“Withering Sights”

The head of this dragonfly looks like a futuristic piece of hardware, amazing coloration and detail on this Eastern Pondhawk.

Erythemis simplicollis

This dragonfly has a bit of a reputation for praying on insects of its own size, as well as for cannibalism, yes cannibalism…a habit I fear it may have picked up from the Naboo.

“A cannibal flying around in the sky? Where is it? Where is it?  I’m out in the open for Pete’s sake!!”

(Obligatory Lector noises)

“Where is it? I know it is up there somewhere, waiting to dive down and get…”

…crunch…ang, ang, ang, ang. “Grasshoppers are a great source of protein out in the wild, blah,blah,blah.”

This green lynx spider,

Peucetia viridans

(the largest North American lynx spider) took refuge from the lightening-fast-hand of Bear Grylls under this sunflower leaf.

Thanks for the cheerful sunflower and the great garden-related songs Annie…Keep them coming!: http://annieinaustin.blogspot.com/…

Lynx spiders are hunting spiders that spend their lives practically motionless on plants, flowers and shrubs. Don’t be fooled though, the common name refers to their quickness and agile-lynx-like nature. These oddly shaped characters are extremely nimble runners, jumpers and cross-country skiers, they rely on their keen eyesight to stalk, chase or ambush prey. Six of their eight eyes are arranged in a hexagon-like pattern, a characteristic that identifies them as members of the family Oxyopidae. Did I mention that it also has really hairy legs, reminiscent of the stalk of the sunflower it is currently inhabiting?

“Ach man, ma’ legs are mere hairy than that Peucetia viridans”!


Moving silently on…


I think I can safely say that I have recreated in my sunken – zero drainage stock tank, conditions that I like to imagine, rival that of the banks of the Nile.  I will try not to mention the multitudes of wavering and extremely disturbing tiny “worms” that were poking out of this swamp the other day, waving their upper torsos in perfect synchronicity, brrr, (slight right knee quiver, right big toe points involuntary north) …What ARE they?

What used to grow in abundance along the banks of the Nile, my favorite wetland sedge…

…King Tut, Egyptian Papyrus,

Cyperus papyrus

is reportedly not so prevalent as it once used to be down the river banks these days.

“Dense belts of papyrus growing along the Nile in Southern Sudan, viewed from a river boat”.

I have only had ten visitors from Egypt to the East Side Patch, ever…so I turn my head to you now my ten visitors, (I know you all live along the Nile)!…Is this true?  Surely papyrus still prevails, with its aggressive growth habits?

My papyrus are blooming right now, something I can’t say I have ever witnessed before,  I will be gathering seeds! This is a fantastic plant that offers a unique presence and movement in the Patch, papyrus grows 8-10 ft. tall as an impressive, weeping specimen plant. It withstands weather stresses, thrives in full sun, and can basically handle anything that the elements throw at it…Texas tough. Mine dependably comes back every spring.

Moving to the front Patch…

Almost all of the atemesia that I snapped off from my rear hills and planted in the spring has taken, and is starting to fill in the decomposed granite mounds with their frosty foliage.  The slow-growing sapphire skies yucca I planted on the top of this mound accents the adjacent palm and will form a crazy trunk over time…starts drumming fingers

“Finally it is up to four feet!”

Talking of “frosty”…

Here are some before and after shots of a design scheme I am currently working up for a client.  I cannot wait to plant the ‘blue ice’ cypress / artemesia and santolina combo, perhaps with a couple of gopher plants for elevated measure?

Back in the Patch:

Sun lovers, now basking in our almost 100 degree Texas temperatures.

Withering sights…has anybody out there got this problem on their rosemary plants?

Pretty bad! By the time I noticed this young rosemary was under siege it was completely covered in these webs…this happened very fast indeed, and I have noticed the same infestation, to a lesser degree on three other, more mature rosemary plants. This warranted further investigated.

I believe this to be a tent caterpillar of some sort?  A tent caterpillar that has a tiny tent that is not practical to break open for the wasps, or even camp in, who knows how many of these hard to spot ctitters there are infesting this plant!  Has anybody had this issue and successfully treated it?  Perhaps with all of our rains the conditions have been favorable for these annoying worms, I also witnessed a lot of them on my mountain laurels this year, a first.

