Author Archives: Texas Triffid Ranch

Have a Great Weekend

This song obviously didn’t exist 29 years ago when I was trapped in Wisconsin, but I think I caught echoes of it in the timestream.

Have a Great Weekend

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Cat Monday

Leiber

Have a Great Weekend

Upcoming Endeavours and Future Press

Sid
And what a difference a week makes. A week ago Monday, and the Dallas area was just starting to move toward relatively balmy temperatures: I mowed the lawn for the second time this year last Friday, and for those familiar with normal North Texas temperatures and their effect on local herbage, that’s saying quite a bit. Right now, the greenhouse is full of Buddha’s Hand citron and terrestrial bladderwort blooms, and our combination of decent rainfall and high humidity contributed to the sort of explosion in wildflower blooms that we haven’t seen since 2008. Projects keep piling up, seedlings keep exploding (including the new batch of ginkgo seedlings), and all I need to do now is get an immunization to sleep. That’s the only way to get the time to do everything that needs to be done.

Which leads us to the upcoming Triffid Ranch schedule. Not since 2011 has the dance card been quite this full, and thanks to efforts to expand into bladderwort, triggerplant, and Nepenthes pitcher plant species and cultivars previously never offered, it’s only going to get more interesting. (As always, for intrigued or slightly horrified news venues or individuals, here’s the contact information. Feel free to use early and often.)

First things first, last week’s feeding of Sid the Nepenthes bicalcarata at Roll2Play was as much of a success as you’d expect. Even with a full-bore Cthulhu Wars tournament going on, Sid became quite the debutante, especially when everyone involved learned that they wouldn’t need to reach into the pitchers to feed them. The next feeding is on May 7, and additional carnivores will be available for sale, so come out with an appetite.

Next, the dress rehearsal for this year’s shows starts at the Perot Museum of Natural History, with the Discovery Days: Earth event this Saturday, April 11. While last month’s late snowstorm stunted the Sarracenia pitcher plants a bit, this gives a great opportunity to see Sarracenia blooms this late in the season, and that’s more than made up for with the collection of Nepenthes, bladderworts, triggerplants, sundews, and Brocchinia bromeliads being brought out as well. The Museum opens to the general public at 10 in the morning, but activities start for Perot members at 8:30, and everything winds up around 4:00 in the afternoon. For the record, no plants will be available for sale at this event, but that might be negotiated at future gatherings, especially if the good folks at the Perot want another showing for its Social Science evening events. Just keep watching this space.

Next, I just finished a wonderful interview with Kate Copsey of The Master Gardener Hour on America’s Web Radio, and the final interview should play on April 18. Most of the subject matter won’t be a surprise to anyone listening to any of my tirades at previous shows, but it was still a lot of fun, and I’d forgotten how much fun radio interviews could be. Again, anyone seeking an interview should get in space now, because things are about to go a little mad.

Finally, part of the reason why things are going mad? Texas Frightmare Weekend. The vendor layout is up, and this year’s Triffid Ranch booth is in the Made In Texas Room, tables 135 to 137. Between a gigantic selection of plants this year and the new assistant Nikki, this will be unlike anything that any of you have seen at a Frightmare to date. The only way I’m going to top this is by raising real triffids.

(And while you’re at it, get the official Tenth Anniversary pint glass, courtesy of Drink With The Living Dead. Among many other great stories, DWTLD artist Robert Whitus was my roommate for a time back in the 1980s, and I can say with authority that I’ve never been so proud to tell people this. Give Robert lots of business, and buy one of those pint glasses while they last: among other things, this gives you $5 pints of beer at Frightmare all weekend long.)

Finally, for the rest of spring, summer, and fall, it’s time to try something different as far as Triffid Ranch shows are concerned. Available free time for three-day shows faded away to nearly nothing over the last year, so a move from indoor events to local farmer’s markets is a serious option. The Dallas Farmers Market is undergoing a drastic renovation of both venue and purpose, and it’s definitely time to get out there for the first time, as well as other farmers markets throughout the Dallas area. As always, give a yell if you have any suggestions, and look for details here as things work out. Until then, see you at the Perot.

