“The Golden Ticket”

The anticipation of Christmas has definitely mounted this week in the Patch, our tree was once again pulled out of my garden shed and plugged in – (I love trees that are already pre-wired with lights…thanks China!).  Small hands eagerly grappled with shiny ornaments tucked tight in dusty boxes.  These nimble fingers made fast work out of decorating the tree to the point that it is now more reminiscent of an ornament than an actual tree. I was really happy that all the decorations were okay this year though, as I am every year since the rat incident of 2006, but I refuse to talk about that particularly “troubled time”.

To further the premature Christmas excitement, these eagerly awaited advent calendars arrived in the post from my parents in Scotland. Each December day has a small serrated window housing a chocolate and some small festive pictures, these calenders amazingly arrived exactly on the first day of December…the first boxes were immediately opened and the chocolates devoured in seconds, my youngest  then proceeded to have a complete meltdown, grappling with the whole concept of only one-a-day restraint.  He had apparently turned into Augustus Gloop.

A couple of days later I found a contraption with a blanket crudely strewn over it, in the corner of his room…

…he had secretly fabricated a rudimentary time machine, and according to his advent calendar, successfully transported himself five days ahead into the future, apparently eating the small chocolate treats steadily as he pushed the time-forward lever with his non-sticky hand. Naturally I destroyed the contraption in true Luddite fashion and the calender is now brought down on a daily basis from a very high place, although I am convinced he is planning something…I found these conceptual sketches yesterday hidden inside a “levitate in a day” book under his bed…

Moving on…

The new “don’t pick up the leaves until they have totally finished dropping” policy in the Patch is really stretching my patience to its limits!


I want so badly to clean it all up. I am wading through leaves waste deep at this point, and I have lost my son so many times of late that I now attach a line of garden twine around his waist every time he goes out to play, a slightly inhibiting aggravation on his part, but a necessity. I refuse to lose him, and I am well aware that the Naboo are food deprived at this time of the year, if you catch my cannibalistic aversive drift.

I am not sure how much longer I can hold out with this new Patch clean-up policy?

“Ach! Typical! I canna bulieve ye would just gi-up mun…Ye canna…”

Oh Shut your pie-hole William.

The blue white hue on the margin of this agave is looking very frosty at the moment.

And etched into the side of the same agave – a ring wraith!

Some type of borer?

“Frodo you have to get the ring out of the Patch, the black riders are close”

Although the yard is knee-deep in decaying brown leaves and pecan nuts, I am taking some colorful solace in a few hotties still gracing these cold days and colder nights: It is the age of the pinks! (okay, enough Middle-Earth references for one post!)

Although a little disheveled looking this stock tank of King Tut papyrus with the now bright pink celosia around the perimeter is like a crackling fire (of Mordor) on these cool crisp days. The celosia colors have now transcended into the unreal, the psychedelic.  No color correction or saturation enhancement required on these photographs.

Ice plants always respond to the crisper cold weather conditions with their almost fake looking blooms, I am still trying to determine if I even like this plant aesthetically. It is an anomaly to me, should I like it?  Well it does bloom when blooms are stark, it does spread fast, but the question remains, do I really like it?  I cannot seem to decide.

The moisture in this photograph is naturally not natural, oh no, we have had no rain in Central Texas for quite some time – when DID we last have any substantial rain?

As a result, this is a common sight right now…

Plants are stressing like it is summer!  Cooler weather yes, but so little moisture, and winds drying things out even more.  I am watering my containers a lot more then I should be at this time of year, I caught this parched golden bamboo barely in the nick of time. My in-ground weeping bamboos have also felt the dry-pinch, requiring additional water to pull them through…it is December!

More pinks are emerging from my shrimp plants which are incredibly leggy this year.

And this…

“Queen Elizabeth”

Sedum spurium

or Dragon’s Blood Stonecrop is in her colorful prime – flushing dark red as the year draws to an end.

“Much better than that potato that other chappy brought me ESP!”


My butterfly vine continues to amaze me with these bronze butterfly seeds.

Oh, and just in case you thought that you had escaped the Patch without something tickling your gag valve this week,

“I cannot look”…

you are naturally incorrect…

Yes folks those are eggs, I do not care to find out what horror is transpiring in this bucket grabbing scene.

