“Temporal Disturbances”

by ESP on August 16, 2016 · 3 comments


Its spooky how fast time flies.

It does not seem like 4 months since my last blog post…how did that happen?!

Spock analysis?

temporal causality

“I believe it to be combination of work commitments, summer vacationing and the fact that we have been stuck in a temporal causality loop since last April ESP.”

“That would explain the sense of déjà vu I keep having whilst visiting and photographing the gulf coast…great work Spock”


Another quick camping trip down to the Texas gulf coast, or was it the same one?

DSC01420 (1)

A hobbit lost in the Shire.


The dunes and grasses made a great backdrop as the sun burnt down behind them.

Texas Gulf Coast

My fire was created by a particularly large bag of charcoal… 


…Texas sized…just light the corners!

Version 2

We were treated to some great sunsets and zero sandstorms this trip – thank goodness.



Pretty much our usual set up minus the life-threatening tarp and aluminum spears.


Further down the beach there was this driftwood beach shack – pretty sure it was inhabited.

If you are into small and alternative living spaces and gardens, be sure to check out some of the documentaries on Kirsten Dirksen’s channel, very entertaining.


Here is an interesting 2 hour intro-documentary film she made featuring individuals with alternative concepts of inhabiting, cultivating and harnessing nature…from Marfa to Austin to LA:



Even though there was just a slight breeze the sandwiches somehow managed to incorporate a rather disturbing amount of sand.

Sinistrofulgur perversum

She really wanted to take home some of these colorful lightning whelks,

Sinistrofulgur perversum


but they were all inhabited with hermit crabs who are apparently very partial to these particular shells, who wouldn’t be?

Sinistrofulgur perversum

Did you know they are the state shell of Texas?



“We have been stuck in a temporal causality loop since last April ESP”

“Okay Spock, I get it!”

Back in Austin:


I have recently been installing a design in the Shoal Creek area and decided to take a quick detour to check in on a corner lot planting I executed a couple of years ago.


The plantings were doing well…pity about the introduction of the bright red curb!

Come on ponyfoot…giddy on up and cover that red ‘thang’!

I Digress.

Back to my latest design and installation in Shoal Creek:

It started with another substantial corner lot with a ton of potential.


The front entrance was screaming out for better structure…the skinny concrete path was first on my ‘that needs to go’ list.


There where a lot of conflicting mediums and contours towards the front door and around the house that obviously needed consolidation to afford a nicer experience moving in/out of the property and around to a future side courtyard.



The biggest challenge of this scheme was this bare side yard (below) which was to be a courtyard.

The client wanted a sense of enclosure in the space without being totally and visually closed off from the street/foot traffic and neighbors.


A sloping grade (in two directions) added to the design challenge and complexity of the area…


a cunning plan was required.

Design and Visualization:

The before pictures are in the bottom right.


My goal in these visuals was to communicate a more naturalistic and widened entryway to the sidewalk…more in scale with the expansive dimensions of the area.

Vertical height (left and right) was to be achieved with three blue ice cypress trees and trunking yucca in the same color palette.


Contrasting grasses and architectural whales tongue agave are peppered and repeated throughout the scheme.


For the side courtyard the introduction of three large steel panels with plasma cut ‘windows’ and integrated planter boxes enclose the space without totally privatizing it. A new house trim color was introduced to reflect the steel work and add some visual punch.


Crude card mock-ups were constructed to determine the size of panels and cut-out dimensions.

The Normandy Phase:


Contouring and tear-out.


Prepping the area.

The existing sprinkler system had to be tweaked and electricity routed for pathway lighting.



Flagstone positioned and


side courtyard is framed up.

Final Design:


Steel panels as viewed from the street. Two sentry Texas red oaks will present future shade at both ends.

You can see the significant drop in grade.

Dwarf miscanthus grasses will fill in the area in front, echoing the rust color of the panels in the fall and winter months.


The two planter boxes house baby, heat-tolerant opuntia (spineless prickly pear cactus).


Two stained cedar benches and a picnic table reflect the new cedar landing platform:


The stained cedar platform covers the existing concrete steps (they are still under there) and offers a larger landing platform on which to enter the side door.

IMG_0017-768x1024 (3)

The opuntia will quickly add architectural height and visually soften the sides of the steel panels.

They are also easy to ‘train’ by snapping off paddles where they are not needed or to keep the plant pruned to a desired height.


Steel already starting to Patina.

A small corner planting bed and a stock tank (naturally) offer some convenient herbs from the side door.


The steel work and burnt pine was fabricated and installed by the talented Andrew Miller (aminc13@gmail.com)


Silvermist flagstone/edging and Tejas black gravel all work together to echo the grey of the house and rust of the steel work.

The entryway from the sidewalk was dramatically widened to eat into the real estate of the turf and be more inviting.

Perimeter planting will blend the edges as it matures.


Some great colors on this flagstone.


Large swooping arcs and widened pathways replace previous right angles:




“Stop it!”


Stay Tuned For:

“The Funeral Pyre


All material © 2016 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques


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1 Anonymous September 8, 2016 at 1:56 pm

Beautiful work on Shoal Creek, Philip! What a huge transformation.

Thanks anonymous :-)

2 Gary Moore Sr September 9, 2016 at 10:54 am

Good and beautiful work!

Thanks Gary.

3 Pam/Digging November 2, 2016 at 3:06 pm

I had no idea that was your work going on along Shoal Creek, Philip. I drive that street often and had seen the changes underway. I admit I have been unsure about those three Ariz cypresses seemingly in a straight line across the lot (I figured they wanted privacy), but I like them in the context of the full design spec you show here, with other plants like yuccas and agaves. Will they add those and remove the lawn in a later stage?

You may be curious to see this garden before it became neglected. I actually photographed it for a Drive-By Gardens post in 2014, and it looked terrific then: http://www.penick.net/digging/?p=27432 . Of course, maintenance is everything, and it clearly had been without care before the new owners hired you for the redesign. I look forward to seeing its continuing evolution!

Hi Pam, sorry for the tardy reply…a lot going on at the moment that has kept me from writing as much as I would like to.
Yes that install was one of mine and thanks for the original images.
I did save those stunning roses from the original scheme, but most of it had to go.
A post is underway as to some significant evolutional changes in the Patch also – more on that later :-)

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