Finishing on a lighter note:

My pokeweed fruit starting to ripen.  (Thank you Jenn for the plant ID)

Phytolacca americana

The ripe berries (that look like they have been poked) of this plant yield a crimson juice that was used as a substitute for red ink, the juice was also used to enhance the color of pale wines, an activity that is no longer adopted because the berries are, well, poisonous!

The young leaves and shoots may be cooked and eaten like spinach, (if prepared correctly). The greens are also called poke salet…

Stay Tuned for:

“Nose Boulder”

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







  • Robin at Getting Grounded July 18, 2010, 8:19 am

    ESP, your clients are incredibly lucky to have you! You actually create visual pics of their design, with the plants to boot, not just representations of it all. Amazing! Gorgeous design, and I love the ice corner, too, especially right now.

  • ESP July 18, 2010, 9:03 am

    Hi Robin.

    I am in full agreement on the iced corner front, phew is it getting hot out there! This past week has been the first week to really feel summer bearing down on us.

    The visualizations really do help to quickly communicate design intent without a lot of arm waving and clients immediate identify with the new design as it is set in their own space, usually incorporating their own house. Glad you like it!


  • Jenny July 18, 2010, 12:25 pm

    The way you present your scheme to the client must be a sure winner. I’m almost ready to have you come over here and do a scheme for my front. We really haven’t done anything there except build a berm and plant a couple of Texas sage, rosemary and vitex. They have to fend for themselves out there and the soil is just non existent. Oh well- some day. I wouldn’t be surprised if the damage on your rosemary isn’t the result of something like that little pink butterfly you loved so much. That is responsible for total destruction on my thyme bed. Same kind of webs sticking the stems together. Of course I could have preempted by spraying with but but didn’t get round to it. Always I say-‘next year’ I think I told you that after you posted about the pokeweed I found one between my citrus pots. Then yesterday I found one sneakily growing behind another bush. I’ll let it stay for fall color. Love the racemes of berries.

    Hi Jenny.

    I really do not think you need any help with your scheme :-)
    Did you ever decide on what you are going to do in the gogo problem area?
    The rosemary is in a right old state…the tent caterpillars were small and tucked in very, very tight, I assume there are a bunch more lurking in there. I could not believe how fast they had consumed this plant…what would you spray with? Very funny on the little pink butterfly front – you really despise this one…I can tell!

    Yes, you did mention you had a pokeweed…congratulations and now two! I had no idea how large they can get. I am now wondering how difficult that carrot-like tap root is going to be when it comes to extraction time.


  • Elgin House July 18, 2010, 12:49 pm

    My GOODNESS, you take some terrific pictures of dragonflies! I am full of envy.

    Your Ice Corner is a lovely idea–I can’t get enough blue and purple this time of year. Just looking at a yellow canna or an orange lantana (I have both in my garden) in July makes me feel hot and droopy. Bring on the blues!

    Hi Melanie.

    Dragonflies are the hams of the insect world…once you have gained their trust, usually after a few tilts of the head and a few short flights to land back in the same place, they get used to the camera. I even had one that kept nudging me to make sure I was getting it’s good side?

    Everyone needs an ice corner in Texas at this time of year, at the very least an iced turban?

    Thanks for dropping in.

  • Cheryl July 18, 2010, 1:10 pm

    did we cover the fact (reported, anyway) that the Declaration of Independance was signed in pokeberry ink?
    Love your before and after photos. Wish I could spirit you up to Sacramento and put your mind to work on this place. Maybe when I win the lottery. LOL

  • ESP July 18, 2010, 2:43 pm

    Hi Cheryl.

    Is there nothing this plant hasn’t been used for?
    I missed this fact, and had no idea how much history there is associated with pokeweed in the south.

    Glad you like the before and after images, and I am not THAT expensive!!!


  • Les July 18, 2010, 6:37 pm

    We are more of a Les Stroud house than a Bear Grylls, and we like his name better too.

