“Purple Rain”

A Bugs Life

“Oh come on ESP…a REAL grasshopper”?

A Bug's Life

“That’s right ‘Hopper’, and I can pull that CAD face too, look!  Oh, and if you bully those ants one more time”?

I caught the real thing lurking in the subterranean environment deep inside one of my large agaves. Is he squinting his beady eye at me?


This character jumped onto one of my decomposed granite walkways, this shot highlights his camouflage capabilities:


A master of disguise! I tried and tried to get the red flashing on his legs, his most distinguished feature, but to no avail.

Tropical Water Lily


These blue fingers allow no escape, can you guess who they belong to?



“Stay away from the fingers, don’t go into the fingers”.


Interesting how the color gradates through the lily…there, I told you.


Madame Ganna Walska, Nymphaea x, tropical water lily. I thought I would post these pictures as the plant is about to go dormant, it’s growth has slowed considerably, it’s flowers getting smaller. It is a matter of time now before the plant starts to shrink back into my ponds murky depths for the winter. It has served the patch well, albeit if a tad aggressively since the spring.

Staying on a similar color scheme…


Fall Aster is living up to it’s name and dominating the areas I have it planted with its cheerful blooms.

Artemesia and Aster

I like the Artemisia and fall aster combination, silver and pale purples always work well for the “Patch Palette”.

DSC09742Here are the “Powis Castle” hills in the distance, I need a couple more asters dispersed in the artemisia to really make this scene work. See the little green succulent to the lower right?

DSC09763This plant has now earned my full respect, breezing through our drought with no additional water, The patch has a couple of these vibrant plants, I want more. This is…

Limón talinum

…and it houses thousands of garden jewels that resemble a chemistry model. The plant is native to the West Indies and Central America and has common names of Fameflower and Jewels-of-Opar.  Knowing that a plant has a common name synonymous with a mythical ancient city full of riches should offer a clue that someone thought very highly of this plant at some point in time. This plant made it through last winters mild conditions, I have my fingers crossed for this year.

DSC09762If you are a  fan of Tarzan, then there is a distinct possibility that you have heard the Jewels-of-Opar name before. Edgar Rice Burroughs mentioned the forgotten city of Opar in 1913 in his second Tarzan book, The Return of Tarzan, and then in 1916, he wrote Tarzan and the Jewels-of-Opar.


Opar is located deep in the jungles of Africa . Portrayed as a lost colony of Atlantis in which incredible riches have been stockpiled down through the ages, the city’s population exhibits sexual dimorphism caused by a combination of excessive inbreeding, cross-breeding with apes, and selective culling of offspring. Consequently, female Oparians are physically perfect, while male Oparians are beast-like brutes.



The ruler and high priestess of the city is Queen La, who on her first encounter with Tarzan falls in love with him, and subsequently carries a tikki-torch for him. Tarzan, already committed to Jane, naturally, spurns her advances with the most likely phrase “Me Tarzan, you not Jane”, thus endangering his own life, as the religion of Opar condones human sacrifice…poor Tarzan.

More purples…

DSC09720Another purple taking center stage at the moment is the Mexican Bush Sage. The plant has taken a bit of a beating with all the Texas rains we have been having and it is flopping here and there, with a bit of dryer weather it should perk up, I hope.

Mexican Bush SageThis plant is full of life right now in the patch, bees, sphinx moths (too elusive to capture as yet) hover flies, anoles – you name it, it is on it. I have a fair amount of this plant, I love it’s naturalistic, free-for-all aesthetic, and who can resist the fuzz?

Mexican Bush Sage Here is some more Bush Sage planted in my front garden.

Another purple just now coming into the limelight, and one of my all-time favorites is Amaranth. This plant exists all over the patch and like the Mexican Bush Sage, it is a creature and insect magnet, and it will remain so for quite some time. Insects swarm this plant. I gather the seeds and distribute every year then allow the plants in the more “appropriate positions” to reach maturity.

