Have a Great Weekend

Have a Great Weekend

Happy Darwin Day

Today is a very special day at the Triffid Ranch: it’s time to celebrate the 210th birthday of Charles Darwin. Others in the scientific and horticultural communities have their own specific reasons to celebrate Darwin’s birthday, but the overriding reason around here is simple: the publication in 1875 of the book Insectivorous Plants. Darwin’s research into the mechanics and chemistry of carnivorous plants obviously predated such tools as radioisotope tracing and DNA sequencing, but all such research into carnivores today depends to an extent on his careful study 150 years ago. While you’re out and about today, hoist a beverage of your choice in the direction of Westminster Abbey and toast this singular individual, without whose studies the current study of carnivorous plants would have been very different.

Have a Great Weekend

The Aftermath: Groundhog Day 2019 Open House

Even if the tradition behind Groundhog Day made any sense, North Texas weather throws the tradition under the bus. This year, the groundhog wouldn’t have seen his shadow, because the thick fog that morning would have had him screaming “THERE’S SOMETHING IN THE MIST!” That fog stuck around, too: as odd as it was, at least it beat the deadly cold up in Chicago: I survived the Blizzard of 1979, and that experience is a big reason on why the gallery is titled “the Texas Triffid Ranch” and not “the Illinois Varga Shop.”)

Fog aside, and aside from the local missing stair who was removed in short order and told not to return, the latest open house was a grand success, including one family that drove from Tulsa just to attend. Thanks to everyone who made it, other than the missing stair, because you were all braver than the groundhog this year.

The date for the next open house is in flux, dependent upon getting confirmation on an upcoming event. When it’s nailed down, though, read about it here.

Have a Great Weekend

The Groundhog Day open house at the gallery is this weekend, so for those in Dallas on Saturday, we’ll see you there. For everyone else, especially for those in the American Midwest, here’s hoping that Sid here doesn’t see his shadow, because we don’t need six more weeks of this. (40 years ago, I was in Chicago, still digging out from under the Blizzard on 1979. I sympathize more than you know.

The Aftermath: Perot Museum Social Science “Wild World”

perot02012019_3It’s been three years since the last time the Triffid Ranch was invited to show plants out at the Perot Museum of Nature & Science in downtown Dallas, and making a late evening of the Social Science 21+ museum event was a perfect way to finish off January. Just me, the provosts and staff, and a few thousand interested bystanders…the theme of this month’s Social Science event was “Wild World”, and carnivorous plants were just part of the fun.

perot02012019_2The relative lack of photos from “Wild World” had less to do with photographic aptitude and more to do with the sheer size of the crowd. When the official “everyone is worn out and going home, so you can break down” time was 10:00 and patrons were still asking enthusiastic questions at just short of midnight, it says a lot about the energy at the sold-out event. As it was, getting photos was a bit problematic, especially when people were crowded so thickly around the Triffid Ranch table that we occasionally blocked off access to the elevators. Every guest presenter at an event like this wants to make an impression upon its audience, and with five to ten people listening in on every answered question, the carnivores apparently made quite the impression. The crowd rushed in right at opening, and the only chance to get photos of the table itself was when everyone had cleared out for the night.

perot02012019_4perot02012019_1

Anyway, thanks to the multitudes of energetic and wildly curious attendees, this was a great way to start the 2019 Triffid Ranch show season, and I wish to thank everyone who made it. For those who couldn’t, get your tickets for the April 26 Social Science, “Science Fiction,” before they sell out, too.

Have a Great Weekend

Have a good time this weekend. Stay warm. Don’t let the Morlocks bite.

No Sleep Til Perot

Perot Museum's glowing frogs

For those attending tonight’s Social Science night at the Perot Museum, see you there. For everyone who can’t, that’s why the gallery is hosting a Groundhog Day open house on February 2. Either way, it’s time to hit the road.

