“Journey to the Center of the Patch”

“Is there anything left alive in there”?  “Look how brown everything is”. “Is that a frozen Naboo tribal member stuck on the Botox lady’s lip”? “This is serious”.

Central Texas is back once again in the grip of yet another cold spell, I knew we were not going to get away with just one killer freeze this year.

I am just really glad that I did not clear out all of the leaves from the top of the hundreds of agave pups that I planted when my agave stalked bloomed over a year ago.  It seems this insulating thermal blanket is performing well, when you consider the mushy state of all the agaves in pots that were sitting out in the Patch unprotected…

It is not a pretty seaweedy sight!  The ones under the leaves are actually looking pretty good, but I will keep an eye on them for any sign of them rotting under their brown blanket.

And the less said about the poor old browned sago palms the better.  Even the poor Botox lady has had more cold temperatures than she can endure, she now resembles one of the survivors on the movie “Alive”, I won’t mention her frost bitten lip. She is also having a hard time getting her words out, something that right now I am appreciating.  All my sago palms are still alive though so I should probably not complain.  I have seen so many younger ones around Austin that are now corpses in their own container coffins. RIP.

So what is the best thing to do when the cold creeps into the ahem,…bones?

“Pull a ridiculous face like this ESP ? (strikes pose)… long-johns perhaps”?

No Dr McCoy…

some mindless moving of rocks from one place to another of course.

This area has been irritating me for longer than I care to remember.  These sunken Home Depot stones, I have to say, I have come to hate.  What started out as a “mmm, thats quite nice, look how they form a circle and frame the stock tank like that,” to… “those have to be the most ugly and badly laid bricks ever to grace humanity.” They also give me an unpleasant “commercial” taste in my mouth, oh no, this was going to have to change, and change it will today.  I looked around the Patch and started to find a bunch of buried river rocks hidden under piles of leaves around my pond area, rocks that were about to disappear due to the natural passage of time and debris build-up.  I had rediscovered them just in the nick of time.

I decided to leave the Home Depot rocks exactly where they were and just built up these rocks on top of them (shhhh), with a little help from my day laborer, naturally,  it worked out a treat. This area is slowly starting to work, the silver color of the feeder tank and the blue river rocks reference the color of the agave and Arizona cypress ‘Blue Ice’ tree.  The dark blue of the container and background piece of fencing adding depth to the scene.

And looking from the other side, a mirrored agave (a pup) and more dark blue from the “fish on the hill.”

Mmm, to remove this flagstone or not? What do you think?

Now… if I can only find a way to remove that label from the stock tank I will sleep well again, knowing that this area has been fully addressed, at least for now.  I am a firm believer that the adhesive used on these “Callahan’s” tank labels actually was reversed engineered from…

“Click, clack, chirp, chirp fuddy dunster” …or translated:  “Look, He has discovered our rather stubborn adhesive George, our master plan is working.  All he needs to do now is analyze it’s molecular structure, only then will he reveal the true secret of the…….!”

I cannot believe how many of these river rocks were hiding in the center of the Patch.  I need quite a few more to cover this entire area, but you get the general idea, very Brighton Beach…anyway I feel better.

Feeling cold? I strongly suggest hauling a bunch of river rocks from one place to another, it really does work.

While I was in this ancient, moving rock, Egyptian mode, I did notice a bunch of these tiny grasses springing up down the edge of my moss boulders that line my pathways.  Yes, my Mexican feather grasses have sown a new generation, and I cannot wait to transplant them all around the patch.  I love this little grass.  I will wait until these babies get larger in the granite before digging them up and reorganizing them into positions more appropriate.

A plant that has remained greener than green despite these harsh ungreening conditions has been this containerized horsetail reed.

Equisetum hyemale

Backlit from the low winter sun, it seems like it is in its prime right now, so green and irritatingly (to the rest of my plants,) healthy. The evergreen stems are particularly noticeable in winter, providing a welcome relief from all things brown. They also make the best Harry Potter wands available anywhere in the Diagon-Alley-Patch.

“Now you tell me”.

The blush on these small cacti seems to have intensified this winter.

So-far-so-good on the barrel cactus front, these lethal anemones appear to be holding up to Jack “irritating” Frost pretty well. Got to love that hat, I bet she keeps tortillas under there!

Can you be anymore irritating!

I will finish up with another rather sharp character…

…and a crisp story in the Patch…

Inspirational image of the week:

Office garden pods. What a great place to compose a post!


Stay Tuned for:

“Bottom of ze Barrel”

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

  • Pam/Digging February 1, 2010, 10:37 pm

    I love “Kitten’s First Full Moon”! Anything by Kevin Henkes is bound to be good. Great choice by Leah or the hobbits for storytime.

