About the ESP and my Camera…



A Central Texas Garden Blog.
Zone: 8b
Location: East Austin.

The East Side Patch documents the development of a garden from a flat plane of Bermuda grass to absolutely no Bermuda grass at all. It tracks the journey of the garden and the designer as new insights are gleamed, new insects are spotted and new bottles of sea-weed emulsions are administered.

The ESP uses film and TV references to comically push the journey along, as it tracks all the wild, weird and wonderful inhabitants that reside in an urban Texas garden five minutes from downtown Austin.  ESP inhabitants like “The Botox Lady,” “The Naboo Tribe,” “William Wallace,” not to mention the “East-Side Witches,” are among a host of others characters that play an active role in the continuing,  ridiculous plot. You can find out more detail about these characters in the “Pages” section at the top of the green sidebar.

I get a lot of questions regarding the photographic equipment I use, so here it is:  All camera shots in the ESP are the result of a small point and click Sony Cybershot, being extremily slim-line it is perfect for a blogger at work in the garden. I highly recommend it, this is my second, the first ending up in a watery grave on a lawn chair…it didn’t like that!

This is me, an Englishman, brought up in Scotland. I hold a Masters Degree in Industrial Design from The Royal College of Art, London.

I have lived in Austin Texas for twenty years, the last decade of which has been in the East Side Patch, (ESP)

My blogging history started on live journal (for over a year).  I then moved over to Word Press.com (very briefly),  then I FINALLY made the jump over to being a self hosted website August 2009, armed with my Word Press for Dummies book!  Quite the learning curve, but most definitely worth it.


My halflings. 

Stories in the Patch

Story-time and a pint in the Patch.

The ESP is situated five minutes from downtown Austin. Our house was built in 1890.

ESP 1890

Here is the original structure complete with the original Victorian Lady, who I don’t think has ever left.  Eeek! Eeek! Eeek!

So…grab your favorite libation, put your feet up, grab your iPad and immerse yourself into the continuing garden saga that is the…East Side Patch!

Put you feet up!

“Pauline, have you read ESP’s blog on-line?

“On-line George?

“You know…on the internets”

“Oh no, I am afraid if I go on the internets I may break them”!

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 John September 23, 2009 at 8:21 am

Hi there, I was browsing through your website and I am struck by some of your macro closeups. Can I ask what camera and lens setup you are using for some of those detail insect photos? Quite nice!

2 ESP October 4, 2009 at 9:29 am

Hi John.
I am using a small point and click Sony Cybershot. Small enough to fit comfortably into a pocket.

3 Gail November 6, 2009 at 10:41 am

Just love the picture “Storytime in the Patch”.

4 ESP November 10, 2009 at 12:16 pm

Thanks Gail.
The hazy, late-afternoon light quality was perfect for this shot.

5 Kathy Zarsky January 4, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Joy! This is a gorgeous and fascinating blog. So glad to have stumbled upon it.

6 ESP January 5, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Hi Kathy.
Happy you found the ESP! (cheers are heard in the distance).
Once inside…There can be no escape.

7 Claire January 16, 2010 at 9:01 am

I’m curious about your fish. How did they survive the cold in the above ground tank? I’m interested in setting up one like that, but not sure what to do in winter. Love your backyard haven!

8 ESP January 16, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Hi Claire and welcome to the ESP.
When it gets cold the fish go to the bottom of the pond and go into a mini-hibernation, they completely disappear under the oxygenation plants. I stop any feeding when the temperatures dip and ensure that any ice is broken so they can breathe! The stock tank pond is really simple to set up and maintain, it also help discourages raccoons and the like because of the vertical sides. I have had mine for some years now and the only real pain is the scooping out of leaves in the fall (my pond is under a large Post Oak). It is amazing how much nature it pulled into the Patch. Yes get one!
I do have a pump to circulate the water, it also helps stop ice forming.

9 Marita February 17, 2010 at 3:51 pm

Hello from Houston! Love the creativity, information and whimsy of your site. I have my own boggy patch which is always soppy, and then it’s bone dry and cracking in the 100+ heat in August. Your site inspires…..

Looking for some cheap cattails…seeds or plants that will grow well in ditches here. Any sources?



10 ESP February 17, 2010 at 6:27 pm

Hi Marita.
Hello Houston!
Happy you like the Patch. Aren’t those little “extreme” ground areas a challenge! The soil in my Hell Strip is a joke, completely dead and devoid of life and earthworms. I feel your pain.