Have a Great Weekend

The last weekend before things start getting really interesting for 2019, and we have a soundtrack for everybody:

State of the Gallery: January 2019

January skies: cold and dark

Coming up on the new gallery’s second anniversary, the main theme around the Triffid Ranch this month is…cleaning. Lots of cleaning, shifting, moving, sorting, cataloguing, and launching into the sun. Pots and containers that almost made sense when they were originally purchased three years ago but simply can’t cut the mustard today. Glues and other adhesives that didn’t age well.  Electrical fixtures purchased years before the gallery originally opened that are now desperately obsolete based on today’s technology. Equipment and supplies purchased for big projects that fell through, usually when the client only wanted to pay in exposure. Items that fell literally between the cracks in those frantic days during and after the move from Valley View Center. Combine this with a renovation of the actual toolspace, and the gallery is as close to ergonomic as it’s been since the beginning of 2017. You know, when the space was empty. 

(Seriously, folks, take it from a professional: DO NOT STOCKPILE GLUES. Buy what you need when you need it, or what you reasonably think you can use within a month. Most of your cyanoacrylate superglues will last longer, but there’s nothing quite like desperately needing silicone sealer for a project, slapping a presumably fresh cartridge into the caulking gun, cranking it up to put down a bead of fresh silicone, and getting instead a bead of what looks and feels like transparent cottage cheese with no adhesive properties whatsoever. Don’t even get me started on wood glues: old wood glue looks like snot, it smells like snot, and it has a third of the holding power of snot. Not only will your projects fall apart, but then everyone visiting will assume that your workspace does double duty as a preschool.)

That’s the situation at the moment: with everyone still recovering from holiday stress, the best thing to do is get everything around for the rest of the year, and that’s very nearly literally complete. I can’t say that previous visitors won’t recognize the new gallery, but it definitely has a lot less of the Doctor Who/The Red Green Show mashup feel than in previous months. Well, I SAY that, but you should see some of the odd Halloween pots picked up when a Pier One distributor shut down their local showcase office two years ago. And this applies until it’s time to restock glassware after selling everything during the spring show season.

As far as events are concerned, we had to make a tough decision earlier this week, and the Triffid Ranch won’t be at All-Con in the middle of March. This wasn’t done lightly, and it mostly involved schedule conflicts with the day job, which is why we really had no choice. The schedule is going to be filled with more one-day events through the rest of the year, but four-day events aren’t going to be an option for the foreseeable future. The Oddities and Curiosities Expo at Dallas’s Fair Park on March 30 is still on, though, as well as other events to be announced very shortly.

Likewise, we’re still on for the Perot Museum of Nature & Science’s Social Science: Wild World 21+ event on January 25: the flytraps and North American pitcher plants are dormant for the winter, but the Mexican butterwort blooms in the gallery make up for it. For those who have already picked up their tickets, the Triffid Ranch exhibit will be on the fourth floor, not far away from the Protostega skeleton. If this works well, negotiations are ongoing about returning for the Social Science: Science Fiction show on April 26: between this and Tim Curry’s guest appearance at Texas Frightmare Weekend the very next weekend, I’m honestly looking forward to fictional carnivorous plant references that don’t involve people yelling “Feed me, Seymour!” over and over and my inevitable response.

Oh, and another benefit of the final gallery cleanup: besides freeing up room for new projects, this also allows the opportunity to restart a program put on hiatus after the Valley View exodus. Some of you may remember Sid, the Nepenthes bicalcarata pet at the long-defunct and much-missed Role2Play gaming store in Coppell, and it’s time to expand the rental program that allowed Sid to make such an impression. Bookstores, dentist offices, classrooms, business lobbies: Triffid Ranch enclosure rentals offer the opportunity to show off unique carnivorous plant displays without having to deal with maintenance and upkeep. Keep checking back, because the details will be available very soon, or feel free to drop a line to become an early implementer.

