“Chicken and Hell-Strips”

Everything in the Patch is in full spring swing…myself?

I have spent two days swinging a shovel at this…a new and most welcome pile of decomposed granite in my hell-strip.  A few weeds had already started to pop up here and there, it was time for the final push.  My hell-strip has looked like a construction site ever since I laid down sheets of weed suppressant material and subsequent bricks to hold it down, it looked really bad.  This was all about to change…I wrapped an iced turban around my head, took a deep meditative breath, cursed a few times just to get me in the mode, then filled up my first wheelbarrow full of the golden soil… I was off!

Some hours later things were looking a whole lot calmer in the Patch’s hell-strip.  I divided and transplanted a bunch of bamboo muhly from the back of the Patch, these now line both sides of the pathway from the street.  This will ultimately hide the edges of the pathway and visually soften the approach from the street.  The agave in the foreground courtesy of Lori at: http://gardenerofgoodandevil.blogspot.com/ will eventually fill up this entire front corner, hence the intentionally sparse planting scheme.  Toward the sidewalk are some blackfoot daisies and a couple of bulbines.

On the other side a couple of whirling butterflies (gaura)  went in, both white and pink varieties.  That is another artemesia hill in the background, oh yes, you can’t have too many of those silver hills, right Pam?

These artemesia were snapped off from my plants in the back of the Patch, and just stuck in the ground.  I had about an 90% success rate on these transplants in the most atrocious and unamended soil conditions known to mankind.

It will take a while to fill in but I am so happy that I can now say I am 100% grass/Bermuda free.

“Hurah… Three cheers for ESP ladies.”

One last shot of the front, yes I like rosemary can you tell?  And why the gathering crowd?

Only in the Patch!

This visitor just turned up, clucking away under our car, the hobbits were delighted to feed it some seeds.  This chicken and a recent visit to Callahan’s general store has fueled the desire for a few chickens in the Patch.  I am not sure how long my delaying strategies and excuses will work at this point. To make it worse my eldest watched a young girl in the store purchase a baby rabbit…Arrgh!

“Why can’t we have a rabbit daddy? (repeat 27.5 times in the car) …the .5? …Well, that was when I started to get annoyed.

Some time later…

I always get a little nervous when things go too quite for any length of time in the Patch, the silence just sort of seeps into my psyche until it is so loud, that I inherently know that some snail, worm, or pill bug is getting involved in some form of bizarre, and totally inappropriate experiment.  Even worse are the “soup” creations, these culinary masterpieces usually involve critters, water, sand and plants in a particularly disgusting combination.  This is especially gross when the obnoxious “soup” is unknowingly thrust directly under ones nasal passages when you are least expecting it.

The disturbing silence is usually followed by a hunched over scene like the one above… the crazy scientist hard at work in a secluded corner of his lab.

What is he doing?… I hid deeper in the ornamental grasses and quietly observed.

He swung around completely out of control as the force of the jet stream made the hose lunge, he hung on for dear life, the force of the blast immediately creating a Donald Trump hair style.

He had discovered the hose next to my feeder tank, and it didn’t take him long to harness its power.

“Promising, this hobbit looks.”

He had the time of his life, though it was quite difficult to keep him focused on filling up the feeder tank.  Spraying the jet skyward was naturally a lot more entertaining, and a bonus if the water came down on top of himself. That would initiate the belly laughs .

All the time he was doing this water play, his sister was striking a pose in her latest cowgirl outfit on the Patch’s front porch.

Is your Giant Timber not quite right this year?

What manner of witchcraft and skulduggery is this?

All of mine are acting very peculiar…very peculiar indeed.  I have few black culms, this is a first, not sure if these are dead or not, so far there has been no lateral growth on these now exotic looking culms.  The other thing that is out of whack is the amount of small culms emerging from the base.

“It is like the bamboo has regressed Captain”.

“I see that Spock”.

I am optimistic the large culms are on the way up, getting prepared to push up a few more bricks on my brick patio…I can only hope!

Oleander is one of the most poisonous plants in the world, it contains numerous toxic compounds, many of which can be deadly to people, especially young children.

Toxic or not I have to have them, and when blooming they are hard to beat for their tropical flare.

Talking of flare, I caught this hairy character on the porch of my in-laws house on a recent visit…

This caterpillar is known strangely as the Laugher,

Charadra deridens

it feeds on the leaves of beeches, birches, elms, oaks, and other broad-leaf trees.

Its body is pale with very distinctive  long, silky white setae. The Head is black with yellow band between eyes (usually) or white with darkened band across the front. This caterpillar turns into this…

The laugher moth.

