Monthly Archives: April 2022

Have a Safe Weekend

No open house this weekend: as I’m writing this, the whole shebang is moving to DFW Airport for Texas Frightmare Weekend, and we may be gone for some time. Talk to you when it’s all done.

The Aftermath: 2022 Manchester United Flower Show

With everything that happened over the first quarter of the year, it almost didn’t happen. Having to move the entire collection to a new locale. Getting hit with not one but two severely subfreezing cold waves, one late enough in March to delay everything. Getting used to new growing conditions, particularly one of the windiest springs in North Texas history. (The scar on my forehead is a souvenir of the last record-setter back in 1982.) The flytraps were still late, as were the temperate pitcher plants, and the triggerplants might be ready by the end of May. We won’t even talk about the sheer number of competing events through the Dallas area, all of which were trying to catch the attention of quarantine-crazed Dallasites. Not that it mattered: the 2022 Manchester United Flower Show was an overwhelming success, and if the explosion of Sarracenia pitcher plants this month is any indication, the rest of the year might be even more lively.

Not only was this a beautiful time to debut new Sarracenia, but this was the first evening event of 2022,and quite a few people who couldn’t attend the usual early afternoon open houses finally had the chance to come out to view the gallery. Again, it’s shaping up to be a spectacular year for Sarracenia, and the planned Triffid Ranch Porch Sales starting in May should give the opportunity to show off so many other species of carnivorous plant, too.

With this high point, it’s time to hit the road and sustain this. This weekend, the gallery is closed in order to take everything to the Made In Texas Hall at Texas Frightmare Weekend, and then the new gallery renovation begins in earnest. Keep checking back in May, because the wait will be worth it.

Have a Safe Weekend

The Triffid Ranch show season may have started at the end of March, but now it’s amping up, with the Manchester United Flower Show going live on Saturday at 3:00 pm and running until 9:00. After that, well, let’s just say that the Texas Frightmare Weekend booth has some additional surprises next weekend.

State of the Gallery: April 2022

Well, this has been fun. Growing season starting, tornado season starting, hail already arriving, discovering that the new house faces right into the south wind onslaught that sums up daylight hours in Dallas…it’s been a little exciting around here, and we’re only two-thirds of the way through the month. I haven’t had this many starts, stops, and dramatic pauses since 1987, and that’s a year from which I’m still recovering.

This missive needs to begin with thanks to everyone who has come out so far to Triffid Ranch events in April, because it’s been intense. Longtime friends who haven’t been out in months or years, new rubberneckers who just wanted to see what’s here, travelers who now feel safe and secure enough to visit for the first time in two years: all are welcome. If anything, it just redoubles efforts to get everything under control by the end of May: the office at the new house is nearly ready for the return of the Twitch stream and more YouTube videos (the TikTok gibberish continues), including a nice greenscreen, and that’s not even touching the renovation of the front of the gallery that starts next week. All of this and a fulltime job brings up the usual question: “Sleep? What’s that?”

That’s where things are getting interesting. The last gallery event of April, the Manchester United Flower Show, goes live at 3:00 pm on Saturday, April 23, and the late subfreezing weather in March means that the gallery will be just FULL of blooms, particularly of the flower emblem of Newfoundland & Labrador. This also means that next week’s Texas Frightmare Weekend, thanks to a last-minute plot twist, has more room than usual to show off said blooms alongside emerging traps. And that’s just the floral side: the return of the Triffid Ranch Porch Sales in May also brings new vendors to show off their wares alongside the Triffid Ranch tent. Oh, it’s going to be a fun summer.

And on the subject of other vendors, there’s a big project coming down the pipe that’s still under discussion and deliberation, but involves the City of Richardson’s efforts to turn Richardson into an art destination in its own right. For those familiar with the truly insufferable traffic and parking issues in Deep Ellum and the Design District, not to mention those who already know about Richardson’s wide variety of art galleries, this gallery is firmly behind the project, and the plan from this end is to help make it more than simply a relocation of visitors and talents. Once things are in place, the phrase “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro,” long a motto around here, really starts applying to the gallery.

Anyway, as with Texas weather, if you don’t like the current lineup of events at the gallery, stick around, because it’ll change in five minutes. The question is how much things are going to be changed by the end of the year.

The Aftermath: April Open Houses

April is always an odd time at the Triffid Ranch, evocative of Harlan Ellison’s “the hour that stretches.” Everything is dependent upon the weather. Inside, all of the timers shift to the spring/summer schedule as of March 17, so it’s only in April that anyone starts seeing any significant changes to the flora. Outside, one well-placed freeze, such as the big one we had at the end of March, throws off everything for at least a month: thanks to that big freeze, the Sarracenia rhizomes I potted up at the end of February are only now starting to wake up, and only as I write this are the flytraps and non-Sarracenia flava pitcher plants starting to bloom, and the triggerplants and temperate sundews are just emerging. (Flavas always bloom first, and already have working pitchers when everything else is just waking up, so their blooms are fading: considering that the blooms smell like cat pee, this is a good thing for any indoor events, as we don’t need the place smelling like an anime convention.) Until all of the temperate carnivores can join the party, Triffid Ranch open houses are a little lacking, but we make do.

