Daily Archives: November 15, 2012

The Aftermath: Funky Finds Holiday Shopping Experience – 2

Funky Finds customer 1

Last year, I had to skip out on the autumn Funky Finds Holiday Shopping Experience show at Fort Worth’s Will Rogers Center because of the drought. Most of my plants survived the summer, but then September and October were so brutally hot and dry that the thought of doing a serious show in November was nearly impossible. I regretted it, and Jessica, the Funky Finds co-founder, regretted it, but we both figured that it was better to try again in 2012 than bring out a gaggle of stressed and heat-blasted plants to the 2012 show. Oh, how glad we both were that we held off for a year.

As usual, any excuse to come out to Fort Worth is a good one, and my last visit was long enough away that I didn’t realize how much the whole Fort Worth Stockyards area was changing. The new and improved Fort Worth Museum of Science & History is now fully operational, the National Cowgirl Museum just celebrated its tenth anniversary, and the Kimbell Art Museum appears to be halfway through an extensive expansion. Combine that with other events at the Will Rogers Center, which included a model train expo and a paint horse competition, and Texas Christian University’s big football game against Kansas State, and we had a LOT of people coming by. Not all of them stopped to look at carnivorous plants, but enough did…

Funky Finds customer 2

Funky Finds customer 3

Bhut Jolokia peppers

Due to a combination of an abnormally warm winter and a marginally cooler but extremely dry summer, Funky Finds was the perfect place to show off a collection of happy and healthy hot peppers. In particular, when I pointed out that most Capsicum peppers make good container plants, and that I had Bhut Jolokia peppers that already had pepper buds on them, you can imagine how quickly these left with new families.

Funky Finds customers 4

Funky Finds customer 5

Funky Finds customers 6

One of the aspects of doing Triffid Ranch shows that’s the most enjoyable is that I literally have no idea who’s coming through the doors at a given venue. At Funky Finds, this was more true than usual, because of the location of the Will Rogers Center. Teachers, grad students, musicians, rodeo stars…that’s half of the fun of a Funky Finds show. Think “Calgary Stampede“, with more cactus and fewer Mounties. And yes, I mean that as a compliment to both cities.

Funky Finds customer 7

Funky Finds customer 8

Funky Finds customer 9

Funky Finds customers 10

And that does it for 2012. I only have 360 days to get ready for the next one, so it’s going to be an absolute mindblower when everything’s done.

The Aftermath: Funky Finds Holiday Shopping Experience 2012 – 1

View of Funky Finds hall

You know you had fun at a plant exhibition when you can’t talk about it for a couple of days, and it’s taken me four days to recover from the Funky Finds Holiday Shopping Experience in Fort Worth last weekend. It’s a good thing this is the last official Triffid Ranch show of the year, because I’m going to have to work overtime next year to prepare for next November’s show.

Texas Triffid Ranch booth - front

To begin, say hello to the front of the booth, because this is the last year you’ll see it like this. That old vinyl banner has served the cause well for the last four years, but it’s time to retire it and get something a bit more fitting.

Texas Triffid Ranch booth - side

As a note to crafters and other potential proprietors, one of the best things about Funky Finds, for me, is the amount of room in its spaces. This year, it meant expanding around the corner and introducing new plant varieties, including the very popular Bhut Jolokia peppers. Next year…well, you’ll have to come out to find out, won’t you?

Texas Triffid Ranch booth - table view

Everyone at the show may have been gearing up for the winter holidays, but there’s room for a bit of Jack Skellington among the Santas, isn’t there?

Texas Triffid Ranch booth - de Marigny display

If you like the displays, you can imagine the customers…

It’s big, it’s heavy, it’s wood

Log pile

When the Czarina and I moved into our current residence, one of the draws was a pair of gigantic silverleaf maples shading the back yard. Part of the draw at first was that they were as old as the house, and had been planted by the original owners shortly after they moved in. Of course, that’s before I discovered the regular problems with silverleaf maples in Dallas’s climate, particularly involving fungal infections.

Log pile closeup

The first tree was already rather infected, and last year’s drought finished the job. The second one, closer to the house, appeared fine at the beginning of spring. It was after our wave of tornadoes in April, though, that its problems became evident. First, large branches came down repeatedly over the week, and then others started dying. When about half of the tree was dead, we realized that we had no real option, and either the tree came down via professional arborists or it was going to come down atop the house.

That’s the biggest problem with silverleaf maples today throughout Dallas and surrounding environs. According to several nursery people I’ve talked to, they were very popular in new subdivisions throughout the early Seventies, because they grew in quickly and they also grew lush. Within a few years, they were giving much-needed shade to houses during the summer, and they didn’t drop nuts like oaks or pecans. Sadly, much like our indigenous cottonwood trees, that fast growth usually leads to early death, and most of the silverleafs planted in our neighborhood have either come down in the past few years or been pruned to stumps with feeble water sprouts growing out of what little live wood remains.

Log interior

This isn’t to say that everyone hates older silverleaf maples. Smaller hollows make great woodpecker nests, and larger ones make excellent homes for opossums and treerats. Our various indigenous wood ants nest in dying branches, and termites just adore dead roots. The stump of the first silverleaf is slowly decaying and collapsing in on itself, and it’s made quite the habitat for worms, Texas ground skinks (Scincella lateralis), and slime molds.

If I’d had the time, with a big show that weekend, I would have rented a big wood chipper to turn the whole beast into mulch. That just wasn’t going to happen this week, so it went to the curb so the city could do it for me. As much as I knew I was going to miss this tree, I also knew, judging by the extent of the fungal rot, that one really good storm would have brought it down atop my office and the kitchen, and that wasn’t going to work.

To give an idea of how bad this was, the previous pictures show the hollows in the cut logs, but they don’t give an idea of the consistency. You know things are bad when you reach into a log and pull out punk wood the texture and consistency of the insides of a fresh jack-o-lantern. There was a lot of that slimy punk wood inside that tree, and it was even more impressive when you consider that we haven’t had any appreciable rainfall in the area for well over a month.

Log interior contents
As sad as it was to see it go, this just means that it’s time to plant anew. We already have two live oak saplings left by the original owners, and I’m moving one of those to the front to (eventually) shade the Czarina’s office during the summer. That leaves a big spot in the back that needs a good shade tree with a distinctive look. So…what do you think? Ginkgo, Texas persimmon, or loquat?