“Mad Birds and Englishmen”


And the curtains open once again on another mad cold / warm weather-week in the patch, but spring is most certainly in the air, I can smell it.

Mysterious plants are once again on the rise,

narcissus are blooming,

and when the sun is shining the anoles are out and lounging in large numbers, warming their cold winter bones.

“Ahh, so much better”.

I found this one in an orange water bucket, hence the rather “warm” background,

and another catching some rays deep in the center of this large sotol, a perilous place.

I even had a rogue water lily bloom this week, a sure sign we must be on the gradual warm-up.  I will be moaning about tying an iced turban in no time at all.

Something these sago palms are, by the looks of them, desperately looking forward to (the heat, not the turban tying).  As you can see the king (top) and the Prince (lower) are in a regal crises, their robes threadbare, their crowns non-existent.

Moving on…

I moved a large container this week that appeared to be somewhat of a sanctuary for a bunch of these…

living and hunting under it, decollate snails,

Rumina decollata

(Linnaeus 1758).  When these elongated snails are about 10 mm long, they strangely lose the top 3 whirls of their shells!  They are also quite fond of snail cannibalism (not the same species).  Nothing makes this snail’s stomach rumble more, than the mouth-watering thought of a young and succulent common garden snail for Sunday dinner…for this reason decollate snails are most welcome gastronomes in the Patch.

According to the experts, Decollate snails may nibble young plants, but they prefer a heartier, more substantial meal if given the choice, and the younger the snail the better.  They even devour the eggs of regular garden snails like ikura.

Sometimes referred to as destroyer snails, these snails can eat a brown snail from the inside-out (brrr)…a true and veracious predator.

“I am beginning to (insert Lector noises right about here) like these decollates“.

The only states that allow purchase and release of these snails are Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and California (selected counties only), around $230 for around a 1000!

decollatesfeeding.jpg Disturbing image courtesy of associatesinsectary.com

A regiment of rumina decollata getting down to culinary business, bibs already on, escargot forks at the ready! I am just glad I am not that brown garden snail.

On an even more disturbing note, I believe a curse has been placed on the residents of the ESPatch.

“I knew it would happen…didn’t I tell you”?

At about the 4:15 everyday this is is when the curse seems to kick in,

all of our feet grow to ridiculous proportions (to apparently aid stability) then it is off to work, breaking through lumber, bricks and concrete to the accompanying sounds of “Heh, huh, huh” “snort” and “squawk”! What manner of curse is this?

“It does look like a particularly nasty one Sir”?


We all soon start to regress, turning on each other and eventually snatching, grabbing and clawing at any iPhone in reach, “m…m…my turn…HEY IT’S MY T”…etc, etc, etc.

Need I say more?

The curse lifts apparently only with the onset of dinner and dead iPhone batteries.


Oxalis is looking very saturated right now.

The latest addition to the Patch : Coastal Rosemary,

Westringia fruticosa

‘Wynyabbie Gem’, an Australian native. Terrific fine rosemary-like foliage with small clusters of attractive mauve-pink flowers that appear throughout the year.  In stark contrast to regular rosemary this shrub has absolutely no fragrance whatsoever. It is a fast growing upright and dense growing shrub that can reach an astonishing 6-8 feet tall by 6 feet wide…now that is my kind of rosemary!

This one is destined for future expansion in my hell-strip.


And after:

Backbone in, mine slightly out!

Garden Design. South Austin…


Stay Tuned for:

“Up Front”

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intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late  (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.

  • Cheryl February 25, 2011, 11:17 pm

    My teeny flock (flockette?) of 4 hens and a Banty rooster have pretty much gobbled up all the snails in my yard. They don’t seem too keen on slugs, not that I blame them. Have you ever tried to get slug slime off your hands? ewwwwwwwwwww!!!

    Hi Cheryl.

    Well that is probably a good thing on the snail front, and who would want to eat a slug? Remember Ron in Harry Potter?
    It was interesting to find out more about the decollate snails, pretty scary creatures…enough to give you nightmares!
    Pity your bantams cannot discriminate between the good and bad shelled guys – you must train them.


  • Pam/Digging February 25, 2011, 11:43 pm

    Man, it is really a snail-eat-snail world. Ick. But good, in a way. Say, what’s the cold-hardiness of that Wynyabbie Gem rosemary? It’s a beauty! I’ve had ill luck with some of the Aussie plants I’ve tried in the last couple of winters. May be giving up on wattles…sigh.

    Your finished design looks great. Very stylin’! Are they all coached on keeping weeds out of the D.G.? That’s the biggest challenge with that wonderful surfacing material, to my mind.

    Can’t believe you have a water lily in bloom. I divided both of my VERY overgrown lilies last week, and now my water is a muddy brown thanks to loose clumps of soil. Looks like the color of a cypress swamp. Must get some more cleaner plants for the bottom.

    Isn’t it just Pam!

    According to http://www.smgrowers.com/products/plants/plantdisplay.asp?plant_id=1603 the Wynyabbie Gem rosemary has a Winter Hardiness: 20-25° F. It is a stunning looking plant.

    Thanks on the design front, and not yet!
    Over time and continuous packing down (and occasional replenishment), I have found decomposed granite works very well for weed suppressing. Weeds and seeds do blow in topically but these are usually not too stubborn and are easily removed. And if the dreaded Bermuda raises it’s ugly rhizome? Well you know what I would do to take care of that :-)

    The water lily surprised me also, it was extremely cold when this bloom was set…amazing. I guess this lily has an old enough root structure to be able to do this in the cold, frigid waters of the stock tank! Have you used “Bio-lift” a great product for improving water quality and breaking down organic matter, I use it when things get a little murky.

    I will get a Ganna Walska out to you shortly.


  • jenny February 26, 2011, 2:03 pm

    Decollate snails came into my garden a year or two ago. Since then there has been a decrease in the small snails. If only they would eat pillbugs. As long as they don’t eat my plants thy are welcome but I’ll bet they like a little tender green once in a while.
    I’m afraid 20-25 doesn’t cut it in my garden. That’s what they say about A. desmettiana! Coastal usually means no frost to speak of. Much as I would like it the last two winters have me being more selective from now on. Good luck with it in the patch.
    Oh, happy day when new growth pops through the ground except as Pam says in the decomposed granite. You should see my paths at the back-not a spot of granite to be seen but then it’s my fault for having poppies, bluebonnets and all manner of seedlings.

  • ESP February 26, 2011, 2:39 pm

    Hi Jenny.

    I have large numbers of these snails which is a really good thing as I also have large numbers of regular garden snails! Perhaps that is why I have so many…they have a really good and reliable food source? :-)

    Yes we will see how this coastal rosemary performs, have to give it a go – it is a great looking plant even if I have it just for the year, I have had many of those. I still give bulbine a go every year! Looks like I have lost them all again this winter. I could not believe on reading the label how big this plant can get!

    I am ruthless with my pathways and take care of most unwanted “visitors” early on, with the exceptions being: bluebonnets in the front (seeds from you) and selective celosia plants that are allowed to populate my pathways (as you know :-) and yes, certain plants love this medium to grow in. I thought I would have had more issues with my feather grass seeding in the granite, but surprisingly, so far so good.


  • Gail February 26, 2011, 10:20 pm

    Congrats on finishing the South Austin space. It looks amazing.

    Look forward to your ministrations on our space…it’s so sad looking at the moment.

  • ESP February 26, 2011, 11:05 pm

    Thank you Gail.
    I will be right on it…you are not the only one, you should see my Mexican lime!


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