Have a Great Weekend

Experiments: Hylocereus megalanthus

Hylocereus megalanthus (yellow dragonfruit)

Contrary to popular opinion, the Triffid Ranch doesn’t focus solely on carnivorous plants. The last ten years have been a boot camp on care and propagation of two species of the Hylocereus climbing cactus known commonly as “dragonfruit.” Getting seeds for the two most common species, white (H. undatus) and red (H. costaricensis), was exceedingly easy as dragonfruit continue their rise in popularity in American markets. (An extra surprise for those wanting to buy carnivorous plant seeds: since dragonfruit seeds are almost identical to Venus flytrap seeds, scammers sell a lot of dragonfruit seeds all over Amazon and eBay.) Every reference I could find about the yellow dragonfruit cactus, H. megalanthus, though, noted that it was very hard to find outside of Central America, and a business trip to Nicaragua turned up other species growing under live oak trees but no fruit. By last New Year’s Eve, I’d given up on finding any, so guess what happened when my wife pointed out a new entry at our local Asian market?

Hylocereus megalanthus (yellow dragonfruit) -sliced

Getting one home, several things presented themselves as I went to work with a knife. Firstly, these fruit were imported from Ecuador, suggesting either that Ecuadorean farmers are competing with the big red and white dragonfruit farms in Vietnam, or that there’s something about megalanthus propagation that makes growing them in the Americas much easier. Secondly, as compared to the firm and crunch flesh of other species, megalanthus fruit is just pulpy enough that they’re shipped in the same padded netting used for Asian pears to keep them from bruising during transport. Thirdly, while most Americans are disappointed by the very delicate flavor of red and white dragonfruit (that delicacy, incidentally, is why I love them and could eat them all day), megalanthus fruit has a very distinctive sweet flavor, much like the syrup in canned fruit cocktail. Get the word out to chefs and bartenders in the States and Europe, and Ecuador will have to quintuple dragonfruit production just to keep up with demand.

Yellow dragonfruit (Hylocereus megalanthus) seeds in propagation

Oh, and the most interesting part besides the color of the peel? Yellow dragonfruit seeds are HUGE compared to those of other Hylocereus species. They’re still perfectly edible, and they add a very satisfying crunch when inhaling the fourth yellow dragonfruit of the night, but this suggests further research on which animals are used as vectors for those seeds: I’m putting down early money on lizards and tortoises as well as birds. On any case, most of the remaining fruit went into propagation, using techniques that are very productive for the other commercially grown Hylocereus species: tall pots under a propagation dome, with the fruit scraped out of the rind, spread out atop potting mix in thin strips, and more potting mix put on top to facilitate decay of the pulp. In about a month, we’ll learn if this worked: wish me luck.

The Texas Triffid Ranch Occasional Newsletter and Feed Lot Clearance Sale – #5

(The Texas Triffid Ranch Occasional Newsletter and Feedlot Clearance Sale is a regular Email newsletter, with archives available on the main TTR site at least a month after first publication. To receive the latest newsletters, please subscribe.)

Originally published on December 18, 2018

Okay, so the holiday season is going full tilt, with the expected diminishing of daylight hours in the Northern Hemisphere. All of the temperate carnivores, particularly flytraps and Sarracenia pitcher plants, should be in full dormancy by now, and stay there until at least the middle of March. Nepenthes and Cephalotus pitcher plants may not need a similar full dormancy, but they certainly won’t mind a relative rest, and giving them lowered daylight hours increases the odds of their blooming in spring if they’re mature enough. Orchids, gesneriads, aloes, euphorbias, citrus…all of these definitely appreciate a bit of rest during the winter months. The trick is knowing HOW much of a rest, and of what kind.

