“Bark at the Moonflower”

Oh yes, we’re under starter’s-orders and we’re off to a very classy start…poor Ron, a mandrake looking root AND an elephant butt comparison shot. I am not sure which is scaring him most?

We have had yet another week of hot temperatures in central Texas in tandem with some ridiculous humidity. My belt buckle (in reaction to the latest install I am executing) retracted one notch by Friday and my already full laundry basket is now officially out of control, yes best keep pulling that face Ron, I do every time I have to shimmy by it.  It seems like the recent humidity has also triggered the Texas “barometer plant” to flush out its purple blooms all over town. Texas sage or…

Leucophyllum frutescens

also called purple sage, texas ranger, silverleaf, white sage, ash bush and sensia. Purple sage comes from shrublands on limestone slopes in the Chihuahuan Desert of Texas, New Mexico, and northern Mexico.  This is one tough plant, it can face droughts, freezes, high winds, salt spray, hungry deer, and blazing heat and keep right on performing beautifully. It can also apparently make for a good container plant, though I have no personal experience with it in this capacity…do you?

The plant does have a tendency to get very large and leggy.  I keep both of mine trimmed extremely tight to promote a denser habit and I remove their lower branches for better form.

I grow other plants like Mexican bush sage and rosemary to obscure and detract from this plants lower ‘bare’ areas.

And when they do bloom their soft purple blooms…

all manner of insects take advantage. The flowers are really unusual looking set against the silver backdrop of the foliage.








Some major events happened this week in the Patch:

Training wheels came off…

…and we got a new addition to the family:

Mmm, not quite,

but I can see some similarities.

Meet Kumo.

Like me he has an infinity for Mexican feather grasses,

and he is keeping the halflings very, very busy. I cringe every time his dashes across my central bed which houses my barrel cactus.


Compositae Chrysactinia mexicana


seems to thrive in the current furnace, as you can see it is already on its second wave of blooms. This is a great native evergreen plant with a low mounding growth, the plants aromatic foliage is also a deer and rabbit deterrent.

Bristly sunflowers have also started to unfurl and spring into action.

attracting their usual band of garden outlaws:

Sunflowers are sometimes planted as trap crops for Stink/leaffooted bugs, providing superior food plants for the bugs while also attracting their natural enemies.

Umbrellas in combination with a sprinkler have been novelty items this week. Okay if you insist – just one more insect. This one would be perfect for Halloween.

Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle,

Labidomera clivicollis

Interesting visitor considering I have no milkweed.  Does anyone have any experience with swamp milkweed here in Austin?  This beetle comes in a quite a few color variations and looks like a really large ladybug. If you are interested in insects, bugs, snakes etc you should most certainly check out the great photography in this fine Missouri blog:  http://mobugs.blogspot.com/

Life in my swamps and ponds has gone berserk of late. I thinned these water lilies out only a week ago and now look at them! They do make for fantastically nutritionally-rich compost bin fodder though, I am not complaining.

How they continue to fly like this never ceases to amaze me, though I can guess who is probably in charge of navigation.

Inspirational Image of the week:

Stay Tuned for:

“Oh Yucca”

All material © 2011 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.


  • Iris June 6, 2011, 5:26 pm

    Ahh–thank you for the inspirational image of the week! Only 102 today at Mabry, I think. Anyway, gotta love Texas Sage. Now that you point it out it seems obvious, but I’ve never done much trimming on my three bushes–will try it. One of mine is at least 22 years old–amazing.

  • ESP June 6, 2011, 5:49 pm

    Hi Iris.

    It is quite toasty indeed.

    I tied my first iced turban of the year this morning and I must say it was a bit of a mess (out of practice it seems) and quite shocking to everyone I encountered until if finally disintegrated early afternoon.

    I have trimmed my sages since I first put them in, not sure how it will work on a 22 year shrub?…22years! That is a testament to the resilience of this shrub.


  • Robin June 6, 2011, 7:23 pm

    Kumo is so darn cute! The halflings are a lucky pair to have such a great buddy in that wonderland of a yard. Is he a beagle?

  • ESP June 6, 2011, 9:31 pm

    Hi Robin.

    The halflings are over the moon! We really had no intention of adopting a dog, but Kumo (3 months) just fell into our laps. Not sure what breed(s) he is…we think part beagle, part Chihuahua and perhaps part dachshund with a hint of whippet? Who knows, and yes he is very cute. The good news for me is that I can now hold-off from constructing a chicken hutch.


