Daily Archives: October 10, 2011

Getting Potted

A few months back, some may remember my less than salutory review of the book Terrarium Craft and my complaints about the “put a bird on it” sensibility that still infects terrarium design. In the interim, I’ve been collating ideas on how to drag the concept out of the 1970s, and preparing to present them in something approximating a coherent form.

As usual, talking is okay, but action is better. The Los Angeles store Potted is hosting a terrarium design competition, with the grand prize being a $500 shopping spree. Each Friday starting on October 21, all entries sent to Potted will be voted upon, and the winners of each round will be submitted for a final competition. The final prize may be collected by anybody in the continental US, but I imagine entries don’t have to be limited to that.

Anyway. You know the drill. It’s time to take the word “terrarium” out of that horrible avocado-and-goldenrod kitchen and banish it forever from that famed kidney stone of a decade. I know you lot, and I know you’ll make your Uncle Zonker proud.


Well, it’s three weeks late, but Tlaloc finally smiled on North Texas, and we got 60 millimeters of rain and a drop in the heat at the Triffid Ranch on Sunday. Considering that this was the first appreciable rainfall in nearly a month, nobody was complaining. (As it is, between Tlaloc and Huitzilopochitli influences this year, I feel like I’m a peripheral character in an Ernest Hogan story. Not that this isn’t the first time it’s happened, either.)

With the rain came the return of one of my gardening nemeses: the treerat. Don’t go all goopy on me about cute and cuddly widdle squirrels. You can come out here and make kissyfaces with the vile little vermin while you clean up their messes. All summer long, not a sign of the pests. A bit of cooler weather, and I discover on Saturday morning that one had uprooted three hanging dragonfruit cactus pots in the hour between sunrise and my stepping out to take greenhouse temperature and humidity readings. Then I find the extras, such as their digging into the Sarracenia planters. (I didn’t worry about their uprooting the Venus flytraps, the way they did last spring, but that’s only because none of my flytraps survived the late August inferno.) There was also the pestilence-carrying mutant who dragged pecans over to the front porch of the house, shelled them all, and dumped glass-sharp pecan hull shards all over the place. And should I mention the future recipient of a double-serving of slow and painful death that cracked the bedroom window while trying to harangue the cats?

As you can tell, I am no fan of treerats. The secondmost-asked question I receive when I bring out the plants is “Yuh gonna raise any man-eating plants?” I argue that all of my plants are man-eating, if you grind up the person into small enough bits. However, I’m working very hard at developing a pitcher plant that can dispose of treerats, alive or dead. A friend of mine has been teaching the local crows to act as guard-birds by popping her resident treerats with a BB gun and tossing the corpses onto her roof: the birds then respond to the regular buffet by yelling loudly at anyone they don’t recognize who comes too close to the house. I’m wondering if I can do the same thing with the Nepenthes.

But no. I wasn’t going to go that far, at least until Elizabeth Bathory over at Google+ showed me this Photoshopped horror:


Oh, NO. These treerats are superior in only one respect. They are better at dying.