Posted onMarch 3, 2023|Comments Off on The Aftermath: The Final Texas Triffid Ranch Liquidation Sale – Finale
So that’s it. 15 years of shows, 7 1/2 years of gallery events, and it’s all wrapped up, other than the remaining pieces. I’d like to thank everyone who came out to the gallery and the Porch Sales over the better part of a decade, the people who had to crawl over the entourage up front to get to the plants, the folks who came by shows all over Texas, and everyone who just came by because they wanted to know more about carnivorous plants. You were and are appreciated and remembered, and I’ll see you when I see you.
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As for blatant and shameless plugs, it’s also time to note that for those who only now came across the gallery and want to know more about carnivorous plants, the book The Savage Garden by Peter D’Amato is still essential reading, and both the original and revised editions will remain beloved and valued components of my library. I may be getting out of carnivorous plant sales, but those books give a lot of inspiration for a new project to be announced later.
To be continued…
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Posted onMarch 2, 2023|Comments Off on The Aftermath: The Final Texas Triffid Ranch Liquidation Sale – 3
As mentioned before, this is the first time I have shut down a business, and it’s going remarkably well. No investors means no phone calls, no debt means no phone calls, and now I can be very vocal as to exactly why I’m not switching the gallery wifi service to Spectrum. (I have to admit that I’ll miss Spectrum for one reason: the incessant mailings are all on a very stout plastic card stock, which both paints up well and works nicely for paneling and armor in enclosures. Fir the first time, those cards see use other than as lining recycling bins.) The only calls right now are for the last vestiges of plants and fixtures, and all of that should end by the weekend.
The only issue so far with the move is discovering how many items purchased for the gallery are duplicated at home. Glasses, refrigerators, microwaves, spare towels…a lot of the items that could have been salvaged from the gallery’s closing are ones I had to purchase in the last year. Well, the local thrift stores, and friends who frequent them, are going to be happy.
To be continued…
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Posted onMarch 1, 2023|Comments Off on The Aftermath: The Final Texas Triffid Ranch Liquidation Sale – 2
To date, I have never run a business before the Triffid Ranch started back in 2008, and this is the first time I’ve had to shut one down. For the record, there’s nothing wrong with shutting down a business when conditions make keeping it open impossible: far too many businesses drag on when the person or people in charge attach too much of their identity to its continued operation. If it’s at all possible, it’s much better to shut down at a good time, rather than when forced to do so, and this couldn’t have been a better time. The weather was wonderful, the parking not too crowded out by the obnoxious neighbors at the end of the block, and the event itself wasn’t opposite some major Dallas event. Just imagine the fun of trying to do all of this in the middle of July in Dallas.
As mentioned before, there’s still a little left (and currently available for purchase), but the best liquidation sales are the ones where everyone goes home happy. Yes, it’s a bit sad watching the last bit of 15 years of work go out the door, but that just frees things for the next project, and you’re going to love it when it gets announced.
To be continued…
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Posted onMarch 1, 2023|Comments Off on The Aftermath: The Final Texas Triffid Ranch Liquidation Sale – 1
6 years after moving to the current location, and now it’s time to leave. Aside from the fixtures and a few remaining plants (and everything remaining is for sale), the Texas Triffid Ranch has finished its run. Considering the general life expectancy of art galleries in Dallas, it was an extraordinary run, but all things end, and it’s time for Dallas’s pretty much only carnivorous plant gallery to close the door forever.
The good news with the last liquidation sale is that the Triffid Ranch will be missed by many, but I promise that their aim will improve. The weekend was a nearly-neverending parade of longtime regulars, old cohorts and friends from Texas Frightmare Weekend, and a lot of folks who had no idea the gallery existed a week earlier. (So much for all of the advertising efforts over the last three-quarters of a decade.) It was an absolute blast and something that I wish could have run for a lot longer, but time’s run out and it’s time to move on.
To be continued…
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Posted onFebruary 23, 2023|Comments Off on The Aftermath: Liquidation Sale and Sarracenia Roulette – 3
One of the things that will be missed the most about shutting down the gallery will be all of the interesting people who came by, including a fascinating cross-section of Dallas’s reporters and journalists. (To date, the only publication without at least some mention of the Triffid Ranch over the years is D magazine: since I neither went to SMU or assisted its efforts to find a cure for levamisole necrosis, have no connections to local real estate developers needing to flip their blue-sky projects to bigger suckers, nor promoted workfare for refugees from the long-dead Dallas weekly The Met, this wasn’t likely to happen, either. I’d have been worried if its advertisers and bulk recipients could read instead of just looking at the pictures when skimming each issue before tossing it in the recycling.) In particular, I have to thank Eva Raggio, Kendall Morgan, and Danny Gallagher of the Dallas Observer and Jackson King at Community Impact for their efforts in letting people know about the little places in the Dallas area, and Jackson’s plug for the gallery’s close is probably the best sendoff I could get. At ave vale, and I hope to remain friends with all of you long after the Triffid Ranch fades from memory.
As for the gallery itself, now we’re down to brass tacks. The Sarracenia Roulette game mentioned earlier keeps bringing in friendly troublemakers in love with their fascinating pendulous blooms due in April, and we’re now down to roughly half of the enclosures that were in place at the beginning of January. There’s still a lot that needs to go home, though, so the final liquidation sale and Irish wake on February 25 and 26 are where the rubber meets the road. (This is also a great time to buy up fixtures, so if you’re needing large quantities of Lundia shelving or particularly hirstute kitchen tables, everything has to go.) This includes the contents of the propagation area and tubs and tubs of dormant Sarracenia, so you might want to bring tubs and other containers to hold all of your prizes.
For everyone coming out on Saturday and Sunday, I look forward to seeing all of you. For everyone who has been here already and can’t make it, you will be missed. One more weekend, and it’s done.
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Posted onFebruary 22, 2023|Comments Off on The Aftermath: Liquidation Sale and Sarracenia Roulette – 2
To explain the whole concept of “Sarracenia Roulette,” it requires a bit of backstory. Most temperate carnivorous plants, which include Venus flytraps and North American pitcher plants, go dormant over the winter. In the Dallas area, they slow down and stop growing in mid-November as the days get shorter and the temperatures go down, usually going fully dormant by the end of December. If things get particularly cold, as they did last December, the tops of pitcher plant pitchers burn and brown, but the pitchers still photosynthesize if they’re still green. With flytraps, the longer summer traps die off and shrivel, but a rosette of shorter traps remain to catch every photon of light they can over the winter. As days grow longer in mid-March, the plants start waking up again: Sarracenia pitcher plants first throw off flowers and then pitchers, as their pollinators and their prey are often the same insects. With flytraps, they start stretching out new traps in the middle of March, and if they got enough light during the winter, they produce long straight flower scapes toward the middle to end of April, each topped with tiny translucent white flowers.