That’s not to say that it hasn’t been busy: so far, this has been the busiest April in the history of the gallery, and in fact since the first Triffid Ranch show in 2008. (Fourteen years as of the beginning of May. Whoof.) Things actually quieted down a bit in April compared to January through March, but that’s to be expected: with Dallasites wanting to get out of our houses and do things before the inevitable summer heat drives us all back inside during the day, the open houses are up against a lot of competition for the same 54 hours each weekend. (Two days plus the last six hours of Friday: don’t argue.) This means that a lot of attendees come in during the last 30 minutes or so, especially the folks who learned about the gallery thanks to Atlas Obscura and want to hit everything in Dallas in a single weekend. All are welcome, and all are appreciated.

Naturally, this is also all preamble. The current distribution and manufacturing issues facing other companies also hits the Triffid Ranch, as does the current Instagram obsession with carnivores. Even with that, expect a lot more over the rest of the year, both with new creations and the variety and range of events. There’s a lot to talk about, and we’re not quite ready yet.

To celebrate the pivot to the full growing season, feel free to come out for this weekend’s Manchester United Flower Show on April 23, running from 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm for the art gallery crowd, and spread the word. After Texas Frightmare Weekend the subsequent weekend, we’re taking a short break to focus on the much-discussed gallery renovation and update, and then come back with the first of the 2022 Porch Sales while that renovation continues. It’s going to be interesting, and not just in the Chinese curse way, either.

Have a Safe Weekend

It’s been extremely busy around here, including getting major news about Texas Frightmare Weekend this morning, but Saturday’s gallery open house is still on from noon to 5:00 pm, and the Sarracenia are obliging for making next weekend’s Manchester United Flower Show the best one yet. If March came in a lion and went out like a salt marsh harvest mouse, then what is May going to be like?

Have a Safe Weekend

The gallery open houses start up again this Saturday from noon until 5:00 pm, but that’s not the only reason to come out. The gallery renovation starts this month, we’re rapidly coming up on Venus flytrap and North American pitcher plant season, and you’ll want to hear about the plans for the return of the Porch Sales in May. And does anyone want to take a big wooden table home with them along with plants?

Triffid Ranch Show Schedule: April 2022

With the beginning of spring, the hue and cry is particularly loud this year: “So when will the gallery be open?” Rest assured, this has been dealt with. The next run of Triffid Ranch open houses for April starts this coming Saturday, at the usual time of noon until 5:00 pm, and then the schedule shifts to evening for the return of the Manchester United Flower Show on April 23. (No open house during the last weekend of April, because that’s reserved for Texas Frightmare Weekend at DFW Airport.) May is going to be a mix of early morning and evening shows, moved between Saturdays and Sundays for those working on one or the other, and more of them outside than not. With luck, the renovation of the front area at the gallery will be done by the Manchester United Flower Show, so you’ll have an additional incentive to come look around. Now spread the word.

The Texas Triffid Ranch Occasional Newsletter and Feed Lot Clearance Sale – #30

For newcomers, this is a semi-regular newsletter from the Texas Triffid Ranch, Dallas’s pretty much only carnivorous plant gallery. Feel free to forward early and often, and to subscribe if you haven’t already.

Installment #30: “Gardening With the Official Dallas Season Simulator”

(Originally published February 28, 2022)

It’s the end of February/beginning of March, and we’re starting to get into the beginning of growing season. The garden porn, featuring the absolute best of seeds and bulbs, is already overloading everyone’s mailboxes, and Instagram is full of anticipatory “Yeah, my garden looks as if it was nuked from orbit now, but imagine what it’s going to look like in three months!” poses. The further away from the equator in the Northern Hemisphere, the more frantic the need for green, even in the face of a few more potential ice storms, and getting tomato and pepper seedlings going on one’s windowsill isn’t cutting it. Here in North Texas, it’s only going to get worse. 

The problem isn’t that gardening in the Dallas area isn’t impossible, but it’s close. Conditions in Dallas and Fort Worth parallel those of the famed fynbos of South Africa: it’s not really desert, nor forest, nor prairie, but a combination of all three regularly blasted with extreme heat and extreme cold that test the tolerance of pretty much any plant. The popular options for trees, grasses, and bushes aren’t optimal, but that’s because the local condition kill anything that isn’t tough enough to fight back.

Ray Bradbury’s classic novella “Frost and Fire” chronicles the people of a world so violent that a typical person’s entire lifespan, from birth to senescence and death, only lasts eight days. Anyone who’s lived through the full range of seasons in Dallas can sympathize with the attitude, because it seems as if we only get eight days of good growing weather before it’s either too hot or too cold for anything other than silk ficuses. In fact, it’s actually remarkably easy to recreate a Dallas growing year in one hour, if you have the equipment and the wherewithall.

