Syrphid Fly? or Waspy, green, grass-hoppery weird bee thingy, summat or nothin’?


This adult Syrphid Fly (I hope I am right with this identification) is unlike any I have ever seen in the Patch…It is green! What manner of creature is he trying to mimic? Most Hoverflies mimic bees and wasps to protect themselves from predators, this one even had a “buzz” sound as it flew around, trying to be even more convincing…but green? I know it is a fly as it has only two wings, short antenna, and large compound eyes.

Syrphid Fly Adult


Like a multitude of insects in the garden this week, it was completely engrossed in my fragrant mist flowers that are now  going at full tilt, stinking up a whole section of the garden…now am I the only one but is the term “fragrant” used extremely “loosely” to describe the overpowering fragrance of this plant? I may not care for the stench of  it too much, but the insects, the moths, and brown nosers seem to love it.

Can someone ID this bug?


Here is the mist flower its all its cloudy glory.


The favorite past times of the week, have been moth catching and handling…


…a spot of entomology…


and some obligatory bubble fountain fondling, his face says it all!

sidjamesThe fragrant mist flower also succeeded in attracting this…No, not Sid James, this…


A Great Purple Hairstreak,

Atlides halesus…

this has to be one of our most beautiful southern butterflies.  Although it is most commonly known as the great purple hairstreak, it has no purple on it. The brilliant iridescent scales on the upper surface of the wings from which it gets its name are blue not purple.  This is also a new visitor in the patch, the “fragrance” is pulling them all in it seems!

layeringHere is the fragrant mist flower earlier in the year, with Mexican petunia, a hint of Barbados, and a loquat as a backdrop.  As  I was sitting down in front of the mist flower today, taking bug pictures, I could hear the audible popping of the petunia seed pods as the sun heated them up… throwing their seeds as far as they can muster, what a great explosive technique!

Next stop for me: Gregg’s mistflower!

DSC00400 Philippine Violet

Barleria cristata

has also now made it to the ranks of full bloomer. The dark foliage really sets off the purple blooms on this very “classy” looking plant. I plan to get a bunch of these planted at the far end one end of one of my beds, the dark foliage backdrop and height will work well for some lower growing frontal “poppers”…something that does not bloom at the same time, Mmm?

DSC00459Another great combination planting  is the spiky, soft leafed yucca, married with the fuzzy blooms of a swath of Mexican bush sage…

Salvia leucantha

The way the blooms weave their way through the yucca is an added visual bonus.

DSC00471The contrast of the soft purple blooms with the spikey yucca just works,

YuccaI think this would also look great as a mass planting with a couple of large sotols!  The height would almost be perfect, being a little taller than the yucca.

DSC00540Here are mine with a line of Mexican feather grasses in the front, the embedded yucca and a few arching lemon grasses, and of course a few random amaranths thrown in for good measure.  The sotol (far left) is in a different bed, but ohhh I can see the future so clearly now!  I also have a young sotol planted in the middle of this bricked circular bed, (almost hidden in this picture). When mature it will almost fill the diameter of the brickwork, while still allowing all the smaller plants to fill-in around the edges… the taller “antler” plants will be moved.

Why do sotols have to take so long to grow anyway?  It seems to take them forever to get going then, all of a sudden…

Sotolkaboom!  Overnight it seems, they get enormous – love this razor-sharp plant!

Moving on…

Oh yes… I have been flailing around the Patch like Tom Hanks in the hilarious “bee scene” in the movie “The Money Pit” of late, why? Because of these…


“Got One”!


“Why you little…”

I am so tired of the mosquitoes this year, is it just me or has this been a “bumper” (ahem) year?  To make matters worse they are also coming through the “Dude where’s my Car?” hole in the side of our house where the Tahoe came unexpectedly into our living-room for some very late afternoon tea some weeks back.  An average movie-watching evening in the Patch now consists of everyone sporadically slapping themselves about their heads. To the outside world, we must look like lunatics through our windows. This endless slapping is always preceded by either a disappointed “Uurrgh”! Or “Got One”!  At which point we all have a

waltons“Walton’s moment”, all happy and supportive and such. Interestingly, and ironically, we used to have to slap our TV to get a clear, snow-free, reception, but since the collision (it happened directly behind our TV) it has miraculously fixed itself… amazing what a Chevy Tahoe impact can do for some temperamental consumer electronics.