DSC09864There were three Gray Hairstreaks hanging around on the freshly emerged purple seed-heads.

Strymon melinus

as well as a multitude of other insects.

AmaranthThis line of amaranth lining one of the patch’s central paths, sprung up to great heights while we were on our trip to Scotland, it amazes me just how fast this plant grows with a little bit of moisture.  This must have grown about three feet in less than the same weeks.

Rosemary in bloomThis prostrate rosemary also has it’s fair share of the insect population, the bees are going wild over the blooms. It looks like it is covered in snow right now, it has so many blooms. Behind it is my small satsuma tree completely full with fruit.
This next shot or two I need your help with…I believe we have some new “little people”, smaller than the Naboos, much, much smaller, living in the Patch.

DSC09898At first I thought these little Pixie Hollow baskets full of metallic rounded pebbles must have something to do with some tribal Naboo ritual or offering to the Gods, but the tribal member in charge of tribal relations,  communicated via a series of elaborate mouth clicks that these had nothing to do with their tribe. Although this simple communication between us was brief, it took the best part of an afternoon. I was now even more confused.

DSC09768Where had they come from?  What will these seeds grow into?

TinkerbellI have checked all the adjacent plants but none of them develop seeds like this. Does anyone have any ideas what these are?  (Apart from the obvious fact these baskets were manufactured by fairies in Pixie Hollow that is).  Can you tell I have watched “A Bugs Life” and “Tinkerbell” 14.25 times (each)?

UnidentfiedHere is a wider view of the area, there are loads of these rustic baskets.

ToadstoolI must say with the damp soil conditions, it has been perfect conditions for a pride of pixie’s to move in.



These were particularly colorful toadstools.


Moving on…

DSC09850 vampire

The emerging interlocking blood-stained jaws of this agave always demand respect.

Is that spinach?

DSC09981All my purple heart is now blooming after the rains, and this tiny, super-shiny

Syrphid Hoverfly

wasted no time at all getting stuck into the egg-yolk goodness.


Here is another trying to stare the camera lens out,  The wings on these little flies are spectacular in their iridescence. They look like cartoon flies.


“Bzzzzz…Utter nonsense ESP”.


Golden thryrallis

has been blooming steadily throughout the summer with only the minimal amount of supplemental water.  A great deep shade plant for a splash of golden color. I have two of these planted under my large Post Oak.

DSC09931 DSC09932

And finally…


Greg’s blue mistflower,

Eupatorium greggii

which is about to pop, butterflies love this plant.

DSC09894And behind the mistflower, looking like an old-fashioned Victorian Christmas tree,  the most enormous ornamental pepper I have ever grown. This is one plant, and it is going to look great when all the individual peppers turn their many colors.

DSC09939Fish petting area in the patch. My youngest cups the goldfish in his hands, I fear for them knowing that a toddler “squeeze” may be on the horizon for one poor fish, even though I keep drumming it into him to be gentle.  He spends hours gazing and throwing things in this pond, you can see toy tractors, pans, cars etc, it looks like a wrecking yard on a clear-water day. The rock on the right has turned into his “pond perch,” he straddles it like Tom Sawyer while he whiles away many an hour in the Patch, tickling and naming the individual fish in his own two-year-old vernacular.

Stay Tuned for:

“Panic in the Patch”

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

  • Les October 18, 2009, 4:46 am

    Your garden seems to have recovered from this summer’s drought, well at least recovered in the photographs. The lily pictures are fantastic, who knew all of that structure and color were down among the petals. I look forward to the lighting of the ESP Christmas tree.

  • TexasDeb October 18, 2009, 9:06 am

    I too loved the Jewels of Opar first for the name, and now for the way it merrily reseeds itself into my garden beds and planters. You said you wanted more of these? If you have one with the lovely berries as shown then I say to you confidently, “Fear not! Your wish will soon be granted!” (cannot say why I am suddenly sounding like I popped out of a Tarzan book or fairy tale but YOU started it!”).

