“It Ain’t Half Hot Mum!…ESP On Tour”

I woke up this morning in a terribly English fashion, I ate a full English breakfast, (including those sweet Heinz baked beans that most Americans apparently find disgusting)! washed down with a few pints of hot tea, naturally.  After a minor heart tremor, it was up to the mirror to tie an iced turban in preparation for what was to be a long hot day, digging outside in the Texas summer heat.  I do not want to toot my own turban at this point, but I will, it was a beauty…my best noggin cooling “wrap” to date.  You would not believe how many ice-cold gel-packs there are in there, embedded under… my…my… masterpiece!

I must say, I do get a few rather odd looks, bouncing around in my trusty old Dodge Ram that now, devoid of any paint, has taken on a rather “Mad Max” apocalyptic appearance.  Based on the wide-eyed reactions I see in other peoples rear-view mirrors, the whole turban-wearing package must be quite intimidating…I must look completely deranged.

I would usually wait to tie the turban, until I got to my destination, but at this time of year, with no AC in my truck, I might as well adorn it before I leave my house, tying it in the relative luxury of a large full-length mirror rather then awkwardly stooping down in one of the side mirrors on my truck, as I usually do.

I have found that people look away sharply if I catch their eye at a stop light, poorly wrapped turbans can be easily mistaken as bandages, giving me a disturbing “frontal lobotomy victim” / Professor Quirrell, “should he be driving?” aesthetic.  This iced turban will last me about three and a half hours in full sun, four in partial shade.

This is the reason for my turban today. A further 3 yards (in addition to the previous 15 yards) of decomposed granite was required to finish my design scheme.

This was the front yard that the ESP ground force team was commissioned to reevaluate, design and implement. There was a lack of cohesion and a multitude of linear mediums at play and no clear direction for foot traffic to approach the front door.  Most of the lawn was weedy and dying and there were small island planting beds dotted here and there that needed expansion and definition.

This is the rendering of the proposed design scheme, including a paint proposal for the front of house to punch out some curb appeal.

Here is the consolidated hardscaping that offers a more naturalistic flow through the front garden and up to the front door.  The Spanish oak will fill in this area when mature.

All the mulched beds and the two small “hills” are prepped and ready for planting in the fall, though I could not help myself, I had to plant two pride of Barbados plants in the front bed, I thought if anything can make it in the heat they can…a bit risky I know. No ESP landscape could be complete without at least one stock tank, you can just see it peeking in far right.

In a neighborhood predominantly dominated by grass lawns, this front garden makes quite a xeric statement. Even at this pre-planted stage I had so many interested comments from passers-by and neighbors as the granite was laid. No more mowing or sprinkling required here!

I know, I know, I really have to stop wittering on about the Pride of Barbados but the foliage…the layering…the ember blooms, the silvery hue…the insects that it attracts…the…have I lost you yet? Zzzzz

While I was admiring these Chinese lion-esque blooms a slight movement caught my attention off to my left, near the poke weed plant that had mysteriously germinated in the Patch…

I ducked down under the plant and was astonished to find myself face-to-face with this small creature who proceeded to inform me he was conducting a doctorate research program on the historical dyeing properties of this plant’s fruit. Obviously totally engrossed in his research and not wanting to disturb him any further, I decided to leave him to his studies…it is amazing who you get to meet in the underbelly of a garden.

“Don’t even start FB!”

Even though we have had quite a lot of rain in Central Texas this year, the consistent 100+ degree temperatures quickly starts to stress out trees and plants that are not covered by soaker hoses, my preferred method of moisture delivery. The sprinkler does create some photo opportunities though, courtesy of my favorite two spiky plants… sotol and a soft leafed yucca.

…the wet-stuff also affords a bit of fun:

Within two minutes of the sprinkler being switched on, I found him face down against the substantial pressure of the jets. At one point he looked like a NASA astronaut in training…

Moving on…

The glazed color and barbed spines on this Gulf Fritillary caterpillar,

Argraulis vanillae

were quite impressive. I wouldn’t want to eat it.

And Finally…

Her first golf lesson from her “Papa”.

Stay Tuned for:

“Haircuts and Sphingids”

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

  • Robin at Getting Grounded August 8, 2010, 4:19 pm

    ESP, we finally get to see the infamous iced turban! And what a handsome one it is. Love this post, and I’m right there with you on the Pride of Barbados – that is one gorgeous plant. I put my large new “sun bed” in the front yard solely because I wanted a place to plant one. Nice design job for that homeowner!

    Hi Robin.

    Ahh, the infamous iced turban indeed, what would I do without one this time of year? :-)
    Yes the Pride of Barbados is an insane plant…so much color, just when I think surely it must be nearly done, I notice another flush of budding orbs…cannot beat it in a hell-strip (okay perhaps amaranth).
    Thanks on the design scheme front.


  • Pam/Digging August 8, 2010, 4:44 pm

    At last, the iced turban!! I’m so excited to finally see it, and what a marvelous wrapping job you did. You’re like the garden genie! Priceless picture, ESP. I’m still laughing at your mental image of people afraid to look you in the eye when you drive around with an iced turban tied on. And you created a very nice design for your client too.

  • ESP August 8, 2010, 7:13 pm

    Haha..the garden genie! What would be your three wishes?

    I have seen the “fear” in the eyes of quite a few people as I broadside them at a red light, adorning a less then perfect turban. A slightly deranged turban can make one look criminally insane, especially at the end of a day, when it has loosened a little and has bits of granite and sweat smudged all over it! Oh yes, Lets just say if there is any confusion at a four-way stop sign, I am the one emphatically gestured to move along first :-)

    I cannot wait to get to the fun part of this design…the planting.

