This tomatillo is looking very cell like…

…a prisoner in its own membrane? And an early sign that Autumn is around the corner.

As we begin to emerge on the far side of the Texas summer, there are some new blooms waiting to take center stage.

My pride of Barbados flowers have all but gone, being replaced with purple and then brown curling seedpods.  My evergreen wisteria now only has a few small purple clusters on it to remind me of the once potent “Grandma’s closet” aroma (not that I spend much time in such places you understand).

It is the time for the sages to once again remind us that the year is drawing on with its first wisps of purple just now beginning to show.  This area has bounced back remarkably well considering the “Tahoe / house” incident and the trampling the area took as our house got repainted, such is the resilience of Salvia leucantha.  I cut these Mexican bush sages back earlier this year like I normally do, but then went in for a second, less aggressive snipping about a month ago, this has resulted in a much tighter habit than I usually achieve for this time of year. I was concerned that this might delay blooming, but it appears not.

Here are the long lasting flower heads last year. I have a lot of this fuzzy plant in the Patch, I have contrasted this softness in my new planting scheme with three agaves that, in a year or two, will rise up above this sea of purple, spears held high.

Moving on…

“Stand Still and Deliver!”

I tried to get a decent shot of this huge grasshopper, but obviously struggled.  The war paint markings on this insect were amazing but unfortunately every time I got close to it,  just as the shutter was about to release, off it would jump higher and higher into some Buddha’s belly bamboo, eventually becoming out of reach.  This was the best shot I got of it, it was enough to identify it as an “Obscure Bird Grasshopper”, (named because of their ability to fly rapidly over great distances).

An Old World species in this genus,

Schistocerca gregaria

is noted for its swarming and migratory behavior…it is the locust of biblical plagues.  Lucky for us the New World species are much less prone to swarming!  Judging by the size of this one I think is is a female (about 3 inches from head to wingtip) she likes to devour plants in the citrus family, such as wafer ash and lime trees. Bird Grasshoppers will however eat many different kinds of broad-leafed plants.

This dandy highwaylady also can deliver a mean bite with its powerful jaws, and If held by the back, they will readily kick like a mule with their muscular thighs, this is not good because these creatures adorn large spines on the underside of its legs, these will draw blood if they catch you.  I had no intention of messing with this one, even if I got close enough, which I didn’t.

The patch really has felt like the jungle this week…we have had the humidity, the mosquitoes, the occasional howler monkey? Oh, and I almost forgot…

…endless amounts of hacking through a large stand of bamboo. I love wielding my machete, even though it never seems to really work very effectively?  It is like being in an old black and white, deep jungle trekking Tarzan film…of course, as we know in these movies, it invariably ends up pretty bad for the greedy white man hunting and collecting elephant tusks, as it should.  In the movie I found myself starring in, tusks were substituted for giant timber bamboo culms, but the outcome was destined to be the same…and I am not referring to my odd posture that I am adorning, (I have been scalped by this gate way too many times),  or having an “accident” in my pants like this picture misleadingly portrays.  (I knew I should have gone to the bother of tying an iced turban)!

Lets just say that what was once my favorite large bamboo of choice is most definitely not anymore.  Oh no, after last winters prolonged freezes, all of my well-established timbers took a beating, I have left them until now to see if any of the culms would have any semblance of recovery, but alas…

“Completely dead those mature culms are, young pant wetter”.


So I did what came naturally…

“I built…

You guessed it,

Twice the length of a man!”

You can see the dead culms before the felling began in the background on the above shot, a complete ugly mess.  Culms were chopped…

culms were trimmed…

…and ideas what to do with them were hatched.

Here are all the culms cut to length with a layer of weatherproofing sealant applied to make them last longer.

I strapped them all to this ugly metal fence that I plan on replacing…I need a few more culms to completely hide it, but you get the idea. From now on it is Buddha’s belly bamboo for me if I need the height and stature of giant timber bamboo, the bellies breezed through the cold snap.  I do not want to go through this jungle hacking nonsense again anytime soon. My timbers have pushed up some new weak growth, but after this escapade, my relationship with this mammoth grass has officially waned.

Other observations in the ESP this week:

A Patch Sprite.

Purple fountain grass and sotol still getting their groove on…and in the foreground,

purple heart flowers,  floating in their own boats.

This Arizona ‘blue ice’ cypress cools things down, offering the illusion of a rather large waterfall falling into this rather small stock tank…(must not look at the sticker, must not look at the sticker, must n…)

…while burgundy canna lilies continue to heat things up with their smoldering antics.