This need for dormancy is one of the reasons why the Triffid Ranch traditionally didn’t sell flytraps and Sarracenia until the beginning of April. While most customers paid attention to the need for dormancy, there were always the people who assume they can ignore the instructions, fight to keep their plants active all winter long, and then throw tantrums when their plants died. Well, that and both flytraps and Sarracenia look rather scraggly and decrepit before they reemerge in spring. Most years, it was easier to wait and show plants in their best spring finery.
Since the gallery is shutting down, though, this was a perfect time for carnivorous plant enthusiasts willing to take a risk. Last December’s week-long deep freeze both left all of the Sarracenia in deep dormancy and freeze-dried most of their diagnostic pitchers, leaving them extremely hard to identify in this state. Since winter is the perfect time to repot Sarracenia anyway, so as to minimize root disturbance, the idea is that for $25 a pot, visitors to the Triffid Ranch liquidation sales get plants that have already gone through the worst of winter weather, and are ready to be put into container gardens or large pots full of sphagnum peat.
With this backdrop, should you come by this coming weekend for the final liquidation sale on Saturday or Sunday, February 25 and 26, and note that the Sarracenia look a little worse for wear, rest assured that they aren’t dead. They really ARE pining for the fjords.
To be continued…
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Posted onFebruary 21, 2023|Comments Off on The Aftermath: Liquidation Sale and Sarracenia Roulette – 1
The last week was interesting. The propagation area in the back of the gallery came down last Thursday, and all of the pitcher plants held for future enclosures were cleaned up and put on racks for sale. The last of the sundews and butterworts went into jars and bottles, and the bladderwort propagation containers came out. Normally, you’d never see North American pitcher plants and Venus flytraps at a Triffid Ranch event until they started growing traps, usually in mid-April, but this last holiday season hit Dallas hard enough with freezing weather and sleet that they were in deep dormancy. Yes, they were scraggly and appeared half-dead, but that was half of the fun. That meant playing a game of Sarracenia roulette, where nobody knew exactly what they were getting until the plants come out of dormancy in spring, at very good prices for large rhizomes and colonies.
All said, the penultimate Texas Triffid Ranch show was the largest event ever held in the company’s history, and certainly the largest at the gallery. The place was packed with enclosures, individual containers, and free-range temperate carnivores, with a lot of new and longtime visitors coming by to take them home. It’s remarkably bittersweet, as I’m going to miss so many people when everything closes for good on February 28, but it’s shutting down at the right time for the right reasons.
To be continued…
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Posted onFebruary 16, 2023|Comments Off on The Aftermath: Liquidation Sale and Superb Owl Party – 3
As if the Saturday liquidation sale wasn’t lively enough, then came Sunday and the Superb Owl party. For those unfamiliar with the great state, nation, and planet of Texas, the Superb Owl is an annual event where a majority of citizens celebrate the new year with excessive drunkenness, overconsumption of incredibly unhealthy foods, screams, fights in the streets, and a final celebration involving overturned cars and random gunfire. The difference between this and pretty much any other Sunday, though, is that all of this is a sacrifice for the Owl. If the Owl rises from its roost and sees any signs of humanity’s progress, we get six more weeks of winter.
Normally, the sane response to the Superb Owl passing overhead is to stay as far away from supermarkets and bars as possible, find a place to hole up until the next Monday, and very loudly ask co-workers if they need aspirin or something stronger for their hangovers. This weekend, though, the Triffid Ranch held its first liquidation sale in preparation for shutting down at the end of February, and that meant an escape from the Owl. True, it wasn’t a Kurosawa film festival or a chess tournament, but it had its moments. Next year, though, we’re on our own.
If you weren’t able to make this weekend’s show because of Superb Owl droppings (and the way people were weaving, they were especially bad on local highways, thoroughfares, and sidewalks), there’s still a chance to come by before the gallery closes forever on February 28. The liquidation sales really get going on February 18 and 19, with a lot of propagation plants pulled out of the back growing area: they’re looking a little scraggly because they weren’t intended for immediate sale, but this is an excellent opportunity to snag uncommon species, hybrids, and cultivars, already potted up and ready to be taken home. The fun starts at noon on Saturday and runs until 6:00 pm, with everything repeating on Sunday. For those seeking specifics, I’ll be at the gallery the whole week of February 20 for appointments in between packing and dismantling, so if you’ve had an eye on a particular enclosure, snag it now before someone else does. If there’s anything left, it and furniture, fixtures, and accessories are all going to be available at one last sale on February 25 and 26. After that, it’s all over and done. And so it goes.
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Posted onFebruary 15, 2023|Comments Off on The Aftermath: Liquidation Sale and Superb Owl Party – 2
One of the stranger sensations involved with shutting down the gallery involves habits. After a year or so in a new location, there’s a routine: you turn so to get into the driveway, you avoid a particular parking spot when hauling items because a particular overhanging tree gets in the way, or you go to a particular place for the space heaters in case the weather gets particularly cold. Logically, you tell yourself “in two weeks, none of this information won’t matter, because you’ll be gone, never to return.” Emotionally, though, the brain still runs through those habits: the old Valley View space has been gone for six years, and it physically doesn’t exist any longer, but the habits of unlocking and opening the gate, turning on the lights, and getting to work still show up in dreams.
This time, it’s a bit stronger, partly because the Triffid Ranch has existed in one form or another for fifteen years as of this coming April. It’s the realization that ordering new glass jars is no longer a priority, or that the back yard won’t be covered with Sarracenia pools, or that the need for rainwater containment is drastically reduced. Oh, there’s going to be new projects and new plans, but the anxiety dreams of “Do I have enough containers for next week’s show?” won’t apply to carnivorous plants any longer.
To be continued…
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Posted onFebruary 14, 2023|Comments Off on The Aftermath: Liquidation Sale and Superb Owl Party – 1
It’s getting closer, and a lot of back inventory, in the form of plants kept in propagation containers in preparation for 2023 shows that aren’t going to happen, came out for the Superb Owl’s approval. Apparently a lot of people came to see the Superb Owl in its native habitat, and most stayed to view carnivores, purchase enclosures, and ask about the future.
