“Hannibal Nector”

From a sketchy starting point,

to a rendering…

…to 15 yards of granite, 2 tons of flag and 1.6 tons of boulders that all had to be pushed, carried and coaxed to the back yard on wheelbarrows or manually rolled (employing ancient Egyptian bolder moving techniques).

The Ancient Egyptians apparently adopted the use of iced turbans to excessive degrees when working out in the heat, to think I had the arrogance to think that this was actually my own invention!

Note to self: Must remember not to tie them too tight next summer…(hands frantically feel around skull for any abnormalities)

Plants were chosen,

and stock tanks were filled, oh yes there had to be a stock tank, okay two!  Is that artemesia dotted on top of that mound? No it couldn’t be!

This back garden has gone through quite the overhaul in the last two weeks, it now visually flows with the front garden that was finished with the help from numerous iced turbans in the brutal heat of the Texas summer.


This design scheme has been very rewarding.  The home owners signed up for the full ESP treatment – front and back re-design, lawn elimination and design installation, including implementing a new color scheme developed for their house and shed.

Here is the house, masked and almost painted.  The home owners were delighted to finally get rid of their lawnmower…no more mowing required here, ever.

While I was working this garden I was required to move a rather large tree stump, underneath it I found a myriad of creatures from the dank underworld…I love moving large structures like this and always have my little point-and-click on macro ready to capture some of the “Brrrs” invariably lurking below.  On pushing over the stump, I performed my now customary “Highland (roach) Fling”,

until they had all disgustingly dissipated.  I then ventured down into the darkness with my camera to see what I could see…This tree stump did not disappoint:

First encounter came from this very colorful and very energetic millipede, and then this…

Ceuthophillus secretus

hunkered down cave cricket caught my attention.  Cave crickets are also known as camel crickets and spider crickets, they belong to the Family Rhaphidophoridae.  As their name implies, these crickets are commonly found in caves, although some species (like this one) dwell in cool, damp areas such as beneath rotten logs, damp leaves and stones.

Cave crickets are wingless, brown in color and may measure up to one inch in length. They have large hind legs and a set of long antennae, which serve as guides through their darkened environments.  Many cave cricket species live without sufficient food sources and to avoid starvation, they have been known to devour their own extremities, yes folks that is what I said, even though they cannot regenerate limbs.

Obligatory Lector noises

Given their limited vision, cave crickets will often jump towards any perceived threat in an attempt to frighten it away. It appears I got lucky and did not have to break into another ridiculous Highland (cricket) Fling on this particular occasion.  A couple more…

This brown chrysalis inscribed with futuristic hieroglyphs looked like an ancient sarcophagus.

The next one looks as if I could have constructed it, lots of “flare” – some type of moth?

Back in the Patch…

I promise this will be my last post on celosia this year, okay promise might be too strong a word. I have to post some images of these regal plants as they adorn their finest end-of-year purple robes.

My front garden and hell-strip is now transformed into a shimmering purple and crimson haze, it has taken on quite a fantasy aesthetic. Everybody who walks past reaches out to touch these seedpods.

The seed husks (after shelling) can also be a lot of fun.

The leaves of the plant turn bright red at this time of year, a stark contrast to the crispy bacon that was once my moon flowers…

“Looking good now ESP!”

This sparkler sedge works well reflecting the random swirling forms of this wizened cedar carcass. I have coveted this plant ever since it was brought to my attention by Pam at http://www.penick.net/digging/ who kindly gave me a small transplant. I then inherited a few more of these plants from the nice folks from the Gardener’s supply company http://www.gardeners.com/.

I recently came across a picture of this part of the Patch when we first moved in.  I had forgotten just how wild it was.

If you are like me, right now you and your garden are under siege from…

…tiger moth caterpillars, the infamous woolybears.  When these show up in the fall, folk lore denotes that they are thought to indicate the severity of the oncoming winter by the proportion of red-brown to black on the body. They devour anything and everything, but apparently love gopher and dusty miller plants…must be that latex flavored sap!  I have never seen so many of these caterpillars.

Nice of them to leave me one top.

There are many different types of tiger moths and caterpillars, this one is a mature saltmarsh caterpillar, Estigmene acrea (Drury). The good news is these formidable munchers complete their life cycle in a matter of weeks, much longer and I would have no plants left.

And just what do these urchins mature into?

Looks like we will be seeing a lot more of these next year.


These reflective crystals got lots of attention at this year’s Celtic Festival at Fiesta Gardens.

Faces were painted…she loves this experience, him?  Perhaps not so!  He held on, white knuckled, like he was in the dentist’s chair.

Then came the hair braiding, I thought she was going to fall asleep, it was like she was having a full day spa-treatment.

The final result was quite impressive but for him naturally it did not last:

He ended the day looking more like a deranged monocled mad scientist then a dalmatian, a look I personally preferred.

Stay Tuned  for:

Starsky and Husk

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

  • Gail November 13, 2010, 8:40 pm

    What a difference between the two – the girl, totally engrossed in the experience. The boy…well, if she’s doing it then I absolutely will do it. But why? But I totally get the experience with the crystals. How I love the rainbows they send out.

    Looking good…the evolution from grass that needs mowing to such a cool wine drinking space.

  • ESP November 13, 2010, 9:06 pm

    Hi Gail.

    I know! She loves getting pampered and messed with, finding the experience very relaxing…while he looked like he was enduring the attention :-) They both revisited the crystal booth many times over the Celtic festival weekend, there was a lot of “don’t pull on the crystals” conversations.
    Thanks on the installation front, I intend to post the final result and communicate more about this design in another future post.