  • ESP October 18, 2009, 9:23 am

    Hi Les.
    All-in-all the drought probably killed about six or seven plants…one of which was a large rosemary of all things, but in general the Patch faired quite well despite the gnarly dust spitting conditions…I owe it all to copious amounts of liquid fish emulsion and seaweed fertilizer, it really seems to bolster staying power.

    I am looking forward to the illuminations on that pepper getting switched on as well, should be perfect for Halloween.

    Cheers Les.

  • ESP October 18, 2009, 9:35 am

    Hi TD.
    It is funny but only yesterday I noticed a tiny Jeweled Opar off to the side of my walkways! Is this plant an aggressive self-seeder? Me knows very little about it, I go now, look for more…oh no, now I have started! I do like this plant, it looks so fragile from a foliage standpoint I would have not believed it would have survived the summer heat, but survive it did.

    Umgawa my friend.

  • Jenny October 18, 2009, 10:25 am

    Well, after we got over that nasty stuff at the beginning we got to your beautiful close up photos. Then back to some more ‘interesting’ stuff. I have those same fungi growing in my garden hardwood mulch. I noticed them when I was going around raking up the mulch which had become a little caked with all the rain. I thought they might be associated with the micorhiza that were getting busy breaking down the wood underneath. Either way I think they are doing good. I hope. Those hairstreaks are here in their hundreds too and the hoverfly. What a funny little guy. He always comes by when I am gardening and almost gets in my face. Not sure what he wants. Your close ups are magnificent. How’s the house repair coming along?

    • ESP October 18, 2009, 12:48 pm

      Hi Jenny.
      It seems like it was a week of close-ups in the Patch. I think it started with those strange seed-pod baskets, then just continued. I was really happy with the close-up of the hoverfly. They are funny little insects, with such an inflated attitude, and they do get right in your face and stare you down. The colors on the fungi were very fall-like, they reminded me of dutch hats as soon I saw them, do you know what they are?
      The house repair has not started yet…argh! we are still working through quotes and insurance stuff…my truck was written-off because of the collision, something I am not happy about at all.
      Thanks for your concern.

  • The Garden Ms. S October 18, 2009, 1:48 pm

    Great photos! Who knew an agave could be so scary…! I think it should be an official halloween plant :)

  • Germi October 18, 2009, 3:34 pm

    I am completely obsessed with finding out what those beautiful pixie seedpods are! I’ve already spent an hour searching and pouring through my arcane texts to no avail … unless you cleaned up the site and set them all upright, they can’t be dropping from above – they are pointing neatly skyward. And it seems like there is a stem of sorts underneath – am I wrong? Is there a kalanchoe of some sort growing nearby? What kind of mulch are they popping out of? I am mystified and delighted! Could it be that the Nabooboo ambassador is trying to throw you off the track by telling you it has nothing to do with the tribe??? You might’ve stumbled onto an offering that is so secret and sacred that they can’t share it with you – or (gasp!) maybe it is even a ritual or spell that you are the object of!
    That grasshopper is a beast! My husband (who HATES bugs) once came running into the house, white as a sheet, saying there was an enormous “Stick-Monster” in his office and I had to go and face it down. Yes, in this house, I am the bug ‘death-dealer’. I imagined that we had some odd version of a Walking Stick or maybe a huge praying mantis – and was very embarrassed for my husband when I found a big brown grasshopper sitting placidly on a copy of Guy Debord’s ‘Society of the Spectacle’. Stick-Monster, indeed! I think your grasshopper is related to Jan’s Stick-Monster – I wonder if they have the same taste in art/cultural theory texts?