    Thanks Pam.


  • Jenny August 8, 2010, 8:08 pm

    Definitely a Lawrence look! Do you know that you can buy a hat that you can submerse in water and then wring out and put on your head? Maybe not quite so heavy for you and will not cause so may stares. Or have you tried the 4 knots in the corner of the handkerchief soaked in water. Very Monty. And as for the research scientist- he has that guilty look on his face as though he might just like to take a taste of the forbidden fruit. Super job on the new kerb appeal and so much more functional. Look forward to seeing the planting and I love the photo of the first golf game- so E Nesbitt. $$$$ ringing up for the future.

  • ESP August 8, 2010, 8:38 pm

    Jenny, you are always looking out for me!

    I doubt that the “wringing-out hats” cools one’s head in the same manner, longevity wise, as an “iced-turban”…thank you so much for the suggestion though :-) The turban is quite heavy but you do get used to it over time…I went into a 7-11 adorning a particularly “loaded” turban the other week, and my head, as I was checking out, did a strange involuntary wobble, (I think I had low blood sugar and a partially braised brain)…the manager of the store was Indian! He did not know what to make of it all.

    The research scientist was dressed by his big sister, I had no idea what was going on inside the house until I found him by the poke weed dressed in this strange aquatic academic garb…so funny!

    Thanks on the curb appeal front. Yes, I cannot wait to plant it up.

    She loved her first golf outing…Yes on the $$$ front, she may have to play with bamboo shafted clubs for a while, I am thinking home-made Alphonse Karr?


  • Bob Pool August 8, 2010, 9:15 pm

    Wow the transformation of the front yard is amazing. It’s going to look great when finished…and no grass to mow. You may have found your niche in life Phillip, working for your self.

    I see you got some mechanical assistance. It makes things a lot easier and more things possible. You would need a whole lot more iced turbans if you didn’t have it.

    Are you sure it’s the iced turban that is spooking people. Do you know that you occasionally get the Naboo, gotch eyed, challenge look to your face? People don’t like to be inadvertantly stink eyed you know. You had one the first time I met you in front of Diana’s house. If I hadn’t known what it was I would certainly have broke and run.

  • ESP August 8, 2010, 9:44 pm

    Hi Bob and thanks!
    Unfortunately my mechanical assistance was only hired for dumping purposes and not shoveling / humping granite from here-to-there purposes…but yes, I need something similar to this to lighten the arm-load.
    My stink-eye-look is something that I spent years mastering, and a lot of dedicated, and detailed studying of the Naboo, who apparently have it perfected.

    Yes, I do use it inadvertently, I need the practice, forgive me :-).


  • TexasDeb August 9, 2010, 8:25 am

    Ha – are there any real garden/yard “problems” a truck load or two of crushed granite won’t address?

    I think your ice turban is absolutely swell, despite the “immediately post head injury” aspect. And if it gets you sailing through traffic…. win/win! Perhaps you ought to patent/market the design and thereby assure your lass of access to golf accoutrement/further lessons? Not to mention test tubes for that researcher to be….

    Hi TD.
    You have that right, if you have a problem…dump a pile of granite it, I have used it in all areas of my life!
    Thanks on the turban front, yes, if I am stuck in traffic I occasionally “unravel” a piece of it just for the added (Egyptian tomb) effect, it seems to work :-)
    I can see it now…an end-cap in Wall Mart stocked full of “unpopulated” iced turbans, ready to be adorned. I wonder what the sales slogan would be?
    The researcher was consumed by his studies.

  • Lori August 9, 2010, 8:09 pm

    Oh my god, the turban story had me laughing so hard in public that I wouldn’t have gotten stranger looks if I had been wearing a giant turban while driving a post-apocalyptic vehicle!

  • ESP August 9, 2010, 9:44 pm

    Hi Lori.
    Glad you got an apocalyptic turban giggle. I am currently in the process of evaluating the common Fez as a potentially viable, less involved alternative! The cooling obviously is a lot more “concentrated”, perfect for people who suffer from more “localized” heat headaches.

  • Les August 10, 2010, 8:54 pm

    That was quite a transformation to the front yard of that house, you should be proud. You should also be proud of your Pride of Barbados, very nice color and form. I wish they would grow here.

  • ESP August 10, 2010, 9:04 pm

    Hi Les…thanks on the transformation front, we are all very happy with the “backbone” of this new front garden, it will shine come next spring after a full planting this fall.
    I have never seen my Barbados grow to such heights as this year, it is immense, can only attribute it to our wet winter. Having such a wet winter also seems to have cultivated a host of other less desirable issues this year, especially with web and tent worms etc…my rosemary plants are under siege I tell you!…All of them…unheard of!

  • Jonathan Petitt March 12, 2012, 11:49 pm

    I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own weblog and was wondering what all is required to get setup? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I’m not very internet smart so I’m not 100% sure. Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated. Kudos

    • ESP March 13, 2012, 7:02 pm

      Hi Jonathan.

      I would highly recommend building or using a pre-formatted template / theme on the “Wordpress” platform, it is, in my opinion the most flexible option and it can grow as your blogging requirements do. The “Thesis” theme is great for SEO optimization and armed with a “Wordpress for Dummies” book will be all you will require. Costs associated will include a hosting provider (I use Bluehost, they have great customer service) and registering your domain name, the prices on Bluehost are very reasonable (for both) and you can add multiple sites at low cost should you require this extension in the future.

      I hope this helps you, it is a little intimidating at first, but quite simple once you get it set up…oh wait, then there is the blog-backing-up carbuncle! I best not mention this at this juncture :-)

      Please feel free to Email me should you have any further questions or need additional help.

      Happy blogging…



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