“Baggins and Tape”


“In the event of a water landing, I have been designed to serve as a flotation device”

And even more rain in Central Texas…and even more mosquitoes, although I have noticed that they are getting slower, their desperation for the red matter making them easier to swat. There are also some mosquito-monsters, what is that? Is that a? You have got to be kidding me… some are so large, getting stung is like getting stabbed with a knitting needle. Hey, everything is bigger in Texas.

Wet Swallowtail

The rain had beaten down this swallowtail butterfly to the ground, along with some Mexican Bush Sage. When I approached, as if on cue, the bird moved a wing ever so feebly, like a surrender flag.  It was a tragic scene.

Swallowtail ButterflyI managed to get the butterfly on a small twig where I then placed it up higher, next to one of my gazing balls, to get a breeze and dry it’s wings off.  As soon as a breeze hit it’s wings, it immediately struck a pose.

Swallowtail and gazing ball

Like a huge flying mantra ray, or a solar sail in orbit around an alien sun, it sat in that spot for hours, slowly fanning it’s wings. The next day it had gone, perhaps an anole ate it? Perhaps it dried off and flew away? I will never know.

Uhh ohh…(sirens go off)


NERD Alert, NERD Alert, NE…

It seems as though my Giant Timber Bamboo has developed barnacles, bamboo barnacles!

Bamboo BarnaclesSmall ones, large ones, exploded ones, If you have Giant Timber, the chances are you have some of this, a US import from the East.

Asterolecanium bambusicola Boisduval

Try saying that one at a party to ensure everybody looks at you like a freak for the rest of the evening!  The Asterolecaniidae, or pit scales, are an unusual group in which many members can cause “pits” to occur on their host plants, usually Bambusa.

DSC01007Many are considered as damaging pests on their hosts, sucking the sap from the culm sheath and stems. (Adjusts glasses) This is one of the more common pit scales. The coloration of this scale is light green to light brown with a cream colored to orange margin.  It has a waxy covering making it difficult to eradicate…I don’t even try. Snort

DSC00977My front porch has been consumed and I mean consumed by this Passiflora Coccinea or Red Passion Flower this year. The vine escaped its usual winter die-back fate last year due to the particularly mild winter we had. This years growth on top of the old growth has created a vine of monsterous proportions, it is attempting to engulf my entire front porch. If we do not have a cold winter this year I fear my front door may become unusable.

Red Passion FlowerIt is like the carnivorous Mexican vine in the movie “The Ruins”.  It is even trying to get into the windows!  I will let it for now because in the mornings when the sun shines on it, it creates the best shadows to wake to, very jungle like, and I do like jungle.  I am just happy that it is not planted on the side of our house with the Tahoe hole in it, or I firmly believe it would already be inside the house, covering the TV and our Lazy Boys with it’s green tendrils.

House of VinesHouse of Vines, originally uploaded by: jasohill

Could this be the fate of the Patch should we not get a good freeze this winter?

Tahoe Hole

Staying on the subject of rather large vehicles, driving at high speed into the sides of houses, this is the current scene in our living room right now. The recent cold fronts we have been experiencing have created the need for some creative improvisation, oh yes when the colder wind picked up recently it was whistling through here. It made watching a movie feel more like an outdoor retreat. What was our creative improvisation?  Well as you can see, it involved copious amounts of Duct Tape and some plastic leaf bags to achieve this deconstructionist aesthetic. I have to mention that these bags are constantly sucking in and blowing out, it is like living inside of bellows.  The Botox Lady had a really strange look on her face when I walked past her from the shed carrying the roll of Duct Tape.

Buddha's Belly Bamboo (Bambusa tuldoides) 'Ventricosa'

Another over-achiever that has really sprung this year (its third year) is this Buddha’s Belly Bamboo,

Bambusa tuldoides ‘Ventricosa’

I am thinking of taking out the white pomegranate shrub on the right of it to offer the scene some more breathing space. I have never really cared for this shrub, it has a scrappy curled look to it’s foliage, like it is perpetually thirsty.  Apart from the white blooms it develops in the spring, it mostly just sits there, bothering me, yes, I am afraid the woodcutter will return with his sharpened axe in the very near future, what do you think? Do I just hate “curly foliage”?

It is not like the Belly Bamboo does anything more spectacular, but the foliage just works for me as an imposing tropical backdrop to these variegated agaves.


I cannot describe how many insects are on this Amaranth at the moment. It has rendered my center pathway almost unusable. Clouds of moths,wasps,hoverflies,wasps,butterflies,bees surround you should you sweep past the colorful plant. It is quite staggering.

HoverflyThis one was particularly large and spiky, the body of the fly glowed ruby red.



The insects seem to get drunk on the Amaranth necter, not caring at all about the camera.