 For most, the rest period is determined by photoperiod, the number of light hours a plant receives per day. (One could argue that thanks to axial tilt, winter light intensity is diminished alongside the number of hours, but we’ll leave that out of the conversation for now.) As far as carnivores and protocarnivores are concerned, even species generally considered to grow all year around could use a photoperiod rest through the winter, with either decreased light or cooler temperatures or both. Tropical carnivores such as Nepenthes pitcher plants and bladderworts use photoperiod as a cue to store up energy for blooming in spring, and the tuberous sundews of Australia use photoperiod to prepare for emergence in the monsoon season. Want really spectacular blooms in spring with tropical sundews and bladderworts? Give them a rest now by matching the photoperiod of plants under lights with the outside dawn/dusk cycle. If that’s not practical, at least cut plant light to nine to ten hours per day.

With both plants under lights and ones in a windowsill, make sure to protect your plant from excessive artificial light outside of that winter lighting schedule. Moonlight is generally too weak to affect plants, and they’re already adapted to it, but street lights, porch lights, living room lamps, kitchen lights, and even nearby nightlights can adversely affect some plants’ ability to bloom. Poinsettias are an extreme example: getting those brilliant red bracts in time for Christmas requires putting them into a closet or other lightproof space at night. One flashlight, one open closet door, one porch light turned on at the wrong time before the poinsettia is ready, and you’re going to have to wait for next year.

 The worst part of this is that it seems counterintuitive, especially for those of us with SADS. Right at the time when we’re craving more and more energetic lights, photoperiod-dependent plants are asking for a cessation of hostilities. Yes, not being able to enjoy them in winter is aggravating, but come spring, when they’re exploding with blooms, you’ll be glad to have let them sleep in.

What You’ve Missed:

Oh, dear. It’s been a little while since the last newsletter, with more than a few shows and updates since then. Recent updates to the web site include:

Enclosures: Hans-Ruedi II (2018)

Enclosures: Hoodoo (2018)

The Aftermath: Blood Over Texas Horror For the Holidays V

The Aftermath: Swizzle’s Hawaiian Holiday Popup 2018

Personal Interlude: The Honeymoon Wall

Other News

 Well, never let it be said that the Triffid Ranch doesn’t jump onto a social media trend a half-decade after everyone else does. For those who have lovingly nuhdzed me for the last two years about setting up an Instagram account, go check out @txtriffidranch right now. For those who haven’t, head over there anyway.

Recommended Reading

Because it’s that season, it’s time to look back on the basics. Both for beginning carnivorous plant enthusiasts and those experienced growers wanting to expand their range, you can’t go wrong with the 20-year classic, The Savage Garden by Peter D’Amato. You can get more detail on carnivorous plant morphology, relationships, and ecology with the Redfern Natural History volumes, but as far as good growing tips and propagation methods, you can’t beat D’Amato’s tried and true techniques. While the original 1998 edition is still a valuable guide, the recent updated version is worth the money, especially if you to get an autographed copy.

Music

Some of you fellow Eighties brats may remember the British metal band Bad News, either for the two pseudodocumentaries on the BBC’s The Comic Strip Presents, its live tour, or its sole album. A few may have specific opinions about lead singer and guitarist Vim Fuego, guitarist Colin Grigson, bassist Den Dennis, and drummer Spider Webb Spider Webb (as played by Adrian Edmondson, Rik Mayall, Nigel Planer, and Peter Richardson), and a few might even notice significant similarities between the two pseudodocumentaries and a pseudodocumentary that came out a year later about a band named Spinal Tap. For everyone else, it’s time for you to become familiar with a criminally overlooked vestige of Twentieth Century heavy metal history, if only for a celebration of the thirtieth anniversary release of the greatest holiday metal song ever written, “Cashing In On Christmas.” 

The Texas Triffid Ranch Occasional Newsletter and Feed Lot Clearance Sale is copyright 2018 by Paul Riddell, and may be reproduced in its entirety and forwarded at will. The Texas Triffid Ranch is Dallas’s pretty much only carnivorous plant gallery, located in scenic Richardson, Texas, and is open by appointment. More information is available at www.txtriffidranch.com. With the announcement of Pantone’s new color for 2019, I now want to breed a rose that color, and name the cultivar “Rick Grimes.”

