In the wise words of Paris Hilton,
A Volcanic Vision from Tampa’s Tasteful Elite
subject: Backyard go BOOM!
I’ve been following you on Instagram for a while now, and I think your work is just
fabulous. You bring something truly unique to the field of landscape architecture, and I
just love how you translate the pastoral beauty of the Italian countryside into the great
state of Florida. I’m contacting you today because I need your help in creating
something that will really bring back the glam back to Tampa!
You probably already know who I am, so let’s cut to the chase: I need a volcano garden
in my backyard, something that will make my backyard the hottest spot in town, and I
think a volcano is just the thing. I’m thinking Vesuvius meets Miami Vice; one part
seismic, two parts sexy. And we’re gonna call her Vebootius!
First—she’s going to need to erupt lava, real lava. Hotter than my pool boy! And not just
any lava, but hot pink lava. It’s going to be explosive, darling—just like me!
She’s also going to need to erupt on command, and as often as I please. In fact, I need
her to blow just by the push of a button, to keep my guests always on the edge of their
I want this volcano to be huge, too, my love. Nothing short of absolutely gargantuan will
do. My budget knows no bounds. I want this garden to be so exquisite, it’ll make my
ex-husband’s Italianate Garden look like Canal Street Versace and have him wishing he
got a prenup. Let’s go Pompeii on his ass!
What do you say? Are you ready to make my backyard bellissimo, my love?
subject: re: Backyard go BOOM!
Dear Ms. Tarpon,
Thank you for your enthusiastic email! We appreciate your kind words about our
approach, and we would be more than happy to work with you to help realize this grand
vision of yours.
We have to admit, your request for a volcano in your backyard does bring to mind the
original (and to my knowledge, one and only) volcano garden: Vesuv von Worlitz. It was
a grand, 18th-century endeavor by Prince Leopold III that combined the majesty of
Mount Vesuvius with the beauty of English gardens and brought it to the German
countryside. I think your vision could really rival its precedent!
However, Ms. Tarpon, I must inform you that some of the design features you are
requesting, particularly the eruption of real lava and the ability to control it with the
push of a button, are beyond our expertise. To properly execute such features, I’m
looping in some additional voices to add logistical breadth to this project. I cc’d
Roxanne Feldspar, a professor of geochemistry at MIT, Asher Caldera, a volcanology
documentarian, and Enzo Ignatius, a Hollywood pyrotechnician. Each one of them are
preeminent voices in their respective fields, and will be able to ascertain the feasibility of
We understand your desire for a truly unique and exquisite backyard design and we
would be happy to collaborate with you on this project. It is, after all, in our mission
statement to never say no to any request, so you have come to the right place. However,
we want to ensure that it is executed safely and successfully.
Thank you again for considering our firm for your project, and we look forward to
hearing back from you soon. We are eager to help make your backyard a little (and
explosive!) slice of Chianti.
subject: Some (geo)logical ideas?
As a geochemist, I appreciate your enthusiasm for creating a backyard volcano garden
that could even make Vulcan green with envy. However, as much as I would love to help
you achieve this, I must break the news to you that your requests are not only difficult to
conceptualize but also virtually impossible to execute. Creating a volcano that erupts on
command and with any sort of frequency is like trying to force a mineral to crystallize at
room temperature—it’s just not thermodynamically feasible!
Furthermore, while I appreciate your desire for hot pink lava, I must clarify that the
color of lava actually depends on its temperature and it cannot be dyed. It bursts out
bright orange (typically around 1,000 C – 1150 C) and as it cools, the color changes from
bright red, to dark red, and finally to a deep brownish red (around 500 C – 650 C). Even
solid lava, which is black, can still melt your flip flops right off! Bearing this in mind,
working with lava as a material is dangerous and volatile, and while it is physically
possible to create a synthetic lava in a laboratory setting, it has never — and likely will
never — be a technology that is available for recreational, on-demand use.
This is all to say that geologically, lava is not as amenable as your manicures. While I
share your enthusiasm for creating something truly spectacular, we must approach this
project with a healthy dose of scientific realism. I would be happy to collaborate with my
colleagues to explore equally exciting alternatives, but let’s be sure to keep our
expectations grounded in reality.
All my best,
Dr. Roxanne Feldspar
subject: re: Some (geo)logical ideas?
What’s up, Tiff!
