“One Too Many Beers”

“Honestly officer I have only had a few ales”  (Withnail and I, 1997)

The beers I am referring to are my root beer plants…Hoja santa, the name hoja santa means “sacred leaf” in Spanish and ancient Naboo. I really like this plant but watch out, it has the most amazing root system that will run staggering distances underground. I have even had it travel under an expanse of concrete to emerge in an island bed. Oh yes, give this plant plenty of room to maneuver! It will spread for many years, over an extensive area, and I do mean extensive.

This is the scene over the fence right now in my neighbors side yard…errr…oops!

These plants were already in the ground when we purchased our house so I cannot be blamed for this invasion, and I actually really like it.

By the end of the summer these plants will totally fill this entire area, on both sides of the fence…Score!  Lucky for me this house is a rental property with a garden that nobody has ever tended, so these root beer plants really help to extend the visual boundary of the Patch, and in addition, help hide the adjacent house.

This week the insects and butterflies have been filtering back into the ESPatch as we have started to warm up...

Checkered White,

Pontia protodice

This one is a female tucking into some verbena nectar. Whites are not terribly common around Austin, this is the first one I have managed to capture in the Patch, and it was a beauty.

In the spring the Checkered White shows up for a brief time.  The female has many dark gray markings, which gives the “checkered” appearance. Whites have a spicy palette, they love mustard plants, pepper weed, pepper-grass, radish etc, you get the picture.

As busy as a bee?  They are working overtime right now…

…this one lingered on an African hosta for hours today.

This grey hairstreak

Strymon melinus

also took advantage of the hosta blooms.

See if you can guess what bloom the next image will end up being…

This disturbing scene reminds me of that disgusting alien/dog scene from the movie “The Thing.”  I know you remember that one,  I will spare you a graphic picture…this time.

“Ach, a canna look at it mun, tae many bad memories ye ken.”

Who would have thought these writhing intestines would end up looking like this!  K-Boom!…Dwarf bottle-brush blooms.

This red also caught my attention, its wizened carcass encapsulating an amazing red mountain laurel jewel.

On a fresher note the Inland Sea Oats are just starting to form their seed heads…

…and my sago returns from the dead.  I had to cut all the fronds on this sago after last winter’s freeze, a freeze that has claimed the life of my treasured Mexican lime tree.

There it is in all of its brown and crusty, leafless glory on the right.

“The tree of limes, has been destroyed!” (Naboo elder addressing kinsmen)

The only growth that has emerged is located low down on the tree’s trunk…not a good sign.  I reluctantly trudged to my shed for my hand saw to perform the sad decapitation.  I decided to leave the root-ball and this new growth at the base for scientific purposes only…just to see what it will do, I am curious.

On a brighter note, I do have some tiny new growth pushing up on my pine-cone cactus.  You can see from the “shedding anole” look, that this cactus has also endured an acute hardship this past winter.

Other notables this week…

Declining purple iris looking veryart nouveau, the cobweb completing the old-fashioned scene.

I have no idea what these tiny musical notations are! Do you? I would love to know.

These pearly-white orbs were hanging from one of my Giant Timber Bamboo limbs, they were so tiny my camera could not understand what I was trying to capture…amazing…some form of tiny chrysalis perhaps?  I tried tapping them with a glockenspiel hammer, not a sound.

This soldier fly was getting ready to dive into my compost bin below to lay it’s nasty but compost-necessary eggs...(knee completely dislocates sending left foot sideways and up into a high trajectory into side of skull).

Fatsia japonica going completely berserk, I was surprised these plants came through the winter totally unscathed, in fact I think they liked it.

As I think did this Sedum potosinum. This small plant would fit right into the alien bioluminescent world of Pandora.






The waves continue to build on my feather grasses…

“I would bait-up and drop a line of pots immediately in those feather grasses ESP, let them soak for 48 hours”

I followed the crew of the Cornelius Marie’s advice and landed the strangest looking opilio crab manipulating in his pincers a bakugan of all things!

Staying in the water, I was clearing out some oxygenation plants from my pond when I saw this shiny gastropod slithering along on top of a lily-pad. The largest water snail I have witnessed to date, measuring a staggering three inches in length…




Oh yes, there is no escaping one last image of my favorite combination of late…Gaura surfing a feather grass tsunami.

Stay Tuned for:

“Chicken and Hell-Strips”

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

  • Bob Pool April 27, 2010, 10:28 pm

    The pictures are exceptional this week. I’m glad your sago made it. One of mine is rotten dead[smells pretty bad], and the jury is out on the other.

    Stay on the trail of the giant snail. I want to see a snail that big when I come to visit the patch.

    I must say I really like the gaura/feather grass combo. It ‘s a great combo.

    What’s a bakugan?

  • ESP April 27, 2010, 10:52 pm

    Hi Bob and thanks on the picture front.
    The featured sago was the worst-hit one in the Patch, I had to cut it totally back, all foliage, take a deep breath and just hope it would sprout new growth…and it did! No point leaving pure brown on there, draining energy I thought! I made this severe cut quite a few weeks back. Good luck with your other-non-smelly one…a smelly sago can never be a good thing.

