“The Leaf, the Witch and the Water-feature”


One rainy day, our children decided to explore our house in more detail, our eldest, was curious about the wardrobe in our empty back room.

ESP wardrobeShe soon discovered that it was a portal to a snow-covered forest with a landscaped garden that featured a focal gas-light garden “room” in the center.  It was here she met a faun, named Tumnus who, as it turned out, was a garden critic for an alternative world magazine. He invited her to his home, and overly manicured formal garden for afternoon tea.

witch witches_Atbd5_17684the-witches-800-75

He told her that the land is called Narnia and it is ruled by three ruthless witches, witches who ensure that it is always Winter.


So that is where the ESP witches spend most of their time! no wonder I never see them, they are escaping the Central Texas heat in the frozen world of Narnia, those crafty witches.


“Are those farmers’ Almanac books Mr Tumnus?”

DSC01014Lacewings and their larvae devour Aphids as if there were no tomorrow.  Lacewings have a liking for the warmth and comfort of a house during the autumn and winter months, you can often find them indoors, lounging on lazy-boys, watching holiday specials.  This one was being particularly vain, grooming and muttering how beautiful she was on my bathroom mirror, she needs to meet “The Lady”.


My burgundy Cannas and Hoja Santa are also proud of their looks right now. The recent rains have made them spring to new heights. I like how the Giant Timber Bamboo leaves look (right), in front of the Hoja Santa, such a great spiky/round contrast of foliage.


The texture and color on the burgundy Cannas make them a must-have in the Patch. I have a number of these containered, stately dark lords dotted around the ESP.  I do like the way they look, and if placed in a sufficiently large “Texas” container, they do perform extremely well, even in our hottest months.  I give my pots a good top dressing of home-made compost every year to replenish the soil as the continuous summer watering washes out the nutrients from the soil.  These Cannas will die back to the ground with the first freeze, which should not be too far away.

DSC01080This pilot risked an emergency landing next to a large stand of Hoja Santa, after almost hitting this satsuma tree.


Today was to be harvest day. I noticed a couple of bugs drilling holes into some of them, and realized they needed to be picked, immediately.

DSC01164We counted 97! I am sure the tree will spend some time relaxing after being relieved of all this weight. I think we will be tired of satsumas after this harvest.

Reconstructing a pharoh…


Photograph: Supreme Council of Antiquities, Egypt, and National Geographic Society, 2005

Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities has worked with CT scans to recreate what King Tutankhamun’s face would have looked like when he was alive. Three teams of forensic artists and scientists—from France, the United States and Egypt—each built a model of the boy pharaoh’s face based on some 1,700 high-resolution photos from CT scans of his mummy to reveal what he looked like the day he died nearly 3,300 years ago.

DSC01160 Giant Papyrus, King Tut or Egyptian paper reed.  This one is about nine feet tall. My goal is to totally fill this tank up.

Cyperus papyrus


I started out with a single clump of papyrus and I have been dividing it around the interior of this buried stock tank for some time, long enough for some stubborn grass seed to blow in.  I now have to go in about four times a year to snip this grass back, it is too embedded into these roots and stalks to extract it. Oh yes, this is almost as annoying as the grass that insists on growing tight up the side of my barrel cactus.





These Artemisia hills behind my stock-tank “Tut” (try saying that one a few times) are in their prime right now. They will soon get too leggy and be ready for a good winter whacking back.

But for now this frosty waterfall of a plant remains quite fitting for this post’s Narnia theme.

DSC01144Nearby, a “borrowed” scene courtesy of my neighbors distant and quite magnificent palms. You can make out the ESP property line fence in the foreground behind the pampas grasses.`The grass on the right…

DSC01073is palm grass, or bristle grass, a native of India.

Setaria palmifolia

This plant has become a troublesome weed throughout much of the tropical and subtropical Pacific region, and it can be here in Austin.  I know, I have first hand experience of this when I left one to go to seed a few years ago, my neighbor had about eight new palm grasses in no time at all!  I now go around and cut off the seed-heads as they develop to ensure it does not become a problem. I love this tropical grass, it just requires a bit of taming…well worth the effort.

