Michael Whelan - 2010- A Space Odyssey

2010 started eerily in the Patch…


I walked outside this morning only to find this other-worldly mist sweeping in, and it was dense.  The other thing odd about this morning was that it was very quite, unusually quite in fact.  I clambered further into my timer bamboo for a better look at this strange phenomena.


I peered through the giant timber culms and heard a muffled sound, I squinted into the dense fog then recoiled as I witnessed my neighbor being attacked by something over the garden fence, something hideous…something that came from…from….inside

The Mist!

Eeek, Eeek, Eeek!

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Okay, so the mist actually turned out to be nothing more than steam emanating from the washing machine duct, and my neighbor?  Well that was the last I saw of him.


The Giant timber near the house has climbed to a significant height, you can really see it this time of year when the surrounding pecans have died back.  Have I told you how I can’t wait to get rid of these trees, and that stubborn sticker on the stock tank?

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This Timber Bamboo is already prematurely celebrating it’s win over the Pecans by proudly displaying this victory belt around the mid-drift of it’s culm.

Another bamboo patch…


My Buddha’s Belly Bamboo.

Bambusa tuldoides ‘Ventricosa’

Apparently this bamboo only develops the sought after Buddha bellies if it is root bound in a container, well not this one.  I do not know what sort of neglect and torture I have inflicted on this plant underground but I have about 64.2% belly culms, (adjusts nerdy glasses) the rest straight.  Not bad considering it is planted in the ground.  This bamboo has grown a lot in the last year, although all the new culms this year have been frost-nipped and are doubled over.  I think this is due to the fact that this bamboo is still an infant, albeit a twenty foot one, (something that makes me shudder with a slight twinge of a neck crick).


Guess what we did this week?


The ground was once again covered in a blanket of seed snow.


Yes, cattail wands were once more frantically casting their seedy spells all over the Patch, streaming tiny seeds up into the thermals…


…and a few others in less welcome places.


“What were the clouds like when you were young”?


The seeds provided all manner of play, when the spells had all been cast, then the shoveling and “cauldron” concoctions were started. I took advantage of the distraction to wander freely around the garden to see what else was happening. The relative peace!


Sedum reflexum

Sedum reflexum ‘Blue Spruce’ (thanks Pam), this little succulent is spreading very nicely in my cacti & succulent bed.


I tuck this plant in wherever I can, usually it ends up between my moss boulders where I invariably trample on it as I am contorting myself into some ridiculous shape to reach “that” dandelion all the way back there, (well that is where they always are, all the way back in there)!


Dandelions I have found, also love to co-exist right up against the spiny fat belly of a barrel cactus or any other flesh ripping plant for protection, like this sotol, “gently does it…easy…just a little more…almost there”…then Snap, you are left only holding only the top of the weed.  Aarggh! The recoil motion invariably causes the the back of the “pulling hand” to adhere to an adjacent barrel cactus followed by ten minutes of highly colorful language, twenty-seven if I am alone.  I have come to the conclusion, dandelions are smart.

Now where was I?  Yes sedum…trampling, anyway this little plant always seems to bounce right back no matter the abuse, a great plant for filling in those small “detail” cavities in the garden.

Moving On…

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The life-force continues to coarse through the ivy veins, despite the freezes we are enduring.


Seed-pods on my Thryallis, does this plant ever stop doing something?


Great winter color on the ornamental grasses.


And yes my Artemisia is officially out of control, almost time for the chop.

Question: is there a correct time to cut back this plant?  I usually just wait until it is so leggy I cannot stand it anymore.


Even in the depths of winter this lantana is still throwing out spring-like blooms, it’s leaves turning from green to a frost bitten deep maroon now.


Here are some winter games in the Patch recorded on my new “Flip”.

The music I created in GarageBand, it features sampled snippets of my oldest hobbit when she was little, finding her very first bug in the garden, and it wasn’t the featured ladybug that caused my youngest’s conniption in the video.


Inspirational image of the week:


Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best, just as this 3D effect rug called John Deere tractor. Designed by Permafrost, manufactured in Sweden and wool from New Zealand.  The inspiration behind this rug came from a common image of rural America, the John Deere tractor.

Stay Tuned for:


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

  • Pam/Digging January 2, 2010, 10:42 pm

    That doesn’t look like ‘Angelina’ to me, ESP, but more like ‘Blue Spruce,’ which I also have. I love its blue-green color. As for cutting back the artemisia, I usually do it at this time of year, or as late as mid-February. It bounces back quickly. And like you, I love purple lantana in winter, when the leaves turn purple like the flowers. Happy cattailing!

  • ESP January 2, 2010, 11:04 pm

    I didn’t think it was ‘Angelina’ – that usually always dies on me, (I really need to stop trying to grow it under my arm-pits) tried it numerous times, always the same result. ‘Blue Spruce’ I will check into, that sounds pretty descriptive for how it looks.