We have even started to spray repellent on the hobbits at bedtime, it has got that bad – Frodo uses a whole bottle of spray at a time just to cover his rather large feet!  The mosquitoes are eating us alive. Last night one particularly annoying mosquito became obsessed with the inside passages of my right ear, you know how you can hear them buzz when they get in there?  This one kept it up for hours, almost asleep…bzzzzz, almost asleep…bzzzz… etc.etc. I can’t wait for a cold snap to kill them once and for all, can you tell?

DSC00542Purple amaranth growing to great heights.  The pine cone cactus provided some eerie Halloween atmosphere in my middle bed, with it’s slender ghostly fingers. The Jewels of Opar (bottom left), seem to make it into every post I write recently. I did learn today that it’s nickname is Old Lady Hat Pin, because the thin stalks and flower pods resemble the old fashioned long hat pins ladies used to use to hold their hats in place.

DSC00467Looking down the throat of this agave, a shadow caught my eye.

DSC00460Ripening satsumas. Almost there, this little tree is buckling even more now as the fruit have swollen, mmm, maybe that is the reason to thin them out somewhat? Anyway it is going to be a great fall harvest, to be exact 94!  Give or take one or two.

DSC00550Finally I would like to give my sincerest thanks to Linda and the super friendly film-crew at CTG for entering bravely into the ESP last Monday. The Naboos finally allowed everyone right-of-passage, after all the paperwork was completed.  A lot of mouth clicking later we were all guaranteed that no-one would get hit with a poisoned blow dart…something that I have feared for weeks.  The morning of the shoot, before anyone arrived, I stealthily walked slowly to my shed. I calmly removed a roll of silver duct tape. Cutting a length from the roll, I walked slowly back up to where the Botox Lady was loudly “resting”. I knelt like a knight beside her stone head, my hands unwillingly approaching her rather large snoring mouth, my duct tape at the ready… you will not believe what happened to me next…She…


Stay Tuned for:

“Silence is Golden”

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 4, 2009, 10:17 pm

    Huh, what, she did what, she did what? Out with it damn you, I say out with it….. Now that’s just cruel. It better not be a long time until your next posting. Don’t make me threaten. I still have the number on my cell of the Naboo interpreter. I’ve been practicing my tongue clicks and I think I know how to click poison dart in the arse.”Oh, look, a chickweed in the path. I hope the film crews didn’t see that. I better pull it up right now. Ouch! What the hell was thaaaaaaat”. Thud. That’s right, it could happen. Start writing that next post now.

    Your ultra close photography continues to amaze me, and I always enjoy seeing those pictures and never get tired of seeing them. It just puts a whole new perspective on the ever day things in our gardens. That fly is so green it’s almost chartruese. I have never see one or, at least never noticed one before. Beautiful pictures and every thing looks so nice, blah blah blah, yada yada yada. Now get on with the next post.

    • ESP November 5, 2009, 12:57 am

      Bob, I have been laughing my poison darted ass off for the last five minutes reading this. We (My wife, Leah and I) read your comment three times and had full-on-belly laughing going on, each time. Ridiculous! I had no idea you have been conversing behind my back with the Naboo, shame on you! You also never communicated that you had honed your tongue clicking capabilities to the point that you can now converse in the intricate “Naboo” language, something I have always personally struggled with. It is amazing to me how quickly you have embraced their intricate language. Bob are you a tribal linguist?

      Yada yada yada, Ha!
      Perhaps this is my final post…ever? The post may forever be a cliff hanger! Why?
      I fear the Naboo may sacrifice me for the “Bob”, their new found tribal king, a king that they can communicate with.
      They are a little fickle like that, the Naboo!

      Thanks Bob.

  • Cheryl H. November 4, 2009, 10:52 pm

    Can’t wait to see the show!

