“Tales of the Unexpected”

I thought I would share a recent design scheme that I worked up for a client.

The design proposal addressed three distinct areas of the existing garden:

Front of house…what was once a static lawn becomes a softened low maintenance bed of movement, courtesy of a perimeter planting of bamboo muhly grass and the introduction of an invisible water fountain as a prominent visual focal point on approach to the house.

Onto the back…

A wall garden: The intent here was to create an intense planting scheme close in to the house that would gradually fade out and “naturalize” into larger shrubs and palms as the planting went further up the hill. This area will have a deer fence enclosing the property.  The cascading prostate rosemary and trailing lantana softens the vertical wall, adding a little repetition before a looser planting scheme kicks in further up the hill. Small sedums and stone crop will be tucked into the stone crevices for additional wall planting sprawling interest.

Here is the hillside top garden:  Does anyone recognize that mock orange?  This scene incorporates boulders that already exist on the hillside, planting extends the view up the slope to offer the illusion that the garden continues…

“To infinity and beyond!” … (Buzz almost three light year )

Back inside the Patch…

It amazes me at how fast things have returned to life and stature after our tough-for-Texas winter, even my Barbados cherry (center) has made a decent return from a cut back stump!

As has My Mexican lime tree that I chopped down to just above ground level.

My pole beans have reached the top of their poles and the Hoja Santa is seriously on the rise, not surprisingly, considering I forgot I left the soaker hose running all night…oh yes, it liked that alright!

Here is a tale of the unexpected…

I bet this little amaranth only dreams of a soaker hose, let alone one being left on all night…poor thing.  I cannot believe a seed actually germinated in this ungodly environment…worse than a Hell-Strip…the road…THE ROAD!  I keep resisting the idiotic temptation to water pure tarmac, especially when I just know this plant is destined to lie under the wheels of a church / funeral going vehicle that consistently line my street. The watering police would have a field-day…

“You are accused of watering on a non-designated watering day”?

“Yes I had to, the plant is growing in tarmac.”

“So let me understand, you are watering tarmac on a non-designated watering day?”

“Oh just go ahead and arrest me.”


It seems like enough of my decomposed granite has been blown off my hell-strip by my hose that the road in front of the Patch can now harbor life…


“Its life Jim, but not as we know it”.

“Have you thought about upgrading to an iPad Jim?  Your current tablet PC really is quite embarrassing”.


Live long and prosper little amaranth.

From a really parched amaranth to a refreshing purple Madame Ganna Walska water lily.

My water lilies are once again growing at a ridiculous rate, I thin them out… two days later the pond is completely smothered again, still, the leaves and spent blooms make for the best nutrient-rich composting material.

I started out with two plants for crying out loud!

Blooming pride of Barbados foliage looks even better when it is planted against a dark back-drop.

layered leaves don’t get any better.

And do blooms get any better then  Echinacea or purple cone flower, pity they do not last very long before they look like a blow-torch has hit them…oh wait, that would be the Texas sun, and it has!  Pass me an iced turban please.

More layered foliage, dark shade areas really help to create a sense of depth, emphasizing the foliage of the plants.


Hello Aloe Vera?

What was once brown and very mushy has now has bounced back with full vigor in the summer Texas heat.  But can I eliminate that irritating ivy weed? look closely, you will recognize it, you know the one, it finds its way into the spiniest of plants and is incapable of being pulled up from the roots, ever!  Oh yes, it is the bane of my entire gardening existence.  This is by far the most irritating character that resides in the Patch, even more obnoxious then the Botox Lady!  I feel as though I have been pulling it up, let me re-phrase, snapping it at the base, for more years then I care to mention, without incidentally making a real dent.

I am about to take another approach that involves a really small oil painting brush and an undiluted, super-concentrated round-up palette of immediate death.

I need to quickly Move on:

I made a new acquaintance today…

…who became a close friend…

Okay, that’s enough…Brrr, now you are being creepy…time to leave now, as must I.   

