“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


Post image for “Seeds & Weeds”

“Seeds & Weeds”

by ESP on April 11, 2016



Aw come on!

I think I can safely say I have had a few stray seeds blow in to this area of late…one has been especially prolific this year:


Wild carrots!


What I did not know until writing this post was that wild carrots

Daucus carota


are actually baby Queen Anne’s Lace plants, and the carrot / taproot is completely edible.


A word of warning though, Queen Anne’s Lace has a rather lethal doppelganger…poison hemlock, which if mistakenly ingested causes this to happen:


followed by immediate death.

How do you tell them apart?

Poison Hemlock

Conium maculatum



has purple or black spots on a smooth stem whereas Queen Anne’s Lace has a hairy, completely green stem.

In ancient Greece, hemlock was used to poison condemned prisoners.


He drank the contents as though it were a draught of wine.

The most famous victim of hemlock poisoning is the philosopher Socrates. After being condemned to death for impiety and corrupting the young men of Athens, in 399 BC, Socrates was given a potent infusion of the hemlock plant.

This account is only slightly disturbing! :

Coles’ Art of Simpling: ‘If Asses chance to feed much upon Hemlock, they will fall so fast asleep that they will seeme to be dead, in so much that some thinking them to be dead indeed have flayed off their skins, yet after the Hemlock had done operating they have stirred and wakened out of their sleep, to the griefe and amazement of the owners.’


Talking of feeding upon things,


when the loquats fruit like they have this year, it is a sweet bounty for all manner of creatures.

DSC01119Squirrels, birds, insects…

DSC01075we even jumped into the fray with a time consuming loquat cobbler.




This NERIUM oleander ‘Hardy Red’ has been blooming for weeks now.

 'Hardy Red'

It has grown so large with the rains that it is receiving a regular pruning to keep it from totally obscuring the sidewalk. I recently witnessed a pedestrian performing a sideways limbo to get past it from my living room window.

Right in front of the oleander I noticed this opportunist growing out of a crack in the concrete.


Staying in the front of the Patch,

IMG_0244bamboo muhly and soft leaf yucca make great companions.



Later in the day our front door burst open with a force that brought back odd memories, http://www.eastsidepatch.com/2009/09/dude-wheres-my-car/


“Dad, Dad quick, you need to see this!

Swinging around the front of the house he pointed skyward.

DSC01125A very large Great horned owl complete with glowing orange eyes and a storybook hoot.

mocking birdsI managed to get a couple of shaky shots in before a panicking pair of mocking birds, no doubt with a nest close by, started screaming and dive bombing the owl. It slowly turned and with a few beats of its wings it was gone.

Talking of wings.

small wings

I assume this Giant Leopard Moth (with not so giant wings) is in the process of metamorphosis?



I will leave with a recent design and installation I have completed.


This one had a significant slope to deal with and overall it felt a little claustrophobic due to narrow pathways and funneling gates. There were also some significant clumps of Nandina that were first on my list for termination,


followed quickly by the existing fence.


The front lacked order and getting from the front door to the side door needed definition.

Here are a couple of visuals I used to communicate the broad strokes of the design:



A ga-ga pit was introduced by the client becoming a main feature of the scheme.

Ga-ga is believed to have been brought to the United States by Israeli counselors working at Jewish summer camps. It was played as early as the mid-1960s. Children often learn about ga-ga through summer camps across Canada and the United States, with varying sizes and shapes of pits…let the work commence!










Determining position and scale…framing begins and area is prepped.


The final pit surrounded by Oklahoma flagstone and varying sizes of river rock.


The front steps were taken out and replaced with a wider solution.


Where the red chairs are I introduced a small gallery deck for the ga-ga pit – visually tying the two structures together and expanding the front porch.


On the right side the driveway was widened and a new limestone dry-stack retaining wall constructed.

retaining wall


Stay Tuned For:

“The Mona Leveridge”


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