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“Snakes and Ladders”


Easssssst-Side-Patch finally has a sssnake?


Whoa! an urban snake!

I was on my way down the yard to challenge William Wallace to our usual weekend stone throwing competition (he prides himself on his accuracy).  After a brief conversation with him about the English, I turned around to see this snake, stretched out across the path! I realized I must have stepped right over it without seeing it. At this point I realized that to get across the snake I would have to jump back over it. I was flanked left and right by my pampas grasses, and venturing anywhere close to them would have been as bad as a snake bite. This was the largest snake I have witnessed in my yard, and my jump across it must have looked hilarious, so exaggerated!

“Must avoid the snake, must avoid the snake”.
I must have got four feet airborne!
I really wanted to get up close with the lens, but was a little leary
as I did not know his identity.
Snakes are not a strong point of mine.

“Hey Malfoy did you hear what he just said”?
I was happy to find that this was a Texas Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta lindheimeri)
and they can give you a good old fashioned biting if cornered,
in fact, they have a bit of a reputation.

“What you looking at?”.
The Texas Rat Snake is a fairly large snake, capable of attaining lengths past six feet.

Here are a couple of larger examples of a Rat Snake.
This snake has a voracious appetite, consuming large amounts of rodents and birds, and sometimes lizards and frogs which they subdue with constriction.  They are agile climbers, able to reach bird nests with relative ease. They are often found around farmland, and will sometimes consume fledgling chickens and eggs, which leads them to be erroneously called the chicken snake.

“DDDid he just say a chicken s s snake”!
I am so happy to have this beneficial snake living under my shed, I assume that is where it may be living as that is where it slithered off to. He must have been having a veritable feast with my shed “issues” this past summer.
Talking of feasts:

Could it carry any more pollen!
This honey bee was very busy on my purple heart plant which is blooming right now…filling his pockets like:

The tunnelers in the “The Great Escape”.
Staying on a war theme:


Purple Heart sprawling inbetween some moss boulders.
The blooms look like they are riding in dugout canoes.



Another (almost) bloomer right now, Meyer Lemon, I have just moved my container
up onto my porch for a little extra protection over the winter.
It is always a trade-off,  heat verses light.


Containered burgundy maple tree and a blue echeveria. I am not sure of the name of this one. It must be in an ideal micro climate though, as it’s color and shine is more intense than it’s brothers and sisters positioned elsewhere in my yard. Echeverias are tougher than they look. They make ideal potted plants, but will grow in flowerbeds, and are fairly tolerant of wet and cold. Like all succulents, they do best in coarse, well-drained soil that is allowed to go dry between waterings.

I have been trying out a whole bunch of succulents in many different places to get acquainted with some of the different growth habits of some of the more common ones available in Austin. These are a couple of pots that I planted early last spring at my in-laws’ house. They have gone berserk.  This treasure chest looks like a fantasy scene… dragon scales, mermaids scales…etc, etc…you get the idea. It really works well, referencing the back drop brick color, pebbles, and glass chunks.

Here is one more.
I can’t wait to get planting my new succulent bed…only five
more months to wait!

Another great plant for fall color is the Mexican Fire Bush.
This is also a new plant for me this year, and even though
it is still small I have not been disappointed.

Also called Hummingbird Bush or Scarlet Bush.
Firebush is a fast growing, semi-woody evergreen. Firebush produces showy
clusters of bright reddish-orange or scarlet tubular flowers.
The flower stems are also red. Even the clusters of berries
are showy; they ripen from green to yellow to red and finally to
black.
Flowers attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and birds love the berries;
Very tolerant to heat and drought…perfect for Texas!

Looking like black stuffed olives, the fruit on the fire bush also
offers unusual fall interest.
And now we are way overdue for an unidentified bug:

This was a tiny, tiny, and I mean tiny wasp looking fly thingy.  Perhaps a hoverfly  Syrphus ribesii?
Great coloration and amazing iridescent wings.
click then click again for detail. (It was about 5mm long)

This has to be the final canna lily bloom of the year.

Emerging lavender flower head…
reminds me of the Art Deco
Chrysler Building in NY.


All my ornamental grasses are now putting on their brown winter clothes to match the granite pathways and moss boulders. They will stay like this until I see new growth appearing in early spring.


This philippine violet bloom has long lost it’s color, but has taken on
a completely new rustic aesthetic


Amaranth leaf summarizes fall color.

And the white pomegranate does a pretty good job too.

Stay tuned for:
Harry “Potter”


All material © 2008 for east_side_patch. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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