    • ESP November 5, 2009, 10:13 am

      Hi Cheryl. I will be hiding under a blanket when the show airs, with my fingers in my ears going “La-la-la-la”!

  • Pam/Digging November 5, 2009, 12:35 am

    Does this happen to everyone else who comments here? I start reading your post, make a mental note to comment about something, then get sidetracked by your next photo and completely forget by the time I get to the comment box what I wanted to say! Rummaging back through my short-term memory…yes, I actually do like the “fragrance” of white mistflower, though I admit it’s kind of spicy and certainly not sweet. I’m totally missing this plant and must get another one and soon. Glad to hear your taping went well and look forward to seeing the Patch on TV. I can envision your circular bed filled with a big, glorious sotol; it’ll be fantastic. But why DO they take so long to grow? I’m tapping my fingers while two small ones in my garden get started.

    • ESP November 5, 2009, 1:40 am

      Hi Pam.

      I am just happy that you got to my comment box, Pam, always love your observations, and insights.
      You do like the fragrance? It is most certainly a stinky Calvin Klein to my nose.
      The “fragrant” mist flower is a garden must in my opinion though, even if it is just for attracting the insects, it is a total insect magnet. I am not sure the taping went well, camera+me= a nervous man, I am relying on some creative editing on Linda’s part, I know she is super talented at this. It was a really fun experience, and I loved getting to know Linda better, she and her team, rocks!
      Sotols? why oh why do they take so long! I guess the best things come to those that wait…but I am impatient by nature!
      I hear and totally relate to your tapping.

  • Les November 5, 2009, 6:38 am

    I do hope if any more of your consumer electronics become temperamental that you will try another way to correct the problem. And another thing, will you please let those of us who can’t get Texas TV know if your segment will be out on the interenets for all to see?

    • ESP November 5, 2009, 10:53 am

      Hi Les.
      I promise.
      It really is remarkable that the collision fixed the “snow” Ah the irony!
      I will be sure to forward you the u-tube details when I get them. (Insert a panicked expression here)


  • Jenny November 5, 2009, 7:08 am

    I was wondering when your taping was going to happen and it sounds as though you had a great day with great weather. Your garden looks wonderful. Is this the year of the fragrant mistflower or what? I was at the WFC last week and I have never seen such flowering. Even mine has put on a show this year. I love the work you did on your circular bed. The brick work is excellent and what a show stopper you will have when the sotol grows up. Sorry about the mosquitos. We are fortunate over here and we really don’t have any to speak of. Finally, you really like to keep us on pins and needles don’t you. Will we have to wait a whole week to here the end to the story?

    • ESP November 5, 2009, 10:49 am

      Hi RR.
      Yes it has been quite the week! We did have wonderful weather, though cloudy is apparently better shooting conditions, it was very bright.
      I think you are right, it does seem like it is the year of the stinky mistflower. (Pam, I am sorry, but It IS stinky!!!) When I approach mine a cloud of insects and tiny moths fly up to safer ground, it really is an amazing sight.
      My Dad, on one of his trips across the pond actually did the brickwork on this circular bed, and I have great expectations for the sotol for next year, I think it is almost ready to shoot up!
      Lucky you on the mosquito front, we cannot even enjoy our garden toward dusk, they are really that bad this year.

      Ha! The Botox lady conclusion, maybe everyone should send in their own “What happened next” scenario! Now that would be fun!

      Cheers RR.

  • mss @ Zanthan Gardens November 5, 2009, 9:18 am

    The mosquitoes have been ferocious here, too. I use dunks in all my water barrels and pails but I don’t think my neighbors do. Also they seem to be able to breed in thick mulch over dark clay. At least whenever I’m digging in a mulched section, clouds of them fly up. We always have them in our house, though because I have the windows open all the time. We do have screens but they don’t seem to deter the clever, evil creatures.

    • ESP November 5, 2009, 10:33 am

      Hi Mss.

      Those clever, evil creatures indeed!
      I also use the dunks in everything that does not move or contain fish. I ran out the other day so I popped into a local garden center to purchase some…I got a pack of two, yes two for a whopping $9.00! Shocking! Now really, that is just ridiculous. I also use a “Mosquito Magnet” to capture the evil needles as well, at least I do when I can get it to work:


      Hopefully we will get a cold enough snap soon to kill them all off…in the meantime, we will just have to keep slapping each other like the “four” stooges while we watch a movie.

