Have a Great Weekend

And now a public service announcement from one of my childhood role models. (And yes, I inadvertently scared the hell out of him, too, along with most of my other childhood heroes. Twenty years ago this month, in fact.)

Blooms in the greenhouse

Utricularia blooms

The last really bad bout of winter weather came through last night, and areas south and west of Dallas took frost damage. Out here at the Triffid Ranch, though, we got cold, but not cold enough to cause longterm damage. Good thing, too, because this winter has gone on far too long. Sure, the calendar says “spring”, but try telling that to the dingbats ordering the cold fronts.

Anyway, one of the better aspects of our current weather fluctuations is that everything that can bloom is doing so, all at once. This makes such ephemeral and unnecessary activities as breathing a little more jolly, as Dallas air once again hits “too thick to breathe, too thin to plow” in consistency and flavor. Oh, but the view.

Utricularia blooms

One of the surprises that really isn’t too surprising is watching the current explosion of terrestrial bladderworts in the greenhouse. One of those subsurprises was discovering that a pot of Utricularia lividia I thought was dead from last December’s Icepocalypse survived and now threatens to take over. In addition, one pot of sundews had barely visible sprigs of another bladderwort I haven’t identified yet, adding a bit of yellow to go with the white, purple, and red all around. The hummingbirds certainly aren’t complaining: several ruby-throats and rufous hummingbirds found access through the front door when things were warmer, and now I can joke that to go with all of my other problems, I have a greenhouse infested with dinosaurs.

Drosera binata blooms

Others are a bit slower. None of the Venus flytraps have done more than produce bloom spikes, but the forkleaf sundews (Drosera binata) are going mad. With a bit of luck, most of the sundews that survived the winter will follow up with similar displays, and the flytraps should follow within a few more days

Stylidium debile blooms

And should it be a surprise that no matter how rough the weather, the frail triggerplants (Stylidium debile) just keep growing and growing? The weather encouraged them, too, with one of the strongest displays I’ve seen since the big snowstorm of 2010. With the new triggerplant species getting established in the greenhouse as well, I can only imagine what the greenhouse will look like this time next year. Here’s just hoping that we don’t have to suffer quite so much to get there.

Sarracenia in Bloom…Kinda

Sarracenia buds

We all thought that by this time in April, winter would be dead. I’ve lived in Texas for nearly 35 years, and the last serious bout of freezing weather to hit this late happened the spring before I moved here. Most years, we could be assured that the last freeze was done before St. Patrick’s Day, and that April would be nothing but balmy mornings and rainy weekends. This has been a rather unorthodox winter.

Sarracenia buds

I wasn’t the only one affected by this, being struck with a bout of flu after last March’s All-Con that took a solid month to fend off. Several winters in the last decade were so mellow that both Sarracenia pitcher plants and Venus flytraps didn’t get enough of a winter dormancy to keep them from blooming once and then dying. This year? All are only now starting to bud, and as of this evening, only two Sarracenia flava had opened their blooms. It’s not just the Sarracenia, either: most of our native trees and bushes are so far behind that they also only started blooming within the last two weeks. At the rate we’re going, we’ll need snowblowers to clear off the drifts of pollen in the streets.

Sarracenia buds

And are we done? Of course not. Three days after taking these photos, the temperature took a dive once again. The middle of April, and we’re looking at one last two-day run of freezing, and the Sarracenia are too far along to cover without damaging the bloom buds. Of course we’re getting one last freeze, only three weeks until the next big show. Of course.

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Cat Monday

Cadigan

Have a Great Weekend

)

Image

Cat Monday

Cadigan

Have a Great Weekend

)

Introducing Tempusetsiti gilliami

The slogan for the company should say it all: “Odd Plants and Oddities For Odd People”. Most of the time, it’s able to follow through. Every once in a great while, though, it exceeds the expectations of even the oddest people to come through the door. It gives everyone involved with the Texas Triffid Ranch great pleasure in announcing that it will be the one and only nursery on the planet Earth, and probably any other planet, to carry seeds and juvenile plants of the incredibly rare tree known as the Pink Bunkadoo, Tempusetsiti gilliami.

Long a highly coveted tree, the Pink Bunkadoo is a monotypical species, belonging to the order Strepitusiciae, which also includes such rare flora as the Varga plant and the Whomping Willow. While casual observers can’t get over its exceptional height (rumored to exceed 600 feet [182.88 meters] in mature specimens), its main attraction in the horticultural trade comes from its bright red foliage. Growing in a wide variety of conditions, from arctic to tropical, the Pink Bunkadoo is easily coppiced, trained into espaliers, and trimmed into hedges, and its only shortcoming is its odor, commonly described as “a stench that could burn the nose hairs out of a dead nun.”

