At the end of every show, unless it was an absolutely horrible event, the final breakdown is melancholic. After two to three days of conversation and presentation, breaking down means that the party is over. Yeah, you might be completely exhausted, hoarse, and itchy (and this isn’t mentioning actual illness, such as the horrible fever I contracted at the end of All-Con 2014), and only able to see the color red, but there’s always a part of your brain that says “We can keep going, can’t we? Why can’t this show keep going for the rest of the week. This is the part of my brain that I try to kill by shoving pencils up my nose, because it’s awfully seductive.
No such luck for extending the party this year, but at least there’s next year’s show. April 29 to May 1, and the plan is to work with a larger space and even more new species than this year. Details will follow: considering that booth space for the 2015 show was sold out less than 24 hours, details will have to wait until we know for sure what’s going on. Considering the range of guests and events at this year’s show, the 11th Frightmare vendor space might be sold out within minutes.
My wife and I don’t watch a lot of television, mostly because we just don’t have the time, but we’re fond of shows we can run in the background while working on other things. We both have our favorites (mine is mostly because the damn show keeps recreating our conversations, as well as our relationships with our pets), but the Czarina recently became a Rehab Addict enthusiast. I can understand, and not only because we Michigan kids need to stick together. A lot of the appeal comes from host Nicole Curtis’s attitude: she’s renovating houses, but not just to flip them, and she’s very big on restoring houses to bring out the best without making them just like everyone else’s. I can sympathize, which is why I have a back porch as full of glassware as her basement is full of spare windows and doors. Want to know a secret? I get an especial thrill at shows after having found a beautiful glass container at an estate sale, having the Czarina question my sanity for buying it, and then having someone at the next show lose their minds over finding just the right plant in just the right container. At Frightmare this year, we had a LOT of that.
Half of the fun of experimentation comes from seeing the looks on the faces of those receiving the results. Over the last summer, I’d conducted many experiments with raising Venus flytraps in open-mouthed glass globes in typical Texas conditions, and had this monstrous globe as a demonstration for a presentation at the Perot Museum in April. It held four different cultivars: a typical flytrap, a Red Dragon, a Cupped Trap, and a B-52, one of the largest flytrap cultivars ever developed. Show it to a couple who really wanted to try a flytrap again, after learning that one never waters with Dallas municipal water if one wants a live flytrap, and I learned one valuable lesson. Namely, I need to make up more of these.
Oh, and have I done a shoutout for the staff at Texas Frightmare Weekend and the staff at the Hyatt Regency DFW? I’ve been a vendor and a guest at a lot of conventions over the decades, and I say without reservation that Frightmre staffers are some of the greatest people I’ve ever worked with. I’ll say that double for the staff at the Hyatt: I’ve never seen hotel staff at a convention have this much fun before, and I was glad to return the favor by bringing doughnuts for both on Sunday morning. (And for those staffers wondering where the doughnuts came from: Donut King in Garland. Good folks, all the way around.)
A full year between shows should be enough to prepare, he said. Getting a greenhouse restocked and full of new plants shouldn’t be that much trouble, he said. This was before dealing with last-minute insanity with an old Day Job, getting an offer on a new Day Job, and seeing the start of what is officially the wettest May in Dallas history. Even with the number of eleventh-hour obstacles, the Texas Triffid Ranch opened its sixth show at Texas Frightmare Weekend on May 1 with a minimum of drama and a surplus of enjoyment. No matter how trying the weeks leading up to it, the attendees and crew at Frightmare make the trip all worth it.
Without question, this year’s Frightmare was the biggest any of us had ever seen, and the trick was preparing for it. This included an extra table, extra displays, Nikki the brand new booth assistant (who deserves a serious raise due to her exceptional presentation and sales skills), a larger truck…we joked at one point that the only way to bring out more was to turn the Made In Texas Hall into a big greenhouse, stay there the entire year, and raise plants in situ. It hasn’t gotten to that point, yet, but it’s awfully tempting.
And one thing that needs to be promoted more heavily next year. One of the side effects of running a carnivorous plant nursery is getting tips on all sorts of remainders and discounts, and making friends with the staff at a Walgreen’s meant being told “By the way, did you know that we’re marking down all of the Monster High Venus McFlytrap dolls we ordered for Christmas?” Of course, as any child of hoarders will tell you, the trick is not taking advantage of such largesse but making sure that it doesn’t take over the whole house. The idea seemed simple, as was posted all over Twitter: come out in a plant-related costume and win a free prize solely for showing up in costume. This year, we didn’t see more than one floral attendee, and she had no idea the giveaway was going on, but everyone won all the same.
