“Toad in the Hole”

With the painting in the Patch almost finished, it was time I created some more work for myself, today the Eye of Sauron cast a cold gaze on this garden scene…

The scale of this Mexican weeping bamboo and the stock-tanked golden bamboo where the Tahoe hit has disturbed me for quite some time.  The plants are just too tall in front of the house, what had been my thought process here? A momentary loss of sanity?  Anyway, my primal Advil taking instinct told me this was going to be one tough dig!  The one-ton rock you can see in front of the feeder tank has not moved since it fell off the back of the wagon that delivered my last six yards of decomposed granite, six months ago.

“Fascinating ESP, your rock strangely resembles and parallels this similar unmovable rock on Vulcan.”

I was supposed to get a bunch of rocks that weighed in at a ton, I ended up with one, yes just the one, one that I have no chance of remotely moving by myself.

It is a really cool rock though and it looks like the shape of Texas from the right angle, with one eye shut, standing on your head, etc, etc.  Today I was overhauling this area.  I knew that the Mexican weeping bamboo was not going to go down, or out of the ground for that matter, without a major shovel fight, it was quite established after all…

…quite established indeed.  The root-ball was about four feet around and about ten feet deep, okay I exaggerate.  My plan was to split this plant in half and relocate it to the back of my property. Splitting a bamboo’s root-ball seems good in theory, until you actually get into the actual splitting process.

Once again I was so happy I had a full steel shovel, nothing else would have taken the strain that I was subjecting this implement to as I worked my way around the root-ball.  I could hear things snapping and popping, I just hoped it was the plants roots rather then some of my tendons.

Oh yes you had better stay rigid trusty old shovel, because a Darwin Award could be awarded to me if you snap right now! The plant moaned and groaned, and my shovel and I followed suit with an occasional “why you little…” thrown in on my part for good measure.  Eventually I felt the final roots give and the beast was finally freed from the earth, it immediately started to scream and object like an unearthed mandrake root.  I laid on my back looking up at the sky, seeing stars.

Next stop…the Tahoe dented stock-tank that housed my golden bamboo.

This extraction was easy in comparison.

I removed all of the soil and rocks out of the tank, then wheeled it to the back of my back garden to hunt for a relocation spot. I did have a surprise when I first moved the tank…

I found this poor pale Gulf-coast toad hunkered down, hibernating underneath it.  This ‘toad in the hole’ quickly retreated deeper into his winter sanctuary at my rude disturbance.  I feared for him as the ESP Witches have already hung up their nasty hessian sacks in the post oak in anticipation of the spring toad cull.

B. valliceps

has the most extensive ridging of any toad in its geographic range. The ridges extend from the nose, to the back of the head. With a branch that wraps around the back side of the eye. I placed a few strategic rocks around and over him to offer once again some semblance of privacy,  I just hope it was enough.

Here are both plants transplanted into their brand new homes:

And that takes the stock-tank count up to seven in my back garden.  Now if only I had a small Roman garrison to help me move that one-ton boulder at the front.

Moving on…

The Patch catching some late afternoon rays.  The post oak and giant timber bamboo create some interesting shadows on the house. The Gopher plant in the foreground is in full swing right now…

I like the way the blue – silver foliage echoes the color of the Sedum reflexum ‘Blue Spruce’.

The emerging purple blooms of this mountain laurel looks great against the new green color of the house.  This confirmed to me that I need to a) get some more laurels around the Patch and b) plant a large bed of Mexican bush sage at the front of house to replace the bamboos that I have just ripped up.


These gangly chaps are all over the Patch right now, both indoors and out.
Although some people think these flies look like Texas-sized mosquitoes, they are wrongly called “mosquito hawks.”  Crane flies are large tan-colored fragile flies with long legs. Adults and larvae do not feed on mosquitoes, in fact adult crane flies feed on nectar or they do not feed at all, once they become adults, these noble creatures exist only to mate and die. Crane fly larvae feed primarily on decomposing organic matter, in compost piles, they often occur on the soil surface below the pile of decaying vegetation.  Adults have long slender legs which are easily broken and may be missing in some specimens.
Crane flies are a food source for many birds and many other insects and carnivores…

“Well, we love them don’t we honey?”
“We certainly do George”.