On that wretched note I will leave you with a few more refreshing things I have meandered upon in the course of writing this post:

Inspirational images of the week:

Living Ornaments:

“Forest Floor” glass ornament created by San Francisco designer Flora Grubb. Lichens, moss, feathers and seeds cushion a living Tillandsia air plant inside a tiny glass ball.

And here are some unique gardening utensils from Cal Lane…but the decomposed granite would fall right on through!

Eyebrows would be raised if I turned up to an installation and pulled this wheelbarrow down from my trusty steed!

Okay just one more

Anarchy In The UK?

Stay Tuned  for:

Android Assassins

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

  • mss @ Zanthan Gardens December 9, 2010, 12:19 pm

    I think Austin’s last real soaking rain was in the first week of September with tropical storm Hermine. After dropping 6 to 12 inches on us (depending on where you lived in Austin) in one splurge, the rain gods have decided to take the rest of the year off (and maybe next year, too).

    Looks like 2008 redux.

    The rake or not to rake is a difficult decision. I raked up the first flush (cedar elm and pecan) and I’m glad I did. (Especially when I smelled the stink bugs hiding in the leaves!) The red oak leaves have trickled down but won’t fall until New Year’s. So I’ve got a month off between leaf cleanups.

  • ESP December 9, 2010, 12:33 pm

    When I wrote the question: “when DID we last have any substantial rain?” I thought to myself…I bet I know who will answer this! I knew your cloud busting documentation would set me right! I am so tired of this dry dry weather.
    My main drops are pecan, pecan and pecan and post oak, they finish almost at the same time (great for my new policy) I give them about another week or so and I will begin the mammoth clean, I really hate clearing leaves can you tell? There is only one thing worse than getting leaves from a barrel cactus and that is getting leaves from a sago.
    Enjoy your month off M :-)


  • Lee December 9, 2010, 3:57 pm

    Hey ESP-

    If you like that ornament from Flora Grubb (so cool, yes), you should check out the work of local artist: Articulture (http://www.articulturedesigns.com/Gallery.html). They are selling similar ornaments and other things at the Blue Genie Art Fair, happening now at the Marchesa Hall.


  • ESP December 9, 2010, 4:33 pm

    Hi Lee.
    Yes very similar…miniature worlds!
    Thanks for the information.
    I saw the finest gathering of Grackles I have ever seen the other evening down by the convention center, quite something…why do they gather like this at this time of the year? I thought you would be the person to ask:-)

  • jenny December 9, 2010, 7:24 pm

    Best not to have Advent calendars of the chocolate variety. Tend to spoil breakfast! I did one for my grandchildren which has a row of little stockings, each with a miniature tree ornament, which they can hang on their own miniature tree.
    One of our local artistic garden bloggers(can’t quite remember who it was, sorry) did 12 such garden ornaments to hang on a tree branch inside the house. They were really lovely and a great project for the kids.
    I am disappointed that you didn’t identify the ice plant. I have this one too and this seems to be its moment to shine. It is in the greenhouse, which it seems to prefer much better than the outdoors.

  • jenny December 9, 2010, 7:25 pm

    Forgot to say. I like your tree.

  • ESP December 9, 2010, 8:30 pm

    Hi Jenny.

    I don’t think anything would make a dent on their appetites! They really are like hobbits with two breakfasts, elevenses, lunch, tea and cakes, early afternoon snack, late afternoon snack, dinner, supper, late night snack…etc etc!

    I have no idea what the name of this ice-plant is, and yes it is doing really well at the moment, lots of blooms, still do I like it or don’t I? On the one hand it….(blah,blah,blah).

    You mean my large ornament :-) Thanks Jenny, we were pestered and pestered to get the “tree” from the shed and decorate it. I was just hoping nothing had devoured it the previous year!

    A relieved,


  • Pam/Digging December 10, 2010, 12:30 am

    Have to say I’m not a fan of ice plant. Like you said, the blooms look fake. And they’re too bright. Still, it’s nice to have *something* blooming in December, eh?

    My big leaf drop occurs in February, when the live oaks finally let go. We will be up to our navels in leathery leaves then!

    I love going to Blue Genie Christmas Bazaar, and I will have to check out those succulent arrangements Lee linked too. Very cool!

  • ESP December 10, 2010, 1:26 am

    Hi Pam.

