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"Head above Water"



 




This photo was presumably taken in the 1940’s-1950’s
of a woman underwater in the Weeki Wachee Spring, FL. 

I heard the old, old men say,
'Everything alters,
And one by one we drop away.'
They had hands like claws, and their knees
Were twisted like the old thorn-trees
By the waters.
I heard the old, old men say,
'All that's beautiful drifts away
Like the waters.'


The Old Men Admiring Themselves In The Water
by
William Butler Yeats
 


We have witnessed a lot of beautiful things drifting away this year, but in Austin,
the waters are not so much drifting as they are evaporating away. Look at these
recent pictures of Lake Travis at the Lakeway City Park.

 
Photo's courtesy of:
Sam Chapman,
 www.austinrealestateguy.com.
It looks more like some Mayan ruins than the lake...shocking!
Click for a clearer look.


This rosemary just seems to get bigger,
the hotter and dryer the weather gets. The only
sign that it is also thirsty is a slight tinge of
yellow to the green, but it doesn't like to complain.

 
I wish I could say the same for this poor Primrose Jasmine,        
Jasminum mesnyi
It is hanging onto life by it's leaf-tips.  I must say though, it does have
an interesting aesthetic all of its own in this crispy state, like a firework
or a water-fountain in a water-purification plant?
What?

 
This Giant Timber bamboo culm is ripping                              "You mean like this?" 
it's own shirt off in an attempt to cool down.

 
The odd twisting culms continue to writhe and twist upward from
the underworld, they are growing at a staggering rate
at the moment.

 
The intensity of the August "Day Star" has even been too much for
this aptly named Ghost Plant.
Graptopetalum paraguayense,

 
It looks like something has singed
the top of it with a
blow-torch...oh wait, it has.
One badly stressed out succulent!

Houston, we have touch down...

Stabilizer clamps engaged.


"Look into my eyes, into my eyes, the eyes, the eyes,
eyes, not around the eyes, don't look around the
eyes, look into my eyes...you're under".



The eyes of this Skimmer dragonfly mimick the
gords hanging under my "purple martin" nest box. I put
quotations around purple martin because it is invariably
full of irritating nesting sparrows...I have told the Nabooboo tribe
to hunt these birds with their blow darts, but even that has not
seemed to make a dent on their numbers. I also suspect that the
tribe have been pre-occupied of late, hunting down some escaped 
Whip Scorpions, Thanks for that Bob at Draco Gardens.
Brrrr.
 

My blunder with the martins this year was that I opened the
doors to the inn as soon as I saw the first birds flying around
the neighborhood...

BIG mistake!

The overtly aggressive sparrows immediately
gate-crashed the nest-box, and held a massive party
in honor of my complete ignorance. 

 
"why you little"

Next year I will wait until a scout actually
lands on the nest-box, and stays on it for
a while before I open the doors.  
This is a male Flame Skimmer dragonfly,
situated on my Spruce Cone Cholla,
or aptly named Pine Cone Cactus... 


...Tephrocactus articulatus.
 
 
Like a multi-eyed monster from mythical Greece, (it is actually
a native to western Argentina). It is one of the stranger looking cacti 
that resides in the patch. It also, it seems, has an intrinsic design flaw,
it is easily broken. Segments of T. articulatus easily separate from the main cactus,
the good news is they readily root, mmm, perhaps it is not a design flaw afterall!
This plant requires no supplemental water, a definite plus right now.

 
You can see how the sections are extremely fragile due to
a rather obvious "off-setting".  There are five species in the
genus Tephrocactus, sometimes classified under the
Opuntia genus. All varieties of this species are frost hardy...
I love this plant, just don't bump into it, if you want it to reach
any height.

Talking of bumps:
 
One of my goldfish is about to pop.
She is so pregnant and distended that even
her scales are sticking out!!!
It is rather disturbing looking.

Staying with the pond for a moment...