To finish on a “Ewww” note…

Giant carnivorous plant
Giant carnivorous plant

Nepenthes Attenboroughii

A plant that just happens to reflect the new color scheme of the Patch, and a plant I could have really used when all of this rat nonsense was going on in my shed: http://www.eastsidepatch.com/2008/11/dead-in-a-shed/

Botanists have uncovered a carnivorous plant in the Philippines that is large enough to digest a whole rat. (The plant is about a meter across with these cups at the end of stalks to catch prey).

Nepenthes northiana

Here is the carnivorous pitcher plant preparing to tuck into a rat.  Can you believe this?  Look at the remarkable painted coloration on the lips of these cups.

“Oh no! I told him he should have become a head-chef ” Brrr… (whiskers involuntary twitch and large teeth bite upper lip, tiny limb and small ear movements).

Stewart McPherson, one of the botanists who trekked deep into the Philippine forest to make the discovery, described the plant…

“Around the mouth of the pitcher are secretions of nectar which attracts insects and small animals. The rim has lots of waxy downward-pointing ridges which help prey fall directly into the pitcher.  The pitchers are half full of a liquid consisting of acids and enzymes which help break down its prey. These plants grow in really harsh areas where soil quality is very poor — often pure gravel or sand. Catching insects allows the plant to augment nutrients that it otherwise wouldn’t have access to.” … Mmmm perhaps a mass planting in the hell-strip? That would be novel!

Inspirational image of the week:

Talking about the top of a remote mountain!  I have decided that this is where I want to spend my Autumn years when they arrive, a house nestled up in the trees, a Heli-drop of deli produce and beer once a month, fast internet connection, and “raised” (ahem) vegetable beds…you get the absurd picture.

“I like that place Carl”
“Me too Ellie”!

Stay Tuned for:

“Life and Death”

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 March 12, 2010, 9:31 pm

    Oh, you are one industrious Klingon Warrior! I can’t imagine taking on such a move. That weeping Mexican Bamboo is so gorgeous. The patch is starting to look like spring, isn’t it?

  • ESP March 12, 2010, 9:58 pm

    Hi Robin.
    Mauratorg Kannuk!

    I really hated to dig up the Mexican weeper, but it had to be done. I have been watering it heavily everyday since I transplanted it, I know it is going to look really bad before hopefully it gets better. It is a risk I had to take.

    The Patch is starting to come out of dormancy, you are right… the sea-oats are on the rise, (always a tell-tale sign of spring), and the clover weeds are annoyingly popping up everywhere, yet another sign!

    I saw your post on your bottle brush tree, mine have also suffered (I have two dwarf), but I did notice today that I have a few new green leaves…yes, they live, they live I tell you! This year is a year to not rip up anything you think may be dead I think, roots are more resilient then we think…take bulbine, looks dead…but is it? I have left everything alone and will continue to, until we are completely out of the frost woods. I will wait to see what the heat reanimates.

    I cannot wait to trim up my agaves though, it drives me crazy to see their arms, browned, lying on the ground. (sits looking at them sharpening pruners in anticipation)!

    Cheers Robin,

  • Cheryl March 12, 2010, 10:29 pm

    ok..just where are those pinnacles? (insprational photo) china? Surely someplace in Asia? You have tickled my latent geologic curiosity gene…”where are they? How did they form?”… etc.
    Love the new color on your house and am insanely jealous that you have those lovely lime green creatures frisking about in your yard. Wish you’d come dig up MY bamboo patch. Its only about 25′ x 25’… good exercise..

  • ESP March 12, 2010, 11:07 pm

    Hi Cheryl.
    Those pinnacles I found here…
    “Аллилуйя, Аватар!” (10 фото)
    It appears we need a universal translator, or perhaps “Pavel Chekov” to aid in the geographical land-mass identification of this amazing future ESP retirement home! (I wish I could be a little more informative).

    Glad you like the new Patch color, and you do not have anoles?

    25’x25′ bamboo patch? Oh no, that will be all you I am afraid! Like I need more exercise! Good try though!