    I am afraid by the time you visit, the snail will just be sitting on top of my stock tank, taking up its entire perimeter, and my tank is 9ft across…its shell at that point may be interferring with the lower canopy of my post oak. Better make your visit to the Patch sooner then later Bob! :-)

    A bakugan is a range of small Japanese plastic orbs that “transform” (when dropped onto the ground, or rolled onto a magnetic playing card) into dragon-like creatures (with winning/losing attributes). The Bakugan’s are played in a game which = a complete waste of time and energy, unless apparently you are a child that is, in which case they become an obsession. Oh and I believe they are designed so that adults can never understand the intrinsic rules / nature of the game…ever…ingenious. No wonder kids love them.

    Glad you like the combo Bob, I encourage you to do some Gaura / feather grass surfin’ yourself (on a metal surfboard, naturally). Feel free to come over to the Patch Pipeline to catch the big waves when you can. It will be fun.


  • Diana/ Garden on the Edge April 28, 2010, 8:00 am

    Your dangling pearls are lacewing eggs. A good insect to have in the Patch. I like the first bee picture (I like a lot of the pictures on your site but this one stands out – I like backlit subjects). What kind of equipment do you have? A dedicated macro lens? I think I saw a photo of your gear with some nice flash.

  • ESP April 28, 2010, 10:15 am

    Hi Diana, so that is what lacewing eggs look like! I had no idea. I liked the bee shot also, though it is a pity I did not get his entire body in frame. On the equipment front I use a small point and click (Sony), no dedicated macro lens (I wish) :-)
    Thanks for dropping in.

  • Germi April 28, 2010, 2:49 pm

    OMG, ESP –
    All I can do is GASP!
    I’ve been a bit busy so I haven’t had the time to do my visiting, but once I poke my head into The Patch I am ASTOUNDED at the beauty! Your stipa-lined paths are a wonder! How can people be against this plant? If ever somebody starts in on complaining about stipa (or nasella, whatever) to me, I will direct them to this post and watch them melt with desire.

    I am SO sorry about the death of your Mexican Lime. I can’t even imagine … I’d be in bed with the covers over my head. But you Austin Gardeners are made from sturdy stuff, and I know you’ll find a perfect replacement and move forward. I will learn from your experiences – I am trying to be tougher myself.

    I am happy to report that I WILL BE in AUSTIN on the 9th of June! I want to invade The Patch, if the Naboo will allow me – I know that this will be dependent upon endless negotiation, but I know your diplomatic skills are up to the task. I also know, from past experiences with various Los Angeles branches of tribes distantly related to the Naboo ( such as the Nanabooboos), that I should come with tokens of my esteem and gifts to the elders. Check. I’ve got that all under control.

    Hoping it can happen!

    • ESP April 28, 2010, 4:38 pm

      Hi Germi.

      I knew you would not desert the Patch for long, If you did I would send a Naboo war party your way, though it might take them about twenty years to reach LA (not the longest of legs you know). Good to hear from you and yes how the grasses are swaying in the Patch right now. It is one of my favorites…as you can see! It really does put on an amazing show as the sun sets behind it. Hypnotic…Zzzzzz.

      Yes sad on the lime tree front, we had a bounty of limes last year at least, but I will not be planting another one…and anyway I want to try a grapefruit tree next…oh yes, and I will :-)

      I have been tracking correspondence via Pam regarding your visit, and yes I believe a hop on over to the ESP is in there somewhere, I get to meet the G in the P! It will be a blast! I have already initiated negotiations with the elder in charge of out of state visitors, he will be forwarding documentation this week I believe he clicked that it is twelve hundred pages, so I should almost be done just prior to your arrival.

      Exciting times.


  • Lee April 28, 2010, 3:13 pm

    I second the lacewing egg diagnosis. That’s good to see around the garden. I’ve seen a checkered white around my garden recently too, loving on the blackfoot daisy.

    Soo…what kind of Sony? My camera recently died. Would you be giving away too many secrets to share the model name?

    Oh, and the feathergrass is lovely. It’s wonderful how you’ve used it to edge your garden beds.

    Withnail and I. Great movie. Haven’t seen it in years. Will need to add to my Netflix!

    • ESP April 28, 2010, 4:56 pm

      Hi Lee.
      Cannot have too many lacewings I agree, and it seems like a really good year for the whites. I have seen them everyday for the past week…or perhaps it is the same one? Mmm.

      My little Sony is a Cyber-shot (link below) and it is quite a few years old. I think you can pick them up for about two hundred dollars. I like it because it is relatively flat in the pocket! This is my second one, the first ending up underwater on a lawn chair.

      Funny we just watched “Withnail and I” on Netflix too…a British classic! “We want the finest wines available to humanity, we want them here, and we want them now!”