Very seriously, the first actual Triffid Ranch liquidation sale was an absolute blowout, with crowds normally seen at events such as Aquashella and Texas Frightmare Weekend. More than a few folks first came across the Triffid Ranch via these events, and were hoping that even as the gallery is closing, possibly the shows would continue. Sadly, that’s not the case, but the sentiment was greatly appreciated.
To be continued…
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The breakdown of the gallery continues apace, including finding homes for remaining enclosures. (You know that big aquarium in the back gallery full of Brocchinia reducta? It definitely needs a home.) A lot of smaller plants, purchased and potted up when the plan was for expansion and not shutdown, also need homes, so it’s time to announce the first and last Texas Triffid Ranch Carnivorous Plant Liquidation Sale and Superb Owl Party, running from noon until 6:00 pm on both Saturday, February 11 AND Sunday, February 12. Admission is obviously free, and yes, you can touch its little beak. Feel free to spread the word, and the liquidation sales continue until everything’s gone or February 28, whichever comes first.
Posted onFebruary 3, 2023|Comments Off on The Aftermath: The Last Triffid Ranch Open House – 2
Just as with the opening, the closing of an event tends to sneak up on you. One minute, the place is packed to the gills with customers asking questions, relating anecdotes, and asking “So what’s next?”, and the next, everyone has gone home and you look at what’s left and marvel. This is usually about the time I realize I’ve been talking nonstop for the last six hours and haven’t eaten or drank anything in at least that long, so any comments about the crowd come after getting a good stout glass of ice water. For the last 7 1/2 years, that was the story at least once per month, starting with the old Valley View Artwalks, but it started a long time earlier, with the innumerable big and small shows attended over the last 15 years, where the crowds were sometimes so thick that the breakfast burger started at 9:00 am was still mostly untouched at 8:00 that evening. Even with the shows with minor crowds, which happened a lot in the early days, there was always the satisfaction of putting away everything, loading up the truck or van, and exclaiming “WHOA” before going home.
If there’s anything particularly bittersweet about the gallery shutting down, it’s that there’s no show on the horizon, There’s no rush to get new enclosures ready for the next open house, or getting plants potted for the next Porch Sale, or planning the next road trip. By the end of February, it’s a matter of packing up the cleaning supplies, giving the space one last look-over, handing the keys to the property manager, and that’s it. Six eventful, wild, sometimes joyous, sometimes aggravating years in 405 Business Parkway, and then time to see what happens next.
While this was the last open house at the Texas Triffid Ranch, this isn’t the last event. The weekend of February 4 is concentrated on appointments to move remaining enclosures (if you have your eye on a particular enclosure, now is the time to say something), and then the liquidation sales start on Saturday, February 11 at noon. Looking for show gear, such as a tent, weights, and a heavy-duty battery for lights? How about shelving units and tables, both folding and nonfolding? One way or another, it all has to go, along with plants, containers, and gallery decorations. Details will follow soon.
And so it goes.
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Posted onFebruary 2, 2023|Comments Off on The Aftermath: The Last Triffid Ranch Open House – 1
When starting a venue, there’s all of the work needed to open it to the world, and then the hours and minutes run out and it’s either open the door or stay closed forever. Time’s up, you’re ready, start letting everybody in. This is also true of shutting down a venue: eventually, for all of the preparation for the end, it’s here. You can hope for a last-minute reprieve, or you can just go forward, assured that it’s the right decision for the right time, and make sure everyone remembers the party long after the space is cleared out and readied for someone else.
As far as wakes go, the last-ever Triffid Ranch open house was an outstanding success. We should all have a funeral where people are lined up a half-hour before opening, hoping to get a good view and share the memories. We should also be so lucky as to have a funeral where everyone remembers you at your height, where you went out because it was time and not dragging it out until there’s nothing but sadness and regret. Yeah, there was sadness from both longtime customers, some of whom had been customers back when this little gig started in May 2008, and new visitors who had no idea that Dallas had its own carnivorous plant gallery until that day. As Kurt Vonnegut used to put it, “And so it goes.”
To be continued…
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Back when this little experiment in Dallas art started in its old location in 2015, I told myself and others “If it lasts 18 months, I’ll be thrilled.” The fact that the Triffid Ranch lasted five times that, in an area and market where most galleries of any sort are lucky to last a year, is a testament to the residents, visitors, and unindicted coconspirators of the greater Dallas/Fort Worth area wanting something a bit weirder, and I thank you all.
The problem with every party, of course, is that eventually the party has to end. Hence, it’s time to turn on the lights, send everyone home with leftovers, and sweep up. 7 1/2 years is a great run, but now it’s time to get out the pushbrooms. January 28 is the date for the last official Triffid Ranch open house, and I’m currently clearing out the extra inventory, both plants and containers, in order to go out in style.
Now, some of you may have questions as to “why,” and in this case, here’s a handy guide to explain what’s going on. Anyone with further questions is welcome to come out to this weekend’s open house to ask more: it’s not as if I’m going anywhere that day.
Why is the Triffid Ranch shutting down?
Over the last two years, the Triffid Ranch became more and more self-sufficient, but it was never a venue that that did more than come a little ahead of even. When the lease was up for renewal in February, the new owners included a one-third rent increase, a significant new deposit, and demands for additional insurance, and the increased costs of new plants, containers, and show expenses added to it. The gallery could have muddled through for another two years, but with the very real risk in this area of the industrial park being demolished, scraped, and turned into apartment buildings. Two medical parks on either side have already been stripped to the soil line in preparation for development, and the costs of a move later, particularly with only 30 to 60 days’ notice, just made shutting down a saner idea.
Are you still going to do shows and events?
As much as I would like to keep going, the shows are ending as well. I love the organizers of several shows much more than I do any living member of my biological family, and I will gladly move heaven and earth to help them in any way possible. A lot of those big shows were really only possible with the gallery as a base of operations, though, and so if you see me at Texas Frightmare Weekend or the Oddities & Curiosities Expos, it’ll only be as a spectator.