Have a Great Weekend

And only 75 days until the first day of spring!

Have a Great 2019


When I was in high school, I read a comment in a magazine from a neurologist stating that “pain is the body’s way of keeping you from dying of tetanus from stepping on rusty nails all day.” One of the many regrets of my feckless youth was that I didn’t write down the magazine’s name nor the doctor’s name, because this statement should be the Triffid Ranch’s mission statement. When you think of all of the important advice given by the wise to the young, most of it may sound as if it’s intended to avoid death. Go back to all of the important advice given by parents, family, teachers, co-workers: it’s not intended to avoid death, but to avoid pain. Don’t run with scissors. Don’t pick up the cat by the tail. Don’t stick your fingers in a light socket. Don’t hold firecrackers in your hand and then light them with a sparkler. Unplug the lawn mower spark plug before reaching underneath. Always cook dried beans for a while before eating them. None of these may kill you outright or even quickly, but it’s amazing how mind-searing pain will make you choose differently with subsequent decisions. I’d tell you how I know this, but let’s just say that I had no fingerprints on my right hand between 1984 and 1987. (I won’t even talk about why I avoid New Year’s Eve festivities, considering that one New Year’s Eve 25 years ago led to a slew of bad decisions that cascaded and replicated into the 21st Century. An assemblage of the alternate individuals I’d be today if I’d just stayed home at the end of 1993 could populate a reboot of Orphan Black.)

 In lieu of the usual look back on the previous year with hope of learning lessons from it, let’s look at 2019 with the idea that we all learned something from 2018. It doesn’t have to be much, but the desired goal is to note what causes us blinding agony, and, you know, maybe avoiding said agony for the duration of one’s lifespan. If it’s a particularly pertinent lesson, maybe it’ll become impressed into myth and legend: “You see how that person stops everything and silently cries every day at noon for an hour? DON’T DO WHAT THEY DID.” Likewise, if the action or lack thereof led to a significant cessation of pain or even an overload of joy, this deserves at least as much attention.

Numero Uno: It’s time to drop nostalgia. The new book Typeset in the Future: Typography and Design in Science Fiction Movies by Dave Addey came out a couple of weeks ago, and the chapter on the future realism of 2001: A Space Odyssey contained a gem about the videophone shown near the beginning of the film. Bell Telephone had originally premiered the videophone in 1964, with the intention of introducing videophones across the world based on the exceptional response it received at the 1964 World’s Fair. The problem was that the perceived demand didn’t actually exist except among a few executives looking for an excuse to launch it: the alleged ecstatic survey results came from people who attended the World’s Fair, who made their way to the Bell demo, who tried the videophone, and then stated that they’d be willing to pay for video calls if videophones were available. Nobody ran research of how many people would be willing to pay for videophone service who didn’t see the demo at the World’s Fair, or even if they’d run in the other direction and start communicating with carrier pigeons if videophones were the only other option. Bell finally gave up after spending millions of dollars on pushing a videophone solution that just didn’t appeal to any but a very few, and a solution that was a lot more expensive than existing phone options at the time with no obvious must-have bonus. (It’s very telling that Skype and other video apps only took off when the price of a video call dropped to nothing, and when the technology necessary to make said calls was easily folded into other technology that was easy to access and transport.)

That, in a nutshell, summed up a lot of attempts in 2018 to revive events and venues that died in the 1990s. Either it’s easy to forget that the people who keep nagging about reviving a dead venue have no obligation to put down money on it, the people organizing it are so attached to fond memories from decades past that they assume that everyone else must be as into it as they are, or the intended audience has simply grown past or expects more. If more than ten years have gone by between the last time the venue was open and its revival, the odds are pretty good that its original audience is too distracted to notice its return, and training a new audience as to why This Is A Big Deal may take too long. More than 20 years, and the bright young kids that made the event or venue what it was are probably grandparents by now. What appeals to them probably won’t to their grandkids, and any attempt to revive a venue has to take those grandkids into account.