    I adore the cool combo of purple and silver you are rocking! So gorgeous! What a nice antidote to the hot colors of summer, no?
    Opar sounds alot like France.
    I am dying for a pair of hoverfly earrings – with big carnelian eyes and bodies striped with amber and onyx! How awesome would THAT be? The photo of the hoverfly staring down the camera is my new desktop image – should I send you a fee? It is just SO fantastic I have to see it every day for a while!

    I laughed so loud when I saw the mushrooms next to the mushroom capped pixie that one of my dogs ran out of the room!

    The Patch is looking very fresh and lovely – what a glorious fall you’re having! I’m so happy to be able to visit and share in the beauty of it all!

    What are those SEEDPODS!!!!

    • ESP October 18, 2009, 6:26 pm

      Hi Germi, I know! What are those pixie seedpods?…I am at a total loss, I have also scoured and exhausted my search-engine keywords…nothing. To make it even more fascinating, the baskets have today appeared in a completely different place in the Patch. I am now thinking they have to be some sort of fungus seedpod? The basket is sitting on a short stalk that is quite firmly attached to the ground. When I pull the basket out there are short fibrous, what look like tiny roots, attached to it! So bizarre. There is a kalanchoe growing nearby, a Kalanchoe daigremontiana to be precise, but at the new location I found today, there are no kalanchoe anywhere around at all! Do you have a theory?

      It would be very disturbing if the Nabooboo ambassador was “leading me down the garden path” as it where, with his “knowledge denial” of these “offerings”. I have known him for fifteen years and have come to trust his mouth-clicked words (through the tribal translator naturally). Oh No!! what if the translator is translating incorrectly, to hide the truth behind these alien seeds. There is only one thing to do, and it may be dangerous… plant the seeds from one of the baskets and see what sort of beanstalk grows overnight! The baskets and the seeds look really cool though. Let me know if you have any further insights Ivette.

      The Artemisia really does help to visually cool down the Patch in the long Texas summers. I just planted two more fall aster on these silvery hillsides today, so next year, the scene should be complete, providing all goes well.

      Glad you like the hoverfly picture, there will be a couple more that I took today that also came out quite well in my next post! I am so happy one of my pictures made it as a desktop image on your illustrious Mac…the honor is all mine! Those earrings would be the envy of any party – you already have the design thought out from a material standpoint, what do you have in mind to capture the iridescence of the wings, mother of pearl perhaps?

      The Dutch lady wearing her traditional headdress and the toadstool also cracked us up here in the patch…such a ridiculous analogy. Thanks for visiting, and yes we are having a glorious fall.

      Now back to those confounded seedpods…

  • Jenny October 18, 2009, 4:06 pm

    OK. Here’s a link to those little nests. http://botit.botany.wisc.edu/toms_fungi/may2006.html knew someone out there would know. Google is incredible.

  • ESP October 18, 2009, 5:39 pm

    Hi Ms. S.
    The agave does have a bit of a “bite” to it. I know, I was weeding around one of them today. It would make a good Halloween plant, you are right…but I have something much scarier, much scarier indeed! (Next post).

  • Cheryl October 18, 2009, 6:52 pm

    I found those little “baskets” in one of my pots once. I think they are Crucibulum laeve or perhaps cyanthus olla. there’s even a Nidula Candida that sort of looks right. cute little things!

  • ESP October 18, 2009, 7:22 pm

    Thanks Jenny / Cheryl for the positive ID…Cyathus striatus, it is indeed, one of the bird’s nest fungi, I can sleep peacefully once again…can you believe the evolution here! What a technique…and I quote:

    “Three features serve to identify it successfully: its yellowish colors; the “lid” over the nest (in young specimens), covering the eggs; and the tiny cords that attach the eggs to the nest. Observing this last feature requires some patience with a very tiny tool–say, a needle or a pin–and a hand lens.