Some more salvia and pampas breaking into bloom.


My datura continues to blow its own white trumpets, making these

wavering aquatic leechy wormy things in my papyrus stock tank perform an agitated dance.

What are these anomalies?  Can planarians survive in this environment?

I hope you can see them past the reflections! Oh, and he was right, the tadpoles did die.

On this rather disgusting note which I invariably seem to finish on,  enjoy some very odd:

Inspirational images of the week:

“Domsai is a tamagotchi for your desk. It is produced with craftsmanship in Nove, in the neighborhood of Bassano del Grappa (VI). Each Domsai has its own personality, each cactus has its own dome, tailor made and blowed, that differentiates it from the others”.

Stay Tuned  for:

Painful Extractions

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

  • Gail September 17, 2010, 6:38 pm

    Things are looking good at the patch. I especially like the purple Brittany Spears type flowers (very technical am I.) :) Looks like the timber came to a good end – even though it certainly didn’t live up to longevity expectations.

    Another cool video – still a bit strange – although the music gets in my head almost like “it’s a small world”.

    Hi Gail.

    Thanks, and yes, Mexican bush sage is a solid plant for central Texas, it can even be planted in the heat of the summer with only minimal care, not many plants can withstand this endurance test!

    The giant timber culms were put to good use in the end and even though I require some more, they formed a great screen for that hideous metal fence…a good temporary fix, and much more fitting for the Jurassic Patch.

    I agree, this quick video is as strange as the “worms” who star in it. I cannot think any more about them, I bet they are out there right now, twitching around in their primordial soup…Brrr indeed! That song perceptually resonates around in my head, more than I care to divulge…I cannot wait for that particular CD to be “grown out” of.

    My “inherited” cannas have already started to grow in the same boggy stock tank, they really seem to like this worm infested environment! I think the tank keeps the majority of bugs from chomping on them, well all except the nasty leaf-rollers.



  • Cheryl September 17, 2010, 7:09 pm

    Once again you’ve gotten me all inspired to move things, to un-pot and in-ground things, to add another water garden (read: bog. for giant papyrus that did NOT like where I put it last year) yadda-yadda,yadda.
    I just got a $300.00 water bill for the past 2 months so even more consolidation is in order! (at least the rest of the months are reasonable, water-cost-wise) And maybe, just maybe, I can get my brother to install the drip system he gave me for Xmas TWO years ago……
    Love your photos… hate the “wiggly worm” song because it is wiggling in my mind now..

  • ESP September 17, 2010, 7:58 pm

    Hi Cheryl.

    I moved a mature pampas grass today, in the intense humidity…it was, well, an “experience” to say the least! I currently look like I have been keelhauled! But yes, moving things around is a necessity isn’t it? I have an annoying habit of moving plants around to find just the right spot where they are suddenly happy, usually pushing them to within an inch of their lives, it just has to be done.

    My papyrus has been very happy for years in this stinky boggy stock tank (almost in full sun)…I try to think about what conditions would be like on the banks of the Nile and do my best to replicate. It looks horrible at the base, but the papyrus and canna sure do love it!

    Good luck with your drip system, life will be a lot easier on installation.

    Sorry about the “wiggly worm” song, it does have a tendency to get inside one’s head…as does the image of those dancing anomalies…(shivers)



  • Les September 18, 2010, 5:31 am

    So what makes the grasshopper obscure?

  • ESP September 18, 2010, 8:04 am

    Hi Les…Very good question! Try telling that to a farmer of old, who would have no food for the rest of the year because millions of “Obscure Bird Grasshoppers” had flown in like a cloud and decimated his crops!

  • Bob Pool September 18, 2010, 6:54 pm

    I am beginning to understand the site outage now. You posted that picture of your self and couldn’t figure out how to take it off. You thought you could get away with an outage long enough for this post to pass. I think you now know the importance of the Patch and keeping it on line. I can only imagine the complaints that were recieved, hundreds, maybe thousands. That picture however, I must…..no, don’t go there. I won’t do it, I snik snik,yukka snick, oh hell, waaahhh haaaa haaaa. There, I feel better now. What was wrong with you?