DSC01117As I rounded the corner next to the Artemisia I was confronted by this hobbling gatekeeper who shuffled out from behind my copper canyon daisy. She demanded a candy toll before pulling open the squeaky metal gate, granting me safe passage to go to the pond and feed the fish.


Observations this week…

DSC01028The water beads on this tiny succulent seem to be under some form of enchantment spell that enabled them to defy the laws of physics.

DSC01106Giant Timber bamboo culms.

DSC01104So after this season, the culm-count that have jumped the bed is up to two…but do I care?

DSC01140The jaws of a gerbera daisy

DSC01190And a pink daisy after a shower, or is it a jam, good enough to eat, tart.


My smoker barbecue pit this week turned into an ESP “campground” for no apparent reason other than it is there and it is a somewhat triangulated structure.

DSC01195Another hider, so this is where flies go in a downpour. This hoverfly made sure it was staying totally dry as the rain came down.

Stay Tuned for:

“Wind in Our Sails”

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

  • TexasDeb November 30, 2009, 7:20 am

    Don’t let Botox Lady get wind of your reconstructed boy king…she’ll be all over you, wanting her own series of CT scans….

    I am envious of the Hoja Santa (at least that is what I covet most THIS week). Although I am not sure where I’d have adequate space for one in my beds, I think they have such lovely leaf structure and commanding presence.

    How do they winter over? Do they die back a la the Canna Clan? Which reminds me, I need to dig out and move a clump of sprinkler blocking cannas once they get a little less lovely. Every time I head their way with the shovel they’ve set new blooms and I relent. I am a sucker for a flowering plant, every time…

  • ESP November 30, 2009, 10:30 am

    Hi TD.
    Mmm, I had not thought of that. You are absolutely correct of course, she loves any medical attention.

    The Hoja Santa does like to spread itself around, and it is amazing how far their underground tubers can travel and then pop up. The good news is that it is quite easy to pop out these unwanted ones. The foliage is also useful for wrapping food in for grilling, It has a slight aniseed flavor. When we have a cold snap, the leaves shrivel and hang down like wet handkerchiefs hanging out to dry on their stalks…yes not a good looker in the winter. I hacksaw the stalks at the base and save the big ones, they look like wizened walking sticks when they are all dried out.
    See the handkerchiefs here…

  • Les December 1, 2009, 7:00 pm

    Your garden looks as if it survived and thrived in spite of the drought you had. In fact it looks as luxuriant and lush as a Nile-side oasis filled with all the exotic species a young pharoh could obtain (Is it just me or does he have an oddly small cranium?).

  • ESP December 1, 2009, 7:23 pm

    Hi Les.
    The garden has rebounded quite well, with the fantastic wet fall we have had, and continue to experience in Central Texas. Someone even mentioned snow toward the weekend! I will believe that when I see it, in fact no, I probably won’t.

    I am a firm believer in gallons of seaweed and fish emulsions to get the healthiest root structures and plants required to get them through the hard times. It seems that with a little rain they bounce back faster, an important asset in Austin.

    The pharoh does have a small but very long cranium…it is amazing what topics you end up talking about when you have a blog…King Tut’s cranium of all things!!?

    Thanks Les.

  • Mary December 2, 2009, 12:29 pm

    Is it just me, or doesn’t the reconstructed King Tut look a lot like Barbara Streisand? Well, technically I guess it’s Barbara who looks a lot like him… but give him a wig and they could be twins.

    • ESP December 2, 2009, 1:35 pm

      Hi Mary…He does look like Barbara!
      I would do some photoshop on him and put her hair on his scalp, but I fear this may carry with it an ancient Egyptian curse. It would be funny though.