  • Les April 28, 2010, 8:16 pm

    The feather grass is wonderful. I regularly visit my non-gardening neighbor’s yard when they are not home to remove plants that have escaped my cultivation. The cut-leaf sumac runs roots way past the drip line and the Carolina jessamine is trying to smother their azaleas, not that they would even notice.

  • Pam/Digging April 28, 2010, 8:49 pm

    Sorry about your lime. Looks like you’ll have another eventually though, with those shoots coming up from the roots. Yes, those are lacewing eggs. That backlit bee shot really is amazing, and I second Germi’s comment about the feathergrass border—inspiring!

  • ESP April 28, 2010, 10:16 pm

    Hi Les.
    I am thinking a hop over the fence is also in order. I am thinking I will transplant a bunch of these Hoja santa plants toward the back of the Patch where they can run wild. The feather grasses are just about at the “matting” stage that looks pretty bad…looks like I will be kept busy trimming all of their seed-heads back to facilitate another good show in the fall.

  • ESP April 28, 2010, 10:27 pm

    Hi Pam, yes, sad about the old lime tree…I could not tolerate looking at it any longer. I am not sure how, or even if it possible for it to come back from the base like this…may be just weak growth and not very effective?…Time will tell.
    Glad you like the feathers! They really have put on a tremendous show already this year and are on the verge of waning, I am thinking I will give them a trim in the next week or so to stop them germinating and also to allow them to plump up again for my Arrgh…fall tour! :-)

  • Jenny April 29, 2010, 6:21 am

    Everything is looking so lush and fresh and your photography is just outstanding. The garden has such a tropical feel to it. Your new camera(I remember you left the old one out in the rain and assume it died) is working wonders in the insect world. Superb close ups. Yes, green lacewings- Those are some eggs I leave be, while on my hands and knees looking for those squash vine borer eggs on the squash.That would make a funny picture. You should check the lime shoot to make sure it is not coming from below the trunk as most citrus are grafted onto something not worthwhile, an orange think. I did lose my Mexican lime and Persian lime and have not replaced them. It was an expensive winter. I’m glad your sago is coming out- I am still waiting on mine and your bottle brush made it. I don’t have one but I have seen several that did not make it. The sedum waterfall is just sheer genius.

  • ESP April 29, 2010, 8:21 am

    Hi Jenny and thank you on the photography front, and yes, the old camera did not like being submerged overnight one little bit! The lime shoots are definitely emerging from the trunk, it will be interesting to see if they develop into anything worthwhile. I had two dwarf bottle brushes planted about five feet apart, only one made it, I cut the other one like my lime tree all the way to the ground…it has sent up a bunch of new growth, so it may develop back to it’s former glory.
    The sedumfall is looking really good right now…full of stars…I keep putting pockets of soil all around the rocks and transplanting sections of the plant. It has taken a while but the effect is finally taking shape.

    Cheers Jenny,


  • Katina April 29, 2010, 7:15 pm

    Yes, the pictures are amazing!

    My Inlaws came down in late March to look for a house in the Sun City area. My MIL kept asking if things were dead and what they’d have to rip out. I said that most of the stuff looked good, and she thought I was crazy. Though I am correct in thinking that as long as a Sago Palm has a green frond, it’s still good, right?

  • ESP April 29, 2010, 7:32 pm

    Hi Katina, thanks.
    It always amazes me how things bounce back after a hard winter. This winter really separated all the zone sensitive plants and trees out, killing most of the true tropicals. I gave up on covering plants some years back, determined that only the hardy will continue to have a place in the Patch. I have a few gaps now and I will continue to plant lemon grass and purple fountain grasses and treat them as annuals. I have no choice, I like them too much!

  • Robin at Getting Grounded May 1, 2010, 10:31 pm

    ESP, you’ve given me a new idea with the guara/mex feathergrass combo. I currently have guara with ruby crystals grass, and BF daisies with mex feathergrass – so I think I’ll add a few more guara to the mix. Love your pics of it. And can you tell me why I keep diminishing my Fatsia instead of making it bigger? It came with the house and is quite old. Each year it gets smaller…it almost seems like every time I try to pamper it with seaweed, it turns yellow and drops leaves. What am I doing wrong – I really love this plant and it was fine before I came along. Help!

  • Tina Poe May 2, 2010, 12:50 am

    Loved the critters that you captured this time. :)

  • ESP May 2, 2010, 9:37 am

    Hi Robin.

    The gaura and grass combination does work good. The gaura’s flower spikes hover, suspended, high up among the panicles of the feather grasses, and are the perfect height.

    I do not do anything to my Fatsia japonica except a bit of water when it starts to stress in August, like we all do. This plant always has a few bright yellow leaves on it it seems…I am constantly snapping them off. I take it yours is in shade? A great plant for a tropical look all through the winter, and all manner of flies love it when it blooms.


  • ESP May 2, 2010, 9:40 am

    Hi Tina.
    Yes, these were a little more palatable then some other critters I have caught on camera of late!


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