More details are forthcoming, such as the Pink Bunkadoo’s ability to draw out and process radioactive isotopes from contaminated soil or its equally fragrant fruit making a nutritious sandwich spread, but first a moment of tribute. After an absence of twelve years, we need to recognize the efforts of one Edgar Harris, formerly the sports editor for Science Fiction Age magazine, for getting viable seeds and photos of the mature plants. If not for his outstanding efforts at hunting down and collecting specimens, the Pink Bunkadoo would remain nothing more than a legend.

Pink Bunkadoo

When Harris first got in touch, all he had was a photograph from the Pink Bunkadoo’s native habitat in the plateau of Maple-White Land, located on the border of Venezuela and Brazil. After consulting experts on its authenticity, we wired him the money to gather samples, which just arrived. The Pink Bunkadoo produces large fleshy seed pods with many of the same attributes as ginkgoes and durian fruit, so transporting one back to the US was impossible without access to cargo helicopters. However, he was able to snag viable seeds, from which we plan to offer our first trees.

Pink Bunkadoo seed

As can be told, the actual seed is both huge and very heavily hulled, requiring extensive scarification to allow germination. A currently prevailing theory is that the ancestors of the Pink Bunkadoo produced those fruits to attract large dinosaurs to swallow the seeds, thus passing them only after being thoroughly tumbled in the beasts’ gizzards. Other experts suggest that the hulls were protection against forest fires and the occasional volcanic eruption, and the seeds only seem to pip after being dropped from fast-moving vehicles onto busy highways. This alone, along with the weight of the seed, preclude any hope of offering fresh seeds to garden centers. Sorry, friends, but the only hope here is in getting leaf or branch material for sterile tissue propagation.

Another fascinating trait of the Pink Bunkadoo is the deep scoring of the outer seed hull, often resembling writing. We were assured by Harris that not only is this common, but the markings are different between seeds in the same fruit. Others seemed to read “POST NO BILLS,” “PROPERTY OF KANKAKEE POLICE,” and “EVER GET THE FEELING YOU’VE BEEN CHEATED?” The only absolute was the difference in color between viable and nonviable seed, as demonstrated with the first documented germination.

Germinating Pink Bunkadoo seed

In this photo, you can see the seed coat cracking under the stress of germination, and Harris attests that the tap root will start to sprout any day now. The actual sprouting, though, requires specialized conditions, including red silk pillows, a mister loaded with chocolate sauce, and the rich melodies of Barry White. Or so he says.

Pink Bunkadoo seed closeup

As can be expected, this is extremely exciting, and we ask potential retailers and customers to hold off until we can present the final trees for sale, probably on 2/30/2015. Until then, keep checking back for further developments, and thank you, as always, for your support.

All-Con 2014: The Aftermath – Finale

All-Con 2014

As a final comment about All-Con 2014, after a few years, you start to notice trends. At any given show, the costumes range a wild gamut, and there’s no telling who’s going to come in with the outfit that stops the entire show. Half of the fun at the convention is people-watching, and with so many great costumes coming through the front doors, half of them pass right by the Triffid Ranch booth. With that many people, as mentioned, you notice trends.

The first trend that I’ve noticed for a while is that the comics character of Poison Ivy is an extremely popular as a costume subject, and I’ve seen some incredibly detailed and composed Poison Ivy oufits over the years. The odd part, considering the obsession the character has with plants, is that I’ve met all of two Poison Ivy cosplayers who had any interest in plants whatsoever. The second one was one of the first people to stop by the Triffid Ranch booth on Thursday afternoon, and she asked nothing but fascinating questions about the various plants on display.

All-Con 2014

The other surprising trend? While I don’t regularly meet Poison Ivy cosplayers who like plants, I have yet to meet a Wonder Woman cosplayer who didn’t. This young woman not only had the look and the attitude down pat, but she made me wish I had miniature roses in this year’s assemblage. She was incredibly happy with her Nepenthes arrangement, but somehow it didn’t seem right to let her leave without roses, and I don’t know why.

And that finishes up the overview of All-Con 2014. As explained earlier, the Triffid Ranch won’t be out at All-Con 2015, but expect to see a whole new presence in March 2016. At least, that’s the idea. See you then.

All-Con 2014: The Aftermath – 9

Echinocactus texensis

Each Triffid Ranch show is a surprise, considering that most customers never know what they’re looking for until they see it. I regularly bring succulents to shows, and I never can tell which one will bring the best response. This time, the belle of the ball was our old friend Echinocactus texensis.

Tommy Gunn

Now, both horsecripplers got quite a bit of attention, but this gentleman came through on Sunday after taking a break from his space in Artist’s Alley. When he learned about horsecrippler fruit and the need for two to produce viable fruit, well, two went home with him right then. I regularly get photos from customers who want to show off their plants after they become established, and I fully expect to see photos of many happy horsecripplers before too long.