“The Magic Carpet”

by ESP on May 3, 2017 · 3 comments

I encourage you to switch this video to full screen – it is visually stunning cinematography featuring Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh.

We are all big fans of Bollywood movies in the Patch.

In fact, keeping with the tradition and success of the Ancient Mariner series that I ran some years back (haha), I will share some of our favorite songs with you over the next series of posts.

That should take us well into 2020 based on the sporadicity of my recent postings and how many Bollywood songs we like!

Painting By Viktor Vasnetsov

Of course the magic carpet I am referring to in the title of this post is significantly less exotic and it certainly cannot fly of its own accord, (unless thrown in a wayward manner by a shovel).

It has nothing to do with King Solomon, teleportation or India. 

I am of course referring to rather large quantities (in my case 30 yards to be exact) of decomposed granite.

Delivered in rather large trucks.

To think I used to buy this aggregate in small bags from Home Depot.

Ah, those were the days.









“Watch out for the cables…watch out for the cables!”

“Back wheels coming off the ground!”

A few days later the DG carpet was laid,

and some colorful furniture had moved in.

My buying decision when it comes down to purchasing garden furniture is sadly based solely around excrement.

Due to the location of our family backyard hangout, under this large Post Oak,

there is an abundance of the nasty stuff – ah the price you pay for shade.

This generally negates purchasing anything too expensive with say a nice deep wood-grain or refined finish, because well, it will be literally be covered before you can say: “that’s a really nice garden chair, where did you purcha…oh dear, I am afraid that dove has just jettisoned an alien all over it.”

“Ash…we have a problem.”

No, for me it is about the greasiness of the releasing agents in the plastic of the furniture – the texture on the plastic – how easy will it be to blast and dislodge a particularly stubborn ‘King Richard the 3rd’ with a hose?

Another carpet was also laid in the front yard, this time in the form of Tejas Black gravel:

I got so tired of this manhole cover getting covered I finally did something about it.

“Aye, he’s gaan naiwhere!”

Tejas Black generates some great shadows and looks even better when wet.

Also with a few introduced berms it tends not to look so contemporary, a thick layer discourages weeds.

I like to plant plants that can be pruned up / trunking specimens, that way if weeds do blow in…and they will, they are very visible and can be easily and cleanly treated.

Moving along…

We had a surprise this morning before school.

Upon exiting the back door there was clawing and a few snorts coming from this mountain laurel.

A pair of young raccoons were trying desperately to get some sleep.

They stayed on top of the mountain laurel until the sun came over the top of the house, forcing them to move on

…just stay out of my attic, ok?

To finish…

I am always shocked after revisiting an install as to how much time must have elapsed for things to have grown to the size they are.

It just never seems that long for me.

Here is where this north Austin installation started:

I remember it as if it were a couple maybe three years ago – not 5…

…hoping these baby cypresses would make it, they seemed so distant from each other as saplings.

A new water feature. The fresh plantings were so small – you can barely see the vitex tree (in the lawn in front of the shed door).

Then with a little help from time and some solid pruning by the client on the vitex, the scene had transformed:

The space felt very peaceful, the cypresses were now rubbing shoulders with one another and most surprising to me – it did not feel like Austin.

Visually it looks and feels like it could be in a cooler climate, somewhere much further north…

of course it was a cool rainy day when I visited. 

I love the new suburban ‘cabin in the woods’ look to the garden shed.

Stay Tuned For:

“The Perfect Specimen


All material © 2017 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.

“The Funeral Pyre”

by ESP on January 30, 2017 · 4 comments




But it looks okay, you may say.

Behind this particularly flattering image of this vitex tree in my front garden lies years of hacking, snipping, swearing and regrowing.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like vitex, it is a great pollinator magnet when in bloom, and I don’t think it should be on the invasive list here in Central Texas, but this one got off to a bad start and then just kept getting badder.



Pruning the branches to stop it grating on the roof of my house for the last decade only encouraged more to grow.

I had had enough.



“You hear that Mr. Vitex Tree?… That is the sound of inevitability… It is the sound of your death… Goodbye, Mr. Vitex Tree…”

Of course we all know what Neo did next.

I was determined this tree was not going to spring back up,


so I built a rather large fire on top of the remaining stump.

Everything was going well until I threw on some old lattice pieces I had lying around. I can only think this was coated in the most flammable liquid know to man. It went up with such an intensity that it singed some nearby loquats and attracted the attention of the local authorities as black plumes smoke bellowed to a ridiculous height.


“Everything okay over there sir?”

“Y,Yes officer…just burning my vitex tree,” – I realized that was too much information as it was being spoken and what was with the guilty shoulder shrug?

zzzz the tree in Poltergeist 11405338_gal

Even in death this tree was causing me anxiety.


After the fire had gone out I put a small tarp down where the root-ball had been, shimmied a dump truck into my front garden and poured 14 yards of decomposed granite over it…

lets see you come back from that!


While I was in this ‘lets just take it out’ mood, I also decided to erase this raised brick bed and the small flagstone that has also annoyed me for about as long as the Vitex.

The brickwork did not match anything, the rosemary was long in the tooth and don’t get me started on the Bermuda grass that has become increasingly pervasive in this bed, growing up through the center of the rosemary. Urgh.


It all had to go, dirt, roots and all.


With the Vitex, berms and brick planter removed everything felt quieter and the space sooo much larger.

I have no definitive plans for this area as yet but I suspect some very large flagstone and some ‘quieter’ planting arrangements are not too far away.


Another project in progress is happening at the back of my property.

Like the front, things needed tamed and reworked but it was the demise of my stock-tank pond that really set things in motion.


I have had this stock-tank for about as long as I have been writing this blog, it has served me well and given my kids a lot of fun growing up.

I knew it was reaching the end of its life as the sludge crept higher and the water got shallower.

How high’s the water, mama?
Two feet less and shrinkin’

I could have cleaned some of the sludge out but some bright-spark thought it would be a good idea to sink a bog cypress tree into the tank all those years ago. It did not take the cypress long before it bust free of its terracotta confines, its roots crawling all the way around the bottom of the tank forming a dense mat.

Think Asiatic jasmine on pond-sludge-steroids. http://www.eastsidepatch.com/2011/11/little-monsters/

A few weeks back I noticed the rust on the inside of the tank was also getting worse, I turned a blind eye.

Then overnight the inevitable happened.


It wasn’t a pretty sight…


…and it stank of dead goldfish – a scent that immediately took me back to: http://www.eastsidepatch.com/2012/04/exploding-goldfish/

All together it was not the sort of focal / destination point or ‘lack of’ water feature you want in your back garden…ever.


The cypress was a beast to get out, 


but out it came.


As did the stock-tank.


Much to the horror of the cactus man who watched with rather too much intensity for my liking as it rolled by him.

He hates change.


I also had to deal with the remnants of this failed waterfall: http://www.eastsidepatch.com/2008/05/i-used-a-sledge-hammer-on-my-water-feature/

that was all concreted in and sitting on top of some nasty thick plastic.

Oh yes it all had to go.


I won’t go into the unmentionables that were lying in wait underneath this plastic, but they were numerous.

{Subtle knee murmur}



The established loquat on top of the mound was dug out and transplanted to the fence line, which is about to get replaced.


Here is the back area purged awaiting a top dressing of granite and a future spring privacy planting.


A relocated and expanded fire pit and grill going into the space.


More on these spaces as they take shape.


Stay Tuned For:

“The Magic Carpet



All material © 2017 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.