  • ESP September 18, 2010, 7:55 pm

    Okay Bob…I see how it is…So I will chalk you in for the 6:30am schedule for the tour then…No? :-)
    What was wrong with me? I will tell you what was wrong with me: 60% humidity, insane amounts of dead bamboo culms that needed hacking down, no iced turban and a gate that wanted to scalp me every time I humped a dead culm under it = expression posted, and uncomfortably sweat-drenched wet pants, oh yes I was in a great mood that day, can you tell?

    I have to say though my experience with “Blue Host’s” customer service was incredible, they answered my “down-time” inquiries on-line within minutes…amazing, what a personal service! I highly recommend them as a hosting service.

    I was wondering if you could bring those cedar carcasses to the next you know what, (the unmentionable)? And if you can, do you think they will fit into the back of a Volvo station wagon? Curious, and I thanks for these in advance.

    Glad you had a good giggle at my expense Bob…Oh and I WILL remember that! Better watch your back, well, at least your lower leg region on the upcoming tour. Those “p-p-ouch” (see about the Naboo) poison darts are extremely painful, as I am sure you are well aware.


  • Dirty Girl Gardening September 18, 2010, 8:25 pm

    Very cool bamboo!

    And I love the BritBrit references!

  • Bob Pool September 18, 2010, 8:27 pm

    I will bring the cedar stumps but I don’t think they will fit in a Volvo. One is big and the other is real big. They look really good though.

  • ESP September 18, 2010, 8:43 pm

    Hi DGG.
    It is unless it dies in the cold!
    It was a complete mess…at least the culms went to good use.
    The bamboo culms were really attractive, especially after I had treated them, really brought out the colors.

  • ESP September 18, 2010, 8:47 pm

    Hi Bob.
    I was hoping you would say this, the bigger the better!
    My trusty steed with a missing window it will be then. Really excited to get these from you, thanks Bob.

  • Linda Lehmusvirta September 22, 2010, 8:14 pm

    I admire your energy to cut down the culms, and now I must come steal them from you! What a beautiful idea! That is gorgeous!
    And yes, we never look at the sticker prices. Never, ever. Two years from now, the sticker price is but a memory and you’ve got a treasure to simply adore. Hey, you’d pay that to take the sprites and all their friends to the movies, and it’s but a fleeting moment. Think of it that way if you get that sticker youch.
    And indeed, if I can get my tail out there in late summer to do a little snipping of S. leucantha and other fall bloomers, the reward is well worth the sweat. I keep telling myself that, really, I do.
    The sprites and the garden are more lovely every day!

  • ESP September 22, 2010, 9:59 pm

    Hi Linda.

    Yes the culms went to fine use…the side entrance to the Patch now looks a lot more “jungle” …We like it, it will require some more culms to fully complete the scene.

    The sticker I was referring to was not a price sticker, but the stubborn one adhered to the side of my stock tank, displaying its size. I believe they use an adhesive on these tanks that was reverse engineered from the Roswell crash site, seriously, no one is quickly getting a stock tank sticker removed. I have even heard stories of local gardeners, boasting that they managed to remove the infamous sticker with welding torches, napalm etc, only to find it mysteriously re appearing the next day in exactly the same spot!

    The sprites are growing at an alarming rate…and thank you Linda.


  • Katina September 25, 2010, 2:23 pm

    I like that you call the aforementioned event “the unmentionable”.

    at work, we recently got a new field vehicle and one of the ladies removed everything from he old vehicle except for the machetes. Apparently machetes are not the preferred method of hacking through the underbrush which can grow rampant in the creeks around town.

  • Pam/Digging September 25, 2010, 6:24 pm

    Bummer about the loss of the giant timbers. I was hoping they would pull through. Good to know that Buddha’s belly can offer a substitute though. I absolutely love your use of the bamboo pieces to transform your fence–very creative.

  • ESP September 25, 2010, 6:25 pm

    Hi Katina.

    Machetes are totally rubbish if you ask me!
    Perhaps this is only true for the ones we can purchase here? Maybe the south American rain forest version is a totally different tool? Perhaps even weighted differently? My Machete looks like it would cut through anything, but in actuality, I believe it would struggle with Hoja Santa, or even a cabbage!

    Attention grabbing rubbish shadows of the real Tarzan thing I tell you. Okay I am done:-)
    Don’t buy one!

  • ESP September 25, 2010, 6:31 pm

    Hi Pam.
    Yes the poor timber…I could not tolerate looking at them any more, and yes they did go to good use! We like the new jungle entryway! Glad you like it, with a few more culms it will look “deeper”.
    I still have a lot of timber but BBelly is the way to go for me from now on.
    It was fun today.


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