    Dodging the bullet…

  • Jenny March 13, 2010, 6:49 am

    There are always amazing things going on in the patch. Love the new color scheme. Well done on the bamboo removal. Makes me glad now that I didn’t plant this in front of my window, which I recently denuded and is still waiting for inspiration. Something green and low- what are you going with? This weeks job I think. Ah the throbbing mass of craneflies in the corners of the walls. It’s about that time and anoles caught in the act. Everything is coming back to life in the garden. What about that pitcher plant- Had no idea they grew so big.

    • ESP March 13, 2010, 7:52 pm

      Hi Jenny.

      There has been a lot of activity in the Patch the last four months, but I can now say it is finished! (fireworks are ignited, the crowd goes wild). I am much happier with the bamboo removed from the front, it just looks so much more spacious and intentional. To replace the bamboo I am planting bush sage (for correct scale) with bamboo muhly in front, to reference the future hell-strip.

      That pitcher plant is just amazing! The rat picture is really quite bizarre.

  • Cheryl March 13, 2010, 11:18 am

    Argggh! Do you mean to tell me those pinnacles are , gasp, not REAL? No, there must be some real ones. In Asia somewhere. Really? And yes, we have no anoles. Dang. We do have Alligator lizards, and western whiptails and fence lizards but they are fairly secretive. I have not actually seen any lizards of any sort for about 2 years on this place. I’m hoping they are simply hiding.

    • ESP March 13, 2010, 7:33 pm

      Hi Cheryl.
      No, I think the pinnacles are very real just not sure where they are on the planet! Anybody?

  • Bob Pool March 13, 2010, 11:49 pm

    That rock don’t weigh a pound over 500. You must be thinking in kilos again. It’s a relatively easy move any where you want it. Pry it up with a digging bar placed over a smaller rock for leverage. Prop it up with a rock or something. Put a couple of pieces of rope under it. Lay a well made dolly on top of it. Tie the rock to the dolly. Grab the end of the dolly and pry it up and over on the wheels. If you tie the rock down low on the dolly you will have plenty of leverage to do it. Move it any where you want and lay it back down.

    Given the choice of digging out the bamboo or moving the rock, I would move that rock any day. I wish I lived closer, you could borrow my dolly. It’s a good one, I built it.

  • ESP March 14, 2010, 12:04 am

    Hi Bob.
    I knew I could trust you to deliver some analytical insight as to how to move this rock! Too funny.

    Spock’s voice…”Bob’s rock moving logic is sound ESP, you would be wise to listen.”

    Thanks for this Bob…really…and I just bet you have the dolly from Hell. You know I am into product development…is your dolly special? Patentable? (Hmm, perhaps I should rephrase that!)
    See you at Diana’s place, for the next GoGo? I’m driving right? :-)


  • Bob Pool March 14, 2010, 9:24 pm

    Oh yeah, your driving. By your self.

  • ESP March 15, 2010, 7:51 pm

    I thought so!

  • Pam/Digging March 20, 2010, 11:56 pm

    I saw my first anole yesterday in my new garden and was so excited. We had them coming out of our ears in the old garden, but so far I’d only seen the Texas spiny lizards over here. The anole was hanging out on the warm brick wall; I’m sure he or she is in hibernation mode tonight.

    I’m green with envy over your Mexican weeping bamboo. Mine still looks just awful. One little sprig of green at the base is all that remains of its summer glory. I hope it will rebound with warm weather.

    The Salvia leucantha and bamboo muhly will be nice out front, and yes, much more in scale. The colors will be fab with your new house color.

    And, man, you’ve really got me beat on the number of stock tanks. I have only three. Must take a trip out to Callahan’s soon and pick up another one or two. You can’t have too many! Can you?

  • ESP March 21, 2010, 9:28 am

    And I have never had a Texas spiny lizard in the Patch! Happy you have seen an anole, if there is one I am sure there are a bunch more…or will be.

    I have been amazed at how well the weeping bamboo has done since I transplanted it and cut it back by about a third. I think I transplanted at the perfect time, all the deep soakings helped it to settle in I think.

    It looks like I have some trampled leucantha returning from the dead, so I will wait and see just how many new plants I will need to fill-in the gaps, and yes, I think the color will provide a good contrast to the house, being on the opposite side of the color spectrum.

    Really…can you have too many!



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