    Yes, Jack Frost has been cruel to us this year. But I am sure that much will spring back once our Death Star gets crackling again. Won’t be long!

    • ESP February 1, 2010, 11:09 pm

      Hi Pam, the kids as you can tell are enthralled by this story. They never usually sit still like this!

      Jack HAS been an active Frost this year hasn’t he, and I agree, the damage looks much worse than it actually is. Don’t mention the Death Star quite yet though, I am not ready.

      Really liked what you have done with your services website and I will get Leah to “friend” you on Facebook, once again I can not bring myself to one more online distraction…must stay focused, must stay focused! lets get together soon, and you had better hold a mangave pup for me otherwise the Naboo will be paying you one of their infamous “visits”:-)

  • Les February 2, 2010, 6:28 pm

    Perhaps those HD retaining wall blocks would look better with their symbiotic partner – red mulch.

    Do you have that stuff down your way, ground up shipping pallets and construction scraps dyed a hideous shade of red that only looks good underneath the Golden Arches?

    • ESP February 2, 2010, 6:59 pm

      You have that right Les, a marriage made in corporate heaven!
      I am waiting for them to bring out a line of electroluminescent mulch to improve night time visibility, eliminating the need for outdoor lighting. I do not know what I was thinking with these wall blocks, I am now stuck with a whole bunch of them down the side of my house, perhaps I will build an experimental corporate igloo with them, they would be good for that!

  • TexasDeb February 3, 2010, 8:27 am

    No sense in not using something you already have on hand says Frugal the Me. I will point out those stones are meant to show only that roughed side that actually does look a lot better than the smoothed top/bottom or other sides. If you bury them so only that roughed portion shows up top (as a neighbor of mine did to edge a path), it looks a lot more natural to the eye. Or use them to create a raised bed and have plant matter trailing over the top so only those rough sides show….

    As to moving that flagstone? I think I’d end up doing it eventually. It would bug me too much to leave indefinitely. That said, it sounds like a winter job, wouldn’t want to see what lives underneath that protective surface exposed and crawling around in the warm summer sun. (That might make a great post, though…)

    • ESP February 3, 2010, 6:51 pm

      Hi TD.
      You know I have not really noticed the rough and the smooth side of these rocks, I will though, as soon as it becomes a little more tolerable to walk outside again. I was really happy to see just how many I had, I do not remember hauling that many into the Patch…perhaps they are multiplying! I think I am with you on the flagstone front, and yes, I just bet it is full of quickly scattering unmentionables under there…Brrrrr.

  • Rebecca Sweet February 3, 2010, 11:27 am

    Oh how those pots of mushy agaves make me cry….just this past weekend I had to compost an Agave attenuata that I’ve been nursing along for years now…each year to be beat-down by Jack Frost. sigh….

    Hey – I wanted to mention that I’ve nominated you for a ‘Honest Scrap Award’…no pressure to participate, but I’m sure we’d all LOVE to hear from you…check out my site to see what I’m talking about….

    • ESP February 3, 2010, 7:00 pm

      Hi Rebecca.

      I am just happy that I had so many pots in lots of positions all around the ESP, these little micro climates have allowed a fair number of these baby agaves to survive. I will hop on over to your site to see what this ‘Honest Scrap Award’ is all about, I have not heard of this one, but I have to warn you, I have a diabolical reputation for not participating in awards…don’t hate me:-) I thank you for thinking of, and nominating the Patch.
      Thanks for dropping in.
      (Sorry about your now composted attenuata).

  • Anonymous February 3, 2010, 10:28 pm

    I keep telling myself that the sacrifice of some plants will somehow serve the greater good and that those that survive will be stronger for the loss of their brethren…. I know it doesn’t make sense, but it makes me feel better. With all the recent rain, Spring just might be spectacular. I think I may be a closet optimist. Your river rocks look amazing next to the pond!

    I agree, this spring is going to be an interesting one, if only to see to see what has made it through…got to love Texas for the “different” seasons it throws at us. I share your sentiment that perhaps the spring may be a spectacular one…and just like you I am the ever optimist!
    Glad you like the river rocks, I need a lot more to make this scene work, but it is on it’s way.

    Thanks for popping into the Patch,


  • Bob Pool February 3, 2010, 11:22 pm

    You might want to move the flagstone around back of the tank so you will have one flat spot to stand on when you need to clean the tank, reposition plants and take close up pictures. The troops won’t like standing on those round river rocks while they hold the little light screens to take those beautiful close ups.

    And you can never go wrong using river rock. It’s just so great looking. The wall in my house behind the wood burning stove is built out of them with a matching flagstone hearth.

    • ESP February 3, 2010, 11:51 pm

      Hi Bob.

