“Moi Grande Rain Dance”

What do you see in the clouds?  Is that a mosquito he is trying to swat?

From what seemed like endless Texas blue skies to…

…sustained deep soakings, a few new rivers have materialized in the ESPatch this week, courtesy of Tropical Storm Alex.

I waded to my shed and launched an old punt boat that I had picked up in Cambridge some years back. It was a lot of fun punting around my decomposed granite pathways, the activity also gave me a whole new and unique perspective on my entire garden, in terms of flow and continuity… Oh dear.

Yes it felt like I was in Venice. I ran into the house for a striped tee-shirt, then down to my corner store to purchase a Cornetto ice cream…I had to make the most of this rare event after all…

As with any summer rains in Texas, they happen about as regularly as the appearance of the genie in this “lamp”.

“I grant you three wishes”.

Mmm, let me see, rain, rain and more rain?

Be careful what you wish for!

I have quite a few of these dead giant timber culms that have turned jet black as a result of last winters prolonged freezes, their colors now reflecting the colors on the background container…What are the chances of that!

…they look very Balinese in the rains!

The Hoja Santa immediately responded to the unexpected influx of moisture. I think they grew almost a foot overnight!  

Great shadow casting foliage for the shade…this is my “hosta” of Texas, (well, as you all know, everything IS bigger in Texas.)

Oh yes, I had a great time picking up the hobbits at the bottom of the steps and taking them on a leisurely punt around the garden paths…“Just a’ one Cornetto…give it too me, delicious ice cream from etc, etc”.

…as we floated around we witnessed a brand new Patch anole, an anole with pronounced spinal ridging, this is a Brown Anole, or at least I believe it is.

Anolis sagret, Norops sagrei

Some male brown anoles like this one are able to extend a crest of skin that runs down the length of their body along their spine. All of these techniques are thought to make the male anole look larger and more intimidating to any invaders he may come across, like me. People often refer to anoles as “chameleons,” though they are actually quite different than chameleons. True chameleons, which belong to the family Chamaeleonidae, are native to Africa, Madagascar, and India and have curly prehensile tails and independently movable eyes. Like chameleons though, anoles are able to change their body color in response to mood or temperature.  This anole had great Avatar coloration and spotting on it’s sides and legs.

We rounded another corner to see the first Moi Grande Hibiscus bloom getting ready to pop…

…a little further and we encountered a soft leaf yucca beaded with moisture, it looked like an advertisement for Turtle wax!  And still the rains came down.

After a few dark days, (a welcome break from the Day Star), the rains subsided, and the sun is once again intermittently coming out, it is a sauna out there!  With the sun came a burst of life, everyone was hungry after the three day hunker from the rains…an immediate feeding and growth frenzy ensued…creature hunting creature, bugs eating bugs, creatures hunting bugs…it was all going on, and it was all going on everywhere.

Climbing the ladder for success, this green anole had its free-fall dive all planned out to capture this swallowtail butterfly.

Butterflies have been all over my pride of Barbados recently, this is a Striated Queen butterfly

“Danaus gilippus strigosus”!

Along with the sunlight came the first Moi Grande hibiscus bloom…

…and it was a beauty! I have no idea how she seems to always match the bloom colors, but she does!

Along with these butterflies and blooms came some new moths:

This velvet curtain is know as a Southern Pink/crimson Moth

Pyrausta inornatalis

The tiny Southern Crimson Moth’s larval food is salvia, this one matched the purple on the amaranth foliage perfectly.

another bright character, a Crambidae or

crambid snout moth

One of the many visitors that my Agastache has brought in.

And finally…

A Hawkmoth perhaps? This was incredibly camouflaged nestled deep inside a rosemary.

“What big eyes you have”.

And yet another first in the ESP…

…a female Eastern Pondhawk.

Erythemis simplicicollis

Pondhawks are aptly named being fearsome predators, they catch butterflies and many other kinds of insects, and can often be found devouring them. The male of the species is blue and the female green.

The rains also created hundreds of these tiny translucent spores at the base of this iris.  It was a whole other ethereal world down in there!  A world where the mosquitoes fly in formations and can strip flesh from bone in seconds.

I managed to get these two shots in of these minute toadstools before running and screaming for the cover of the house, slapping myself as I ran.


Rain in Texas at this time of year makes everyone feel like dancing.

Inspirational ‘moment of zen’ design of the week: Technology touches nature:

Description from Tomomi Sayuda:
Oshibe means stamen in Japanese which is where my inspiration came from. But Oshibe is also inspired by other optimistic elements of life: eggs, plants, light and the moon. This is a playful interactive lighting sculpture. When you put eggs on stamens, Oshibe plays tender ambient sounds and lights up. Each stamen plays a different sound. The sounds change according to the number and position of the eggs.

I am hearing Oshibe all around the Patch right now, I am!  Especially at dusk, in and around my pampas grasses.