This puddle of death was to spell the end for these gulf-toad tadpoles,
a couple had already died in this quickly evaporating hot tub.

Also darting around on the lilies are lots of these:

Long Legged Fly
A great beneficial fly in the garden and a prolific insect predator.
These little flies are the Jason Bournes of the fly world.

 
"Oh, I see how it is ESP!"
"Just because I am not shiny and jewel-like, like he is, I am no
longer an ESP reference?".

Rest easy Seth, you will be published again before you have
chance to vomit.

Long-legged flies are members of the Order Diptera (true flies) and
the family Dolichopodidae, a very large and diverse group. In general,
flies in this family are very small, characterized by 2 long wings
and long slender legs
. The bodies are beautifully colored with green,
blue, metallic gold or silver,
flying jewelry!

The best thing about these little jewels is that they love to devour
copious amounts of spider mites. Both larvae and adults are
predaceous on many other insects and small arthropods,
including mites
, thrips, psocids, aphids, and other insects larvae.
These flies hardly ever stay still, flitting around on my lily pads,
looking for the next meal - at least this is my excuse
for my bad photography, and I am sticking with it.

Moving on...

Aloe variegata, also known as Tiger Aloe and
Partridge-breasted Aloe, is a species of aloe indigenous to South Africa. 
Looking like a futuristic tower block, the plant's leaf margins, have a wide,
ornamental white line that looks like it has been painted on. 
Spotting on leaves is often in horizontal bands in a 'tiger-stripe' pattern,
the white spots look like windows and go great set against the back-drop of
my texas holey rocks. This was one of the plants that I purchased from the
50% off sale at "The Great Outdoors" I managed to get four divisions from
this plant, straight out of the pot.

 
I am finally ready for yet another delivery of decomposed granite to finish
off this section of pathway. It is all leveled and devoid of life and weeds, the
sun has been good for frying anything that once lived in here. A few inches
of granite on top of this should hold most weed germination back pretty well.
At one time I was considering planting this area up with Tech Turf. Marketed
under the corporate name Turffalo, and perhaps I still may, later down the line.
The decomposed granite will, in the meantime benefit the soil and smother
any lurking weeds that may germinate when (and should it ever) rain again.

The latest craze in the patch...

...state-of-the-art transportation, scooted, (and pushed), at the highest possible velocity
around my circular succulent bed...It amazes me so much hilarity can be born from
such a basic endeavor. I am not undermining the activity though, oh no,  
it means I can garden and weed in peace, AND they wear
themselves out!

 
"You just don't get it, old man!...You need to wake up and smell the lemon basil."

 
All the scooting and pushing came to an abrupt halt when my
youngest stopped dead in his tracks, he started pointing into
this nearby patch of grass...his excitement told me he was onto
something major. I always have my camera in my pocket and
went in closer to investigate the now twitching ornamental grass.
I was surprised to see a baby possum, and judging from it's
expression, (I have the same one), I think he must have just
woken up, a little too early it seems.

And finally:
  
100% pup-survival rate from my agave spike from last year... like this 
is any surprise!
They are finally starting to look like small versions
of their mother.


A couple more dragons to finish...
 
A pre-historic insect on a pre-historic horse-tail reed.
Very similar forms.


The sun is setting in the patch but
be sure to tune in for next weeks new Discovery show...

"Deadliest Patch"



All material © 2009 for east_side_patch. Unauthorized 
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by  late  (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.

Inspirational Images of the Week:

Soekershof, Botanical Gardens, S.Africa.
A true mermaids garden!


The East-Side-Patch Blog has moved!


It is official, the East-Side-Patch has moved on over to Word-Press!
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Garden Bloggers' Design Workshop







Time in a Garden

So this month at:
http://www.gardeninggonewild.com/?p=7073
the workshop topic is the influence of time on our gardens.

I first started this blog almost a year and a half ago, it has taught me
and forced me, in a good way, to learn more details about the plants
and critters that inhabit my habitat, but first and foremost up-keeping
this journal has taught me about the time/space continuum.