      The Tribe has been so quite since the bad weather has descended upon us. I almost forgot about them, which is a really strange thing to say… I think they go into a “hunkering hut” mode out there in the cold and nasty weather, next to the ornamental grasses…who can really blame them! I imagine them in their grass huts, sharpening their weapons and re-tipping their poison dart arrows for the spring and summer seasons. I fear they are preparing a stock-pile of mayhem for the conservancy tour that we are signed up for next fall. I fear deeply for the foot traffic.

      I would love a real fire inside the Patch one day!

      A jealous… ESP.

  • Germi February 4, 2010, 6:56 pm

    Poor poor baby Agaves!
    ESP, I am so glad you have hundreds – otherwise I just couldn’t bear it. Again, the way you Austin gardeners have been holding up to the freezes is inspiring to me, a complete baby, who threw myself on the bed and wouldn’t go outside after the only freeze I had to endure. The brown sago leaves send a stabbing pain to the center of my chest! Sigh!
    I love the river rocks piled up against the tank, and it was a great move to leave those horror ‘fake rocks’ in their place, dead and buried so they don’t bother anyone again. If only we could do that to all of those things. Red mulch included (good one, Les).
    I actually like the way the river rocks spill onto the flagstone! It looks very alive to me, a nice clash of mineral shapes that works.
    I must confess a certain ambivalence for Equisetum – almost everybody want it in their gardens here, and a few clients have planted it in the ground despite my very stern warnings and then – that’s it … horsetail assault, forever and ever. I think they are lovely in pots, but I always kind of give them the stink eye. They have burned me once too many times.
    I am crossing my fingers that you get no more damage! But no matter what, the beauty of The Patch remains unsullied – its spirit is intact! Hail The Patch!
    I send you thoughts of Aloe blooms …

    • ESP February 4, 2010, 8:18 pm

      The poor agaves have taken a royal beating this year, even the mature ones seem to be a little floppier then they should be. It was yet another wet day in Austin today. I walked gloomily onto my back deck and stood there a while, my eyes desperately tried to avoid the brown sago palms and other abominations, then something caught my eye, right at the back of the yard, something…falling. There was a constant stream of yellowed leaves falling from my Timber bamboo, it was raining leaves… I couldn’t believe it! I looked at it for a few more seconds with a dumbstruck expressionless face, then turned and silently went back inside to make a cup of tea…oh yes I am holding up fine :-)

      I am so happy the ‘fake rocks’ (like that one) have been buried as well… good riddance to ugly man-made rocks, that’s what I say!

      I know what you mean about the horsetail, but I could not be without at least one, in containers, naturally. I have mine mixed with dwarf papyrus and I love it. It does look terrible left to it’s own devices in the ground.

      I have a feeling we are not quite finished yet with the cold weather, we have had a lot of rain the last few days so this should keep us a little safer…at least for a while. Thanks, and did I hear somewhere that you had another unmentionable that had risen out of the depths? :-) Tell me it isn’t true!
      Cheers G.

  • Germi February 5, 2010, 1:36 am

    Oh yes. I’m afraid the winds did whisper the hideous truth to you – I had yet ANOTHER ‘eruption’ – this one … (oh, horrors) … bifurcated. Yes. Two ‘horns’ popping out of one gelatinous ‘egg’. It was too much. I couldn’t even photograph it, it was THAT awful. I could only turn my back on it and do a banishing gesture. I’m thinking that maybe all of this attention I’ve been giving the stinkhorns have made the Mycelium a bit of a fame-whore. I have to be indifferent to the impudent phalli – no matter how distressing they are – just to show the Mother Fungus that she can’t use me as a stepping stone to blog fame. I am no fungus’ doormat!
    Here I go again, ever the bloghog!
    G.! (again!)

    • ESP February 5, 2010, 1:12 pm

      There was a young lady named G,
      a gardening fanatic was she,
      she lived in LA and was planting away,
      when a whiff of all whiffs turned her head. (okay work with me here)

      A stinkhorn had risen once more,
      from an egg like a phalli it soared,
      first one then two, it just knew what to do,
      to drive poor Germi indoors.

      (c) eastsidepatch 2010 :-)

  • Germi February 5, 2010, 2:03 pm

    I believe history has been made! I’m sure you are the first person ever to have written a sonnet telling the tale of a gardener and the stinkhorns that bedevil her. I think there is another book in your future, after the children’s book – a tome of frightening garden fairy tales.
    I am HONORED!
    A Poem!
    Maybe the demonic beasts have some value afterall … as smelly disturbing horrifying literary muses!
    swelling w/ pride,

    • ESP February 5, 2010, 3:15 pm

      I am thinking that I answer all my comments like this from now on, you know, get a reputation as the mad blogger that limericks his replies! Too funny.


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