This may be a roundabout way to explain why you shouldn’t expect to see a Triffid Ranch tent at the Woodstock 50th anniversary event next year (mostly because “lectures by noted futurists” bring on horrible flashbacks of being trapped in a broom closet with Bruce Sterling in 1999), but it’s also a warning not to expect to see the tent at other revivals. There’s just not enough of a return, and new events and venues are a lot more fun.

Numero Two-o: Forget Facebook. 2018 was an experiment in getting more word out about Triffid Ranch events and open houses via social media, and the final tally is a resounding “meh.” Sadly, Facebook is the one that’s getting cut out more and more in 2019: the pressure to boost articles on Facebook Pages in order for readers to see them is getting ridiculous, more people are either leaving or cutting back on Facebook because of its much-publicized security and privacy issues, and then there’s the whole problem with trying to gauge commitment based on a medium that has no expectations tied to it. The money spent in 2018 on trying to reach new attendees via Facebook is better spent on signing up for more local shows, and if I want to go with ads again, I’ll go with a more effective medium, like AM radio.

Numero Three-o: Focus on home. The very good news about the gallery is that the move to the current location means that a lot of the perceived stigma of being at Valley View Center is gone. (At least now I no longer get people bellowing “But the mall is going to be torn down!” when I pass on the new address.) Now the trick is to get the word out to people already well-trained to ignore ads. Thankfully, the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex has a simply incredible number of one- and two-day markets and shows scheduled through 2019, so the plan is to set up at as many as weather allows. This includes forays into Austin and Houston as well, because I miss friends, customers, and cohorts south of Dallas.

Number Four-o: Don’t forget the little people. When friends finally get a major return on years of hard work with a new book, a movie deal, or a museum show, I always tell them “Now, don’t forget us little people when you’re accepting your Nobel.” I’m only half-joking: not only do I have faith that they WILL get that Nobel Prize, but it’s a reminder to me. I haven’t spent enough time thanking all of the people and organizations that helped get the Triffid Ranch off the ground and where it is, and 2019 is the year where that goes into overdrive. To everyone who came out to a gallery show, stopped by a booth at one of 2018’s shows, or who simply keeps reading site updates while waiting for a new episode of Starcher Trek, thank you, and I’m going to do my utmost to repay the kindness. Now let’s put 2018 in its grave before it can bite one last time.

Have a Great Weekend

16 years of marriage as of today, and it just keeps getting better. Considering that most of the dead pool bets were around “six months,” I sometimes wonder if we should have taken a dive at the end of 2003, divorced, collected the money, and continued to live in sin.

Nightmare Weekends Before Christmas 2018: The Aftermath

Well, the 2018 holiday season is nearly over, and the Triffid Ranch open houses are definitely done until 2019. On behalf of Caroline and myself, we’d like to thank everyone who came out for this year’s Nightmare Weekends Before Christmas open houses, because all of you made them work. For those who couldn’t, January is dedicated to inventory and reorganization before the spring show season, as well as to the construction of new enclosures, so make room on your calendars for the Groundhog Day open house on February 2. We’re going to have a lot to show off by then.

The Texas Triffid Ranch Occasional Newsletter and Feed Lot Clearance Sale – #3

(The Texas Triffid Ranch Occasional Newsletter and Feedlot Clearance Sale is a regular Email newsletter, with archives available on the main TTR site at least a month after first publication. To receive the latest newsletters, please subscribe.)

Originally published on September 17, 2018

So it’s been raining a bit in the Dallas area this September. A good thunderstorm on Labor Day is so common that nobody is particularly surprised, but then we usually go for about three weeks of heat and dry until one good cold front passes through, bringing a classic Texas gullywasher with it. After that, we enter traditional Texas autumn, which generally runs until the end of November. Warm and dry in October is expected: the last time we actually got cold at Halloween was in 1993, where temperatures surprisingly went below freezing and we had probably our only serious fall color in a generation. This September, though, the rains keep coming. We got the usual Labor Day downpour, and then we kept Houston-level humidity interspersed with flash rains.

