“While the Neighbor’s Away…The Patch will Play”

What on “earth” was I thinking?

I previously had stopped my hell-strip design escapades selfishly, at the edge of my own property line, and visible line from my front porch…out of sight…out of mind!  I quickly realized that it looked totally and completely ridiculous from across the street!  Like an 80’s half haircut!

The house next door to me is currently unoccupied, so I thought mmm? Why not?  I trudged to my shed for yet another Hell-Strip onslaught to finally finish what I had started.  Like anyone was likely to complain as I removed another swath of weed and rubbish ground?  Actually the ground in front of my neighbor’s house, was so much better then the compacted Terra-Firma in front of the Patch. The recent rains once again made it easier to turn over the soil.


Oh yes, I was performing some guerrilla gardening on the East-Side, and my Hell-Strip espionage was in full shoveling swing.

“Hell Strips are no joking matter ESP, remember that dreadful green-finger incident some years ago?”

My Hell-strip continues to grow, maybe I will just continue down the entire street, why stop here?

Oh I will tell you…

that’s why.

While I was nibbling away in here I could not resist pruning up this crepe myrtle and palm, and just why did I do this AFTER big brush pick-up? I continued the mounding into this area also, oh yes… I will have more artemesia mountains.

As I was excavating the site, I unearthed this…a female Boll’s sand roach (thanks for the ID Daniel) at <whatsthatbug.com@gmail.com>

Arenivaga bolliana

The downy females have no wings and burrow in the dust under houses and in natural rock shelters where they feed on packrat droppings, of all the strangest things.

This female is dragging her oothica or egg case, a behavior pattern characteristic of most cockroaches.  My eldest hobbit kept asking…what is it dragging daddy, look it is dragging something, what IS that? (repeat 16 times). Brrrr!

While I am on the subject of this Hell-strip, I have to warn you about trowels that have these…screws. Have these people never heard of co-molding techniques?  I bought this trowel after my old and trusted digging steed (with no screws) mysteriously vanished a couple of months ago, (I suspect it is at the bottom of one of my ponds).  After I had gone around the curb to clean out all of the weeds sticking to the edge of the hell-strip, these screws were once again loose, causing the whole trowel to rattle…this gets really, really annoying! The trowel should just come with a small screwdriver already tethered to it.

Okay, calm down, deep breaths…inhale in through the nose, exhale slowly through the mouth…and relax.

Moving on…

I have been waging war on this Vitex for years now, it is finally turning into the large shrub / small tree, that I always wanted. It sort of looks old-fashioned and fits aesthetically with our 1890’s house.  Although it does not compare to the trowel on the annoyance graph, this tree will keep you busy.  It always grows up annoyingly from the base (as you can see) and needs a lot of up-pruning to keep it in check and good form.  Insects swarm over the subtle purple-blue blooms at this time of year.

This purple verbena has also brought in its fair share of insects and small gazelles into the Patch, what?

Is it a flying rodent? A tiny pony perhaps?

Hemaris diffinis

or Snowberry Clearwing

These large hawk moths are diurnal, that is, active during the day; they are most often seen nectaring at flowers like this one. They hover and dart about, flying both backward and forward just like hummingbirds, but are actually mimicking bumblebees.

Hawk / sphinx moths are often mistaken for hummingbirds and bumblebees because of their similarities in size and feeding habits. Adult sphinx moths have a long, straw-like “tongue,” called the proboscis, which they keep curled under the head. They use it to suck nectar from the flower. The nectar is rich in sugar, which fuels the energy required for hovering, and avoiding having clear photographs taken of it.

Looking like something from a coral reef the new silver growth on this sago palm develops fast considering how slow the plant grows.  While I was taking this picture the little piece of dirt on the front right frond appeared to move, see it?…I moved in closer…

Oh yes it was moving alright, and quite fast considering all of the “junk” it was lugging around in it’s trunk.  Oh and tell me that is not a roaming eye at the bottom, peering out from under the trash canopy! I think it is!

“Oh very funny ESP!”

Could this be lacewing larvae?

Things noticed this week in the vegetable Patch

Amaranth is on the rise

…and court jester squash blooms are all over the place, sneaking over pathways, I am constantly tucking them back into their designated beds.

I cannot wait to try these Kungpao peppers.


I cut the seed heads from my Gopher plants

euphorbia rigida

today and naturally all of the white blood began to flow. All parts of this plant, including the seeds and roots are poisonous.

“I would never try zis”

Gophers should not be planted near fish ponds as the sap can be harmful to fish if their white blood is spilled.

Inland sea oats are in the process of developing their iconic seed heads.

“Whisper, whisper whisper, Naboo tribe..whisper whisper…The Germinatrix whisper…visiting the Patch…whisper, whisper…photo exhibition in Crimson…how dare you turn your back on me?”

Nothing good can come from this congregation of shiny gossips.

Stay Tuned for:

“I do like to be beside the seaside”

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


  • Bob Pool May 21, 2010, 10:30 pm

    If you ever come to visit you can bring that trowel with you. Two little tacks and never again will it loosen. Can’t wait to visit with you tomorrow. I have another plant for you. It will be good for the hell strip. It’s Calylophus, you can look it up. It’s a dandy.