Thanks for reaching out (and to Mr. Sodfather for putting us in contact!) I’m stoked to hear
that you want to create a killer volcano garden in your backyard. As a volcanologist by
trade, I’ve been exposed to some pretty wild stuff, but I gotta say, your idea takes the cake
for the most batshit crazy idea I’ve ever heard—and my former mentor dreamed of
canoeing down a lava flow! Anywho, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I gotta level
with you: building this volcano is just not feasible, no matter how big your budget is. Trust
me, I’d love to have that kind of power too, but unfortunately, volcanoes are nature’s way
of reminding us who’s really in charge.
First, let’s talk about location—Florida is a great place for soaking up some rays and
sipping on mojitos, but it’s not exactly known for its volcanic activity. There are no active
fault zones or plate boundaries anywhere near the Sunshine State. The closest fault line,
as part of the Caribbean Plate, runs through the Caribbean Sea, just a bit north of Puerto
Rico and the Dominican Republic. And second, to Dr. Feldspar’s point, even if we could
somehow manage to create a volcano in your backyard, the idea of controlling its
eruptions with the push of a button is just not realistic. Volcanic eruptions are incredibly
complex, unpredictable natural phenomena that cannot be controlled or timed with such
precision. The timing and frequency of eruptions depend on a complex interplay of
geological, physical, and chemical processes that often takes tens of thousands of years to
play out, and predicting when or how they will occur is still a challenge for even the most
experienced volcanologists—myself included!
I’m sorry to say this, but I’m gonna have to give this one a big volca-no. However, if you’re
still looking to add some heat to your backyard, I’ve got some other ideas that could be
just as hot, if not hotter. Maybe we could do some epic firework displays—what do you
think, Enzo? Let’s all brainstorm together and see what we can come up with!
subject: Turning up the heat
Hello Ms. Tarpon,
I just absolutely adore your volcanic passion, and I am ready and willing to work with
you to help bring about some of these fantasies.
Per Roxanne and Asher’s expertise, may I suggest employing pink fire instead of pink
lava? It’s relatively simple to do, and just requires burning lithium chloride. It’s
(relatively) safe and inexpensive to do, and produces a beautiful, bright pink flame that
will undoubtedly catch the attention of all those who see it. Built to scale, you could
easily create quite a grand eruption!
In response to Asher’s suggestion of using fireworks instead of lava, I must inform you that
in Florida, fireworks are illegal without a permit, except for specific types such as devices
that emit a shower of sparks or those that do not detonate or explode. However, we can
certainly incorporate fireworks into the design of your volcano garden, using safe and
legal devices that will still give you the explosive effect you desire.
Let’s discuss this further over the next few days. Talk soon, and take care.
subject: Word travels faster than a pyroclastic flow
Dear Mr. Sodfather,
I’ll have you know that word travels quite fast among the upper echelon of Tampa — I
recently caught wind of your volcano development with Ms. Tarpon, and in short, I am
reaching out to let you know that this project will be swiftly vetoed if it is not dramatically
altered in scope.
First, as per section § 8.VEI of the Florida Building Code (FBC-2023), erupting lava is not
permitted, as it poses a significant risk to nearby structures and residents. And let’s be
real: we’re already dealing with enough hot messes in Florida without adding literal ones.
Second, your proposed pyrotechnic system for the volcano is in violation of Tampa’s noise
ordinance, as it will undoubtedly disturb the peace of our community. We’re all for adding
some spice to life at the Tampa Homeowners’ Association, but let’s not make the whole
neighborhood feel like they’re living in a Michael Bay movie, shall we?
I take my job very seriously, Mr. Sodfather, and the express purpose of my role is to make
Tampa a safe and prosperous community for generations to come, and your vision of
realizing “Glampa” for Ms. Tarpon is just simply not in the realm of possibility.
To propose some future amendments to the project, we recommend incorporating more
landscaping elements to help integrate the volcano garden into the surrounding
environment. This could include incorporating additional flora, stones, and other features
that give the impression of a natural terrain. We also suggest that the height of the
volcano be reduced to comply with zoning regulations and to ensure that it does not
obstruct the views of surrounding properties.
Tampa HOA President
subject: Vebootius commission: final garden proposal
Hi Ms. Tarpon,
I hope this email finds you well. After spending the last few weeks in conversation with
my colleagues (and, unfortunately, Tampa’s HOA President,) I’m reaching out to share
with you the amended, final schematics for Vebootius before moving forward with
breaking ground. I’ve attached a file containing two proposal sheets for you to take a
If you direct your attention to the “Exterior Structure” diagram on proposal sheet one,
you’ll see the final design of Vebootius. The volcano will be composed of an Italian
natural earth facade (A) overlaying a sturdy brick structure (B). The volcano will be
divided into two levels, accessed from below. The second level sits on wood framing
with a 3⁄4 inch tongue and groove subfloor (C). The flooring on both levels will be the
highest quality luxury Italian tilework. Around the circumference of Vebootius you’ll
find a stone walkway and observation deck featuring a custom wrought iron railing. The
earth facade and natural stone walkway will allow your volcano to blend in beautifully
with the surrounding landscape.
