“Victorians Gone Wild”

by ESP on November 2, 2015

 lily pad


“Evaluation, Mr. Spock.”


“Fascinating. I believe this is the early stages of the unfurling of a Victoria amazonica lily pad found in the still waters of all the great rivers of the South American continent such as the tributaries of the Amazon, Earth. The first published description of the genus was by John Lindley in 1837, along with his colleague he concl…”



“Yes, yes…but we need to know what it wants, what it desires…

why…why it has armed itself with rows…of defensive spines?”

defensive spines

“And why were people from the Victorian era obsessed with standing on them,


…a primitive teleportation device?

Spock I need answers!”


Victoria amazonica

This Victoria amazonica water lily stopped us in our tracks at the Hill Country Water Gardens and this is a small one! The leaves of the giant Amazon water lily can grow over 2.5m (8’) across.

To answer Kirk’s question, the sharp spines on the flower buds, leaf stalks, and underside of leaves are a defense mechanism for fish and other animals like chomping manatees.

The flowers of this water lily are pollinated at night by a specific type of scarab beetle (Cylocephata castaneal) in an amazing process…

Cylocephata castaneal

 photo extracted from ssaft.com/Blog/dotclear/

…this is how it works:

The pure white flower opens as a female on the first day – emitting a pungent pineapple aroma to attract the beetle.


The scarab leaps into the flower and is trapped in there when the flower closes the following morning. At this point the petals start to turn pink in color signaling that the flower is undergoing a rather quick sex change to become a male.

Now coated in male pollen the beetle escapes when the flower reopens, off it flies to another fragrant white female bloom (they are not attracted to male form) and so the pollination process begins / continues…amazing.


Aw come on!


Moving along…

Oh yes, I knew she was going to get me involved in the creation of her Fairy garden.

I just couldn’t stand by and watch her putting small stones here and there and then wondering why it didn’t look very good…

oh no, I was going to get involved.


It needed the structure of a large cedar stump, some outside illumination (naturally), a few metal insects (Thanks Bob),


and some rather large ‘mountains’.

The rest was up to her.






(Relatively) cold weather is my excuse to light fires and burn things.



It is their excuse to boil pots full of mystery gross things…


…and when fully rendered down attempt to get me to smell them.


“I don’t mind smelling it espatch”

Quiet Baldrick – no one is smelling anything.

DSC00528 2

I will leave you with a few shots of a garden I designed (over a number of years) and recently revisited in East Austin.

Here it is when I started:



This time I was brought in to remedy a bare-dirt / muddy area, solution?


Retaining walls, dry creek bed and lots and lots of rocks.


It was great to see how other parts of the garden were filling in.


Bamboo muhly softening up the pathways.


A nook.


This fig ivy was so tiny when it went in the ground I remember wishing it good luck…as in a sarcastic ‘good luck but your probably not gonna make it way’.


Stay Tuned For:


“Mountains & Meteors


All material © 2015 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.

“King Richard III”

by ESP on September 10, 2015


One more quick Scottish fling…err?

Beavis and Butt-head

Thankfully this one does not involve roaches or any other unmentionables…well, apart from a few King Richards.


Devil's Beef Tub“It looks as if four hills were laying their heads together, to shut out daylight from the dark hollow space between them. A damned deep, black, blackguard-looking abyss of a hole it is.” Sir Walter Scott

This deep glacial hollow is called the Devil’s Beef Tub it is located five miles north of the small tourist town of Moffat in the Scottish borders. It is surrounded by four hills; Great Hill, Peat Knowe, Annanhead Hill and Ericstane Hill (which used to be a Roman signal station), the valleys form the headwaters of the River Annan.

The Beef Tub is also known as MacCleran’s Loup after a tumbling highlander. Fleeing the aftermath of the failure of the Jacobite rising of 1745 the soldier decided his only course of action to escape certain death amid a hail of enemy gunfire was to curl up and roll down the hill, that’s right, roll down the hill’

It worked and he escaped but I bet he was a wee bit sore the following morning.


“Oh yesh, and at a fair rate he mushed have been going ashwell with that incline.”

Did you know EshPatch that dotted acrosh these hills are shmall relic stands of rare mountain plants..and the occasional pocket of ash and hazel woodland – a reminder of landscapes pasht.”

I did not but thank you Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez!


“Your very welcome EshPatch”


You can get a sense of the scale of these hills from the sheep in the distance.

If you are visiting the area, mind you don’t step on a King Richard the 3rd, the sheep roam everywhere up here.



DSC00127The landmark’s unusual name is derived from its use as the hiding place for cattle stolen by the notorious Border Reivers, otherwise known as the Johnstone clan, who were commonly referred to by their enemies as ‘devils’.


“Calm down William I have not forgotten”…

William Wallace is reputed to have used the concealed hollows of the Devil’s Beef Tub for covert gatherings with men from the Border Clans and the Ettrick Forest ahead of his first attack against the English in 1297…and this concludes my final timeline-disjointed history installment from the Scottish borders. Programming will be back to normal next week with a re-run of the popular “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”

dietrich01Illustration: Christian Wilhelm Ernst Dietrich (1712-74) Sea Storm and Shipwreck

Back up to date in the Patch:


Ah yes it is that time of year again, lets see if these wolf pumpkins will hold their integrity until Halloween – I really do not want an oozing repeat of last years stinky porch disaster.


Talking of things stinky…


Starfish Flower, Carrion Flower

…This Stapelia gigantea stinks!

Also known as “Starfish Flower” and “Carrion Flower” the plant looks like a cactus, smells like an abattoir, but actually belongs to the milkweed family.

blowfly Female blowflies, attracted by the stench, deposit their eggs in the corona of the flower and subsequently pick up some pollen to fertilize other stapelia plants…

Black Adder

…at least that is the cunning plan.


I hatched a cunning plan of my own this week:


This pond-side planting bed has been bothering me for quite some time.


As the Mediterranean palm on the right gets larger (it will eventually get very large):


the pathway was getting too narrow.

The scene needed more breathing space.


So much more space!


All It needs now is a fresh top-coat of granite.


I will leave you with a few before and after shots of a back garden I recently designed and installed.


The space lacked definition and structure and the client was open and excited to remove the existing turf that was (contrary to the next shot) struggling due to a lack of sunlight,


and very poor drainage:

unnamed (1)

Here is the design intent superimposed on the same house image:


The idea was to offer multiple branching flagstone pathways to visually break up the rectangular space, at the same time addressing the drainage issues by raising the grade a couple of inches.


The flagstone pathways would expand out into a patio area and lead the eye down to a destination, in this case a stock-tank pond.












In-progress flagstone layout, bed definition and a shiny new stock tank -(label strategically orientated to the rear)- well lets face it, there is no point trying to remove it!

Here is the finished design with fledgling planting scheme:


A new designated patio area:


and no more walking out of the back door directly onto mud or dirt:


The new pond now has fish in it,


and its first water lily.


Stay Tuned For:

Victorians Gone Wild”


All material © 2014 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.