(Starts shaking hand)

Stay Tuned for:

“Moi Grande Rain Dance”

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

Oh dear…Oh dear…oh dear!


Winner of an IDSA Silver award:

Nano Garden is a vegetable garden for the apartment kitchen, using hydroponics, so you don’t need to worry about pesticides or fertilizers. Instead of the sunlight, Nano Garden has lighting which promotes the growth of plants. The amount of light, water and nutrient supply is also controllable, so you can decide the growth speed. It lets you know when to provide water or nutrients to the plants, which makes it easier to grow them. Moreover, Nano Garden functions as a natural air purifier, eliminating unpleasant smells.

Designer: Seul Ki Park

Credit: Hyunjung Lee, Jaeyong Park, Changjin Shon and Seulki Park of Hyundai Engineering & Construction (South Korea), and Ill-woong Kwon of Gromo (South Korea)

  • Pam/Digging June 27, 2010, 7:37 pm

    I saw that baby amaranth growing in the road when I dropped off the crepe myrtle at your house the other day. I pointed it out to my DH in amazement. Wonder how tall it will get before the church van gets it.

    I really like your design scheme you showed at top, particularly the naturalistic design that gives the illusion of continuing on toward the back. Very nice use of foliage. Just wondering though: will the shell ginger do OK in thin soil amid rocks? Mine hasn’t come back yet in a dry spot along the back of the pool, sadly. I miss the gorgeous foliage.

    I’m loving your ‘Madame Ganna Walska’ lily, ESP. Is it a tropical or hardy one? Might have to beg a division if it’s hardy.

  • ESP June 27, 2010, 8:13 pm

    That amaranth is growing practically on dust and I will be completely amazed if it will survive August with all that reflected heat! What am I talking about…try July at this rate!

    Thanks on the design scheme front. The soil up on the hill has had loads of leaves decomposing on it for years so I am hoping I may find decent soil and some nice pockets for planting. The gingers in the Patch have also been slow to re-emerge this year, I guess the freezes knocked the wind out of them this year. They are all returning, just with not the vigor they usually have by now.

    The Ganna Walska lily is a knock-out, great fragrance and great color (including the camo foliage)…it is a tropical and of course you can have a division, it is not like my tank is short of Madames :-)

    A big thanks for the crepe myrtle Pam, I am planning on creating a layered myrtle planting so it will be going in the hell-strip next to my other one in the fall.


  • Laura June 27, 2010, 9:18 pm

    That mash up you’ve done for your client is good! I like the planting combinations. Your giving me hope that with a few more years my Mock Orange will hold it’s shape, rather than falling over once the leaves arrive!

  • ESP June 27, 2010, 9:36 pm

    Hi Laura.

    Glad you liked the planting combination. The front of the property has quite a bad deer problem so careful plant selection was imperative. The mock orange is a great little shrub, as you can see I keep mine pruned as high as I dare, giving it an almost Japanese feel. I do not need to tell you how good the fragrance is when it is in bloom. Yours will stabilize soon…it is well worth the wait.


  • Jenny June 28, 2010, 6:06 am

    Stunning presentation for your client. That rock wall looks a little like mine and I would love to grow things in the wall like they do in England. Alas, not enough moisture fall on the wall. The Rosemary is a perfect softener. Everything in your garden looks lush and healthy and your lime has really taken off. Limes again next year I think. Get out with the paint brush. I once told David that that was what we needed to do with the Johnson grass that was growing in our wild areas. When he was gone for hours I had no idea that he was up there painting the stalks. We won the battle in the end. Go for it. Hey that amaranth has found something good down under the road surface. I know you will feel sad when it passes on.

  • ESP June 28, 2010, 9:03 am

    Hi Jenny and thank you.
    I thought that as well as soon as I saw your wall with the little succulents planted in it here and there. The Mexican Lime has grown at a staggering rate, I guess the root structure was still stong and undamaged…all that stored up energy had to go somewhere! I am not complaining and yes, fingers crossed for more limes soon.
    I hate that little ivy plant…I don’t care to even find out it’s name, it is only surpassed by one other: the “other” ivy with the spiny stem! I think it was featured on a CTG episode recently. Horrible plants.