    The cord, which is called a “funiculus” in Mycologese, is the egg’s mechanism for attaching itself to sticks, leaves, and other plant debris. When a raindrop falls into the nest, the eggs are projected out of the cup. As this happens, the cord is stretched to its limit–then breaks away from the nest, remaining attached to the egg. Where the cord was attached to the nest, it becomes frayed, since it was torn away. The little frayed ends are adhesive, and when they come into contact with, for example, a leaf, they attach themselves. This stops the flight of the egg, which then swings back and attaches itself to the leaf as well . . . rather like what would happen to a kite if you were to let it sail away after coating your end of the string with glue.”

    Amazing, all this is going on in our back gardens! All this cord swinging is quite apt for this Tarzan post!

  • Anonymous October 18, 2009, 8:04 pm

    Your little Pixie Hollow baskets are a form of (wait for it…..BIRDSNEST mushrooms) http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&source=hp&q=birds%20nest%20mushroom&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wi. I love them. They grow in mulch and even in gravel around here.

  • Pam/Digging October 18, 2009, 9:24 pm

    I’ve got the bird’s nest fungi in my wood mulch too. Good to know what it’s called, thanks to Jenny. The patch is looking wonderful. I hear filming will commence soon.

  • Germi October 18, 2009, 9:59 pm

    Oh how exciting that the little pixie cup offerings were identified! I LOVE BLOGLAND! See what happens with enough interested and interesting minds?
    Now where can I get some of those cute little fungi???

  • ESP October 18, 2009, 10:23 pm

    Hi Pam. Apparently the bird’s nest fungi is especially prolific this time of year. I had never noticed it before this year, shame on me for not getting my face a couple of inches from the soil, what was I thinking!
    Filming in the Patch is scheduled for the 2nd! Ahhh! So much to do…so little time!
    Hence “Panic in the Patch”!

  • ESP October 18, 2009, 10:55 pm

    Hi Germi.
    How quickly questions are answered in the blogosphere..amazing!
    I am still a little concerned that the “translator” has slipped some “alternative seeds” into some of the tiny baskets. If tomorrow there is a forty foot beanstalk, growing outside my window and you do not hear a blog from me for a few weeks…you will know what to tell the authorities…Naboos-giants-gold egg laying etc.etc.

  • Gail October 22, 2009, 9:19 am

    The picture of the hoverfly is beautiful. Would love to have my own pair of those hoverfly earrings! Glad you found out about the tiny birds nest things.

    Fish petting – now that’s a new one!

    • ESP October 22, 2009, 7:06 pm

      Hi Gail.

      Glad the hoverfly image struck a chord. They are such tiny little insects, it is amazing what a macro shot can do! I think Germi is onto something with her insect earring idea…could be a line of products…I am thinking aphids, (for their color)… (see next post), even stink-bugs for the more goth in us all! The sky is the limit for this theme, as our ears would be for a large dragonfly set of earrings! What about a line of insect beading necklaces? I know you know somebody who would love to help with that :-)


      “Fish petting – for the aquatically infatuated”…He just cannot get enough!

  • Linda Lehmusvirta October 23, 2009, 3:30 pm

    Good grief! It doesn’t look like the garden missed you much. Really splendid garden and incredible pictures!

  • ESP October 23, 2009, 6:42 pm

    Hi Linda.
    My feelings are hurt, it seems it didn’t miss me in the slightest! Even the “Botox Lady” didn’t really acknowledge me on my return…she has been too busy twirling her new “do” (more on this in my next post), and the Naboos never show much emotion at the best of times! Time ticks more slowly in a garden it seems.
    Texas had more rain than Scotland while we were away! Amazing! And it has not really stopped…word of warning Linda…bring your mosquito spray. The moisture combined with all our foliage (if not protected) = an immediate nibbling by thousands of the annoying things…they seem really bad this year? They especially like to lurk under the shady Hoja Santa, that area is practically out of bounds in the Patch, people have been known to walk into the the Root-Beer plant, only to emerge as bones on the far side!
    Lets hope for a cold snap soon.



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