In terms of cheap plant sources? I wish I did know some! Make sure those cattails don’t jump out of the ditch and engulf your garden.

Thanks for dropping by…ESP.

11 Shawna Coronado March 1, 2010 at 9:31 pm

Hi Philip, Ivette Soler recommended your blog. Would love to say hello via email, but cannot find a link on this blog. Shoot me a line? Thanks! Shawna

12 ESP March 1, 2010 at 9:55 pm

Hi Shawna.
My email address is:

I look forward to hearing from you.

13 nola @ alamonorth March 8, 2010 at 10:13 am

Hi, I garden in 8a, just south of Dallas. Your ESP is beautiful; I love the back gardens! How in the world did you get rid of all the Bermuda grass? I am trying to banish it from my world, but making little progress.

14 ESP March 8, 2010 at 11:14 am

Hi nola, and welcome to the ESP.
The Bermuda grass is a nasty and stubborn creature to beat into submission, I fought with it for a number of years. The best thing I have found, but it is not an easy fix, is to dig down a foot or so, then put weed barrier down then bring in new soil/granite. I have also dug down then applied a thick layer of bark chips for areas that I knew I was not going to plant in. These areas stayed like this for a couple of years, the bark did a good job of smothering out the Bermuda. I raked back the barks then applied decomposed granite when I was ready to form my pathways. So far I have had no Bermuda popping up at all! Clover yes!
If I do see a patch at this point, (mostly in my front garden), I now go in there and paint on some super concentrated round up onto the foliage to ensure I kill the root structure. Oh yes no dilution and no mercy from me!
Hope this helps, and good luck in your quest.

15 Cathy Chadwick October 19, 2010 at 3:48 pm

I am glad I discovered your blog, and I am SO sorry I missed your patch in the conservancy tour. I am also slowly becoming obsessed with my garden, to the extent that I too started a blog (very simple and humble in comparison to your splendid site). I will have to come back to yours many times for garden ideas. We are Canadians living in Austin (for the past 10 years), and I am very, very slowly figuring out how to garden, and what to grow, and how to turn a flat rectangle of nothingness into something worth looking at.
(Actually we have only inhabited the flat rectangle of nothing for the last two of the ten years).
Anyway, thanks for the beauty, and the ideas and the fun!!

16 ESP October 19, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Hi Canadian Cathy, and I am happy you found the ESPatch.

Always good to hear from another Austin blogger. Do you have a name or a link to your blog? I would love to see what you are up to in your own flat Texas rectangle!!! Better watch out though, the blogging thing will suck you in…it does improve your writing and typing skills considerably though as I have found out :-) (I am really fast with my two finger typing method now)!
I hope the Patch will offer you some visual assistance moving forward, and please do not hesitate to email me if you have any questions about anything in here.


17 Cathy Chadwick October 20, 2010 at 12:07 pm

I do have a name for my blog, but I will have to get up the courage to give it to you, partly because of the beginners quality of it, partly because the name itself is a little dorky, and also because there is a fair amount of, I hate to say it, grass… some of which will eventually be transformed into areas of greater interest, but some of which needs to be there for the bare feet of the crazy, cavorting children who also inhabit the space.

18 ESP October 20, 2010 at 7:09 pm

Hi Cathy.

I do not judge :-) Go on…pluck up the courage…I dare you!!! Send me a link, send me a link, send me a link, send m…..
I had grass for a number of years, I know how it is, I have to say though, calluses do build up on children’s feet rather quickly when decomposed granite is adopted over grass…just kidding.
Oh and I love dorky blog names, me being one of the larger cultivars in the dorky genus, I am sure I would like it.
I wish you the best of luck with your future gardening exploits.



19 Cathy Chadwick October 21, 2010 at 11:13 am

Can’t resist a dare: “The Wonder, the Weeds and the Why in an Austin garden.” (Hey I just heard a guffaw… cut that out.) (but thanks for daring)
And, yeah, less grass is probably better, but then I read that response where you said you dug down about a foot and put this layer then that layer before ending up with the paths, and I thought, my back wants me to keep the grass….

20 Cathy Chadwick December 6, 2010 at 9:43 am

My teenage son finally showed me how to send links, so here is the link to my blog. We have been having fun watching a screech owl move into our owl house…. http://miraclesandmadnessinanaustingarden.blogspot.com/

21 ESP January 10, 2012 at 12:33 am

Thanks Cathy.

I have also been witnessing so many large owls around the Patch of late that I am now fearful of an impending abduction!


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