  • Lori June 6, 2011, 9:52 pm

    OMG, your puppy is adorable! And he looks just like my little chihuahua/terrier mix, but with floppy ears. He even has the lighter eyebrows. Any guesses as to how big he’s gonna get? Good luck keeping him out of the garden. The most effective method we’ve found for training our dogs to stay out of the flower beds with the minimum amount of damage involves a Super Soaker. Heh.

  • ESP June 6, 2011, 10:20 pm

    Hi Lori.

    Thanks, and he knows it…he got so much attention at the farmers market last weekend.
    Not sure how big he is going to get, but his paws are quite small, so hopefully he will not end up being seven or eight feet or anything.
    He is already tearing around the garden, I think I will invest in a Super Soaker tomorrow…thanks for the words of wisdom.

    He did ironically go up to the Botox Lady the other day and drool on her…“Good Boy!”


  • Gardenista June 7, 2011, 6:44 am

    So much fun in store for you and your puppy.{ And for us since you are such a sport to share so generously in these pages…} .

    I do like the look of your low mounding sage. Ours is kept to a taller column form (think a very short yew) but is still going strong after a couple of decades. At times it gets bare spots due to trimming but it always fills back in. Real troopers these sage bushes are. I think most locals take them completely for granted. The flowers are stunning and I’m with Iris – anything with purple flowers is a winner in my book.

  • ESP June 7, 2011, 12:34 pm

    Hi TD.

    Yes Kumo is a big hit!

    It will be interesting to see just how short I will be able to keep these sages as the years roll on without them starting to look like massive purple lollypops :-) Mmm maybe that could work too! Like you, I think this trouper of a shrub is stunning (especially in bloom).


  • Katina June 7, 2011, 4:29 pm


    The only experience I have with swamp milkweed is trying to grow it. I somehow managed to successfully keep it alive through the winter (even though I was sure I had killed it). Only like another 2 years until it might bloom…

  • Samia June 7, 2011, 5:16 pm

    Very glad I took 10 minutes out of my crazy ass day to tune into goings on on the Patch. Inspirational. And funny :-)

  • ESP June 7, 2011, 6:18 pm

    Hi Katina.
    I know!

    Where did you get your swamp milkweed? Is it invasive like so many other pond plants?


  • ESP June 7, 2011, 6:22 pm

    Hi Samia.

    Glad to have you drop in to the Patch, I hope it gave you a little break in your busy day. Hope all is well with you after the octopus cleaning escapade…hilarious, I could just see your face :-)


  • Desert Dweller / David C. June 8, 2011, 6:18 am

    How exciting in the patch with so much new! A dog, bicycling unfettered by training wheels, and children running near giant sotols & barrel cacti – shows resilience and some appreciation for all things to your west, I think. Admirable!

    And your’s is the first and only clipped Leucophyllum I have ever liked. Damianita – my bunches of them faded from first bloom, but rarely bloom again until fall…just too dry here. Except one growing in a crack along the house!

  • ESP June 8, 2011, 8:11 am

    Hi David.

    Yes lots of things happening…the new dog being the biggest surprise!

    It amazed me the barrel cactus did not rot in our freezes last winter but they pulled through with no problem.

    So that is why you and Daphne threw some glances at each other when you saw the pruned Leucophyllum :-) I am curious as to how you have seen them clipped for you to not like it?

    Damianita…another trouper, mine seem to bloom sporadically well into fall and great grown between boulders.

    Hope the smoke clears soon.


  • Les June 11, 2011, 4:55 am

    Kumo is TFC! I hope he is not a digger.

  • ESP June 11, 2011, 8:01 am

    Me too Les.

  • Casa Mariposa June 11, 2011, 2:45 pm

    1. Your garden looks like a Hollywood set to me! I keep expecting a gunslinging cowboy to pop out from behind one of those cactus or giant plants.

    2. Kumo looks like my beagle/doxie/? mix. I have five dogs and installed an Invisible Fence between the garden and the grass to help derail the success of their grass roots business, D3, aka Dumb Dog Destruction Co.

    3. Swamp milkweed isn’t a water plant although it likes steady moisture. It attracts/sustains monarchs. I have a big patch of it and if that beetle shows up I’m pulling out my six shooter and popping a cap in its a*s!! Ummm, are six shooters organic? Gotta think about that one….

  • ESP June 11, 2011, 6:11 pm

    Hi Casa Mariposa.

    The occasional gunslinger does breeze into the Patch from time to time, but usually a Naboo dart brings them down before even the first finger is twitched over the trigger.

    I think you must be very close on the Kumo genetic pool ID.

    I have no experience with milkweed but thanks for the information and I did like the look of this beetle…very cartoon-like.

    Thanks for dropping in.



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