“This confirms my hypothesis that the Naboo, although small in stature are huge in sound manipulation as a sophisticated form of communication between adjacent tribes”.

Stay Tuned for:

“Garden Coffins”

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

  • Annie in Austin July 4, 2010, 12:00 am

    You really know how to have fun in the rain, ESP! Looks like your totals were much higher than ours, but no complaints here…even though we had no rivers. Wonderful insect and critter photos, too. If the Nauvoo has a white outfit in addition to the Moi-ve one, I can supply her with a similarly-sized pure white Blue River II.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    PS Hoja santas very happy in containers- thank you! Fence repair needed before they can hop out of the pots.

  • ESP July 4, 2010, 12:47 am

    Hi Annie.
    We have had a lot of fun in the rain this week, some more then others! I have constantly been paling water out of my “everything but the kitchen sink” water collection “system” since these rains started. I hate to see it overflowing and any go to waste after all. My pathways take a huge amount of run-off from my granite sloped side yard and roof, the decomposed granite base funnels water down like a stream to the very back of the Patch…it is very effective with decomposed granite pathways…the water flows down the pathways then slowly dissipates into the ground and the adjacent beds over hours. If too much water…Sandbags!

    Glad your Hoja Santa is settling in! Keep her well-watered until you can get her in.
    Trench-footed ESP.

  • Laura July 4, 2010, 10:15 am

    Your garden is beautiful in the rain or sun! I know your odd weather is from a tropical storm, but honestly it looks like some of the bizaro ‘summer’ storms we have been having. Wild rains have been driving me batty! Give me summer!

    Hi Laura, thanks and what rains we have had! A thorough dowsing. As you know these are rather rare events for us and I will take what ever moisture I can get. I know there is a long hot summer lurking around the corner. I have actually heard people moaning about the rain down here, these people are like aliens to me :-)
    Give me a non-Mars-like summer devoid of iced-turbans, I will be estactic!


  • RBell July 4, 2010, 10:17 am

    A Brown Anole would be an exceptional find; I believe their normal range is Cuba & southern Florida. Been buying any mail-order plants from a Florida grower?

    Yes I read this as well, but I could not for the life of me find another fit! This anole was a different shape, had a different less elongated head then the usual green/brown anoles, and the side coloration looked different? Then there is the elevated spine? What else could this be? And no, no mail order plants for me.
    Open to suggestions…

  • Annie in Austin July 4, 2010, 11:42 am

    Did you see the Wikipedia entry, ESP? Know it’s not always right but the links point to a University of Michigan site & more. Sounds like brown anole spreading its territory, has appeared in Houston and could threaten native green Carolina anoles.


  • ESP July 4, 2010, 12:05 pm

    I did look at it Annie, and it confused me further as the images in there do not match the markings of my anole, but it appears there is a wide variety of coloration in the browns. This anole was distinctively different to the regular anoles I see everywhere. If only I had got a look at the dewlap, I would have a clear ID, but alas I did not. This was the first anole I have seen like this…and it does fit the brown anoles description.
    I will keep checking on it!
    Thanks Annie.

  • Jenny July 4, 2010, 1:06 pm

    Of all your great photos my favorite is the one of miniature toadstools. They are just waiting their opportunity for Picture This. The Hunchback of ESP. You do get some winners at your house. If they are bad guys then hopefully they won’t make it across I35. I have brown ones over here but never with such a crest. Is it possible he is just a grand old man of the patch or that he has a deformity. I don’t like the southern pink moth. They wreck havoc on my thyme bed and my salvia preferring to lay their eggs right on the tips of the flowers and then eat them- hence their nice rosy pink color.

  • ESP July 4, 2010, 1:49 pm

    Hi Jenny.

    I liked this one as well, perhaps because of the work involved in getting the shot. The mosquitoes are extremely hungry deep in the underbelly of the Patch it seems. The Hunchback indeed.

    The anole was definitely not deformed…I have seen the lumpy ones as well :-) I also read that the male species of the brown does have this spinal ridge. The creature also looked proportionally different to a regular anole, that is what initially caught my attention.

    I do not see too many of the pink moths, they are so tiny! Perhaps I have never noticed them before, I will keep an eye out for them on my salvia from now on.


  • The Garden Ms. S July 4, 2010, 9:08 pm

    It’s amazing what a good rain can do! Love the Southern Pink Moth – what a beauty.

    And what good rains we have had here in central Texas of late! And, even better…prolonged. The S. Pink Moth was very theatrical, I was very happy to capture this velvet-clad Diva.

  • Bob Pool July 4, 2010, 9:24 pm

    I’m with Jenny, I think it’s the Hunchback of ESP. I think it’s a regular anole that has had a neck injury, maybe by a bird and healed up and is now destined to be the laughing stock of the lizard world in East Austin. At least it’s not a Mountain Boomer. Man would things get weird in the Patch around sundown down when the Boomers started booming. You wouldn’t feel safe in the Patch any more. No really. Google it, I’m not kidding.