"Spock, what IS he talking about".
"Unclear Captain".

    
It has documented once a week, (almost without fail),  
the growth of my hobbits, and in parallel, the maturing
of my garden, and my knowledge of the beasts, and
characters that reside in it.
The creatures that call it their home...
and there are quite a few...
         
William Wallace, Compost Burper, Botox Lady, Nabooboo tribe, Cactus man, and finally the ESP witches, not to mention..

   
The Intergalactic singer, Bill and Ben the holey rock men and last (and now deceased), the Cactus Man, - a veritable east-side-cast of motley patch characters.


Unfortunately the sands
of time have not been kind
to the poor old "Cactus Man":

       
It was quite disturbing to track his demise through the lens of a camera,
I could feel his pain as he took on a rather horrific persona. I felt bad
knowing that I was was the one responsible for his premature aging. 
His head finally buckled backward toward the Texas sun, 
as he exhaled his final breath, and for no apparent reason,
he screamed in a squeaky cactus voice with a fake Scottish accent...


 "Freedom."
(I think he must have speaking with William in his final days)!

Note to self
...Next time I will not carve features all the way "through"
the cactus paddle!



Gardens take time, and are a lot of work. 
The patch seemed insurmountable at
times, but to me, starting was the
hardest part. Then came the frustration
at how futile all the work seemed.
Then came the realization at how long 
it was going to take. Then It became
a quest, then a passion, then ultimately 
a complete obsession. Gardens 
teach about time, because they take time.


Some of the following before and after shots
I have posted before, but they seemed quite
apt for this month's theme. They highlight how things
have changed over a three year period here,
in the ESP.

  
You can see the whole left side of the property was obliterated by the
tunnel of trumpet and wisteria vines (left). I thought the tunnel was
an interesting idea when I started it but when the vines matured, 
they visually shrunk the garden by about a third from the view on my back deck.
It was also quite nasty to walk through, lots of webs and unmentionables just
waiting to fall down your neck, causing the obligatory physical conniption.
I decided to completely overhaul this whole area to widen the view,
it was beginning to feel claustrophobic, and visually cluttered.

 
Pulling a pathway around the right side of the small circular bed in the foreground
created a lot more "breathing space" and allowed a more natural angle to exit
the steps down off my back deck.
The left picture shows how it looked before my skinny island "middle" bed
gained any definition. Time has really brought some visual quietness into
the patch through the creation of definition and order.

Here is the island middle bed when I first started in September last year:
 
Quite the construction site, the soil in here was terrible,
compacted and full of trash. Here it is today. This bed
has endured the central Texas drought with very little
additional water. 


Okay, the small Mediterranean
fan palm on the right required a
little bit of the wet stuff 
to get it started.

 
And here is a before and after of my circular bed.

Other East-Side Occurrences this week...
 
Cnidoscolus texanus
I was ripping up some weeds around one of my pampas grasses
with some gloves on, when I grabbed a swath of this monster. Even
with covered hands these spines went into the top of one of my
fingers, it felt like I had just had some Novocaine injected into my knuckles!
With other common names like Bull Nettle, Tread-softly, and 
Finger Rot, you can tell that this is a plant that demands respect. 
If any part of the stem is broken, a milky sap appears,
and some people are allergic to this as well
as the "sting” of the hairs.


Zoom in to maximum magnification on this picture to see just how lethal this plant is!

Most parts of this vicious plant are covered with hispid or bristly hairs.
But these are not normal hairs, oh no, not normal at all
-  and they really hurt

Here is how this plant's effective defense mechanism works:
If the foliage or stems are touched, the glass-like hairs break off in
the skin and act like hypodermic needles. The “needles” release
a toxin (and I can vouch for this) which causes an intense burning
sensation. This effect is a type of allergic response known as contact
urticaria, the reaction can last for several days.
I could not clench a fist due to the sensation of
"pressure" in-between my fingers for 24 hours.

