“Dry as a Bone”


My sentiments exactly!

I am tired of the dry, dusty air and weather we have endured this year.
Here in the ESP we have continuously been boiling pans of water and pushing our humidifier to its limit. We are into the tail-end of November for crying out loud, and my loquats look like they did mid summer!  The ground is still so dry, and I am officially tired of bright sunny days. (Apologies to the folks in the northern territories!)

"Clouds, I demand clouds, lots of them…and they will be dark
and full of rain, or my name is not Gaius Iulius Caesar.
This is mywill".

The sunny days have been good for satumthing though…

This satsuma tree is still very young, 4 years, and about 5ft tall.
One of the distinguishing features of the satsuma is the distinctive thin, leathery skin dotted with large and prominent oil glands.

Yes, the one and only fruit my satsuma orange tree managed to squeeze out. Last year we had four of these orange chaps on this tree, but all of them had as much moisture in them as my soil does right now. They were woody, juice-less, dry, and it’s fruit flavor finished on a distinctively "un-sweet" note…disgusting.

I anticipated the same fate this year for my rogue, lone orange. I picked it today and ceremoniously place it on a sacrificial moss stone. We all anxiously gathered around it expecting the worse. Like last years offering, it looked amazing, super bright orange and flawless. I glanced at everybody one by one with the mad expression "Chairman Kaga " on Iron Chief usually reserves to highlight the shows "theme ingredient".

"Allez Cuisine!"  (begin cooking) in French.    so far so good!
(So that is what that means!)

When I peeled a section of it I noticed that the flesh on the segments was soft…could it be?
There was a silence in the group.
I peeled away a segment and squeezed it, yes definitely some form of moisture / liquid in there…could it be?

"Citrus analysis Spock"? ……       "The segment does appear to have a high concentration of moisture captain".

I handed the segment to my wife – what?  Did you think I was going to be the sampler after last years abominations? … Oh no, not this time.
All eyes looked on as she tentatively bit into it. She slowly started nodding, a smile crossed here face, "It is good, it is really good"!
At this point, there was a collective sigh and we all started cheering, the scene began to resemble an end scene from a Walton’s Mountain episode!

"Look Ma, ESP has finally produced an edible satsuma!"                            
"HaHa, well that he has John Boy, but it is going to be a rather small
pot of marmalade"
Haaaaaa  Haaaaaaa  Haaaaaaaa … Aww Ma!!!!

Damned Waltons!

Anyway, we all enjoyed it, and I look forward to the sapling maturing into a tree, perhaps if I get lucky, like this one, amazing. Is that sand?

Staying on citrus for one moment…is anyone else having a cucumber beetle rampage going on in their yards right now. I have so many, mostly centered around my two citrus trees and my plethora of amaranth plants. I shook the Mexican Lime tree and a cloud of them took to the air. I tried to get a shot  of these to show you the biblical extent of this infestation, without much luck.

Look at them all! Even in their large numbers I haven’t really seen too much plant damage. Here is another one on a Miscanthus seed head. I am hoping that a freeze will take care of them. If we ever get a freeze.

Every time I have walked by my terracotta and asparagus fern ampitheater recently,  I have heard tiny little voices… little sounds like "one, two, check".
Imagine my surprise when I went out later tonight only to find a full on concert beginning in my back yard! I leaned down and quietly asked the performers who they were, (for fear of blowing over their enormous tiny amp array),  they squeaked back in irritated tiny voices:
"The Ferns", (like I should already know)!
I asked them to try to avoid excessive foot traffic by my recently planted artemesia, as there was rather a large crowd gathering for the gig! They squeaked back, "hey Mr square, this is rock and roll man, chill Winston"!
I walked away feeling quite old.

The day after the concert I noticed this sad canna lily scene. I can only assume that this was the work of a rogue cigarette flicked into the plant, after the show… so annoying! I went back to the ampitheater to complain, but everyone was gone, and the equipment was all disassembled. All that remained of the shindig was a few tiny beer cans scattered aound the asparagus ferns. That is the last time I will ever let an inch high, pretentious rock star, push me into holding a gig back there, it simply is not worth it.

I have to post one more shot of this amazing swallowtail butterfly and a close up of a couple of it’s eggs. The "eye" eggs make this mexican lime leaf look very comical.

All of my succulents in my small circular bed are now taking on a hues of various degrees of purple as the winter approaches. I have made a decision that my middle "moonscape" bed will be filled with a diversity of these next year, rather than lavender.

The leaves and blooms on my donkey ears have also turned a crimson blush, I hope this will bloom before a hard frost hits it.

Here is the future succulent bed.

I need to start to learn the names of all of these plants as I am adopting them more and more. I love the miniature scale and form that this genre of plants afford, there is always something unexpected going on. The plants are quick to mutate into color changes, flowers, and unexpected growth forms / reproductive habits. I am thinking lava rocks, succulents, undulating terrain and a tumbled glass mulch top dressing.

My  lavender plants are doing well in containers for the
time being, and it is here they will remain for the near future.


Exploding papyrus heads set against a dusk wintry sky…Brrr.


Rootbeer plant (Piper auritum)                                                    Flower stalk

While my rootbeer plants flower every year without fail, it seems they have trouble producing fruit in our climate. The flower stalk is a plain white stem, 4 – 6 inches long, that grows upright above the leaves. This is covered with tiny, tiny little flowers that are difficult to see. ( I did notice a lot of people at the concert were wearing them in their lapels) After the flowers are fertilized, the stem drops down and round fruits form, looking something like grapes on a stick. I’ve never seen any fruits on plants in Austin, has anyone else?. Perhaps the flowers are not getting fertilized.
In favorable climates the flowers are followed by a single-seeded fruit, a drupe. The seeds are dispersed by frugivorous (fruit-eating) bats.

                    "See you next time"!
           "Happy Thanksgiving"

Stay tuned for:
"Snakes and Ladders"

All material © 2008 for east_side_patch. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.


~ by eastsidepatch on November 23, 2008.

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