Tag Archives: Carpe Nocturne

Once more into the breach, once more

For those who didn’t know me in the black days known as “the Nineties,” I used to be a writer. Specifically, I used to write nonfiction for a plethora of science fiction magazines, culture zines, weekly newspapers, and other gathering posts for society’s detritus. After about 13 years of little recognition and less pay, I came to my senses and quit nearly a decade ago. I refer to my two temporary returns to standard writing as “relapses”, and it’s because of writing that I have sympathy and offer support for recovering heroin addicts. Writing is a nasty, foul, vile little business, and the only reasons I can see for wanting to go back to dealing with science fiction publishing are either addiction to the subject matter or a level of masochism that usually entails bunny suits, overflowing toilets, and six-foot sandstone strap-ons lubed with habanero peppers. (Now’s about the time I’m told by friends “Tell us what you really think.” That’s when I tell them about how the only way I got paid for one of those relapses was by threatening to out the personal E-mail addresses and phone numbers of every executive at SyFy if I didn’t receive my check, and they understand why I’d sooner get a hot Clorox enema than have to deal with that again.)

Strangely enough, though, I don’t have that level of hatred toward writing about horticulture. I have no delusions of reaching the heights of a Gertrude Jeckyll or even a Neil Sperry in garden writing. For me, it’s pure relaxation, spiced with a thrill coming from sharing new wonders with friends. And then there’s the cross-pollination with people in other endeavors: I haven’t found the right opportunity for another article about plants for Reptiles magazine, but the response to last year’s article on carnivorous plants in the vivarium gives me an itch to try this again.

Then there’s the newest addiction: dark gardening. And so now I start as the new gardening columnist for Carpe Nocturne magazine, starting with the Spring 2012 issue. Arioch, Issek, and Nyarlathotep help us all.

Back to the linen mines

I’ve said before that I was goth back when the term still referred to Germanic tribes overrunning the Roman Empire, and it shouldn’t be any surprise that I’ve had lots of interesting dark gardening ideas running through my head for the last six months or so since the Gothing Beauty fiasco. Well, it’s time to go back to causing more trouble: as of today, I became the official gardening columnist for Carpe Nocturne magazine. Since the publication schedule is significantly more active than that of GB, expect a lot more in the way of pertinent subjects, including looks at moon gardens, sources for statuary, and prehistoric plants. I suspect that there’s room in the gardening writing community for one Turner Van Blarcum; come to think of it, I may have to talk to Turner about designing some drastically different plant stands for the Carpe Nocturne crowd.

Plans for the new year

Time to change perspectives ever-so-slightly. I know that you’re currently caught in the horrible Mad Max/Dawn of the Dead mashup known as “the shopping season.” Most friends in the Northern Hemisphere already want to shiv me for mentioning that we Texans have only three more months to wait before we can plant tomatoes and peppers outside without fear of frost. Friends in the Southern Hemisphere are too busy screaming about the air they breathe bursting into flame to care. Either way, we need to talk about plans for next year.

I know, I know. It’s not even the winter solstice yet, and already that lunatic at the Triffid Ranch is talking about plans for 2012. Be thankful for this, kids, because I could do something really bloggy and pathetic, such as put up multiple pictures of my cats. Go ahead and ask “How many times did I knock up your little brother to make you do that?”, because you’ll be crying it before I’m done. If you’re really obnoxious, I’ll make you read through the archives first.

To start, January in Texas isn’t as mindnumbingly awful as it could be. We rarely get snow, and we even rarely go below freezing for most of the month. The one absolute of the month is that everything goes brown. Brown trees, brown grass, brown skies, brown note. Actually, things are so brown that you pray for a good sustained brown note, just to keep from boring yourself to death. Combine that with weekend entertainment options that usually circle Dallas Cowboys games…yeah, a lot of particularly earthy (and therefore brown to brownish) words get used to describe January out here.

That’s why you need a good dose of color. Thankfully for us all, that hits the weekend of January 27, when ZestFest 2012 starts up at the Irving Convention Center. When I first moved to North Texas in the tail-end of the Seventies, the only two tourist attractions in Irving were Texas Stadium and the Frito-Lay plant on the southeast side of the city, but That Changed with one of the largest conglomerations of spicy foods in the US. Prefer real flavor over heat? Not an issue. Want spicy combinations that shouldn’t exist on this planet? Yep. Enjoy the spectacle of grown adults eating items that peel the enamel off their teeth in big floppy strips? ZestFest is even better than the State Fair of Texas. The Triffid Ranch won’t have a booth out there, but we will be there to stock up, especially on DefCon Sauces‘s next atrocities.

Three weeks later, it’s time for the reptile and amphibian enthusiasts to have their fun. The North American Reptile Breeders Conference swings around to Arlington on the weekend of February 11, with its seemingly infinite range of animals, habitats, and food items. Again, the Triffid Ranch won’t have a presence this year (although that will probably change in 2013), but don’t use that as an excuse not to attend. The best part? This year’s show is just before Valentine’s Day, and considering how I do my best to treat the Czarina with orchids, maybe she might reciprocate with a true display of her love.

A week after this, the show season starts, and this year it’s starting with ConDFW XI in Dallas. The flytraps and Sarracenia should still be in proper winter dormancy for another month, so it’s time to focus on tropical pitcher plants, sundews, and triggerplants and arrangements containing same. This is a new show for the Czarina and myself, and another opportunity to prove that February isn’t anywhere near as brown as January.

Starting March 16, the theme is “End of the World”. You could see firsthand what happens when you give MBAs and coke spoons to chimpanzees, or you could hit up All-Con 2012. After all, it’s not a real end-of-the-world celebration without triffids, and All-Con should have a much lower quotient of fratboy vomit.

Finally, spring should be a celebration of renewal and rebirth. Ladybugs devouring aphids on rose bushes. Tomato hornworms infested with exoparasitic wasps, or dragged off and buried in underground warrens by other wasps. Robin and mockingbird hatchlings demonstrating their dinosaurian heritage. That’s why I’m passing on word now that the original 750 rooms for this year’s Texas Frightmare Weekend at DFW Airport are already booked, and the hotel just opened up another 750. Considering the crowd and the venue, is it bad form to state “We have such sights to show you,” or is that just an appropriate promise for those seeking exotic flora?

Finally, you’d think I’d learn after last spring’s fiasco, but the gardening writing bug implanted eggs in my viscera, and they’re currently trying to burrow out to pupate. I make no promises as to final outcome, but I’ve already volunteered my services at the new online magazine Carpe Nocturne. We shall see. Considering how badly I miss the long-dead goth magazine Carpe Noctem, I have hopes for additional bits of fun involving Texas Frightmare Weekend this year.