Another factor with this decision to stop doing Triffid Ranch shows has nothing to do with them, but with the current increase in events and shows elsewhere. Thanks to scheduling issues, were I to continue, three of my biggest shows, ones that normally take about a month of preparation, are now within a week to two weeks of each other, with the very good likelihood that one particularly successful show could leave one or two with nothing left, and I won’t do that to either the show staffs or attendees. It’s not their fault or anybody’s fault: it’s just that other organizations and groups want the same facilities at the old times, and my blessing and curse was having something really unique that could be shown at a wide range of events. In 2023, that came back to bite me in the face.
(I will say, though, that one thing I won’t miss about shows is a particular type of participant that became especially common in 2022 shows. This is the person who saw the plants from way off, shoved people out of the way to get to the booth, shoved others out of the way to get right up next to the plants, looked down at them, and told me, repeatedly, “I can’t keep plants alive! Every plant I ever get DIES!” This isn’t the person who can’t figure out what’s happening with their Venus flytrap or jade plant and asks for advice: this type is almost proud that they’ve made no concessions for plant care or efforts in learning more. After the show last year that broke me, I wanted to start yelling back “Do you walk into pet shops and brag ‘I can’t keep a dog alive! Every dog I get dies!’? Worse, do you do that in maternity wards and nursing homes?” They’re almost as annoying and soul-killing as the people demanding that I bring plants out to Texas Master Gardener events, and lower than that I can’t get.)
What about the plants that don’t sell at the last open house?
After the open house, it’ll be time to break everything down and have a liquidation sale. Keep an eye on the Web site for details. Plants, shelving units, decorations, supplies, remaining glassware, and show gear: it’s all going. Anybody need a 10×10 tent and weights for outdoor shows? I won’t need it any more.
As for the outdoor plants currently in winter dormancy, plans are already underway to find them homes as well. I have an idea for a really fun gathering to say goodbye for good, and I’m just waiting for word in order to start with plans.
Will you restart the Triffid Ranch at a later time?
THAT is a really good question. The current plan right now is that if I do, it’s after going back to school for a serious regimen of art and museum design courses, including a lot of set design. If the Triffid Ranch comes back, with some financial miracle letting it happen, it’ll only be after getting the skills necessary to bring it to a whole new level, and that’s going to take a little while.
What will you do now?
You know, that’s a really good question. Several big projects eating at my brain have had to sit for years because the gallery and the day job took so much time, and one is practically extruding from my ear like brain toothpaste. Let’s just say that if you liked the backstories on the enclosures, you might get some further elaboration on the mysteries hinted at with those. I turn 57 with my next birthday on February 30, though, so I have to get going while I still have time.
Posted onJanuary 26, 2023|Comments Off on The Aftermath: The Penultimate Triffid Ranch Open House
And then there was one left. After years and years of wondering “are people not showing up to open houses because they don’t know about the open house or the existence of the gallery?”, I got the answer. Quite a few longtimers came out on January 21, including several friends from Texas Frightmare Weekend, but a lot of folks came out who had only heard about the Triffid Ranch from friends that weekend, and wanted to see everything before the gallery closed. They were all very much appreciated, and my only regret with everybody is that they won’t be able to come out in the future.
One of the things I enjoyed the most about the Triffid Ranch’s run was that there was no telling who was going to come through the door and what questions they were going to ask. I loved letting visitors know, when they would start with “This may sound like a dumb question, but…” that not only were they NOT asking dumb carnivorous plant questions, but they were asking questions that I had asked when I first started twenty years ago. Better, many, and I let them know this, were asking questions that had been bouncing around since the acknowledgement that these plants could attract, capture, and digest insect and other animal prey, and sometimes I had answers that only became available in the latest research. You ever see someone’s face when they asked about pitcher plant digestive fluids or Venus flytrap stimulation when told “If you’d come in a week ago, I wouldn’t have had an answer, but there was this great paper in Nature last Tuesday…” That’s something I’m going to miss.
And that’s nearly it. If you want to see the gallery in its current reasonably complete form, the last-ever Triffid Ranch open house opens at noon on January 28, and the doors closing at 6:00 pm or whenever everyone clears out. After that, it’s a matter of liquidating what’s left before moving out forever on February 28, so get out Saturday or ask someone else to get photos and video. You won’t want to miss this.
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Posted onJanuary 18, 2023|Comments Off on The Aftermath: The First Triffid Ranch Open House of 2023
The gallery may be closing, but not right away, and there’s still six weeks left to find homes for plants and enclosures before everything shuts down. Hence, with the unusually warm January weather, opening for a Saturday open house just makes sense. It was a perfect day for both old friends and Atlas Obscura groupies to come by and see what has been done with the gallery so far, talk to new visitors about the merits of carnivorous plants, and help out a friend with possible issues with her Cape sundew. It was a good day in general.
While it makes sense to shut down everything on a high note, the reality is that I’m going to miss holding the open houses. Over the last few years, having more than a single open house every month meant getting a better rhythm with setup and breakdown, and the last year meant getting a cohesive and coherent look to the place. That and the gallery becoming an actual gallery and less a locale for Dallas Fantasy Fair refugees to gossip, and things were going well. The reality, though, is that it’s knowing when to leave the party, especially when you’re the host, and shutting down when the current lease expires makes the most sense.
For those who have been kicking the can down the road about coming out for a Triffid Ranch show, it’s like this. The last two open houses as the place appears now are scheduled for January 21 and 28, both running from noon until 6:00 pm. If you’ve had your eye on a particular enclosure, now is the time to snag one before someone else gets it. After that, the dismantling begins in earnest, with all of the fixtures and accessories (shelves, glassware, pots, and decorations) going up for sale starting February 11. Ultimately, the space has to be cleared out and cleaned out by February 28, and after that, the Triffid Ranch is done. It’s been a very long strange trip over the last 14 years, and it’s time to celebrate the last few miles before the end of the road.
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“Welcome back to 2023. Please do not leave your seat until the chronohopper has completed all temporal motion and the time-anchors engage, unless you like losing your last four lunches and your last three haircuts. Please surrender all contraband before leaving the vehicle: we already know what you brought on board before you knew it, and we’re only really checking for honesty. If traveling from more than 10,000 years post-present, surrender all animal and plant specimens as well, as they’re likely to go invasive if/when you get bored and let them outside. Due to chrono-stabilization, you may feel a tingling in your extremities for more than 24 hours. If you find you can pass your hand or foot through solid objects, contact your doctor immediately. On behalf of Brothern Timelines, we thank you for choosing us, and we will contact you with your itinerary and reservations before you decide to make a future trip. Until then, please keep the paradoxes small and humorous.”