    It is a rather “un-natural” looking plant in my opinion, almost synthetic in nature :-)
    Is it me or are the blooms not only too bright but also too small for the amount of greenery? Can you tell I have been doing some soul searching to understand where my adverse visual reaction to this plant is coming from? I have come to the conclusion that It is disproportionate…It really is…too much green, too small a bloom! And too “fake” a bloom? And I need to stop!

    I have never been to the Blue Genie Christmas Bazaar!


  • Cheryl December 10, 2010, 9:16 am

    I for one LIKE the Aptenia cordifolia. I have it in a very neglected spot at the end of my gravel driveway and
    it loves it there. Prettier than a patch of bare dirt. (also, the deer leave it alone!) Now I remember why I wanted another tub.. that equasetum looks great! The “lacy” shovels and wheelbarrow are cute. They’d by nice artsy accents in a Gothic garden. LOL That photoshopped hanging basket had me going for a moment. Your youngest Hobbit looks SO innocent! Enjoy the holidays.. um holidaze. oh, and happy raking.
    (and thanks for chasing the dolls down the page…)

  • ESP December 10, 2010, 11:04 am

    Hi Cheryl.
    Thank you for the identification, and yes they are hardy little plants that do not mind adverse conditions. I had quite a lot at one point but the frosts last year took care of quite a few of them. The horsetail reed and dwarf papyrus has done very well in this little Home Depot tub, I want to do a few more of these and dot them around the Patch.

    Oh no…the hanging basket is for real.

    Happy to oblige on the doll-front, and don’t remind me about the raking, I think I will start this weekend and get it over and done with.

  • Les December 10, 2010, 6:44 pm

    I have been putting off the grand clean up as well. We did not have a killing freeze until this week, when we got one in spades, a royal flush of spades. Now all the summer annuals are brown, the bananas are in tatters and everything is disheveled. On top of that my neighbors pin oak continues to shed leaves that are biologically designed to gather and adhere to the undersides of my shrubs. I swear I am going to cut that tree down when they are out of town. Now with the holidays looming over us, my clean up time will be postponed until after Christmas.

  • ESP December 10, 2010, 8:03 pm

    I hear you Les, sounds like you are looking forward to the clean up as much as me:-)
    I WD40’d my pruners and whacked back a swath of Salvia Leucantha today, and I must say it felt rather good, especially considering there was already a good five inches of new growth already at the bases of the plants…I am now feeling the incentive to start on the leaves, I just had to “lure” myself psychologically into the mundane task!
    Sorry to hear about your pin oak biological warfare…I know how annoying neighbors can be, but trust me leaves cannot come close to the nightmare I had a couple of years ago, this will make you feel much better as you pluck out the annoying leaves from the understory of your shrubs…

    Cheers Les,

  • Cheryl December 10, 2010, 10:39 pm

    I’ve been told they are called leaves for a reason; “Leave them alone.”

    You are kidding about the humongus hanging basket.

    Yes, I never thought about it like that, but now you mention it, perhaps you are right and perhaps I should (any excuse):-)
    Deadly serious…It is in Kensington, London…What?

  • Les December 11, 2010, 6:19 am

    Thank you for the turdy link. Behavior like your ex-neighbor’s gives all of us dog people a black eye.

    Hi Les, hope you were not eating your dinner! Can you believe this? I was so happy when they moved out.

  • Amy December 11, 2010, 7:45 am

    Wow…that last photo of the incredibly shrinking woman in the flower container. That just doesn’t look right to me. I have a yellow ice plant and it does look kind of like a fake plant to me. Also, I remember having to put those advent calendars way up high….or the boys would open up all the boxes…. it is just so tempting!

  • ESP December 11, 2010, 9:54 am

    Hi Amy.
    What do you mean the container does not look right?
    The calenders are tempting, but also great for learning self restraint and for understanding the complexities associated with building contraptions that enable time travel and vertical flight up to the top shelf!
    Poor ice plants…:-)

  • Cheryl December 11, 2010, 11:08 pm

    I’ll be darned. Its true! Only the basket is in Paddington, London, England… at the Hotel Indigo. I sure wouldn’t park my car beneath it! (I take it Paddington is a specific area of London?) Now I am curious about the “turdy” link. hahaha

  • ESP December 12, 2010, 11:54 am

    Hi Cheryl.

    Would I lie to you :-)
    Is that where it is?
    Yes Paddington, N.London, big station! Even bigger planting baskets apparently!

    That would be one enormous dog? (snicker)



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