I have been developing a design for a client in which I have found myself saving file names like: “Wilson_1, Wilson_2” etc.  It just seemed to be a fitting and natural file naming system for a scheme that was to incorporate a tree house, a focal island bed, tropical planting and sandy (okay decomposed granite) weaving jungle trails. Oh yes, I have been in my howler monkeying element.

“Jane…Look, ESP is really going for a jungle look this time, me thinks boy will like this.”

“It is about time Tarzan…call cheetah and the elephants!”

To get further into the spirit of things, I decided to emulate Tarzan by constructing a rudimentary loin cloth by recycling one of my iced turbans (significantly easier to tie).  The hobbits put on their Swiss Family Robinson outfits, then, with the light fading, we all huddled up in my children’s sandbox where I attempted to get a fire going, for ambient purposes you understand, it was still 95 degrees after all!  I would also suggest that you have an established perimeter planting around your property for privacy reasons before adorning such a garment.

Just in case.

Like a true castaway, my fire was to be created from violently rubbing sticks on top of some cattail fluff on top of some post oak bark, (just to further enhance the Robinson Crusoe charade)…Ohh, but how the mosquitoes immediately began to strip our flesh!

(obligatory Lector noises)

We all took one more swig from my “Whole Foods” coconut and ran quickly inside for cover. I decided a loin cloth, although initially liberating, should not be a garment choice for a summer evening in Texas… (a stark contrast to the extremely practical and revered iced turban).  I don’t need to mention how my fire-starting escapade went.

The rear garden of this new scheme is quite large and is predominately sloped dead ground, devoid of grass…just how I like it.  Almost slap bang in the center is a stand of live oak trees that the client expressed a desire to be the future home of a magical tree house for her grandchildren (can it get any better?) Around these trees was a raised, semi-defined “island” that is currently covered in ivy and rocks…my imagination began to race…islands, rope bridges, tree-living, basically a perfect Naboo habitat came into my minds eye, a Gilligan’s Island in south Austin.

Most of the back garden is in either shade or semi shaded from the upper oak canopy. I wanted the island to be the focal point, all tropically planted under a tree house worthy of the “Black Pearl’s” crows-nest.


I shrouded (and visually diminished) the shed with two Bambusa multiplex alphonse karr bamboos, with another positioned on the left side of the tire swing to make it more of a destination point, privatizing the area. Jungle pathways were formed to create a better flow through the space which in turn consolidated a lot of fighting mediums and preexisting enclosures and beds.

Strong foliage plants were introduced for perimeter height and to soften up the new perimeter corrugated fence, loquats and fatsia japonica adding evergreen interest.

For the front of the house I decided to open up the doorway area by removing the existing, rather claustrophobic bed.  I also introduced an additional sweeping pathway to the side of the house for alternative access to the rear jungle scene.  The materials and tones are consistent with the new rear design, visually referencing the existing stone of the house.  A new home color scheme punches out some curb appeal, creating a more contemporary, less Tudor aesthetic. What design would be complete without some mounding artemesia, an evergreen wisteria climbing over a simple arbor for some porch fragrance, and a few metal chickens?

Installation begins in a couple of weeks!

Back to the Patch…

…and some very eerie yellow light conditions.

Talking of very eerie things.  Remember my disgusting rotten elephant ear that sprouted some side growth?  Well, I was giving it a drink this morning when I happened to notice a rather dark hole where the bulb used to be that rotted. Thinking it was just the cavity left behind where it had rotted out I filled it with water from my hose.  The strange thing was, the water never pooled up, it just kept immediately draining almost instantly?  Odd I thought.

I put the camera in the cavity and took some pictures with the flash on, these shots do not do the tunnel justice…it was deeper then I could see.  A Naboo mine shaft perhaps?

Worm sign?

Moving quickly along…

The diagonal fibers on this soft leafed yucca were so perfect that it looked manufactured.

Is that a spider in there? Brrr.

Some plants just go and keep going through our hottest months:

Pride of Barbados…Okay, I promise this will be the last time I blog about it this year.

Evergreen wisteria still as fragrant as it was in June, though it has looked better.

Illuminated by a setting sun, purple fountain grasses offer great late summer / fall color and movement.  I treat this grass as an annual and generally use it as a gap filler in the patch, it really works well with purple heart, and set against a shady backdrop it takes on a life of its own.


Happy birthday, birthday boy!

“To infinity and Beyond.”

Did you recognize the time / space defying tee-shirt, the one that keeps showing up throughout Earth’s history?

Stay Tuned  for:

“Spitting Seeds”

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

  • TexasDeb August 22, 2010, 7:55 am

    I kept expecting to see an Ewok or two tucked into that tree house. What a fun grandma to be willing to set up a playground under the trees this way. Makes me yearn to be young again….almost….

    I will hold you to your pledge about PofB postings this year. I managed to kill one of those (its a gift not many can manage) and seeing them everywhere, T H R I V I N G is about more than I can take!