One of Dallas’s more entertaining meteorological phenomena is our propensity toward very compact and very intense storms forming out of nowhere, so anyone driving along Central Expressway in the late afternoon would have seen the east side of Central with a bare misting of rain and the west side so inundated that visibility was close to zero. That’s before the rains really picked up: by midnight, we received a full six inches (15.24 cm) at the greenhouse, and the rain kept coming all Saturday. We could at least blame that on the remnants of a tropical storm blasting through, but the rest of the week? Abnormally (and much appreciated) cool temperatures AND a nearly constant misting, with no significant breaks for the immediate future.

Naturally, the Sarracenia are beside themselves with joy.

As a rule, North Texas has two growing seasons, separated by the lead smelter exhaust we fondly call “summer.” The spring growing season starts somewhere between the end of February and the middle of March, depending upon how many sudden cold snaps, surprise frosts, and occasional ice and snow storms interrupt the progression. With only a couple of exceptions in the last 50 years, the St. Patrick’s Day weekend is the point of no return, where the odds of another killing freeze drop to close to nothing. The cold frames and cloches go into storage very quickly, as April temperatures rapidly turn these into vegetable steamers. All cold-weather crops such as spinach are long-dead by the beginning of May, and everything generally stops by the middle of June. At that point, we’re both too hot and too dry for much growth of any sort, and all of the indigenous flora either burns off or goes dormant for the rest of the summer.

Autumn is when everything comes back, and that particularly applies to carnivores. Pretty much all temperate carnivores react to the change in weather by growing new leaves and traps, but Venus flytraps and North American pitcher plants go overboard in both size and color. Even pitcher plants with a mediocre appearance in spring tend to have brighter colors in autumn, but white pitchers (Sarracenia leucophylla) make up for lost time in September and October. And that’s under a typical Dallas autumn, with long dry interludes between rainstorms. This September, combine abnormally cool temperatures with a long and steady mist, and the leucophylla are going berserk. At this rate, they’ll be pulling their roots up and going for walks by October 1, and they’ll keep this up well past Halloween, or until night temperatures approach freezing, whichever comes first.

And the absolute best part of the boon in good carnivore weather? Both Sarracenia pitcher plants and Venus flytraps fluoresce strongly under ultraviolet light at about 380 nanometers, but some carnivores fluoresce across a wider range than others. Sarracenia leucophylla in particular fluoresces under moonlight, which helps explain why its trap contents tend to contain an inordinate number of moths, click beetles, and other completely nocturnal prey. With the Harvest Moon on September 24 and the Hunter’s Moon on October 24, anyone in the Dallas area with leucophyllas in their carnivorous plant collections are going to be blown away. With the number of Datura stramonium flowers growing alongside the Triffid Ranch greenhouse, the effect of the full moon at zenith will quote a rather popular film at the gallery: “it’s so dark, it’ll blind you.” That is, if the storm clouds ever fade.

Recent Updates

Recent updates to the web site:

New enclosure: “Raptor” (2018)

New enclosure: “Tezcatlipoca Blues” (2018)

New Article: “Shoutout For a Friend”

New Article: “State of the Gallery: September 2018”

Other News

Firstly, those who participated in the drawing for free Harlan Ellison books should have your randomly selected paperbacks or hardcovers, along with other neat items for neat people. Well, with the exception of you, Volly. You got the best of the lot: autographed copies of The Last Dangerous Visions and the autobiography Working Without A Net, as well as DVDs of the first four seasons of Cutter’s World. Hang onto those, because they might be  valuable one of these days, right alongside the twentieth anniversary issue of Science Fiction Eye.