Firstly, pick a good garden area. Cover it with a good thick layer (at least one meter, but more is better) of standard modeling clay. This clay is where you’re going to be planting everything. Add a bit of grass cuttings, some leaves, and plenty of dead cockroaches, because this is going to be your fertilizer. Don’t worry about turning it into the clay, because the Dallas season simulator will take care of that shortly.

Secondly, buy a good Dallas season simulator. These are usually found in airports, abandoned airfields, and your local Boeing dealership: for instance, a typical B-52 bomber had eight of them on its wings, but you can always steal a jet nacelle from a 747 or even a DC-10 in a pinch. Set up two mounting brackets at the north and south sides of the garden, and start out with the jet engine at the south side with the exhaust facing north. If you get one that throws out lots of bad exhaust, or even one that catches fire from time to time, keep it: this helps recreate typical Dallas air quality. If the exhaust is so thick you can’t see and the stuff in your lungs is burning holes out your back, welcome to our “purple” ozone alert days.

Now, we’re going to start our hour at the equivalent of March 17. St. Patrick’s Day is a perfect day for gardening in Dallas, partly
because you’re reasonably past the last frost of the season by then, and partly because you don’t want to be anywhere near a road when the Greenville Avenue St. Patrick’s Day Parade starts and every paved surface between Dallas and Kansas City is full of drunken SMU brats puking on everything. Let’s just say that you’re reasonably smart, you don’t want to wake up with a nearly-terminal hangover, eight or nine STDs previously unknown to science, and a car that’s been used as an air sickness bag and Port-o-Potty by a few hundred random strangers, and you’re staying at home to plant and till. The clock starts…now.

00:00-00:10 – Start planting your seeds and seedlings. If the seeds you put into the ground don’t start sprouting before time’s up, don’t feel badly: in real life, if they didn’t sprout within ten minutes, they aren’t going to sprout for the rest of the year, either.

00:10-00:20 – Ask a friendly fire control plane to fly over and dump a full cargo of water on your garden space all at once. Alternately, crack a water main with an explosive charge and wash out the garden. This simulates the gentle rains you’ll be getting for the entire month of May. Turn on the jet engine and set it for “11”.

00:20-00:30 – Bury a $100 bill somewhere in the garden and then tell all of the neighborhood kids about it: they’ll manage to do in five minutes what they’d do in a month when they’re home on summer vacation and you’re at work. Dump a few hundred liters of gasoline and rubbing alcohol into the engine once they’re done to simulate the effects of July and August sun and our traditional smog, and saturate the area with anti-personnel mine explosions and judicious use of fragmentation grenades in lieu of typical caterpillar and grasshopper damage.

00:30-00:40 – With a standard hand fertilizer spreader, saturate the grounds with napalm and powdered metallic sodium, then cut the engine and the flamethrowers within the last minute. At this point, you get to harvest your crops, so get a move on. Don’t bother to bring a bag, because your entire output will fit in one hand and still leave you with enough spare fingers to throw a good fastball.

00:40-00:50 – Time for a break.  Grab a beer or a glass of iced tea and look upon your handiwork and despair.  Isn’t your garden pretty?

00:50-1:00 – Now’s time to prep your garden for next year, so move the engine to the other end of the garden, with the exhaust facing south. Again, turn it up to “11”, and throw in random blocks of dry ice and dead birds into the nacelle. Toss as many bags of grass
cuttings and dead leaves as you can into the area, noting how it all ends up in the neighbors’ yards. Finally, go out and pick the stems, stumps, and random bits of detritus left from your efforts, but not after flooding the area once again (with the engine left ON) so as to make the clay particularly sticky. When you’re not watching, have someone mix up a big batch of chopped leaves, ice water, and a cup of standard liquid dish soap and pour it down the back of your shirt or blouse, and just be thankful that you have to deal with this for ten minutes instead of for all of January and February.

There, in the space of an hour, you have a typical gardening year in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. And why would any sane person want to go through this in real time instead of this sixty-minute capsule demonstration?

Because it’s fun.

Shameless Plugs

On a personal level, the move out of the old house is done, and now it’s just a matter of getting the last items unpacked, getting the workshop in full gear, and amping up enclosure construction. I owe finding a fabulous house in a great neighborhood (with great neighbors, naturally, who love the transplanted loquat tree out front) to Toni Youngblood, an absolute paragon among Dallas realtors. Whether you’re looking for a place yourself or helping someone else, give her a call, because she’s an absolute machine in finding the right houses for the right people.


As with reading this month, music diving has been at a premium, but I’d be remiss in not sending you in the direction of Dallas music weaver Mark Ridlen, now a friend for a solid 30 years since his days as a DJ at the long-defunct State Bar in Exposition Park. Go give him lots of work and even more recognition, because this man is a hoot.

Have a Safe Weekend

No events at the Triffid Ranch this weekend: this weekend is dedicated to restocking, rebuilding, and recuperating from last weekend’s show. However, things start back up on April 9, and things won’t let up until June.