  • TexasDeb November 5, 2009, 12:27 pm

    Hmmm – Where is this mean streak coming from? Leaving us all hanging this way.

    Lacking the linguistic skills to employ the Naboo Tribe as allies, I sense a potential counter strategy along the lines of “Austin Garden Bloggers! – How about a group visit to the ES Patch?” which provides a safety in numbers (for US that is) whereby many of us walk about taking photos and burnishing our plant identification skills while a select few (and they already know who they are!) will quietly whisk you – and Botox Lady – off to one side until, as they say, certain questions are answered, once and for all.

    And really ESP, how can you be entirely sure those mosquitoes aren’t really advance scout drones, sent out by frustrated blog readers to reconnoiter prior to the mission? You can NOT be sure, is the obvious answer so just go ahead now and let us out of our misery!?! (please?)

    • ESP November 5, 2009, 3:25 pm

      Hi TD.


      As cunning as your plan might be to obtain this highly confidential information from me, you have forgotten one minor but majorly significant fact, the Naboo do not make allies (except Bob for some reason). Should any Austin garden bloggers descend on the Patch unannounced, and without the necessary paperwork, bloggers would start to “disappear” one at a time, until all of a sudden Deb…you would take a sip of your mimosa, turn around to speak to Pam, and realize you were all alone in the Patch. You do not want to be all alone in the Patch after angering the tribe, do you Deb! All alone…with the tribe, between the ornamental grasses…with the tribe! I am afraid there is no safety in numbers in the ESP.

  • The Garden Ms. S November 5, 2009, 7:47 pm

    Yes, the colours and textures are great – love the contrast of the sage – but what about Botox Lady, I hope she had a stellar screen debut at the taping???

  • ESP November 5, 2009, 8:06 pm

    Hi Ms. S.
    The colors and textures are at their peak in the Patch right now, the last push of the year, before winter’s icy fingers start to tighten their grip.

    The Botox Lady?…Err, who is she? Not really sure what or who you are writing about here (starts nervously whistling)!

    …The plot thickens like a Botox injection.

    (PS. By “taping” are you referring to the CTG or the roll of silver duct tape? :-)

  • Linda Lehmusvirta November 6, 2009, 5:02 pm

    Uh oh, we forgot to get the Botox lady. I can’t believe it.

    Can’t wait to hear the ID on the green one. And I hate to get a hard freeze but we gotta get rid of these squeeters!

    And, for a real kick, put some of the almost ripe ruellia seeds in your pocket. That’ll give you a jolt when they pop!

    • ESP November 6, 2009, 9:13 pm

      Hi Linda.

      This was by design on my part, she has been getting more and more star-struck of late, becoming a really obnoxious botox! She needs more boundaries and I think not being featured will be a humbling experience for her…still, if you take pity on her, I will include a still shot when I send you the additional images. She was totally hidden by the line of tall amaranth…like I said, by design.

      I am still hoping to get the ID on the green insect, I am really curious as to what the true name for this one is, so much color! Oh and roll on a cold squeeter snap, I want them to be gone, once and for all!

      The ruellia are like that popping candy…it used to be called “space-dust” in the UK. I remember we (the class disruptives) used to pile two packets of it into our mouths just before a class would begin, we would then open our mouths and form mouth “shapes” to create different “sounds” when the teacher would speak! We would die laughing!

      Ahh, it was the simple things in those days.


  • Amy Emerick November 8, 2009, 11:24 am

    Now, that I see your white mist flower I wish I would have bought some when I saw it yesterday! I did buy the Philippine Violet. Your garden is wonderful …wow!

    • ESP November 8, 2009, 11:52 am

      Hi Amy.
      The mistflower has had an amazing year this year, I am now after Gregg’s mistflower. Got to have these if you want to attract the insects! The violet is another great plant, I love the height it gets to.
      Thanks for dropping in Amy.


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