“Off the Beaten Track”

by ESP on February 9, 2013

“Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water”





This was the surreal scene that greeted me at my stock tank pond the other day:

Madame Ganna Walska lily

“Squinkies” basking on the Walskas!

Little did they know of the horrors that were lurking in the depths.


They didn’t stand a chance in these gum infested waters.


look at the eye focussing on its prey.


A few survivors managed to scramble onto this passing vwessle,


out of harms way, or so they thought.


Little did they know that the notorious “chef of death” had already rustled up some deadly snacks for them in the galley.

While all this nonsense was going on I was busy sweeping and leveling out an area of decomposed granite to use up a pile of old Elgin Butler bricks that I had stockpiled over the years.


This is the solid crust that forms under decomposed granite if it is laid deep enough and replenished every once in a while. I used the loose granite to fill in and build up any low or uneven spots,


with some help from my hired hands. Hands that were immediately drawn to


the sparkling gold dust.


This whole area will get back filled with some more decomposed granite to fill in the cracks and make it all flush and stable.


I decided to incorporate this stock tank that will be full of cattails come the spring.

Now what is to be positioned in the center?






I think not.

What I really want is one of those old Austin manhole covers to reference my curved iron gate.


Moving Along:


Some more rocks are currently in nerdy progress in our tumbler, these are about halfway through the month long process.


This time we splurged on a few specimen rocks,


These have opal in them,


and should look great when fully polished…snort.


This one has already been nicknamed “Jupiter”.


Remember when our house elf dug up a goldfish that I had buried and got the remains of the upper torso stuck inside his collar?



Well I do not know what he had been rolling in this time but let me just say the smell of that rotten half fish had nothing on this new tickle-your-gag-valve aroma. It was a combination of eggs, (rotten naturally), blood and guts with a delicate but distinct upper note of advanced decomposition…Naughty STINKY Kumo. The worst thing was that he had made his way into our house smiling and panting (to ensure the stench was sufficiently “blown” into every room) before anyone could stop him.


What did you think was going to happen?

Yet another collar had to be thrown away.


I will leave you with a snippet of an install I have been working on:


The project was challenging on a number of counts:


Grade and drainage:

The surrounding grade funneled water to, and around the basement of the house, creating pooling.  The homeowners had put up this barrier and dug a trench to slow down the flow of water.


Plot shape:

Wide but skinny.  The area lacked definition and structure, clearly consolidation was required along with a better defined route in and around the space. Most of the existing grass was either struggling or dead so the decision to remove a good chunk of it was made easy.



To play off the color of the recently constructed deck I went with Oklahoma flagstone back-filled with decomposed granite.  The flagstone was to provide a landing platform at the bottom of the deck stairs, sweeping up and around the front of the deck as a pathway before creating another platform on the opposite side. A dry creek bed was introduced against the house to take care of the drainage issues.


A thin central island bed was introduced along with perimeter plantings for privatization, softening the hardscaping, creating enclosure.


An empty corner becomes a focal seating point complete with a signature cypress…must have at least one in each scheme…


…okay three!  

These two were later rejected from the design due to overhead cables.



First order of the day, grass removal and the start of the dry creek bed, ensuring that the grade sloped down away from the house.


A curve was introduced to offer a more natural look and to follow the path of the main run-off water from a neighbors yard. The 3ft wide x 1.5ft deep trench was initially filled with scrap stone as filler,


before being top-dressed with cafe river rock. The cafe compliments the Oklahoma flagstone, moss boulders, and deck color and DG. Holes were dug for some restrained future horsetail reeds.


A sweeping pathway takes you up and around

the home the future planting bed.

Inspirational Image of the Week:


Photograph: Liss Ard Estate

Located at the Liss Ard Estate Gardens in Cork County, Ireland; the James Turrell Irish Sky Garden Crater is an amazing sculptural land art installation by famed artist James Turrell. The Irish Sky Garden Crater is open from April to November and measures about 25 meters (82 ft) in length, dipping almost 13 meters (42ft) at it’s lowest depth.

The man-made hollow is accessed via a dark concrete tunnel flanked by Liscannor stone, featuring a white marble stone that reflects the light from the rim of the crater during the day. The design is based on a birthing scenario, where visitors walk through the dark tunnel into the light. “It’s about rebirth and optimism, its experiential and it nurtures the desire to walk towards the light [into the crater]. It evokes powerful reactions in people,” says Arthur Little, the manager of Liss Ard estate.

The space has been constructed to view the sky while lying on large stones placed in the centre of the crater. The crater’s edge, hovering in your peripheral vision, perfectly frames the infinite and endlessly changing sky. “The most important thing is that inside turns into outside and the other way around, in the sense that relationships between the Irish landscape and sky changes,” says artist James Turrell of his work.


Stay Tuned for:

Tortillas in the Silvermist”



All material © 2013 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.


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