  • Gail November 13, 2010, 11:14 pm

    Looking forward to the additional posts. Not everyone can envision what is going on. Those who do will find amazing things going on with these gardens.

  • ESP November 14, 2010, 12:05 am

    Hi Gail.

    This front and back garden re-design required a leap of faith from the clients perspective, I am so happy they made the jump and are already appreciating the transformation. Although the planting scheme is in it’s infancy, it will mature into a low maintenance, low water needs garden. I cannot wait to see how the blue ice cypress looks reflected in the stock tank.

    One lawn at a time…


  • Amy November 14, 2010, 8:31 am

    The Ice Corner plan is going to be BEAUTIFUL! I like how you put the gray rocks and mulch around the tree and all the silver just “pops” out.
    That last photo shows exactly how much fun your son had :) … cute kids.

  • ESP November 14, 2010, 9:55 am

    Hi Amy.

    Thanks on the Ice Corner, I strayed from the original design around the tree feeling it needed more pop, I also decided to go with fatsia japonica in preference to cast iron plant…looks better, is more interesting over time and looks more tropical.
    They had had enough of this festival toward the end, totally exhausted and were alseep as soon as their heads hit the pillow…unheard of.


  • jenny November 14, 2010, 11:16 am

    Fine work Philip. How fun to go shopping at someone else’s expense…..oh, but then all that hard work, which we know you love! I have quite decided that you are really into ugly insects. I much prefer the butterfly face painting which is adorable.

  • ESP November 14, 2010, 11:52 am

    Thanks Jenny, yes this scheme involved a lot of wheelbarrowing, and I mean a lot! I will ignore your following comment :-)
    I do find the lurking creatures quite fascinating (strikes a spock expression, raised Vulcan eyebrow etc) it is a world we do not come into contact with very often, I had the same feeling when I first went snorkeling and turned my first compost bin…brrr.
    That face painter and hair braider were excellent and only working for tips, massive lines though, we got to the field as it opened the second day and ran straight to the face painter…got right in.

  • Toni - Signature Gardens November 14, 2010, 2:55 pm

    I think your mystery caterpillar with lots of “flare” is a tussock moth caterpillar. And I recently had a mystery caterpillar in my garden, but it is the same as the one you identified as the tiger moth (woolly bear). From all of the pictures I’ve seen of the woolly bear, they have that orange band going completely around the midsection and not just on the bottom. So I thought maybe it wasn’t a woolly bear after all. “They” say, “If the stripe on the woolly bear is narrow, it means the winter is going to be mild. If the stripe on the caterpillar is wide, it means the winter is going to be easy.” Not sure what the difference between “mild” and “easy” is????? Since mine (and yours) only has the stripe on the bottom, maybe we won’t have a winter at all! Fine by me.

    Happy to see another shot of the celosia. Looks like the Monarch is happy to see it as well :-)

  • ESP November 14, 2010, 7:22 pm

    Hi Toni.

    Yes I think it is a tussock moth caterpillar though I am still struggling to find an exact match coloration wise.

    There are lots of different types of woolly bear and the caterpillar looks different at different stages of maturity, the name is not reserved for the full-banded red or orange variety…there is a lot of on-line confusion on this identification though…I spent quite some time wading through it all.

    Interesting on the folk lore front…I wonder who came up with this rather vague one :-)

    Thanks for the ID and info Toni.


  • Linda Lehmusvirta November 15, 2010, 7:40 pm

    Nope, it’s not a tussock. Saltmarsh is probably correct. I’ve got my share of them too!

    Wow on your design! I’m saving my pennies for you to come to my patch! Exquisite work.

    Do those celosias come back after winter or do they self seed or do you plant again?

    The hobbits are adorable!

  • ESP November 15, 2010, 10:13 pm

    Hi linda.

    The tussock ID was in referral to the (earlier in the post) furry white caterpillar, the one with “flare”. The woolybear is certainly a Saltmarsh, very abundant this year in the Patch.
    The celosia do not come back, they will self seed though, but I always harvest seed and make sure to distribute under a good layer of granite to safeguard the seeds from the birds. The birds, especially grazing doves will peck for hours on them, ensuring not many of the self-seeders actually make it to germination!
    I have seed if you want to give some a go?
    Thank you on the design front Linda.
    My Mini-Me’s complete me :-)


  • Bob Pool November 17, 2010, 11:30 pm

    I think you’ve landed on the right rock Philip. Another way of saying you should have been a garden designer all along. The computer make up of the garden really makes it nice for people to see what they are getting. After seeing it I can understand why they went for the full ESP treatment. I can hardly believe you moved all that granite and dirt your self. Whew! What a job, that’s just hard work there. You don’t know any little muchachos that work reasonable? You do know they make a little skid loader that is only three feet wide that you can rent, don’t you? It would make short work out of that and save your back to boot.

    I still havn’t gotten the “machine” yet but it’s getting close. I’m waiting to get it before I get a big delivery, if you know what I mean.

    I got some stumps and rocks for you so if you get the truck fixed you should come out.

  • ESP November 18, 2010, 8:12 pm

    Hi Bob.

    Thanks on the design, happy you liked the finished scheme! Yes it was a serious amount of material to move, though my day laborer Leah also got stuck into the mounds and helped me out a lot, it was a lot of work, but very rewarding. I will most certainly get the skid loader involved next time I have a scheme like this one to execute.

    Good luck on the “machine” front…and I look forward to seeing what you will be doing in Draco with your new toy, make sure there are no vehicles in the local proximity when you take it on its maiden voyage :-)

    Still working on the steed front, I will let you know when I am ready to make the trip. Thanks so much for saving these for me, very much appreciated as always.



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