    Your part of the reason my front yard looks like crap. Ohhhh, I just had to be like Philip and get rid of the grass in the front yard. Bring in loads of dirt, make big mounds, and plant new plants, all just as the devil star rises to it’s apex and the weight of the summer heat lays heavy on the plants. I must have been crazy. And you think your little one is hounding you. HAH, I say. All I hear is “You want to be just like Philip”. Hear that said twenty times and keep your sanity.

    I’ll see you tomorrow.

    Hi Bob…that trowel…arghhh! I was sure you would have a welding solution for this minor but really irritating situation! (Those irritants are always the worst).
    The Calylophus will be a perfect addition to my rather sparse hell-strip…looking forward to tomorrow also…want a Hoja Santa? I have three left, Annie has her name on one.

    Whoops! Am I in trouble? What have I started? Apparently my “stripping” escapades precede me. I had no idea that my hell-strip action was influencing and getting other people into all manner of marital and gardening troubles :-) And I know-you-know that things have to look like crap before they look better.

    Looking forward to our…can I bring myself to say it…write it…”Go-Go” Ahhhrgghhh!

    I look forward to seeing some images of what you are up to your “Hell-Strip”.

  • Les May 22, 2010, 4:42 am

    The house next to us use to be a rental, and everytime it was vacant I would go over there and cut down all the weed trees, mainly Black Walnut. Now the current owners are relatively attentive, but novice gardeners. Unfortunately several of my plants are now making a new home for themselves there. I noticed that Cut Leaf Sumac and Carolina Jessamine coming all up through their Azaleas, and I have to wait until they are out to reign my plants in.

    Hi Les, I have been pilfering baby Hoja Santa plants that are growing all over the place “over the fence” and like you used to do, I have taken the vacant opportunity to chop down all the trash trees around my property line. My next infiltration next door is going to be a night-time mission, complete with head light…to do some seed gathering reconnaissance. This mission will be dangerous considering the amount of poison ivy I will have to contend with.


  • Jenny May 22, 2010, 5:50 am

    You do realize that the new “patch” is now yours for life, don’t you? When will you be moving on to their front garden? Everything looking great at the patch. I have those little beetles too and I know they are up to no good. What’s this about the photo exhibit? You certainly take some great shots with that little and you have some interesting bugs over there.

    I know, like I need more area to tend! But this had to be done, just for my own piece of mind. It looks so much better already, just having the soil turned over.

    Yes those conniving little black beetles seem to be hatching right now, conspiring as to what tomato plant to eat first no doubt.

    I will have my photos on display in “Crimson hair and skin” starting Tuesday…(where Leah works). More on this in my next post.
    See you later today Jenny…I have those “what-ever-they-are” seeds for you.


  • TexasDeb May 22, 2010, 8:49 am

    Some especially fun close up shots this go round. I will second the irritation poorly made tools brings to the work, my own pet peeve being flimsy trowels that B E N D in the soil. Followed closely by clippers that won’t hold a sharp cutting edge for more than 5 minutes. Arrrgggh! And yes, we have invested in good ones but they tend towards getting lost unfortunately which happened repeatedly as they were too heavy to hang ’round the neck… The gardening life can be a tough one.

    Hi TD…what about the little trash carrying bug!
    Yes bad tools…I have some pruners that stick shut every time I prune something, which requires me to manually flick them open again, oh yes, this will drive a mild mannered gardener into a psychotic sociopath…I have seen it happen. The bendy-trowel syndrome? We have all witnessed this sad freak of nature, I mean just how difficult is it to design a sturdy trowel for crying out loud!
    My best purchase: Full metal Jacket shovel…(my back will break before this one).

  • Gail May 22, 2010, 12:59 pm

    How difficult would it be to design a sturdy trowel? I actually know an excellent designer you should have a conversation with.


  • Linda Lehmusvirta May 23, 2010, 7:40 pm

    As always, you command our attention with your energy, insight, and fabulous photographs. An artist you are indeed!

    Hi Linda.
    Thank you.
    Trying to whip my hell strip into shape zaps energy pretty fast, trying to get the grunt work executed before the death star starts getting fierce, which won’t be long…it really started to feel like summer today. I have a few iced turbans now in the freezer in anticipation :-)

  • Pam/Digging May 24, 2010, 4:08 pm

    You have a lot going on. I cannot believe you started gardening your neighbor’s hell strip. You have so much energy, Philip. And a photo exhibition at Crimson? Why, I happen to have an appointment there this week, and I will be eager to see the Patch on the walls while I wait. However, I hope no dragonfly nymphs will be gracing the walls (frightening!).

    Hi Pam…I cannot believe it either! Still it was the right thing to do for the strip, it just looked unfinished the way it was.

    Yes I just put up the photography this morning, hope you like it! I am sure you will recognize quite a few of the GGW shots …And no, not any dragonfly nymphs this time, though I was sorely tempted, just for the shock factor :-)


  • Laura May 26, 2010, 1:01 am

    That’s one wild moth thing. I have never seen anything like it. It’s like a whole other world down there!

    The Snowberry Clearwing was really easily spooked…It was great to catch it on camera, a very bizarre creature.
    Texas does have its fair share of insect oddities!
    Wait until you see my next post.


Leave a Comment