Lots of fall color right now in the Patch courtesy of Amaranth, cigar plant, Philippine violet and Mexican bush sage.

parrotsWe went to the Mueller playground at the weekend and spotted some of Austin’s very own Monk Parakeets, they were everywhere!  As were their feathers that kept falling out of the tree as I took this photograph.

Monk ParakeetsSomebody got to work immediately collecting the colorful feathers.

umbrella plantMyself?…Naturally I was hunkered down next to this amazing specimen of Umbrella Plant

Cyperus alternifolius (Unbrella Papyrus)

I may just have to bury yet another rather large rubber container and get this one going. It would look great buried in the middle of a bed as a center-piece with an under-planting of…wait, I think I know just the place!



A freshly emerged damselfly?


Bog CyprusThe Bog Cyprus in my main pond has started to brown and shed, so it is out with the net…


“Let the boring scooping begin!”

I hope you will check out the new ESP “character listings” at the top of the green side-bar under “Pages”. Let me know if I have missed any important details or if I have excluded anyone you think should have a presence there.

Cactus Man, Cactus Man where art thou?

Stay Tuned for:

“The Leaf, the Witch, and the Water-feature ”

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

  • Bob Pool November 24, 2009, 12:01 am

    The mosquitoes have been bad this year, haven’t they? But at least it’s not like the coast. They are bigger and more of them. They are the size of birds down there. I was on a hunting trip at Aransas Wildlife preserve once and two mosquitoes grabbed me by the shoulders and started to carry me off to their lair. The only thing that saved me was two ticks as big as paint can lids had me by the ankles. Whew, that was close.

    Are you close to a settlement on your house? It would be nice to get that fixed before winter really sits in. However, your patch job is not with out class, what with using black duct tape and all.

    If we ever get together I can fix you up with a large clump of Umbrella Plant as I have plenty.

    And put some mud on that little girls face as she is just toooooo pretty.

    • ESP November 24, 2009, 9:42 am

      Hi Bob.
      We have never had a worse year for mosquitoes…vicious I tell you! I can’t imagine what they must be like in the coastal regions if they are this bad in Central Texas. It sounds like you had a close escape on your hunting trip, thank goodness for those paint can ticks, though I bet you looked quite anemic after your escapade.

      Work on our Tahoe hole should start quite soon after the holidays. I did consider using the silver duct tape to match the grey of the bags, but opted for the more contrasting black to create a focal point and in-room conversation piece.

      I might just take you up on your umbrella plant offer, perhaps in the spring. I think I have a good place to bury a large tub, but it will involve taking out some cemented metal posts and a bunch of plants, more on this later. Thanks!

      She would most definitely not take “having some mud put on her face” lightly…my youngest Bilbo on the other hand…enough said!

      Cheers Bob.

      Did you see the “About the Naboo” section? You have naturally got a mention :-)

  • Les November 24, 2009, 5:32 am

    Things look very busy in the Patch. I love the Amaranth. I know you like waking up and looking out to the jungle created by the Passiflora, but if I were you I’d start hacking. I had one of our natives and it was lovely; people would knock on the front door wanting to know what it was. I turned my back and it had choked a holly, climbed through my Poncirus and crossed over the sidewalk and got into a crape myrtle. With such a small yard I had to yank it up, for three years.

    • ESP November 24, 2009, 9:54 am

      Hi Les.
      Busy it is indeed. I think all the insects sense that winter is just around the corner and are making sure to get in their own thanksgiving feasts. The amaranth is proving enough nectar for all in need it seems. This is one of my favorite plants of all time.
      Get rid of the Passiflora? I could not bring myself to do that! This plant is quite a few years old now, and I am sure it will get nipped to the ground this year like it usually does. It has always been self-regulating until this year. Did yours ever die back?

      I hear you on the “trying to eradicate a vine” front though…I have been pulling the remains of an establish trumpet vine for about as many years as you, it gets old really fast!
      I feel your pain.


  • TexasDeb November 24, 2009, 8:46 am

    Those vines are great and I vote for you to wait and see what this winter might bring before getting all hacked off about their progress this year. Especially since I now have two too-large tender lemon trees to protect I am quite certain we will be faced with more cruelly cold weather this year (and isn’t that just like a gardener, to take the weather personally dependent on the plants we favor…).

    Don’t ask me why I know this, but if you eventually must replace the leaf bags, one of those “space blankets”, the mylar type, can provide a nice bit of insulation after you get it securely taped into place. That, placed over layers of newspaper to baffle strong gusts, might just carry you through until repairs can be made.

    Finally, I am just loving the macro shots this post. Really top notch.

    • ESP November 24, 2009, 10:06 am

      Hi TD.
      I am right there with you on the vine front, and I have a feeling this winter will be a sharp one, just because of the simple reason that we have a hole in our wall!

