcastle, and another

 sea-shell hunt.

The hunt was somewhat abbreviated after discovering this rather disturbing creature burrowing into the sand… Brrr.

This roachy-crabby-rollypoly creature is commonly called a sand flea, they are otherwise known as mole crabs.

Emerita talpoidea

They are very common and apparently make for great fishing bait.

“Mine, mine, mine, mine”.

After an equally abbreviated sleep, (it was a 3.am rise), we hit the toll-road doing 95, “let them truckers roll, 10.4” and kept up the pace for a good three hours, “making time” through a good portion of Florida…


…luckily with zero violations.
12 Harry Potters and five states later:
By now my enthusiasm for the journey had certainly waned.
I had strangely detached myself from the pain in my legs and backside, gone through the mental anguish of a hundred and five “are we there yets” and emerged on the other side of sanity with bloodshot eyes and a permanent grin / grimaced expression that even I found odd every time I would catch it looking back at me in my rear-view mirror.
We had finally made it home.
Back in the Patch:
This was my first time back to the Patch in over a month, and oh how things had changed.
In my now bloodshot minds-eye I had pictured the garden still in drought conditions, bare, anemic plants hanging on for dear life (as I am sure they will be again soon enough) but no, things looked, well, surprisingly healthy!
Some things a little too healthy:
Like these baby feather grasses and chickweed. It is a good job I have a couple of hundred small pots on hand, I think I am going to need them.
I had missed the poppies,
but there was still plenty of color to greet me in the front of the Patch.
This red passion flower,

Passiflora coccinea


virtually disappeared last year, it was good to see it once again, even if it is treatening to take over my entire front porch. The petals on the flower are bent backwards to allow hummingbirds easy access.
larkspur were in full swing, dancing around this sotol with their purple blue and purple white blooms.
But best of all…
were the feather grasses that were now in their prime.
I thought that during my absence, weeds would have run amok, but I was pleasantly surprised, apart from the feather grasses and front chickweed everything was ship-shape.
The two palm grasses that I had planted last year have grown significantly:
I like this plant a lot, and losing both of my mature plants a couple of years back, I had to give them another go. You cannot beat them for an exotic, tropical look in Central Texas and they work great paired with the contrasting leaves of Japanese aralia and thyralis for a splash of shady yellow color. Palm grasses also grow surprisingly fast, second year growth (like this one) can easily reach a 6ft spread.
I also returned home to fruit-ladened loquat trees.
We picked,
we gathered,

and spent some significant zen-time preparing.

It took us long enough to shrivel and stain fingers, and based on these sticky seeds, it looks like I will have lots and lots of small loquat trees in my future. The fruit made great margaritas, thanks Cheryl over there at the  Conscious Gardening


I do not recall my artemesia looking so healthy,

and this Persian ivy requires some immediate training.

Home sweet home.


Stay Tuned for:

“Exploding Goldfish!”


All material © 2012 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.

Bewilderment by Benson Kua


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1 Gail April 15, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Glad you’re home. Trip looks like fun.

2 ESP April 15, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Me too Gail. We fitted quite a lot into a short amount of time. I ended up enjoying the journey home, driving through all those southern states and eating some of the best Gulf food.

3 Linda/patchowrk April 16, 2012 at 5:47 pm

There’s no place like home.
My in-laws lived in South Florida, so we’ve been on that drive many, many times. In fact, I believe I recognized that bridge up there.
Love the feathergrass. Mine are doing so well…I’ve planted them everywhere.
I need to try the palm grass again. I lost mine, and thought I had another last year. It turned out to be a ground orchid, but hasn’t done anything much, yet.
Welcome back.

4 ESP April 17, 2012 at 3:05 pm

There certainly isn’t Linda.

The bridge in the photo is the Atchafalaya Basin bridge in Louisiana, at 18.2 miles it is the fourteenth longest bridge in the world by total length. I know this because I looked it up on my iPad as we were driving over it saying – “this is a really long bridge, isn’t it”!

I do not think I will ever have to plant any more feather grasses, ever…based on the amount of seedlings this year. I think palm grasses come and go, though on a good year, if allowed to seed they can be surprising invasive. I now cut the seed heads off before dispersal.

Thanks, it is good to be back.


5 Bob Pool April 22, 2012 at 9:23 pm

Glad your back safe and sound Philip. Glad the garden survived, it looks good.

Thanks Bob.

I seem to keep missing the “you know whats” recently.
Hope to catch up soon.


6 Desert Dweller / David C. April 23, 2012 at 9:34 am

Trying to figure out how I missed so many posts! But glad that I am not the only one who has rapidly-colonizing feathergrass plants. I pulled the original 20 (planted in ’98) last summer, been pulling the countless volunteers, though countless others have spread for blocks around. I look forward to reading backwards to see what you were up to in Florida. Nice to return home to living plants, isn’t it?

Hi David.

I would imagine all those jobs you are working on!

I spent some hours at the weekend pulling out the feather grass seedlings. I thought about planting them in small pots, but then decided against it…there are bound to be a few hundred more in a few months after all. Still, at least they pop out of the ground easily and cleanly.

It is good to be back in the Patch.


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