    It looks like it will out with the pruners then for the wormwood, it is on that verge of ‘legginess’ I know, well,… perhaps another week or two, I hate to see it go, it makes the ‘hills’ bare.

    I have never been a great fan of the upright lantana after the demoralizing experience I had with it when first moving into our house, but the trailing I really like. It is a lot more controllable.
    We had a great day in the cattails.

    Happy New Year Pam.

  • Les January 3, 2010, 5:18 am

    ‘Angelina’ has been discovered by the commercial landscapers here, mainly for its winter color. I am not sure why it won’t do for you, but I plucked a few discarded pieces from a mixed container and just stuck them in the ground where they thrive. It looks like your hobbits are having as much fun in the garden as you are, it is too cold here for much garden merriment. I enjoyed the video.

  • ESP January 3, 2010, 11:25 am

    Hi Les.
    I have no idea why, I have tried ‘Angelina’ both in the ground and in containers, both times it just evaporated! Has anyone else in Austin struggled with this sedum, or is it just me? The winter color really is something.

    We have been having some nice days of late, clears blue skies, a nip in the air, perfect cattailling weather. Glad you liked the video.

  • Gail January 3, 2010, 12:45 pm

    Loved the video! What happy memories for the hobbits – playing in the patch.

  • ESP January 3, 2010, 1:29 pm

    The ladybug conniption was the best…he freaked! Pulling his jersey up and everything!
    Glad you liked it, I had fun putting it together.

  • Germi January 4, 2010, 11:54 pm

    Your Video ROCKED – totally ambient and super cool, but with heart and soul! And what are you talking about, shaky camera? It’s like you have a steady-cam! The music had a total groove – you have yet again dropped my jaw because you have another talent. What ARE you? Not only do you need to be designing landscapes, playgrounds, and parks, you need to write children’s books and form a band! Like Phoenix or something! Or Air! I am very enthused – I can’t wait to see the videos continue … I see a tremendous vibe emerging!

    You know I love your pictures, but the one of Hobbit Girl squatting with cattail snow all around her, laughing and full of joy (and rocking a serious pair of flower-pants!) tugs at my heart. Lovely, lovely…

    I am so NOT lucky with artemisia – weird, right? Mine is leggy even when small, and never amounts to much. I covet that luxurious mound of silver! I instruct the garden janitors on my projects to cut them back 3 times a year – it keeps them full and tight, with just enough laxity to let them explore a bit. But if mine grew at all, I ‘d let them do what yours does – grow into an enormous yummy mound!

    You blow me away with the things you do, friend! I think 2010 is going to bring BIG things to The Patch!

  • ESP January 5, 2010, 2:08 pm

    Hi Witchy-G.
    Hey what about Witchy-G-TV? Got a good ring to it!
    You write the funniest letters!

    Really happy you liked the video, it was a lot of fun to do. I really need to get some more advanced editing software at some point to get the atmospheric conditions and control that I want. Oh yes I will have my sepia and scratch filter, well you know me!
    I have messed around with Garage Band and i Compositions for a few years, a few years ago. I want to start a track from scratch next time and write a dedicated “score” to go along with the video, although I have no idea how that will go!

    To answer you question…I am Nosferatu, and I am old,…very old :-)

    We had a lot of fun in the cold sun with the cattail wands, they are always a hit when I cut them down. My eldest is currently being read the first Harry Potter book, so you can imagine. She now insists on penciling-in Harry’s scar on her forehead. I am deeply afraid this may have started a craze at her school. (Slinks into the shadows in typical Nosferatu fashion).

    Artemisia is quite abundant in the Patch, it remains frosty even in our hottest days of summer. I always get the same remark when we visit nurseries..”Oh not more artemisia, where are you going to put it?” I always find a spot.

    Thank you for your encouraging words WGTV.

  • David January 16, 2010, 4:17 pm

    Awesome! Saw the episode of CTG it was great, never new that this many types of plants could be in a backyard and not a botanical garden, good job and its good to hear that im not the only one that has a problem with Texas winters, but at least i can bring my plants inside sorry about that liked the carnival tents though keep up the good work, and would like to know if you would tell me where you acquired the bamboo Please. LOL hope to keep reading your fascinating stories of all the plants in your garden Live long and Prosper.
    The Torres Family

  • ESP January 16, 2010, 11:00 pm

    Hi David and welcome to the ESP.

    Glad you liked the episode on CTG and yes, this years winter has already claimed a number of victims. I am just glad that CTG filmed when they did! The carnival tents…what a disaster of colorful proportions!

    I purchased my giant timber bamboo from the Great Outdoors, I have managed to divide a clump and propagate it, though I would not recommend this, that stuff is tough! I broke two shovels and a pick axe dividing it, it would have been cheaper to buy another plant. I learned the hard way,
    Hope you will continue to keep reading in the patch as well.
    The Waltons.


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