      I used to protect plants with sheets, duvets, blankets, socks etc, but now I just can’t be bothered. The only thing that I do now is bring my Meyer lemon pot up onto my back deck, closer to the house, although I am not sure how much warmer that will make it this year.

      With regard to the space blankets, perhaps it would be easier to take a trip to Houston and get us all fitted out with Nasa space suits, complete with integrated com to enable us to communicate while we are watching a movie? This has the added advantage of not having to get up to “go,” you can simply empty the vessel after the movie has finished, ensuring you don’t miss any of it.

      Thanks on the macro shots.


  • The Garden Ms. S November 24, 2009, 10:31 pm

    I am glad you saved the butterfly – at least I hope it is saved! (Maybe it is visiting with the Naboo’s as they ooh and aah over it – or click and clack!) :-)

  • ESP November 24, 2009, 10:43 pm

    Hi Ms.S
    I hope I saved the butterfly as well. If it fell into the small grappling hands of the Naboo, I greatly fear for its well being. I think they would not be oohing and aahing over it, rather than slurping and slobbering over it, in a rather large (well large being relative to the Naboo) pot, armed with a slice of tribal unleavened bread. Oh yes they would eat it, I just know it.

  • Linda Lehmusvirta November 26, 2009, 4:47 pm

    I love butterfly rescue! I save lots of creatures and am so pleased when they fly off. I’m sure yours did and didn’t get eaten. Ditto on passionvine. I’ve been whacking it off the mountain laurels. Great plant but a bit too impetuous. What a pain on duct tape and bags to keep the house warm. I sure hope you get past that before you can build a snowman inside! I keep meaning to take a tour of the Mueller playground with the dog. I’d like to see the monk parakeets too! Oh, not sure about the pomegranate. Looks fine to me, but I’m also moving a bunch of stuff that’s starting to annoy. Guess that’s why they invented shovels.

    • ESP November 26, 2009, 10:00 pm

      Hi Linda.

      I hope the bird got to fly once more, at the very least lay some eggs on my Mexican lime tree!
      I also hope our Tahoe hole gets fixed up before we start having snowball fights in our living room before breakfast each winter morning…Oh yes, we will have snow this winter, I can feel it in the air!

      You should definitely take advantage of Mueller before all the planned, future housing goes in, it is perfect right now. I have a feeling it will all change as this area develops and the multitudes of houses continue to be built further north, and it simply gets too busy. I think we have about a year of relative serenity left in this wonderful urban development. Also if you have a light-weight kite, it will always fly in this area due to the almost constant breezes it gets, are you a kite flyer Linda? :-)

      It is a great place for dog walking, although I was saddened at the amount of wayward dog-crap my children had to circumnavigate on our last visit, I mean really, shame on these dog owners…it is a complete disgrace considering the abundance of plastic bags in all our lifestyles. Oh yeah, don’t get me started on dog-owners that do not pick up their own dog crap! I hope you remember the ESP rant:


      Cheers Linda, I cannot wait to see your editing magic! I look forward to the Jan show. The Botox Lady was thrilled, by the way, having the camera pointed at her from behind the amaranth…she has not stopped bragging about it.

      I think shovels were invented to supplement the pain relieving pharmaceutical market, No?

  • Linda Lehmusvirta November 30, 2009, 5:46 pm

    Sad to say, I flew kites as a kid and the city of Dallas declared me a menace to power lines and small dogs.
    On Mueller, it’s designed to be “green,” so I’m astounded that people don’t pick up after their dogs. That’s really sad. Maybe I should go fly a kite over there and wrangle some of the offenders (the owners). I agree on the upcoming traffic disaster. Since the highway dept. re-directed access to 51st St., it’s already a mess for me to get home.

    I think the Botox Lady wants the video for her reel to send to Hollywood. She slipped me a bribe to get her on camera. But the hobbits slipped me even more. . .

    I sent you the airdates today. No editing magic on this one; the magic made itself.

    I’d say a shovel a day keeps the doctor away, except I agree that the pharmaceutical companies are probably in kahoots with makers of garden implements! Linda

    • ESP November 30, 2009, 9:40 pm

      Hi Linda, you kite flying menace you.

      I was shocked by the land-mines as well, perhaps it is one person and one dog that keeps fouling up? Oh yes, I know all the statistics on how much one dog can “produce”, I am saddened to say.

      The traffic on Airport and all East-West routes will take a serious hit when the development really kicks into gear. I think it will really change the East-Side in a lot of ways.

      Got all the air-dates, thank you, I was surprised how many there where and all their locations! And thank you for you kind words. The Botox Lady may well be doing that, I did hear her trying to perfect an LA accent the other day, it sounded ridiculous combined with her true Austrian dialect, she sounded like a spitting Bruno trying to sound Californian!

      I can’t wait to see the segment.


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