Snips & Snails & Swallowtails

Coneflowers are blooming their happy looking heads off in the Patch right now…

They are like strange alien palm trees stretching their other-worldly rocket silhouettes up into the martian sky.

Echinacea has to be one of the most cheerful blooms…

and as an unexpected surprise, the waning olive / orange hues of the seed-heads blend well with the new paint color on our house, courtesy of the infamous Chevy Tahoe.

Talking of purple-orange things:

I caught this Pipevine Swallowtail larvae

Battus philenor

moving at full steam across the decomposed granite in my front garden, and was it moving fast.  It paused briefly to allow me to get these shots in, before it was off again.

Both the caterpillars and the adults are very conspicuous, promoting their protection of noxious chemicals that they obtain from the poisonous plants on which they feed, specifically pipevine plants in the genus Aristolochia.

Pipevine Swallowtail adults are black and the males have an amazing electroluminescent blue sheen to their hind wings. Females sometimes have a hint of the blue but are mostly black. The undersides of the hind wings are decorated with white and orange spots. When they feed, Pipevine Swallowtails rarely stop fluttering, making it hard to get a good look at them, and a decent picture.

Okay, one final purple… and one of my unruly favorite plants is wafting its incredible Gothic scent all over the Patch right now…Evergreen Wisteria:

Millettia reticulata

I say unruly, as this plant requires a significant amount of space and support and pruning.  I have three of these plants in the Patch and they all boom a slightly different times, lucky for me.  This one always is the early bloomer, sprawling over trellises that I have positioned behind my bench.

The aroma sitting on this bench right now is amazing, reminding me of dank, patchouli infused, London Gothic night clubs that I used to frequent as a vampire in another life.

On the vegetable front:

After transplanting last weeks tobacco hornworms my tomatoes continue to produce in large numbers…

Although the pest onslaught has continued…

“Were getting close lads…1st platoon, on my order…”

One of my eggplants also had some rather unsavory visitors:

The bottom fruit of this eggplant had pushed itself into the soil on the inside of the stock-tank, on prizing it to the outside of the tank, I immediately noticed that something was horribly wrong:

Eww, Eww, and more Eww!

“Why you little…”

My tomatillo plants on the other hand are bug free and going completely bananas…I have never grown these peppers before, and I had no idea these plants would get this large.

Pole beans are finally ascending well, after a slow start, with the recent showers and rains we have had in Central Texas.


Pride of Barbados is breaking into bloom.  One of my favorite foliage plants.

My Datura silk handkerchiefs have now turned into these droopy, umbrella-canopied seed pods.

In an adjacent loquat, I captured this…

…a silver-spotted skipper, another first in the Patch, and check out that white paint spill!  The war-paint looks like it has been painted on.

Epargyreus clarus

This is a large dark brown butterfly with long pointed forewings and white patches on the undersides of the hind wings, and orange patches on the forewings. This skipper rarely sits with wings completely open. More often they are held together or just slightly separated just like this one.

“Ach! I prefer the white and tan, ah knew the blue was a buug mistake!”

Stay Tuned for:

“Animal House”

All material © 2010 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late  (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.

  • Laura June 9, 2010, 12:38 am

    That’s a great picture of the butterfly! My kids would go crazy for all the weird and wonderful bugs you have in your yard!

    Thanks Laura.
    My youngest has recently got into the habit of “collecting” pill-bugs…I keep finding contains of them in the most unlikely places, quite alarming sometimes!

  • Jenny June 9, 2010, 8:47 am

    All your photos are impressive but the first few are outstanding. Surely a future for on of them in the ‘picture this’ contest? You have the eye!
    Yes, if you put in vegs. the bugs will arrive and I don’t mean good ones. I killed 12 leaf footed bugs yesterday. My patented sneak up and pinch. It works better if you aren’t wearing gloves. They ruin tomatoes. Tomatillos being grown here too. Unfortunately I didn’t follow the rule of 3s and 5s. I put in 2 and one is a runt. As to those wire worms- ugh!
    Can’t nature get it right. We all wanted rain but 1″ would have been enough to be going on with. So far 3″ and lots of soil washed away. Hope it stops soon.

    Thanks Jenny, I am not sure if the ‘picture this’ competition accepts such photoshopped images, I had fun with these initial shots though. It was really nice to chat with you today, and even funnier watching you run under my tomato netting to squish that shield bug…I agree, a totally patentable procedure! So swift, so methodological, so ruthless, I was truly impressed! Rambo has nothing on you!
    We are really looking forward to seeing your place at the end of the month.
    Thanks for coming over.

  • Les June 9, 2010, 6:32 pm

    Did you ever see the movie Somersby with Richard Gere and Jodie Foster? There was a scene in the movie where the whole family is out in the tobacco patch plucking off pale-fulls of hornworms. I can still see them writhing in the buckets.

    Hi Les.
    I did not see this movie, but with the size of these creatures I can imagine they would fill up buckets! This is the first year that I noticed them on my tomatoes and considering their size, they are quite hard to spot.

  • Daphne Richards June 10, 2010, 11:19 am

    Alright now, really, you must teach a photography class! And charge lots of money. It would be totally worth it. Always love your posts.

    Hi Daphne.
    Glad you like the shots, and I am glad you were able to make it to the Patch Happy (3) hours. Naturally I think I took two pictures the whole time, thank goodness Pam did some comprehensive snapping.