Oh, You came back. I guess the gorgonopsids out front didn’t discourage you. Well, come on in, and try to stay on the plastic runners. You have no idea how badly gorgonopsid saliva stains everything.
New month in a new year, and it’s time to make a few announcements. Last month, the idea of a Lunar New Year open house was floated as running around January 28, and it’s been expanded. This month, expect open houses on Saturdays January 14, 21, and 28: the gallery and house cleanup after January 1 turned out to be more productive than expected. It’s much of the same schedule: noon until 5:00 pm on January 14, noon until 6:00 pm on the 21st and 28th. (The January 14 event ends early in an effort to send visitors and interested bystanders to the BBBevCo Dry January Pop-Up, run by two longtime Triffid Ranch boosters and for those of us in desperate need of a venue in which to socialize without being pushed into blackout drinking.) Otherwise, they’re all the same: admission is free, enclosures are for sale, and children are welcome.
Secondly, if you haven’t been out to the gallery before now, make plans to do so by January 28, because barring a financial miracle, this will be the last-ever Triffid Ranch event in the gallery’s current form. The current lease expires at the end of February, and the new lease offer has so much of a jump in rent, deposit, and insurance (a situation faced also by Dallas stalwarts the Green Room and Fish & Fizz) that it honestly makes more fiscal sense to shut everything down for the duration. After January 28, all remaining enclosures, plants, and equipment are going to be sold off in mid-February, which still gives a month to clean the place out, get it ready to be empty for the next few years, and move on. What’s going to happen next is anybody’s guess, and the Triffid Ranch may come back in a different form in a few years. Right now, though, it’s time to take everything down, close up, and take a very long rest. If you can’t make it, thank you very much for 7 1/2 years of Dallas’s pretty much only carnivorous plant gallery, and you’ll love what happens next.
Posted onJanuary 3, 2023|Comments Off on The Aftermath: The Last Triffid Ranch Open House of 2022
Nine New Year’s Eves ago, the concept of the gallery was just a vague dream. Oh, the Triffid Ranch existed as a popup to be found at shows and conventions through the Dallas area, but the number of shows at which it appeared in a given year was still in the single digits, all of the plants lived on metal shelves in my office or in a teeny Harbor Freight greenhouse, and moving large enclosures to said shows ranged between “aggravating” and “legitimately dangerous.” Back when the clock was gradually shifting to January 2015, the likelihood of opening an actual venue was right up there with the Dallas Cowboys winning a shutout World Series pennant. Shop for a space? Why not make plans around getting an operational Green Lantern ring while I was at it?
Eight years later, New Year’s Eve was drastically different. One last open house to finish off this kidney stone of Anno Domini 2022, and it was graced with such dignitaries as the famed Venus flytrap expert Maggie Chen and local carnivorous plant booster Christian Cooper, as well as a crowd of people unable to come out for an open house until now. It’s been a very long strange trip, demonstrating firsthand how the weird turn pro, and while there’s no telling what to expect for 2023, any prediction about what happened in 2015 would have been hopelessly inadequate, too.
And on the subject of 2023, while the gallery is always open for appointments to purchase enclosures, it’s time to take a small break from open houses, mostly because there’s been at least some weekend event involving the Triffid Ranch since September. (While the horrendous freeze and storm that hit Dallas on Christmas weekend ripped the doors off the greenhouse, everything that was inside was already dormant for the season, the bulk of the greenhouse still protected everything from the north wind, and I’m hoping to get an explosion of Sarracenia and flytrap blooms this coming spring comparable to the ones in 2013 and 2021.) However, the gallery definitely opens for a Lunar New Year open house on January 28, and other events in January depend upon the weather and how well that weather affects paint drying and resin curing. Trust me: it’ll be worth the wait.
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A lot of things can be said for the year to be ended this week, and “boring” is not even remotely one of them. Divorce, moving, reorganizing the gallery, renovations, record drought, property owner changes, Day Job changes, show changes and recalibrations, Spy Clowns, awards, television interviews…after all that, the record cold for Christmas weekend wasn’t even particularly surprising. And we’re starting out 2023 with temperatures more suited for March, so expect the next year to be just as tumultuous. You know, there’s something to be said about the word “boring” in this context…
For those coming in late, the gallery you’ll see today is not the gallery that started out in this space in 2017, and the renovations continue. Right now, the future of the Texas Triffid Ranch is dependent upon what happens in January 2023, both in Dallas and the world in general, so expect a big announcement in time for the Lunar New Year open house on January 28. In the meantime, there’s still the New Year’s Eve open house on December 31, and everyone is welcome to come out and court speculation then.
As for everyone who came out to open houses, Porch Sales, and outdoor and indoor shows through 2022, I can’t begin to describe how thankful I am for all of you. For everyone who read and watched the interviews and voted in awards nominations, thank you. Everyone who came by because they were trying to figure out why their Venus flytraps were dying and needed recommendations, thank you. All of the Atlas Obscura pilgrims and Instagrammers and people looking for something different to do in Dallas on a Saturday night, thank you. Because of all of you, this was the Triffid Ranch’s best year yet, by double over its previous best year in 2021, with particularly popular events at Texas Frightmare Weekend, the Oddities & Curiosities Expos, and the Dallas Arboretum. Thank you for supporting these events, too: a lot of my fellow vendors are old and new friends, and their success matters as much, if not more, than mine.
And so closes 2022. And now it’s time to return to an annual tradition for the last quarter-century: spending the week of New Year’s Day cleaning and organizing. Gotta get ready for 2023, you understand.
Posted onDecember 27, 2022|Comments Off on The Aftermath: Nightmare Weekend Before Christmas 2022, the Fourth
It’s been one hell of a year over here at the Texas Triffid Ranch, and it’s definitely been the busiest. As can be told by the posts over here, the gallery hosted more open houses in 2022 than several previous years combined, along with multiple shows outside of the Dallas area, and that’s on top of a major personal move and the attendant stress and aggravation. I thank everyone coming out to the gallery and everyone reading this for your support and understanding through all of this, even the Spy Clowns, and here’s hoping that 2023 is somewhat less, erm, frantic. Certainly, let’s hope it’s considerably warmer: the gallery did well in our extended deep freeze, but let’s not do that again for a while, okay?
