We’re coming up on the winter solistice in three weeks, so certain aspects of the Triffid Ranch are shutting down for the season. The temperate carnivores, such as Venus flytraps and Sarracenia pitcher plants, are going into their winter dormancy, so they’re outside soaking up the occasional late autumn rains. The triggerplants are throwing off the last of their blooms and quieting down for a while, but I’m certain not for long. The tropical carnivores are already abed in winter accomodations, and this weekend belongs to setting up winter shelter for the Buddha’s Hand citron tree, the grapefruit tree, the orchids, and the terrestrial bladderworts. Since this autumn has been nearly as dry as the summer, I’m fully expecting a repeat of the horrible Christmas Eve of 1989, where Dallas set its all-time record low temperature, so this should explain the frenzy of preparation.
Once that’s done, though, we’ll celebrate the end of the year for the same reason as everyone else we know: 2011 was rough. “Rough” as in “a kidney stone the size of a basketball rough”. 2011 needs to be treated exactly the same way as this kidney stone: namely, mounted in resin so it can’t hurt anyone ever again. Before welcoming the newborn baby 2012, I hope nobody minds if I kick out 2011′s cane, set fire to his beard, and kick him down a couple of flights of stairs. After that, turn the other way, because then I plan to get mean.
Now, before we slide into quiet celebration of the solistice, complete with cheery Yuletide stories from a cousin of mine, it’s time to reinstate a tradition from when this blog was still over at LiveJournal years back. The official Small Business Saturday event may have been nothing but an attempt to get smaller businesses to accept American Express cards (and their correspondingly high processing rates, which helps explain why most small businesses don’t take American Express cards) over the holidays, but the basic idea is sound. I’m just a firm believer in making it more than a one-day event.
To start, for those coming in late, please let me introduce you to St. Johns Booksellers up in Portland, the official source for Triffid Ranch reference books. I’m proud to say that I’ve known owner Nena Rawdah for fifteen years as of this month, and not once has she told me “I should have killed you when I had the chance.” Well, there was that one time, but who knew she was allergic to cherimoya? Anyway, should you be in the Portland area, go visit her directly, or buy lots of books from her online store if you aren’t. Either way, there’s a very good reason why links to reviewed and referenced books go to her store at every possible opportunity.
Not quite related to horticulture, but still willing to assist, are the fellow booksellers Mark and Cindy Ziesing. Their specialty is in the fantastic, and that means they’re a great source for art books and references rarely seen elsewhere. If nothing else, their regular print catalog is worth buying all on its own, if only because of the honest, concise, and often savagely funny reviews of incoming books. Don’t believe me? My ears are burning, and not just because Mark poured lighter fluid into one to see if he could see the light on the other side.
Traveling back to the Pacific Northwest for a bit, Seattle residents and visitors definitely need to schedule some time at Emerald City Gardens. No flying monkeys, no annoying dogs, and a guarantee that the available Christmas plants are unlike anything else you’ll see. In particular, ask about the succulent pots. Trust me.
In more charitable veins, regulars should know that I try my best to contribute to Bat World Sanctuary in Mineral Wells, and you’re all invited to chip in as well. This can consist of wines featuring your favorite chiropteran, coffee, or just adopting a bat at the sanctuary. (I’m trying to organize another fundraiser for both Bat World and the bats of Cleburne, Texas with the help of Garza’s Famous Chigo Hot Dogs, and details will follow.)
Finally, it may seem odd that I’m promoting what may appear to be competing carnivorous plant nurseries, but there’s a madness to my method. Not only am I proud — PROUD, I tells ya — to call the folks at Sarracenia Northwest and Black Jungle Terrarium Supply friends, but I wouldn’t be in this business if it weren’t for their support, friendship, and gentle beatings about the head and ears when I got out of hand. If you’re in the Portland area, I’d like to point out that Sarracenia Northwest is hosting open houses throughout the month of December, and that’s in addition to the annual SN Carnivorous Plant of the Month Club offerings. Meanwhile, on the other side of the continent, Black Jungle also carries a huge selection of ant ferns and arrow poison frogs, as well as bioluminescent mushroom kits. (If carnivores don’t suit you, then try a “Sharry Baby” Oncidium orchid. I bought one for the Czarina a few years back as a Valentine’s Day present, and she looks forward to the blooms every spring. Most people interpret the scent as chocolate, but the both of us swear that it smells exactly like fresh Dublin Dr. Pepper.)
Anyway, more entries to follow, so keep an eye open. Now back to work.