More to follow…
Going back through the accumulated detritus and verdigris from the past year, one of the things that was bumped far back was a regular update schedule on the blog. Well, considering both the need to share and the need to make time to update the full site (that was promised in May, and we’re running out of May), expect a lot of pictorials through the last week. This includes photos from March’s open house at the Dr. Delphinium Flower and Orchid House in Richardson. Most years, I had to miss this because it coincided with the first big Triffid Ranch show at All-Con, but the hiatus meant having a free weekend, and that free weekend required stalking through the orchids.
For those unfamiliar with backstory, the Richardson Dr. Delphinium used to be Gunter’s Orchids, until the owners decided that it was time to retire. The new management has done a grand job at keeping up Gunter’s quality and variety, and the only problem the open house had involved the massive freak snowstorm that hit the Dallas area the weekend before. That meant that a lot of showcase orchids weren’t quite ready with full blooms for the open house, but this also meant getting the opportunity to appreciate many species for their foliage as much as for their blooms.
In any case, over the next few days, please enjoy the pictorials, and should you be in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, please visit the orchid greenhouse at your convenience. Right now should be a perfect time to see many species, hybrids, and cultivars that otherwise most people never get a chance to view.
To be continued…
Photo credit: Paul Mears
As mentioned a few days back, life at the Triffid Ranch has been a bit surreal over this last month. Texas Frightmare Weekend turned out to be even bigger than ever, and then someone decided that Texas had been in drought for too long, and turned on all of the spigots. Right now, not only are we out of drought for North Texas, but we’ve received all of last year’s rainfall in one month. Creeks and rivers are flooding, the Trinity River running through downtown Dallas is at its highest level since the great floods of 1990 (in both cases, the only times where you’d ever see white water on this normally stagnant mudflat of a river), and we’ve almost gotten used to the sound of tornado sirens and emergency phone alerts. For the last month, Dallas has had a lot more in common with Tallahassee as far as rainfall and humidity are concerned, and the carnivores love it. I just need ways to get more greenhouse work done that don’t involve Bob Ballard remote submersibles and deep-diving suits.
It hasn’t been just me that’s been slammed: even though Sid the Nepenthes bicalcarata at Roll2Play is a runaway hit, the original plan for hosting regular public feedings for Sid kinda fell apart when show season started. That changes in June, and the official date for the next Sid feeding will be well-publicized. In the meantime, even among the very deliberate insanity of a major Cthulhu Wars tournament at the same time, several lucky folks had the chance to feed a carnivorous plant and share the experience.
Again, Sid’s next feeding is in June, details to be announced. Be ready.
Apologies for the quiet in the last few weeks, but life intruded shortly after Texas Frightmare Weekend. First and foremost was the new Day Job, sprung upon me while I was getting ready for Frightmare. The last three weeks have been inordinately intense, but as the position offers a much shorter commute, a much healthier work environment, and the absolute promise of never hearing one anencephalic EDS veteran (but I repeat myself) hee-hawing “I ain’t never heered nuthin’ like that!” for as long as I shall live, the rush was worth the chewed lips and acid-scarred duodenum. And so it goes.
Anyway, with the first free weekend in months (last weekend was spent looking for a retail location for the Triffid Ranch, and nothing will be said of it until everything’s final), expect lots and lots of updates in subsequent weeks. At the very least, this includes Frightmare photos, discussions on new plant developments, and lots of bad craziness. This may also include the long-promised update to the main Web site, and all of this is contingent upon North Texas washing away into the ocean. We’ve been at our current domicile for five years, and only now with this rain can we see that we’ve never seen it outside of drought conditions. The lawns are jungles, the alleys are forests, and the creekbeds…well, let’s just say that we should be getting some good alligator sightings along the Trinity River before too long, if the Trinity doesn’t blow out the levees separating the alligators from downtown Dallas and transform the area into a particularly bad SyFy movie (but, again, I repeat myself).
And with that, I leave you with a note on a little bit of history on the other side of the Atlantic being recognized. This coming Sunday is the official opening of the newly renamed “Triffid Alley” in Hampstead, UK. All I can say is that if a certain number of people aren’t invited to the opening, I’ll be gravely disappointed.