Now, let’s take a look at the inside: the “Internal Structure” diagram shows the proposed
layout of the volcano’s interior. At the edges of the upper level, a state of the art, custom
fitted pumping mechanism will release water through four hoses around the rim of the
volcano, simulating a lava flow at the press of a button. When the eruption is activated,
water will flow over specially designed pathways lined with discreet LED bulbs
illuminating the water to resemble lava. The center of the top floor will be fitted with a
furnace and launch platform for pyrotechnic displays, which will include a dispensing
mechanism so that lithium chloride can be ignited and projected upwards en masse. Per
Tampa ordinances, pure water eruptions are possible at any time, while pyrotechnic
displays will require a professional pyrotechnic operator stationed inside the volcano.
Pyrotechnic and aquatic displays can be coordinated from within the eruption room to
produce the most realistic display. The “Pyrotechnics” diagram contains the recipe for a
Pink Gerb Firework, if you’re in the mood for the most realistic result. Other Gerb
compositions may be used for different color eruptions. The lower level of your volcano
will contain your personal spa, complete with a sauna, hot tub, massage area, and
In this proposal I have also included a layout of the full garden in the “Landscape”
section. Vebootius will be located across a charming stream from a specially designed
Greek amphitheater. To the south of the volcano you’ll find a vegetable garden with the
varieties of fruits and vegetables found in proposal sheet two, regularly treated with a
volcanic ash fertilizer. Other landscaping will include flora from volcanic
regions—including Italy, Hawai’i, and Indonesia. Your custom pizza oven (D) will be
located in a garden patio (not pictured) with a stunning view of Vebootius.
Proposal sheet two details the plant life we intend to populate your garden with. In the
nature of full communication, I will briefly explain our botanical choices. Pleurothallis
truncata (A), an orchid variety found in the mountains of Ecuador, is grown in the
Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve near the Pululahua volcano. The dark green leaves and
bright orange flowers are sure to be an eye catching feature! Campylopus (H) and
Microlepia strigosa var. strigosa (C, D) on the slopes of the volcano will lend
authenticity to the garden and to viewer experience. The floral look will be completed
with Strelitzia reginae (K), the aptly named “bird of paradise.” The South African flower
is colorful and bright, perfect for you!
Raphanus sativus var. hortensis f. gigantissimus (B), the famous Sakurajima radish,
will be grown in the vegetable garden to the south of the volcano, along with Daucus
carota subsp. sativus, the common carrot (P). Root vegetables are known to grow
particularly well in volcanic soils. Vaccinium sect. cyanococcus, commonly known as
blueberries, should be planted here as well. Blueberries do well in more acidic solid, post
eruption. Coffee arabica (E, F, G) and Vitis varieties (N, O) will bring in the taste of
Central America and the Mediterranean, opening your door to personal coffee and wine
production. Gardens will also include the hypnotizing Passiflora (L, M). This gorgeous
flower will take you from Italy to Hawai’i with fresh passionfruit. These varied, robust
flavors will transport you right to the slopes of an active volcano, without ever leaving
your home. A garden like this is certain to make all your guests jealous!
Ms. Tarpon, we hope you’re as excited about Vebootius as we are here at the studio!
While we couldn’t make some of the more unconventional requests work, we think
you’ll agree that the final design is just as incredible as you originally envisioned. From
the Italian earth facade to the spa and sauna, and the state-of-the-art pyrotechnics and
aquatic displays, we’ve incorporated everything you and your many guests may need for
the ultimate volcano experience—right in your own backyard. Plus, with the inclusion of
a custom pizza oven and a wide range of volcanic plant life from around the world, your
garden will assuredly be the envy of Tampa’s high society. We can’t wait to break ground
and see this project come to life, and are absolutely thrilled to have been a part of this
process in creating something truly unique for you.
My best regards,
subject: LOVE LOVE LOVE!
Wow, just wow.
I’ve gone through the amended schematics and I must say, I am blown away! The final
design is erupting with luxury! My own Vebootius von Whorelitz!
Your hard work shows, Mr. Sodfather. I am already envisioning myself sipping some
volcanic wine, admiring our creation. Thank you.
In the wise words of Paris Hilton,
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