Moving On...
 
A rare shower in Austin was almost enough to almost fill my 
red-neck tank / everything but the kitchen sink, rain water
collection "system."  This paper wasp wasted no time in 
quenching his thirst. 

 
With the uncustomary moisture, this Mexican Petunia
Ruellia brittoniana responded the next day
with a flurry of blooms. I have this one embedded in a slow draining, 
sunken rubber container to contain it and also because it does like some moisture.
Mexican Petunia audibly "pops" when the seed pods
receive a little water, sending seeds jumping all
around the adjacent area. Watch out, they
germinate readily.
It blooms on and off all summer.

 
Here is the tub in the foreground when this bed was      Spot the buried petunia tub?
being created, some years back.
We still had a lot of bermuda grass
back then, as you can see.


Same area matured - image taken toward the end of last year.

 
I now have TWO curving culms on my Giant Timber Bamboo!
Look at the powder on the new growth, it is apparently good
for the skin? I have no idea what is causing this crazy bamboo
snaking habit,
but I like it!


Did you know that bamboo 
was actually the first plant to
re-green after the atomic
blast in Hiroshima in 1945?

And finally...


Amaranth pushing up among the feather grass, getting
prepared for it's spectacular fall bloom. I always allow
select plants to mature from seed, so long as they are
located in the right position, like these that line the
edge of my pathway.

Stay Tuned For:
"Head above Water"


All material © 2009 for east_side_patch. Unauthorized 
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by  late  (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.

Inspirational Image of the Week:


Pierre Haulot and William Boullier have produced
an innovative watch concept where time is viewed
as a 'progress bar'.

The East-Side-Patch Blog has moved!


It is official, the East-Side-Patch has moved on over to Word-Press!
Here is the link to the "New" Patch, please update your feeds.

http://www.eastsidepatch.com/





"The Cat's Cradle"











Cradled under the safety of my variegated ginger, this cat is
extremely nervous of me and everything that moves in the ESP,
and for good reason. It does not belong to anyone but gets
food from everyone judging from the size of it.
I regularly see it at night, hunting in the Patch,
augmenting his diet. 

My now deceased cat was extremely territorial until she got
too old to really care, this cat was her living nemesis.


She once jumped from under this Douglas Fir 
onto the back of this cat and "rode" it all
the way down the right side of my
property fence-line. It was one of the funniest
animated things. 


What made it even funnier was the way my cat
was having to move "in the saddle", all jerky,
and un-natural, her head being thrown
around with every panicked stride
from her newly acquired furry "Steed".
She hung-on like a feline rodeo rider 
for a good five seconds.

Beauty and the Beast:

   
Bougainvillea Glabra is sometimes referred to
as "paper flower" because the bracts are thin and papery. I love the rice-paper
quality of these bracts, they look so fragile, yet they last for ages, on and off the plant. 
Bougainvillea is such a cheerful plant, it always reminds me of good times in Mexico,
where it grows in all colors, and is everywhere!


I used to have one of these growing over my front porch,
that is until I scraped my knuckle bone with one of it's hooked
thorns pruning it. It was painful for months. The thorns are
tipped with a black, waxy substance that I don't think helped... 
oh no, never again, it had to go, but it wasn't going without a fight.
Bougainvillea is one tough character to extract.
 

I am lucky in that my neighbor has a fine specimen
climbing up the front of his house, we see it everyday
through our kitchen window, it blooms continuously.
I love seeing it, I just don't want to deal with it.

 
My pampas grasses are starting to have that waterfall cascading look to them.
This seems to happen just before the blooms start to shoot up. I get lacerated
on a daily basis trying to turn on and off that faucet (visible in the right picture).
I have developed a sort of hunched over, backside out, shuffling technique to
limit the leg and arm thrashing this plant administers.
 