  • Cheryl Goveia December 2, 2009, 3:43 pm

    Everything looks lovely, where did you get that huge gate? “Solstice” by chance? I love your rolling texture-scapes…and that little gate-keeper is a doll!

    • ESP December 2, 2009, 7:15 pm

      Hi Cheryl.

      The gate came from a movie set, a good friend of mine builds props.
      The gate keeper was very funny that day as you can tell from her cheeky expression, she insisted on holding the mosquito repellent “lamp” while she hobbled around the patch, acting like an old witch, cackling away with her walking stick. She loves the “About the ESP Witches” page, I think it may be influencing her a little too much based on her actions, or perhaps it is Yoda! I don’t know!


  • Germi December 3, 2009, 6:06 pm

    ESP! Hi!
    Everything looks SO INCREDIBLE – I never would have known that you were in the middle of a historic drought not that long ago! AMAZING! All the lushness is just intoxicating – and I really endorse the borrowing of views. Gorgeous. The palms add to the exoticism of The Patch – LOVE!
    The fly with the hairy butt did give me a bit of a rigor, however.
    But the rigor did nothing to undo the beauty of the water beads on the tiny green succulent leaves! How magical – I love how some succulents make water droplets seem wetter somehow; rounder, jewel-like. What is it about them that does that?
    I’ll bet The Gatekeeper knows!
    This year has been unkind to my cannas. My stands of Tropicanna and Pretoria are so puny I can’t even point my camera toward that area of the garden. I am trying to be extra hardcore with my watering – or lack thereof – so the thirsty cannas are in active rebellion. It hurt a little to see the glorious stands you have, but I’m happy for you! Just a teensy bit jealous – every garden is better with those lovely, stately leaves!
    Beautiful, as usual! Another wonderful Patch visit!

    • ESP December 3, 2009, 8:01 pm

      Thank you “QV”!

      She has perked up quite nicely after our relatively wet fall. That is the good news, the bad news is that snow, yes I said snow, and very cold temperatures are forecast tomorrow! Texas is such a mad place for weather and gardening, it is amazing anything survives with all the swings in temperatures and moisture. Oh well…never a dull moment!

      I am lucky to have that borrowed view, my neighbor, two houses over from the Patch uses the lasagna method of amending the soil, so when he plants anything, it springs up so fast, really it is quite amazing the increased growth rate. These Palms have just shot up, and I love the exotic, almost coastal aesthetic they afford.

      Sorry to hear about your cannas, my Pretoria also struggled badly this year, in fact it almost just disappeared at one point, but these bronze water canna, australis? just breezed on through with the minimum of leaf-end scorching. M..M..Must have more, (Homer drool from side of mouth). Remarkable.

      Thanks for dropping in and your nice words. You jealous? WooHoo! (in a nice way).

      Now, where is that snow!

  • Nicole December 4, 2009, 8:53 pm

    What a marvelous post. Esp like the palm grass, the booming bamboos and the King Tut details. Those satsumas looks delish, too.

  • ESP December 4, 2009, 10:42 pm

    Hi and thanks Nicole.
    We are now officially sick of satsumas, and we have given a lot away, they were very tasty though and got sweeter a day or two after picking them. What about Mary’s comment about King Tut looking like Barbara Streisand!!! Still cracks me up!


  • Bob Pool December 6, 2009, 10:46 pm

    I am just blown away by how many Satsumas you harvested. A few more of those and you could start a truck farm.

    The picture of the Lacewing is really, really good.

    • ESP December 7, 2009, 5:25 pm

      Hi Bob.

      Can you believe this little tree! I don’t what happened to it this year, but it went bananas err I mean satsumas, never mind…about 100 satsumas, and they were really good and sweet. We have been giving them away to teachers and friends. It is amazing to think we had only one last year. I have a hunch that the ESP witches have something to do with it, what, I do not know, oh but I will find out, oh yes, I will get to the bottom of it.
      The lacewing was the perfect ham. I got as close to it as I can with my little point and click, pity the image was not a little brighter though.



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