  • ESP July 18, 2010, 7:23 pm

    Hi Les…You have got to be kidding me! I am shocked you are in the Les Stroud camp, and I am not biased just because I am an Englishman. “Survivorman” should be re-named “I’msortofonaminivacationman”, he never really does much, and rarely leaves camp. Oh and he is stocked with EVERYTHING but my kitchen sink water collection system: fly-rods, packets of smoked salmon, firearms, flat-screen TVs, you name it. I think everybody would be a “Survivorman” having all that equipment. He then moans on and on about how his life is so hard being out in the wild “roughing it”…please, the hardship (as he heats up some garlic escargots in his new portable oven) :-)
    At least Mr Grylls is actually trained in survival techniques. I would challenge Les to chomp down on some raw zebra instead of his usual wilderness diet of delicately seasoned blackened quail, Black Forrest Gateaux, followed by yet ANOTHER three hour nap!

    The episode where he accidentally set fire to his hut was priceless.


  • Laura July 19, 2010, 12:39 am

    I like your mock ups! Your Agaves are gorgeous!

  • ESP July 19, 2010, 8:40 am

    Hi Laura and thank you.

  • Katina July 22, 2010, 8:18 pm

    your pictures always astound me. :)

  • ESP July 22, 2010, 8:34 pm

    Hi Katina.

    Thanks, glad you like them! I was really happy to get the front-on grasshopper picture, they nearly always jump when you come at them from the front. I think I must have tired this one out after repeatedly chasing it around the Patch for fifteen minutes!
    Mmm, could be a new strategy!


  • Linda Lehmusvirta July 23, 2010, 2:24 pm

    You could spray the rosemary with Bt if it’s not too late. By now they may be all gone.

    Wow, when did you get into the design business? You made a comment one time but I thought I misunderstood. I just looked at your design page. Wow! That & the renderings on this post are amazing. What a great fit. Ooh man, what a lifetime supply of Advil!

  • ESP July 23, 2010, 8:49 pm

    Hi Linda.

    Just got a little bottle of Bt today (my first ever!), I am afraid it is a little too late though, at this point there is hardly any green left on the rosemary!

    I got into the design business at quite a young age, the product design industry to be precise, an industry I have focused on for twenty years professionally. I have been involved in garden design for a while – it seemed natural to dabble, stir and merge both these skill sets. Coming from an Industrial Design background, an occupation that demands 3-D “spacial” expertise and the ability to conceptualize, develop and convey design intent through a host of visualization tools, I was interested as to how this process would translate into garden spaces.

    A rather long answer to a short question I know…don’t get me started! Blah,Blah,Blah…zzzz
    (Adjusts nerdy glasses whilst asleep)

    Yes…I have been digging as much as I can handle recently…Advil and an abundant supply of iced turbans, and a ridiculous amount of water, is an absolute must for any manual labor conducted in Texas at this time of year! :-)


  • Katina July 24, 2010, 3:44 pm

    I can see it now, you running around the patch like a madman with a camera randomly aiming it at the air or something only to run off elsewhere before taking a picture, the entire time while talking at whatever your latest photography subject is. The neighbors will be all like “yep, there’s that key-raise-y foreigner talking to thin air, and screaming at the mulch again.”

  • ESP July 24, 2010, 7:43 pm

    You know me as well as my neighbors Katina!

  • TexasDeb July 29, 2010, 9:08 am

    Oooh – poke plants are one of my favorites. I’ve found the poke plants reasonably easy to get out but more typically I let them go-grow. If a small one starts out where I don’t want it I just yank it out. The mockingbirds just looooove the berries. Mine never get more than 4-5 feet tall and I’ve been known to trim the leaves off the stem leaving a more treelike top form. Doesn’t seem to faze the plant in the slightest. I’m so glad you are enjoying yours (AND the song which was another favorite of mine long, long ago…)

  • ESP July 29, 2010, 9:38 am

    Hi TD.

    Thanks for the poke plant information…what a great looking plant, very unusual, and yes, the mocking birds are eating the fruit as soon as they ripen! I like your idea of trimming the leaves to make a treelike form…in fact, I like it so much I think I will have to do it to mine…immediately!



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