And for those who came to the newsletter by way of the recent Harlan Ellison giveaway, I’d like to note that Harlan Ellison Books is putting out not one but FOUR new books, including the definitive Blood’s A Rover collection. One of the collections contains the just-rediscovered scripts and synopsis for Man Without Time, a TV series intended to star Leonard Nimoy after the cancellation of Star Trek, and the story of how it was found is just as intriguing as the series concept. Preorder now so you don’t get disappointed when it sells out within minutes.

For those in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, September doesn’t just mean “a welcome break from the soul-crippling heat of summer.” It also means “reptile show season,” particularly with the NARBC reptile and amphibian show at the Arlington Convention Center on September 22 and 23. The Triffid Ranch won’t have a booth this year (although I’m thinking very long and hard about September 2019), but just look for the albino with the Triffid Ranch T-shirt on a mad quest for cork bark, Tillandsias, and axolotls.

And speaking of reptiles, it is my great pleasure to announce that the Texas Triffid Ranch just entered a partnership with DFW Reptarium in Plano to exhibit and sell Triffid Ranch carnivorous plant enclosures. Right now, we’re starting small, with the opportunity to view the big Nepenthes bicalcarata enclosure “Hans-Ruedi,” but expect a lot of exclusives as business picks up.  At the very least, DFW Reptarium is without doubt the best reptile and amphibian shop available in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in the last 20 years, so come in to view Nepenthes and stay to look over panther chameleons, frilled dragons, arrow-poison frogs, and an absolutely beautiful crocodile monitor named Whisper. Whisper is worth making a lunch break trip just on her own.

Recommended Reading

Inside the Sideshow Studio (2015, Insight Editions, ISBN 978-1-60887-476-1)

Finding this in big piles at the local Half Price Books doesn’t diminish its value: this is a book that didn’t reach the audience that needed to see it. While the layout suggested that this would be a nice “look at how cool our workplace is compared to your horrible open office nightmare” press release, this is actually a very illuminating view of the organization necessary when a creative company grows beyond the “two people in a garage” stage. Just about anybody in book publishing, magazines, comics, games electronic and print, collectibles, Web content sites, and weekly newspapers has tales of venues and businesses that went under because one or two people simply couldn’t let go of an area wildly outside of their expertise, or who figured that continuity between products or product lines was unnecessary. Yes, the book has a lot of photos of employees’ work areas as all of the cool toys and accoutrements found on pretty much every desk of every tech job of the last twenty years. No, there’s nowhere near enough of an explanation of the essential tools and resources and how they differ from the office toys. That said, the book emphasizes the different essential departments in a successful licensed property company, from packaging art to publicity to shipping, by noting how everyone works together for a successful release.

Music

I could say a lot about the musical adventure that goes by the name of Ego Likeness, and add a few notes about side projects like Stoneburner and Hopeful Machines, but that would be cheating. A decade ago, I came across my first sample of the brilliance of Steven Archer and Donna Lynch thanks to a mixer CD containing the song “Water to the Dead” and “16 Miles,” and their work is a regular part of the Triffid Ranch workshop soundtrack. Sadly, I have yet to see a live Ego Likeness show: although Austin and San Antonio have a firm appreciation of Ego Likeness genius, no venue in Dallas is willing to take a chance on a booking. Let’s fix that, shall we?

The Texas Triffid Ranch Occasional Newsletter and Feed Lot Clearance Sale is copyright 2018 by Paul Riddell, and may be reproduced and forwarded at will. The Texas Triffid Ranch is Dallas’s pretty much only carnivorous plant gallery, located in scenic Richardson, Texas, and is open by appointment. More information is available at www.txtriffidranch.com. And in a reality very close to ours, every film starring Mel Gibson has his parts replaced by Mel Brooks, and vice versa. Let’s see if anybody notices.

Have a Great Holiday

Okay, so nobody gets a Doctor Who Christmas special this year. Good thing that Canada’s analogue was prepared for this eventuality, eh?