The franticness isn’t just here: it’s been a rough year for a lot of people, and I’m glad that this little corner of the universe has been a haven for those in a need for quiet, repose, and carnivorous plants. Christmas Eve was a day for a lot of people who hadn’t been to the gallery since 2021 or earlier (one hadn’t been by since it was at the old Valley View location),and the ones that weren’t impressed by the ongoing renovation and reboot were surprised by the variety of enclosures available since the last time they came in.
And you think this is it for 2022? Pshaw. The absolute last, final, full-stop, cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die open house of 2022 is still ahead of us, running on December 31 from noon until 6:00 pm. I could make jokes about Christmas money and having the opportunity to buy something for yourself now that the giftgiving frenzy is over, but honestly it’s all about community. 2023 is going to be a year of making new friends and getting closer to old ones, and we might as well get into the habit of doing so a day early. Selah.
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Posted onDecember 27, 2022|Comments Off on The Aftermath: Nightmare Weekend Before Christmas 2022, the Third
December in Texas tends to be a bit weird in that weather issues tend to be a bit more intense than in most places. On any given day, you can wake up to bitter cold, surprising warmth, fog, ice, snow, frost, or rain, but usually it’s sun unless it isn’t.This tends to get us a little paranoid, especially since (a) so many major roads are atop bridges built to allow proper drainage on the horrendous floodplain that sums up most of the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and (b) those bridges are built to shed heat through our long summers instead of retaining heat in the maybe two weeks per year that they might freeze over. Hence, a lot of traffic plans get made based on a peek outside: do you take one route because three others clog with traffic during heavy rains, or do you take another because the preferred route becomes a skating rink at just below freezing and nobody seems to remember this? You can’t even blame this on “nobody knows how to drive on snow and ice,” because so many fellow Dallasites act as if water has never fallen from the sky in the history of this planet and act accordingly every time it does.
Not that this was a particular problem during this Nightmare Weekend Before Christmas, but you could smell it on the air and you could hear it on the road noise from the road in front of the gallery. Keeping one eye on the sky at all times is no way to live, but most of us have the hang of it. As for the rest of the year, well, that’s why so many of us stayhome for New Year’s Eve.
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It’s time for another anniversary at the Texas Triffid Ranch. As of next month, this silly little gallery celebrates three-quarters of a decade since the original lease signing. It’s slightly bittersweet because of events through the last 12 months, particularly the horrendous flipper mess that was the original location, but considering the life expectancy of most small businesses and most art galleries, it’s a reason to celebrate nonetheless. In February, the gallery starts another two-year lease at its current location, so with a bit of luck and an awful lot of promotion, the Triffid Ranch might hit its tenth anniversary in 2025 after all.
This leads to discussions on where the Triffid Ranch goes from here. Even more so than in 2022, 2023 has to be a year of renovation, consolidation, and reevaluation, not just because of current economic trends, but because the place needs a stem-to-stern cleanout and stripout. A lot of priorities have changed in the last year, and it’s time that the Triffid Ranch takes advantage of this.
The first one is a further emphasis on gallery events as opposed to traveling shows, partly due to increased travel costs and mostly due to wanting to try new things with the gallery space. Now that both the work area in the back and the Dallas Fantasy Fair reunion entourage in the front are gone, there’s now a surprising amount of space available for joint events with other galleries and groups, and the plan in 2023 is to host more of these. The plan for 2022 was to do it this year, but this extends to the Porch Sale events outside when the weather allows: the City of Richardson is experimenting with popup art and culture events, and there’s absolutely no reason why the Triffid Ranch can’t assist with the city’s efforts to make it an arts destination in its own right. The long winter nights in January and February mean plenty of uninterrupted time to get things together by the time spring weather stabilizes around the beginning of April, and the death of the Deep Ellum Arts Festival in 2022 means a lot of folks are going to be looking for something to do once the weekends reach shirtsleeve temperatures. Combine this with the temperate carnivorous plants coming out of winter dormancy and blooming in April, barring any last-minute freezes
In the short-term, December finishes off the Nightmare Weekends Before Christmas on December 24, and the week after means plenty of time for essential maintenance and upgrades. Right now, the plan is to have one open house on Saturday, December 31 for those folks who want to do SOMEthing on New Year’s Eve but who don’t want to deal with the usual festivities in the evening. It’s just going to be a nice post-holiday gathering: if you can read this, you’re invited.
As for January, the emphasis is going to be on the renovation, but in support and love of many regular visitors, the Triffid Ranch will host a Lunar New Year open house on January 28, this year with 100 percent less cultural appropriation. Treat this like the Gregorian New Year’s Eve gathering: no pressure, no pushiness, no reason to show up other than to celebrate another orbit around the homestar. Oh, and to see new enclosures, because with the holidays over, there’s going to be a lot of time to fill gaps and get new work up on display, too.
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Posted onDecember 12, 2022|Comments Off on The Aftermath: Nightmare Weekends Before Christmas 2022 – The Second
I’m regularly asked about “average Texas winter weather,” and some don’t seem to understand the completely rational and logical answer “There isn’t any.” Oh, there might have been a time in the early Pliocene when keeping records for a few decades could give a mean on temperature, precipitation, and wind speed, but that’s been a folly since the Laurentide Ice Sheet started receding along with the risk of Columbian mammoths climbing through your cat door. As of this year, I mark a total of 40 years in North Texas, and I have stories of severe ice storms and stories of spending Christmas Eve in shorts and sandals. Oh, and there’s a lot between, too.
The weekend of the second Nightmare Weekend Before Christmas open house of 2022 was remarkably similar to that of 1982. It should be noted that the weekend in question 40 years ago was spent pulling weeds in a rainstorm, leading to the first of several bouts of pneumonia through the first half of the 1980s. The gallery itself was warm and dry, but it’s getting there that’s problematic. Maybe I should stop renovating the gallery and develop cheap and effective teleportation, thereby removing the obstacle. Suggestions and recommendations are very welcome.
Even with all that, the continued updates to the gallery were gladly appreciated by both new and returning visitors, and the plan is to surprise them with more over the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, it’s time to finish up a series of enclosures, especially thanks to an old and dear friend finding a batch of essential components for the first-ever cojoining enclosures to be presented at the gallery. It may stop, but it NEVER ends.
And for those planning to come out to the next Nightmare Weekend Before Christmas? Expect more surprises, depending upon the weather. Right now, everything depends upon the weather holding up at the beginning of the week, at least enough to use spray guns for a serious addition to the gallery facade. If it doesn’t, well, that’s what new enclosures are for. Either way, make your plans before the plants are all gone.