    Hi Bob.

    It is NOT the hunchback of the ESP, with a neck injury? Haha!
    I have never, ever, seen this type of anole in the Patch, and I have seen many over the years.
    My new creature…

    Those boomers are crazy looking, and very interesting that they can run on only their back legs like a little dinosaur!


  • Bob Pool July 4, 2010, 9:26 pm

    Oh, and the Naboo are going to be mad at you now for harvesting their new pink hibiscus roof. I had heard in the winds that it was for a new temple or something.

    Oh my, am I in trouble!

  • Linda Lehmusvirta July 5, 2010, 2:42 pm

    The pink moth matched the hibiscus, too! You really work hard for a color-coordinated garden.
    I love the little spores, too. But I know what you mean about mosquitoes. Swat. . .oh, sorry, got distracted for a minute.
    Yesterday, my garden was like wildlife Disney world: butterflies, hummingbirds, birds, bees, anoles, everywhere! There was also something that may have been a friend of your Eastern hawkmoth. How do you identify all these critters?

    Let’s hope we get some more dancing this week. Can’t have enough rain or ice cream!

    Hi Linda.

    Yes all color coordinated this week in the Patch! I even have burgundy trousers and matching socks on as I write:-)
    I must have smelled like a rare sirloin steak while I was rummaging around trying to get a shot of those spores…they were on me in seconds, clouds of them! I only just made it back to the house feeling very weak and anemic!

    So much life in the garden right now after the rains, I do not think I have ever seen so many butterflies and anoles! So it is an Eastern hawkmoth! Thanks for the ID, I was not sure as I could not find an exact match. How do I identify critters? I use multiple sites depending on the type of bug, and a lot of laborious image wading, (unavoidable on the more obscure bugs)…If I am really stumped, and have enough time, I will also post to ID web sites.

    I am hopeful for some more dancing before this week is out too! I have even left my punt-boat moored to the bottom post of my deck in anticipation.


  • Germi July 5, 2010, 5:07 pm

    OKAY – is there an award somewhere that I can give you right now for the most epic, sweeping, gorgeous blog post EVER? Because if there is one, consider it yours!
    Beginning with the startling capture of Zeus getting ready to toss off a lightening bolt or two, moseying through the canals of the Patch with you as gondolier, stopping after the rains to enjoy the rapturous exuberant color and wildlife, ending with lovely daughter dancing and then Daddy walking down the street with ducklings following close behind?!? This is more than a post – it is CINEMA!
    And I know how She manages to coordinate her colors to the blooms BEFORE she knows what is blooming! It is a special trick -she whispered it to me and SWORE me to secrecy! I am a Germi of my word. As always, Hobbit-Girl’s sartorial flourishes are very appreciated by her friend from Los Angeles.

    I for one am a fan of the Snout Moth, who seems to be wearing a Bill Cosby sweater.

    And those mushrooms are positively surreal! How can they be? How did you even SEE them? Those photos are absolutely brilliant – color me incredibly impressed (but of course, one can only color me in somber shades of impressed – being a Goth and all).
    Wonderful wonderful wonderful!

  • ESP July 5, 2010, 6:50 pm

    Hi Germi.
    Then you deserve a Pulitzer Prize for your colorful comments on blog-posts! Glad you enjoyed reading about this rare but most needed opening of the heavens. I laughed at the mental picture of me as a gondolier, leisurely cruising around my decomposed granite pathways, looking at plants and insects, with the ducklings relaxing in the back eating Cornettos…so ridiculous!

    I just KNEW you both were up to no-good when I saw you both whispering and adopting furtive gesturing around my pond. (Yes G, I was hiding in the inland sea oats straining to hear what was being said). I would have heard your secret too, if it wasn’t for a particularly aggressive Naboo tribal member that kept jabbing a tiny spear into the same place on my foot.

    How about those shrooms! They were so tiny I was not sure if I had even captured a shot that I could use…I seriously had to make a very fast exit out of that iris! Think oxen…river crossing…piranha…bones.

    Thanks G.

  • Matt June 3, 2011, 8:53 am

    So happy to have stumbled upon this great blog today. I love your plant selection and garden image. I just recently planted a Pride of Barbados – from your blog it looks like a great choice! I’ve been trying to find a Moy Grande Hibiscus with no luck. Do you have any suggestions? I called all the Austin nurseries. They have some 1 gallons at Rainbow Gardens in San Antonio last I checked, which may be my best option, just hoped to get a 2-3 gallon or so plant locally.

  • ESP June 3, 2011, 2:06 pm

    Hi Matt.

    I am glad your stumbling led you to venture inside the ESPatch, and thanks.

    Pride of Barbados is a great plant for full sun, it is as hard as nails and the hotter it gets the hotter it gets. It also blooms for quite a long time.

    I have not been around the nurseries recently so I do not have a feel for who has what…good luck with the Grande hunt.



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