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Cat Monday

Cadigan

Have a Great Weekend

Cat Monday

Leiber

More subtlety, more grace.

Introducing “Sid”

Apologies for the quiet around here, but it’s been very busy behind the scenes as of late. Between the cold fronts finally ceasing, which threw the Sarracenia blooming and trap-producing schedule all to pot, lots of propagating and repotting, and the Day Job, sleep is something that exists as a vague concept. It’s all worth it, though, especially after the triggerplants started coming out of winter dormancy, and vending at Texas Frightmare Weekend promises to be the biggest Triffid Ranch show ever.

Anyway, this isn’t the only reason for the radio silence. Please allow me to introduce you to “Sid,” a Nepenthes bicalcarata from lowland Borneo. Sid has lots of hobbies, including photosynthesizing, encouraging ant colonies to live in special chambers in his leaves, and producing traps the size of softballs. Yes, he gets his name from the obvious inspiration, and like his namesake, he’s really quite harmless.
Sid
N. bicalcarata gets its common name “fanged pitcher plant” from the structures inside of each open pitcher. While officially these are called “nectaries”, and they secrete copious amounts of sweet nectar, many Nepenthes species grow structures off the lid or lip of the pitcher for unknown reasons. In N. bicalcarata, while it’s been suggested that its distinctive fangs discourage birds or monkeys from stealing prey out of the traps, the reality is that nobody knows for sure what function the fangs have. Either way, they’re impressive, and as much as I loathe the overused descriptives “needle-sharp” or “razor-sharp” (hearing “razor-sharp” to describe Tyrannosaurus teeth is hysterical, because tyrannosaur teeth have more in common with bananas than razors), getting snagged by a spare nectary isn’t a pleasant experience.

Sid

Anyway, Sid currently resides in a new home, but not in the way anyone expected. Tiffany Franzoni of the exemplary gaming store Roll2Play in Coppell has been a faithful and considerate Triffid Ranch customer for the last seven years, and a move to a larger space gave her room for other attractions and events. She could have gone with an aquarium or vivarium, but she wanted carnivores. Oh, did she want carnivores, but with a very full show schedule, she didn’t have the time to care for them on her own. Perfectly fair, and she also had a taste for carnivores that weren’t exactly for beginners. N. bicalcarata is a fascinating plant, but it’s not one for those with no prior experience with Nepenthes care.

Sara and Tiffany

And this is where that much-hinted back project finally sees the light. Starting in 2015, the Triffid Ranch offers custom plant arrangements and conversions of existing enclosures, with the option for the customer to buy or to rent. Rental includes regular checkups and prunings, feedings (or the opportunity for the customer to get in a feeding under supervised conditions), and general maintenance, as well as lectures and special events. Sid here is the first of many to be set up this year, with details on their locations, availability to the public, and feeding times to be announced as they’re set up.

Tiffany and Paul

What this means in the short term is that Roll2Play already has plenty of reasons for you to stop by, but this coming Saturday, April 4, is special. April 4 marks the first of many regular monthly raffles for customers to become one of a lucky few to feed Sid. Admittedly, this consists of dropping crickets into pitchers, but it’s all hands-on. Check the Roll2Play site for details, but expect to see the big ugly guy on the right of the picture above at around 1 on Saturday afternoon. Feel free to bring kids, girlfriends, spouses, and about anyone else who would normally look at you askance at the idea of going to a gaming store: not only is Roll2Play not a typical gaming store, but you get the additional expressions on their faces when you tell them “No, really. I’m not checking out Warhammer 40,000 figures. I’m here to feed the plant!” (Not that there’s anything wrong with doing so. I always felt that a good Nepenthes enclosure really needs a few Tyranids to make them interesting.)

And on one last note, Sid isn’t alone. I currently have another N. bicalcarata cloned from the same parent plant, in a nearly identical enclosure, available for sale or rental. The difference is in the name: ask on the status of “Soo Catwoman“.

Have a Great Weekend