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Posted onDecember 8, 2022|Comments Off on The Aftermath: Nightmare Weekend Before Christmas 2022, The First
The end of Anno Domini 2022 is nearly upon us, and we’re rapidly coming up on slogging through a quarter of this seemingly endless century. More so than in previous years, the Triffid Ranch celebrates things a bit differently. No Whammageddon, no arguments about Die Hard being a Christmas movie (there’s room for only one on the gallery screen), No Elf on the Shelf (the Triffid Ranch is a firm supporter of integrated pest management), and the only sounds on the roof come from Cadfael and the other crows ceaselessly guarding the sleeping Venus flytraps from squirrel depredations. It’s a bit quiet around here, and that’s a very good thing.
The annual Nightmare Weekends Before Christmas open houses always start out a bit quiet, and that works out. It gives opportunities for serious additions to the gallery renovation, such as the massive colored glass arrangement courtesy of Triffid Ranch friend and hero Avi Adelman, and ongoing work on lighting and effects. Oh, and when you come in, ask about “Charlie.” Sometimes it goes slowly (as I regularly note, I’m certain that all human art forms are derived from painting, as you have to have something to do while waiting for the paint to dry), but it’s continuing, and since the property owner wants to renew the lease, there’s at least another two years to keep going.
Since this December is particularly blessed with Saturdays, you still have another four until the year becomes history, and the next Nightmare Weekend starts Saturday, December 10 at noon. If you don’t want to fill out the Eventbrite form for tickets, don’t let this stop you: admission is free, and so is the parking. And so it goes.
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Posted onNovember 29, 2022|Comments Off on The Aftermath: The Last Triffid Ranch Open House of November
As 2022 drags toward its inevitable conclusion, the main focus at the gallery, even during open houses, is on the ongoing renovation and revision. That process leads to significantly increased gallery space as compared to last year, and all of that space needs to be filled. Old container inventory, locked away in storage since lockdown, is coming out, and new enclosures are ready or nearly ready. Sure, it’s a matter of “Sleep? What’s that?”, but this way the upcoming Nightmare Weekends Before Christmas hold lots of surprises.
And if previous visitors think they’ve seen everything so far, they’re going to be in for a shock. The plan is that by the end of the year, visitors will barely recognize the gallery if their only experiences preceded last summer, and the further plan is to make it completely unrecognizable in its old form by the end of January. More painting, more building, more propagating: it may stop, but it never ends.
As previously mentioned, the Nightmare Weekends Before Christmas open houses start for their fifth year on December 3, running from noon until 5:00 pm. If you can’t make that, then make plans for December 10, 17, and 24, and feel free to spread word as far and wide as you want. 2022 is a year many of us never want to repeat, so let’s send it off with an appropriate kick in the butt.
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We’re now on the final approach on the end of 2022, with all this entails. Combine last week’s weather’s repeated flirtations with freezing temperatures with this week’s blatant PDAs, and the flytraps and pitcher plants are now nicely on their way to their needed dormancy. What this means is that the early morning hours previously dedicated to watering and weeding can be put toward other productive efforts, as well as having an excellent excuse for staying indoors. Yep, it’s time to get back to the gallery renovation.
Besides the ongoing buildup in the front area and hallway, the back and main gallery continues with its creative reconstruction, including a massive expansion of display space. This, of course, means a comparable expansion of new enclosures to fill said space. The plan is to have the whole gallery filled by mid-February, with the hope for at least one new unique enclosure every other week. Naturally, this is dependent upon how badly the various celestial and infernal forces that run the universe want to mess with the schedule, but that’s the hope.
As for shows and events away from the gallery, the last show outside of Dallas for 2022 comes in next week, when the Triffid Ranch heads out for its sixth Blood Over Texas Horror for the Holidays show, out at the Palmer Events Center in downtown Austin. After coming back, there’s a very good likelihood of other one-evening shows throughout the rest of the year, and I’m just awaiting word. Obviously, they’re at times that don’t conflict with the return of the Nightmare Weekends Before Christmas open houses through December, because those are now practically a tradition around here, and I have a sneaking suspicion that we’re going to need a good dose of green on Saturday afternoons this December.
In related developments, the gallery had one more visitor than the usual open house logs showed: client appointments occasionally bring up all sorts of surprises. In this case, the critter above showed up while waiting for a client, saw the “SUCKER” neon sign on my forehead, and moved right in. All efforts to find who he belongs to (he’s been chipped and declawed, although the chip apparently gives the contact info for a pet rescue shut down since lockdown and never updated) have been for naught, so now his name is “Parker,” because from the moment I wake up in the morning, he’s wanting to talk about the bonus situation. Please come by the gallery at the next event (including the open house on November 19) and buy lots of plants, because what spare funds that aren’t going into the pet deposit are going into food, and he eats a LOT.
Finally, after the concern earlier this year about having to move or shut down the gallery based on the purchase of the industrial park in which it sits, there may be some interesting and much appreciated developments in 2023. Let’s get through the holiday season before worrying about that, though. December is going to be weird enough.
Posted onNovember 14, 2022|Comments Off on The Aftermath: The Absolutely Final, Full-Stop, Cross-My-Heart-and-Hope-to-Die Porch Sale of 2022
18 months after the first Triffid Ranch carnivorous Plant Porch Sale started out of expediency, they have to stop for a while. The biggest reason is for allowing all of the temperate carnivorous plants in the inventory to go dormant for the winter, and this coincides with a massive cold wave hitting in the second week of November that regularly pushed or exceeded freezing temperatures for most of the Dallas area. The threadleaf pitcher plants lost their famed leaves and died back to their core, the triggerplants lost their blooms, the Sarracenia pitcher plants show the first signs of windburn at the tips of their pitchers, the “Aki Ryu” Venus flytraps are all the color of fresh pomegranate juice, and all is right with the world. This means that subsequent Triffid Ranch shows won’t have any of these until at least the end of March, and that’s exactly how it should be.
That last first weekend in November, though, was absolutely perfect for the last opportunity to show off what all of the plants would look like come spring, and a great opportunity as well to show off their insect-capturing adaptations. If I had to design a final weekend for outdoor Triffid Ranch shows, I literally couldn’t have done better than that weekend, and it just means that besides subsequent open houses being indoors, I now have only four months to make plans for how to exceed this for 2023.