    Yes that amaranth is quite remarkable, it will be interesting if it gets to a certain height if cars will try to avoid it!
    Thanks for hosting.


  • Katina June 28, 2010, 4:03 pm

    Nice designs. I like the computer program renderings.

    I also just read your copyright stuff. I’m guessing we’re going with the iron maiden and boiling in oil for those who dare to break the rules? :)

  • ESP June 28, 2010, 4:48 pm

    Hi Katina.
    Thanks very much!

    You noticed that…yes, and if you are lucky!

    Of course the Naboo CAN travel extremely long distances, very fast…I will say no more.

  • Bob Pool June 30, 2010, 11:02 pm

    Your design looks great. One question, what is the brownish area in the first group of photos?

    The amaranth shows just how some plants want so badly just to grow. I’ve been taking photos for a while now for a post on plants growing in really bad places.

    Katina’s answer shows why I never make critical posts here, I know the consequences. I sometimes feel the Naboo presence here. It’s not a good feeling.[leg twitch, shivers up the spine]

  • ESP July 1, 2010, 12:26 am

    Thanks Bob.

    The brownish area would be a rather saturated representation of a decomposed granite area to replace the existing grass planting scheme. Feel free to use the amaranth shot if at all relevant, I look forward to your “Bad Place” posting…Sounds interesting.

    Everyone who visits the Patch (as you know) develops a healthy respect for the almost invisible, “inhabitants” that call the Patch their home. Poisoned darts, datura cookies, they have no boundaries (apart from the fence around the Patch).


    I believe your cautious sentiments are conducive to a long life Bob. Oh and it does help to speak their language! Right Nickeeeboo?

  • Germi July 1, 2010, 10:26 pm

    ESP – J’ADORE the design! It is so GREAT … I want that garden in MY house – even though I have no wall or hill or anything – but I DO have a bunch of Agave ‘Blue Glow’ that are currently being smothered under a raging swath of helichrysum petiolare. Love love love – and my clients would flip if I gave them computer renderings that good – they have to settle for some pictures and me waving my arms around in their yard “miming” the plants. I have been told I look like I am trying to conjure the garden before their eyes – and I chose to see that as a GOOD thing, even though I think it was meant pejoratively.

    The Patch looks magnifique – So happy that your Mexican Lime has bounced back – things are always so beautiful in your photographs, but there is an extra “zip” in The Patch’s step these days. I think it is getting all gussied up to shine for the tour … have the Naboo been secretly pitching in my spreading compost or something? It is their home, too – I am certain they want it to represent! In fact, I would be afraid that they might dart anyone who doesn’t show the proper amount of reverence for the beauty of their home garden. Maybe you should put up a sign…
    My biggest hugs to the FAMILY!!!

  • ESP July 1, 2010, 11:22 pm

    Hi G.
    Happy you like the scheme, I do too, it arose very naturally…always a good sign! I can see you, waving your arms around, sparks flying off them…incantations…a true horticultural wizardess waving your horsetail wand, casting planting spells – (I know how much you love this plant after all, hey, wands always choose their owners for a reason?) :-)

    I am so happy my Mexican lime is pulling itself up from the dead (insert: grappling poltergeist hands here). An extra “zip” to the Patch you say?… I think I can safely say THAT is due to hurricane Alex’s moisture!
    Okay and perhaps a little “fear” of the fall tour and a bit of extra paranoid weeding!

    The Naboo have adopted a new tribal instrument of choice, and I rather like it…you will get to hear the subtle harmonic tones in my next post.

    Hugs immediately administered G (like I need an excuse) I communicated that it came from you through me, she really struggled with this concept. She thinks I am writing to you every time I am tapping on my computer, and that jeweled necklace? A hidden favorite.

    E to the S to the P to the G.


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