  • Bob Pool June 10, 2010, 10:29 pm

    Dude, seriously, you play the bag pipes? I am stunned beyond belief. I wish I could have made it. We just now got back from a couple of weeks in Alaska. I took a lot of pictures and will post about it soon. The high on the whole trip was sixty, wow, now back to the hot box. I’ll see you at Jenny’s.

    Hi Bob…I was wondering where you had disappeared to!
    I bet you have some amazing pictures from your cruise, I cannot wait to see what you have been up to, your exploits (fishing?), it must have been a really nice escape for you both….and yes, my dark, dirty little secret is apparently out, I used to be a piper:

    Welcome home to the nasty humidity that is central Texas right now…you picked the perfect time to head north it seems, I have been going through tee-shirts as fast as iced turbans in preparation for the Germinatrix’s visit to the Patch! Phew! Check out Pam’s post: http://www.penick.net/digging/
    And Jenny Peterson’s account: http://www.jpetersongardendesign.com/

    I am also really looking forward to visiting Jenny’s garden.

    Welcome home Bob.


  • Germi June 11, 2010, 4:29 pm

    OMG I DON’T even know where to start!!!
    Yes, Bob – he DOES play the bagpipes – and I have NEVER had a bigger, better surprise in my life!!! It was glorious and I almost passed out from joy ( and a teensy bit from the heat, but it was but a tiny annoyance in an incredible day). ESP is a host of the highest order, and I seriously couldn’t stop smiling the entire afternoon – okay, the sangria helped, but STILL!!!
    ESP, you and Leah and the beautiful Hobbits made me feel SO welcome, and the magic of the patch was is full force. I actually SAW the Botox Lady eyeballling the little jewel I placed around the Hobbit Girl’s neck, and I couldn’t believe it when, about ten minutes later, Botox Lady was wearing it herself. She must be in league with the Naboo, who obviously stole it for her. I was looking and looking for a Naboo look-out, but they hide themselves well.
    Visiting your garden was like meeting someone famous – I was giddy and nervous and couldn’t stop taking pictures. We were ALL being serious garden paparazzi! I just uploaded my photos and am amazed – while I don’t have your photo skills, your lovely garden came alive! The light, the charm, the STIPA!!!
    Oh I could go on and on. And on. And I will, but of course, I don’t want to be a BLOG HOG!!! Please tell Leah she has a new best friend in Los Angeles, and give your sweet hobbits hugs. And I am SORRY the glitter balls are underfoot – but you couldn’t trip and fall on an cuter plastic bouncey ball!
    XO always,
    (oh and by the way, I think I left something …. hahaha! Just kidding – How many times did I go back? I made you swallow a bug!)

    Hi G!!!

    What a day, and what a way to end it, with a bug stuck in my throat having a conniption on my front porch! At first I thought it was a Naboo arrowhead, I consider myself lucky! Playing the bagpipes in that humidity was seriously testing, the grabbing of the porch after finishing “The Bluebonnets are O’er the Border” was not for dramatic effect, oh no, I almost passed out :-) So happy you had a nice day, we did too. It was really great to finally get to meet you in the real world, I loved hearing some of your landscaping stories.

    Leah also had a great time with you and asked me to get you to email her your Facebook address, her email is: leahleveridge@austin.rr.com

    The hobbits love their gifts, (dangerous gifts as it turns out in our dark castle). My left leg recently elevated itself above my head the other night like a can-can dancer as I came into contact with the “rogue bludger” lying in wait for me on the floor as I entered my bedroom! Talk about an impromptu late night highland fling! The bugs are also turning up in the most unlikely of places! The kids have been “Germi” this and “Germi” that since you left, oh yes, you made quite the impression.

    Thank you and all of our other guests at the ESPatch happy hour for a great memorable day, a day I will remember for a very long time. The group photo I think sums it up…and Pam you will see in my next post how well the watermelon went down, oh and how fast it went down. I had such a fun time dissecting your succulent plant pot and placing every little plant into its new home. And Jenny, your wooden puzzles kept us / mostly me busy for hours:-)

    Such fun G.

  • Linda Lehmusvirta June 12, 2010, 6:57 pm

    What incredible photographs! Even the “bad bugs” look good! It was so great to see you & Leah & the hobbits. And thank you for all the yummy treats. Glad you got to eat the bug, though. I prefer Leah’s guacamole.

    Hi Linda.
    Thanks, and how about those soldiers scaling the ropes! It was nice to see you again too. I do not recall ever inhaling a bug of those proportions before, I am still “bringing up” parts of its body! Eww!

  • Marinela June 14, 2010, 9:10 am

    Amazing photos :)
    Enjoyable blog!

    Thank you Marinela.

  • Meredith/Great Stems June 15, 2010, 7:08 am

    Ewwwww, that is indeed a gross picture of the worms coming out of the eggplant. I’m jealous of your pipevine caterpillars! I have plenty of leaves for them, but no caterpillars. Sorry I missed the bagpipes — I enjoy them so.

    Hi Meredith…yes pipevines! I was very excited (adjusts nerdy glasses). I have just got through reading about your birdpoop caterpillars, crawling poop that I am featuring in my next post, among other things (lots of creatures)!
    Yes my Mike Myers little secret is out! Next time.


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