A small member of the Nabooboo tribe,
hiding in the grasses, recently shot a
dart in my arse thinking I was 
performing an act of tribal aggression 
with my rather unorthodox
"maneuvers" in and around this pampas.

 
Talking of unorthodox behavior, this massive giant timber culm is the
first one I have ever had that apparently struggles with the simple
concept of growing upward. The shrimp plant it is emerging from is
also doing well under the shade of a couple of large pecan trees and
a drip feed from a buried soaker hose.


The culm lurking underneath my mortared brick edging continues to
push north.. "Mind the gap" It has already loosened two bricks,
we will see if it has the strength to "break on through
to the other side".


"That was just bad man".


The Hoja Santa in the same bed is also bucking the Texas drought
pretty well. The foxtail ferns performing in the amphitheater   
Asparagus densiflorus 
are only just hanging in there, somewhat yellowed.


The Mexican bush sage,
yucca and bulbine never even break a sweat.


This trailing lantana needs but an occasional beverage,
this little bed gets a daily roasting.


Anything that was not drought tolerant has long since shriveled and vanished,
I have even lost a dwarf miscanthus this year, outrageous!
Apart from staring out of windows, watering and pulling the occasional
weeds (it is almost too hot for them also). I have tried to spend as little time as
possible outdoors, but today, everyone in the Patch began to show
distinct "cabin fever" symptoms. It was time to brave the elements,
and go OUTSIDE!


Cabin fever hits the patch!

We ventured to "The Great Outdoors" for a smoothie and a snoop
around the plants. I was not even considering purchasing anything,
but then one of the assistants had to say the four words I did not
want to hear..."Everything fifty percent off".
AAArrrggghhhhh!
I trudged straight back to the entrance to pick up a cart.


Armed with our drinks we headed straight
over to the agaves via a short
stop at the bamboo section where I picked
up a weeping bamboo for $40...it does not
get any better than that!


Back in the Patch, and now thoroughly resigned to
spending quite a few hours in the blazing heat. I loaded up
a massive drinking vessel of iced water,
put an iced turban on my head and ventured timidly
out into the rays of the day-star to empty my compost bin.
The new plants will need all the help they can get after all! 
This anole was having a field-day munching on all the
bugs and roaches, he was shortly joined by two of
his friends. I decided to leave them alone to gorge
themselves in the fresh compost for a while. . .
I had a cauldron to get going.

   
I emptied my compost bin juice catcher to obtain a few pints of the good stuff.
I then added some sea-weed emulsion to this and diluted the "real ale" with
some water...a lethal growing brew.
One of the ESP witches looked on inquisitively at a distance.


I figured if any plants can make it, these can.
They all got a seriously good start with the compost and
stinky tonic water...more on these new additions later.

Other observations this week...
 
I know I promised not to post any more images of these,
but I lied.


This Sedum nussbaumerianum
continues to grow, albeit extremely slowly.
I really like this succulent and it's unusual mustard coloring,
great illuminated with a setting sun.

 
As are these purple fountain grasses
Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum'


Just one more!

And finally...

Crusty cone-flowers and burgundy cannas.


Stay Tuned For:
"The Ace of Spades"


All material © 2009 for east_side_patch. Unauthorized  intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and punishable by  late  (and extremely unpleasant) 14th century planet Earth techniques.

Inspirational Image of the Week:


TM Garden Design


The East-Side-Patch Blog has moved!


It is official, the East-Side-Patch has moved on over to Word-Press!
Here is the link to the "New" Patch, please update your feeds.

http://www.eastsidepatch.com/

Aug. 7th, 2009







Here is my entry for
August’s "Down on your Knees"
Picture This Photo Contest at
http://www.gardeninggonewild.com/?p=7067


                              Cattail Sparklers.Typha latifolia
These fluffy, white seeds were once used for stuffing blankets,
pillows and toys. Native Americans would put them inside
moccasins and around cradles, for additional warmth,
but don't talk to me about additional warmth
right now! 



The East-Side-Patch Blog has moved!


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