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,


“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.



Post image for “Mountains & Meteors”

“Mountains & Meteors”

by ESP on February 1, 2016 · 1 comment

 gulf muhly grass

I found this huge Differential Grasshopper

Melanoplus differentialis


swaying around in a patch of Gulf Muhly.

I could hear groans and one “really dad”? emanating from the back seat as I rolled effortlessly out of my truck, camera in hand, to stalk the creature in the middle of a rather public walkway on Wimberley high street.


We took a walk down the now serene Blanco River. 


The habitat is still recovering from the devastating flooding of last may when the river rose 30 feet in less than three hours.

Flood Damage

We climbed over and under lots of smaller trees that had been pushed over as the river experienced rises that exceeded 20 feet in one hour.

cypress tree

Most of the old cypresses had weathered the storm with only a few cuts and bruises,


though this image from last year shows some were not so lucky.

I wonder if these were cypresses?

Chihuahuan Desert

We recently took a trip out to Marfa (west Texas) in the middle of the Chihuahuan Desert to visit friends 


and play in the snow…yes snow!


She wasted no time generating a chilling family.

Marfa is situated in the high desert of the Trans-Pecos between the Davis Mountains and Big Bend National Park.


It is famous for its contemporary art scene and of course the mysterious Marfa lights which unfortunately I did not get to experience on this trip.

I hope the artist does not take offense to the title tag I placed on the image.


“Mulder, I cannot believe is was 1999 when we made that episode about the Marfa lights.”

“Just five more miniseries to go Scully.”

 We took many walks and encountered plenty of interesting minimalist desertscapes, some


appeared to be an extension of the street.


Nassella trumpuissima?

Yucca faxoniana

After a close encounter with a Spanish Dagger,

Yucca faxoniana



and a few more snowballs in my back,


Marfa, Texas

it was time for some liquid refreshment (courtesy of El Cosmico) and then up into the Davis mountains for a spot of hiking.







Eagles soared effortlessly overhead, things on the ground were a little different.


The views around this area are staggering but you had better watch where you are walking, everything in this terrain is out to get you.

Davis Mountains


Dasylirion texanum


grow like weeds at this altitude,

rock-faceeven out of rock faces!

The Chihuahuan Indians made use of the plant by fermenting sotol juice into a beer-like alcoholic beverage as early as 800 years ago. The outer leaves are removed to reveal the central core, the core can be cooked, shredded, fermented and distilled.

sotol4-smPhoto by Phil Dering

These pulpy cores were also baked and pounded into chewy patties which could be dried and stored.


The Indians also used the straight flowering stems of the plant as lances and spears with an attached stone or metal point.

We DID tell you it was going to be cold.

Davis Mountains

An occasional high pitched squeal would give away the position of these perfectly camouflaged smaller cane cholla cacti lurking in the native grasses.


The larger ones were not so much of an issue.


At the top of the trailhead we had a glass of vino and observed and tried to identify (with the help of our very informative local field guides) lichen and scat aka: (King Richard the 3rd’s)  see: 

King Richard III

Occasionally the scat was on the lichen making it unclear as to which field guide to use first.


From up hear we could see Indian Lodge,


a pueblo style lodge constructed by the CCC in the 30’s.


In the far distance we could see the McDonald Observatory.



A short car ride later and we were standing inside UT’s Frank N. Bash visitors center staring at a rather large iron meteorite that was found 15 miles northwest of the observatory by a seven year old.

Frank N. Bash visitors center

It is made up almost entirely of iron and nickel.


Mountains to meteors…thanks for a great trip L & N.


Time to charge up the iPads, avoid the tumbleweeds (I had no idea how big they could get) and hit the very straight roads back to Austin just in time for my daughters birthday present.


Tumbleweed Chandelier by Jean Landry, Marfa.

Photo by Susan Simmons

She had been excited and looking forward to seeing her YouTube idol Colleen Ballinger (Miranda Sings) perform her show for months,


and tonight was the night – a sell out show at the Paramount.

Colleen Ballinger

She had no idea she was going to meet her!

My return home was significantly less glamorous…



Stay Tuned For:

“Seeds & Weeds”


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