    A snarky bit here, depending on how you take it. In your design plan, would having a Wisteria that close to the door of the house be problematic in terms of bees/wasps potentially getting indoors? Growing up around here I was taught never to put boxwood (paper wasp favorite) or wisteria close to a door that got a lot of use because the insects were more likely to get inside the house as a result. (Granted, that was back in the dark ages when folks were likely to simply leave a door standing open to catch a breeze or two).

  • ESP August 22, 2010, 9:30 am

    Hi TD.

    Haha an Ewok indeed…I really disliked Ewoks! Oh yes you don’t want to get me started on “The Ewok Adventure”!

    I wonder what happened to your P of Barbados…have you tried to grow it again since? (I hope I remember not to mention it again this year) :-)

    I appreciate your wisteria /bee feedback…I will check to see if the door is ever left open and perhaps just keep it as an arbor. Snarky? You? I don’t think so.

    Thanks TD.


  • RBell August 22, 2010, 9:52 am

    Last mention of Pride of Barbados in your blog this year? Riiiggghhhttt. (I assume this means you will refer to it as “Fred” for the remainder of the year?).

  • ESP August 22, 2010, 10:28 am

    Hello Mr Bell.
    I was hoping no-one would catch onto my cunning plan quite so quickly! It appears that being in your shady garden has kept your brain from frying quite as fast as the rest of us :-)

  • Les August 22, 2010, 5:41 pm

    Happy Birthday to the boy! I’d say he has landed himself in a good situation.

    You mentioned yellow light; we often have green light here, especially at this time of year. It is often near dusk and usually precedes or follows a storm.

  • ESP August 22, 2010, 6:23 pm

    Thanks Les.
    This weird yellow light was also at dusk…pity we did not have a storm though, could have really used a bit of moisture!
    I cannot believe he is three already. His big sis starts kindergarten tomorrow!

  • Laura August 23, 2010, 3:02 pm

    We are all about Buzz at our house too. My guy turns 3 next month, and tells me daily about his Buzz Lightyear birthday. In fact they are currently watching the old cartoon series Buzz Lightyear that I downloaded recently. To infinity and beyond indeed!

    Those Yucca shots were fantastic! I didn’t pick up a purple fountain grass this year. With our climate it is definitely for annual use. I normally use them to fill those vacant spots too. They are so pretty! Yours framed against the shade was particularly nice!

  • ESP August 23, 2010, 8:27 pm

    Hi Laura.

    I must look into getting the old cartoon series myself…I had no idea! My son has an exorcist moment at the same sleepy “unhappy hour” time everyday around 6pm…”To insanity and beyond!”

    Purple fountain grass is the best for annual “filling-in”…I never seem to purchase enough though. Next year I vow to get twice, perhaps three times as many as I need, just to make sure. A very fine plant indeed, and yes, set against a dark back-drop..has to be one of the most stunning ornamental grasses! It is the only annual that ALWAYS makes it into the Patch every year, without fail.


  • Bob Pool August 23, 2010, 10:53 pm

    That garden design looks really good. I really think you’ve found your niche in life. I think I found mine but at a later time in life, sad.

    Wasn’t Madie supposed to start school soon?[kindergarden] When she starts, are you going to let her dress herself? The other girls will be soooo jealous of her skills. You have got to post a picture. I hope the Water Bug doesn’t get too lonely by him self.

  • ESP August 23, 2010, 11:10 pm

    Thanks Bob.

    Before I begin…The Naboo are ready to engage maneuvers on a rather large rain-water collection system if you do not clarify your comment on my last post…right Jenny? Should I push the button now? :-)

    Yes, she started kindergarten today…big day…and yes she always dresses herself, today’s outfit was, well, quite interesting, and yes I took a couple of shots. The water bug will be spending more one-on-one time with me…I plan on purchasing a lightweight tiny shovel for granite shoveling, oh yes he WILL enjoy it!

    Victorian Daddy,


    Finding any niche, any time, can only be good.

  • Bob Pool August 24, 2010, 9:52 pm

    I need to wait just a couple more days before I tell you. But man are you going to want to come see me.

  • ESP August 24, 2010, 10:00 pm

    :-) Okay “Mr cryptic Bob”!
    On tender hooks…

  • Pam/Digging August 27, 2010, 8:27 am

    Bob is certainly being cryptic, isn’t he? Now he’s got me wanting to come up for a visit, although I guess I wasn’t actually invited. Sigh.

    I saw your maroon wisteria growing on the abandoned trellis at the now-closed Smith & Hawken. As soon as I spotted it, the smell of a musty grandma’s house came to mind. I can’t say why… But I do love this vine. You’ve probably made converts out of everyone who’s seen this goth beauty in bloom.

    The jungle garden design looks really good. Her grandkids will have a blast back there.

  • ESP August 27, 2010, 8:45 am

    Hi Pam.

    Just a bit!
    Ahh the evergreen wisteria…the musty smell of grandma’s house, the sultry maroon vines moving in the breeze like Robert Smith? What? What a great and fitting place for you to see it again, on an abandoned trellis.
    It is a fantastic vine, mine are still blooming!

    Thanks on the jungle design, I will be starting implementation on this one soon.



Leave a Comment