“I like this moth, I really do.”

Moving on…

It looks like a fern…it looks like a flower…

It looks like something that I will be gathering the seeds from quite soon. This plant was given to me at a recent Austin “Design a GoGo”  gathering by Bob at Draco http://dracogardens.blogspot.com/

and it has grown at an amazing rate, a really interesting and unusual frond bloom. More on this one later.

As I wearily trudged to my bench for some R&R after a full day of granite shoveling and hell-strip action, I was feeling quite satisfied.

“Hell-strip action, baby…yeah”!

I cracked open a freezing cold beer and looked across the Patch, happy to take the weight of my legs which always take the brunt of the work if you are shoveling correctly. I took my first cold sip, then heard a cluck, clucking directly behind me in my neighbors yard.

Eeek, Eeek, Cluck, Cluck!

Was it following me?  I immediately remembered the ridiculous scene from the movie “Withnail and I”…

I decided to ignore it.

I took another deep sip and continued to look straight ahead of me for fear of catching it’s crazy eye.

Stay Tuned for:

“Knotty Dreads”

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

  • Jenny May 3, 2010, 6:02 am

    You deserve more than one beer and a sit on the bench after all that shoveling. Reminds me of years ago we were out for the evening and someone asked what we had been doing all day. I said ‘wheelbarrowing’ The person looked at me, no idea what I was talking about! Seems not many people out there have ever done much of this. I can relate to your day. So now, do you keep walking out the front and looking at the hell strip and feeling quite pleased about your efforts? I would and do when I finish a project.
    I see chicken coup on the list of looming projects. Wouldn’t that be fun? I would love to have chickens but travel wouldn’t fit in with that hobby. Hobbits would love gathering eggs and after all they can’t gather limes this year.
    I also got some blue curls from Bob. I wonder if it spreads? The seeds look a little like obedient plant and that does reseed.
    The oleander is very pretty. I may have a spot for one of those down the side of the house. It needs cheering up there.
    Have good week in the garden.

    • ESP May 3, 2010, 10:27 pm

      Hi Jenny.
      I did have more then one beer, and I fell asleep on the Patch bench after all the shoveling…kidding (way too uncomfortable)! I do like to complete a project, finishing this one was particularly gratifying because this project has been strategically staged in multiple phases. I needed the wet conditions to dig out the Hell-strip (which I had to wait for) otherwise it would have required a pick-axe and a whole lot more violent hacking…Then I planted certain areas up, just to get it going, (some more waiting) and then finally the decomposed granite delivery and finalization. I must say it felt really good on completion. It looks rather sparse right now but by the “you know what” (the unmentionable) it should be filled in quite nicely! And yes, I did keep walking out to my porch swing-seat to keep looking at it, just to see if it had already filled in. :-)

      Yes, chickens may well be in the Patch’s future, and the hobbits would have so much fun with them, gathering freshly laid eggs and hassling them all around the ESP. I am trying to put the lime tree out of my mind, thanks for that RR :-)

      Yes, Bob’s blue curls (and I am not referring to his dyed-blue mustache) Oh yes, he did! Bob and his wife visited the Patch last weekend and he did mention that this plant will readily re-seed…I do like this plant and what an interesting bloom, I will relish this one spreading around.

      The oleander is a refreshing shrub, I really do like the way it looks, and if you do not have one I would highly recommend it. I have mine at the very back of the Patch under the shade of my post-oak and it blooms consistently, though I believe it would do better with more sunlight. It will most definitely cheer up any area it is planted in, and is very hardy.

      Thanks Jenny, you have a good one too.


  • Katina May 3, 2010, 9:50 pm

    I like the blue frond thingy. Yes, “thingy” is a highly technical engineering term I use frequently. I totally laughed out loud at the Donald Trump reference because it was so apt. :)

    Man, I’m totally getting excited about the next design a go go!

    • ESP May 3, 2010, 10:34 pm

      Hi Katina.
      It is an interesting plant isn’t it? I have not done much research on it, but will relay more information next week. Talking of the Donald Trump reference have you seen my “looks like” papyrus look alike?
      This one still cracks me up!

      The next design a go go? Is it at your place? When?


  • Linda Lehmusvirta May 8, 2010, 7:33 pm

    Wow, it’s all looking gorgeous! And your photographs exquisite as always. I didn’t know you could just stick artemisia in the ground. Will try that. And so funny about the chicken. And bunnies. . .I promise I won’t send your daughter pictures of Harv & Gab! I like your engraving on the culm, too. If it’s coming back from the bottom, maybe that’s a good sign? Gardening is a good excuse for a beer, too!


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