Monthly Archives: January 2013

Upcoming shows, probably not involving the Triffid Ranch

In every hobby and business, you get years where the calendar is as bereft of excitement as a terrestrial radio playlist. Other years, you’re practically tripping over exciting events and opportunities. 2013 is one of those years where I’m going to need to invent something really life-changing to be able to afford the garden show trips.

Firstly, while I could never return to living in Portland, Oregon, any excuse to visit both St. Johns Booksellers and Sarracenia Northwest is a good one, and I have a beaut this year. Namely, the Peninsula Park Rose Garden is 100 years old this year, and the park needs to put down a lot of mulch to get it ready for the Portland Rose Festival in May and June. After the main show season ends in May, well, this may be an option.

Likewise, this year also marks the centenary of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, and I’d probably head out there if I could get proper pontoons for my bicycle. Sadly, this isn’t a likely show, but if it coincides with the opening of the Manchester United Flower Show, I may have to make it happen. Between that and a trip to Kew Gardens, all I’ll need is clothes, money, and my pet ferret.

Other than that, I’m still waiting for word on the 2013 International Carnivorous Plant Society conference, seeing as how crashing last year’s conference wasn’t an option. It’s almost like they’re trying to keep it quiet to keep me from attending or something…

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Joey Box interlude

Apologies for the delay in announcing the winners of the latest Joey Box contest, but real life intruded, as they say. Suffice to say, Debbi Middleton of Aunt Debbi’s Garden and Michael Nolan of The Garden Rockstar will be getting their Joey Boxes shortly. For various reasons, Jillian Venters of Gothic Charm School got one as well, and I can only imagine the look on her face when she opens that beast.

Well, between these, the previous contests, and attrition from people to whom I’ve promised Joey Boxes for months or even years, we’re down to one that’s free and clear. Details on how to win this last one to follow.

Mad Max Beyond Cold Comfort Farm

When asked, more and more rarely these days, why I gave up the glamorous and profitable worlds of science fiction writing and weekly newspaper journalism in favor of horticulture, I’m honest. I tell the interrogators that it’s all about the attitude. One of the less endearing traits in the skiffy community is to handle contrary opinions with a minimum of grace and aplomb. Express a reasonably informed opinion on any number of subjects that clashes with the declared wisdom of a Cat Piss Man, and a combination surly and whiny nerk of “Well, I liked it” is the lucky response. I say “lucky”, because most feel that this is the only response: instead of discussing the reasons why and therefore, thus leading to a conversation and possibly understanding, “I liked it pretty much says “Dare not question the word of God.” If you’re unlucky, it’s followed up with what they feel is an appropriate response: I don’t know who shot up the garage apartment I had 20 years ago, or what print or spoken comment about popular science fiction media at the time raised their ire (probably an idle comment on how while George Lucas had a better special effects budget, Ed Wood was the superior screenwriter and director), but I still have the two .22 hollowpoints I pulled out of the outside wall as proof.

That’s one of the reasons why I much prefer discussing gardening. Oh, sure, Amanda Thomsen and I may go Kurosawa on each other over the merits of asters versus chrysanthemums in winter gardens, but we can scream at each other why we have those preferences. “You don’t get it, do you? Mums can handle the heat better!” “Shut up! Mums smell like rest homes!” PARRY HA DODGE THRUST QUARTERSTAFF UP THE NOSE. When we finally put down the chainsaws and rubbing alcohol, though, we can shake hands, or at least stumps, and acknowledge that we can argue the merits of each in a thoughtful and reasonable manner. It’s when we get into discussions about horsetails versus Sarracenia pitcher plants that we start to recreate the climax of John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing. (And before you ask, she’s the one throwing the dynamite.)

That’s why I worry when I read about the increasing problems with English allotment vandalism. It’s not that England doesn’t already have a tradition of horticultural hooligans, but what’s disturbing is what this means for the hobby. Dynamite fishing in the aquaculture tanks. The retired schoolteacher who stands over the water main valve, cheerily asking “Who run Bartertown?” Seventysomethings on dirtbikes wearing nothing but Mohawks and bondage pants. Chainsaw duels at 3 in the morning over the better potting mix recipe. If the trend continues, my suggestion for starting the “Manchester United Flower Show” might actually come true.

Okay, I kid. The real reason I worry about the grand English tradition of gardening going violent isn’t the concern over raging bands of tomato punks rampaging across the United Kingdom. My concern is that they’ll then come to Texas and presume that attitude alone will save them. Faced with regular tornadoes, fire ants, coyotes and armadillos, blistering sun, and hailstones the size of cats, they’d go catatonic within a week, and then I’d be the one to clean up the mess.

Have a Great Weekend

A quick heads-up on Joey Boxes

A quick rising from the mire, and it’s time for a quick reminder that the latest Joey Box contest ends on January 25 at midnight Central Standard Time, so get in your votes. At the rate things are going, including getting one to their namesake, they’re going to disappear faster than I thought.

Cat Monday

Have a Great Weekend