“Brick Circles”

by ESP on March 3, 2013 · 10 comments


A fresh delivery of decomposed granite was greeted in the usual way in the Patch.


She ran out to watch the delivery,


eager to set up camp on the summit of the new mountain with her dog,


who had his now customary conniption faced with the paw-sinking pile.


Any opportunity to wield a large metallic implement.

Myself on the other hand, after having already moved two dump-trucks full of the stuff this past week,


I just glazed over, stared up at the peak, and pulled this sort of pained expression:


Lord of the manor

Still, this was a relatively small pile and we made haste to the delight of Lord Kumo who has a new-found fondness for getting chauffeured around in a wheelbarrow.


In fact it is so hard to keep him out of it it is annoying. I half expect him to gesture a royal paw as he trundles down the pathways in his one-wheeled vehicle. He already has on the white gloves after all.



The granite was being used to back-fill this brick circle I laid out a couple of weeks back.


Now to go around, level some of the bricks and wait for the granite to cure,


and the stock tank full of cattails to grow, which they will, very quickly.


Moving along:


The growth on this post oak leaf looks very H.R Geiger.


Who knows what lurks inside these aquatic looking vessels?



Of course this could be just a load of old galls?



Lots of early butterflies emerging this week, these two giant swallowtails floated around in synchronization before landing on this Buddha’s belly bamboo.



Even though it was a poor blooming year for this mountain laurel tree, my copper canyon daisies have looked like this all through the winter. I cannot remember them ever blooming so long and so consistently.


Daffodils are also out,


and, to the delight of the cardinals, I even have some bunches of ripe loquats.


My daughter thinks these emerging datura structures make ideal fairy houses,


if she plays around with this plant she may actually start to see fairies.


Oleander paratroopers disembarking their vessels.

One of them must have got blown off track…


punching a hole in the roof of my shed as he landed.


“The Curse of the Japanese Yew”


“Why Yew little…”

I officially give up.


Eight plants, multiple locations and vendors, all start off looking well, some living well over a year…then the inevitable:


Aw come on!

I have seen Japanese Yews growing around Austin, but not for me for some reason. As much as I want them to work as a shade shrub this always happens. These particular two are in fertile soil with a soaker-hose, yes a soaker-hose, the only additional irrigation I have in the Patch apart from my “everything but the kitchen sink” collection “system”(Oh yes I pulled out all the stops to make these plants work!).

Am I the only one that is hexed with this shrub?


“Mumble…mumble…yews…Japanese…mumble, (some hissing and unfortunate drooling)…Patch, (head flies back…wild laughter).

 Brrr, on that cursed note I will leave you with this:


I bet that tiki torch adds a nice atmospheric touch at night.

Not that I am one to talk with my wind-chimes:

Stay Tuned for:

“Posh with a Capitol P!”


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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1 Daphne March 3, 2013 at 5:50 pm

Kumo and his family are all so adorable! I’ve had serious Japanese yew yearnings, but I don’t have a shady spot to try one. Sorry to hear about your bad luck with them.

2 ESP March 3, 2013 at 6:20 pm

Hi Daphne.

I will say thank you though I am unsure as to if you are referring to his lordships extended Downton Abbey family? :-)

I just cannot fathom why this keeps happening with the yews. I now have one left in the Patch, all the others have all bit the dust, of which there is currently no shortage.

Leaf pick-up is now a dangerous task without the appropriate attire:


3 Les March 3, 2013 at 7:07 pm

By Japanese yew do you mean Taxus cuspidata? I can’t speak for Austin, but they are not the best choice here, and I am in a milder climate. Would Podocarpus be a good sub.?

4 Pam/Digging March 3, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Your kids are looking so much bigger. Must have hit a growth spurt! Kumo cracks me up with his wheelbarrow-riding antics. I love the new brick circle. Never tried the Jap. yews myself, but I know Diana loves to use them.

5 ESP March 3, 2013 at 9:39 pm

Hi Les.
I believe the ones I have been planting and killing are indeed…Podocarpus macrophyllus.

6 ESP March 3, 2013 at 9:51 pm

Hi Pam.

Yes, definitely a growth spurt for both of them.

I had to keep kicking Kumo’s butt out of the wheelbarrow, he was getting seriously annoying. In the end I just kept emptying the contents of the DG with him still in it…he enjoyed this jumping free of the action activity also.

Diana…yew need to tell me your secret?

Okay, that was bad.

7 Annie in Austin March 5, 2013 at 5:34 pm

I have only one Podocarpus but it’s been around for 7+ years, growing between my pecan & a neighbor’s saucer magnolia so it has winter sun filtered through bare branches with mostly shade after they leaf out.
To me, a Japanese yew always meant Taxus. It was a surprise to come to Texas and find that name inappropriately applied to Podocarpus, since it’s not a yew. My books gave Podocarpus its own nickname of “Buddhist Pine” but that’s not much better since it’s also not a pine.
Recent articles suggest that it’s time to switch over to Kusamaki.

I don’t have drip irrigation, just use my garden hose to soak the earth around the Kusamaki maybe every 2-3 weeks. Like everything in the long shady border it gets some coffee grounds.

Loquats! In March? Wow. Last year our first fruits ripened in mid-April. This year quite a few froze & dropped. The fruit still on the tree is very small & green.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Hi Annie and I think I am now sufficiently confused with all the confusion regarding Kusamaki and its many aliases, I think from now on I will simply refer to it as the one that always dies on me or perhaps “The one who cannot be named” :-)

Japanese Yew

I cannot believe how early the loquats ripened this year, I have two trees that have numerous yellow fruit though they are disappearing very fast. The birds are enjoying this sweet early feast.

8 Jenny March 5, 2013 at 9:04 pm

Love the new brick circle and ditto on the children and growing up. And I assume Kumo has grown up too! Don’t know how you find the time for home projects!

Hi Jenny.
Kumo has grown up too. I just wish that his propensity for all things plastic or sharp had matured with him.
I do really struggle with home projects after working on other people’s spaces all week, but a weekend of rest and I get restless.

9 TexasDeb March 6, 2013 at 7:57 am

I have total brick circle envy….(and DG envy as well). Oh let’s face it, add your already ripened loquats to the list and baby makes three.

One of our nicest beauty berry trees by the side of the house is one some bird or squirrel planted in the spot where the yew tree we put in kicked the dust months later. In other words – no luck with those here in our patch, either. It is/was a great spot for a yew but the beauty berry WANTS to thrive there. So be it.

10 ESP March 7, 2013 at 6:48 pm

Hi TD…so it is not just me committing genocide on these shrubs?
You have made my day Deb.
I have one left and I am keeping my beady eye on it.

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