As mentioned earlier, while this is the end of the outdoor show season at the Triffid Ranch, it’s not the end of Triffid Ranch shows and events in general. Right now, November 19 marks the last open house of the month, but that’s only because everything is going into a truck and heading to Austin for the Blood Over Texas Horror for the Holidays show at Palmer Events Center on November 26 and 27. The subsequent Monday morning, everything comes back to Dallas in preparation for the return of the Nightmare Weekends Before Christmas open houses, where the Triffid Ranch is open every Saturday in December, including Christmas Eve. And that’s just the events at the gallery: as with the rest of the year, this December is going to be the busiest since the gallery opened, and as soon as I get confirmation on a couple of events, I’ll get the word out.
In the meantime, many thanks to everyone who came out for Porch Sales this year, both first-timers and regulars. I promised lots of surprises this time last year for 2022, and you’ll really be surprised at what’s coming for 2023.
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A lot of things are going on today, including my grandmother’s 99th birthday (alternately, the twentieth anniversary of her ascension as the Queen of Evil), and combining evening events with a Monday means that a lot of folks might avoid the rise of the big yellow hurty thing in the sky. For those who risked immolation in the deadly rays of the daystar, you might have caught a certain fast-talking pedant on Good Morning Texas talking with Hannah Davis. For those of us whose life in Dallas is a continuous cosplay of the film Near Dark, video will be available soon. Either way, between this and last weekend’s show at the Dallas Arboretum, look for a new announcement on an absolute last, final, full-stop, cross-my-hear-and-hope-to-die Porch Sale for November 6 to go with the Goth Flea Market at Panoptikon on November 5. And just think: it’s only going to get busier around here before New Year’s Day.
Posted onOctober 27, 2022|Comments Off on The Aftermath: The (Presumably) Last Porch Sale of 2022
For what was originally intended to be a temporary drive-up event deep in the throes of Dallas COVID lockdown, the Triffid Ranch Porch Sales have turned out to be remarkably popular and successful. A quarter of a decade after the first, not only are they going strong, but new visitors courtesy of Atlas Obscura and the Dallas Observer keep coming. In a better world, the Porch Sales would continue all year, but two factors keep getting in the way. The first is that the temperate carnivores, particularly the Venus flytraps and North American pitcher plants, have to go into dormancy over the winter, which means they’re usually looking pretty scraggly by New Year’s Eve. The second is the reason they’re looking scraggly: we may not get below freezing in the Dallas area until the end of the year, but it gets cold enough, and setting up and tearing down a tent in near-freezing torrential rains is entertainment for a certain type of person I hope never to meet. Thus, with great regret, future Triffid Ranch events move inside for the year and into 2023, because visitors would prefer to get out from the torrential rains, too.
With that said, I wish to express the greatest thanks to everyone coming out for Porch Sales in 2023, from the families wanting to see live carnivorous plants for the first time to the regulars who just wanted to see what I was up to THIS time. A lot of plans were delayed this year due to circumstances, but the idea is to bring a whole new level to the Porch Sales next year, and I hope we can all have a blast with it when they restart next March or April. Since the Deep Ellum Arts Festival isn’t coming back, somebody has to step in and fill the niche.
Now, this isn’t the last Triffid Ranch event of 2022, and it may not even be the absolute last Porch Sale. The Triffid Ranch moves to the Dallas Arboretum on October 28 through 30, with a Learn to Grow presentation at 11:00 am Friday and then an ongoing plant show all weekend, and then we hop over to the famed Dallas goth club Panoptikon for the return of the Panoptikon Flea Market/Cookout/Cocktails on November 5. Thanks to a big upcoming development (of which you’ll hear much on Halloween), the gallery will probably open on November 6 for folks who couldn’t make the Panoptikon Flea Market. After that? Sleep. Blessed sleep, alongside the Sarracenia if I can help it.
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On final approach to the end of the year, and Busy Season at the Triffid Ranch is up and going from now until New Year’s Eve. Some of the frantic activity is due to the Halloween season, where everybody wants to get spooooooky plants. Some of the frantic activity is because of the impending general holiday season. The biggest burst of action, though, comes from the drastic changes at the gallery since the end of last year, and it’s time to ride that all the way into 2023.
(And along that line, it’s time to ask a favor of regular attendees and occasional visitors, as well as those understanding of the sad reality that currently polystyrene is a plastic nearly impossible to recycle with current technology. To wit, I’m looking for odd-looking Styrofoam packaging, such as from appliances [the inserts holding the rotating trays of microwave ovens are very desired], as well as any other chunks otherwise destined for the landfill, in order to finish up the back area of the gallery before the weather gets foul. Please feel free to give a shout if you have something you need to get rid of, and I’m very happy to pick up.)
Because this is the busy season as far as carnivorous plants are concerned, the Triffid Ranch is going to be on the road quite a bit for the next few weeks, including booths with the Crow’s Alley Flea Market on October 15 and Dallas’s best goth club Panoptikon on November 5, but the biggest event so far is the three-day lecture and show at the Dallas Arboretum on October 28 through 30. (As much as I’d love to have an event on Halloween night, various situations conspire to keep that from happening, but the last Triffid Ranch Porch Sale of 2022 starts on Saturday, October 22 at 10:00 am and runs until 3:00 pm, out in front of the gallery.) For those seeking temperate carnivorous plants such as Venus flytraps or North American pitcher plants, the Panoptikon Goth Garage Sale will be the last time until next April where you can buy either, as they all really need to go dormant for the winter after that. (Tropical carnivores such as Asian pitcher plants and sundews are available all year round, so don’t let that stop you from coming to upcoming events.)
As for gallery events, the rush of events in October means that the gallery won’t have another open house until the middle of November, but that means that the place will have a new rush of enclosures debuting by November 19. I won’t say much more, other than that the last few months of work combine new enclosure concepts with new materials and new plants, meaning that new visitors to the gallery are going to be extremely surprised by the time the annual Nightmare Weekends Before Christmas weekend events start on December 3.
And on that subject, because of other developments, it’s time to announce that those wanting custom plant enclosures for the holiday season need to make an appointment by November 23, because booking spaces are going to be filled until after the beginning of January 2023. As it is, based on last year, this will be the first year where new enclosure designs are going to be stockpiled until there’s room to plant and display them, because even with the gallery expansion and renovation, it’s a matter of available room.
Finally, we’re still two months out, but now is a good time to mention plans for a New Year’s Eve event at the gallery, early enough that people can come out before going to planned NYE parties but with the opportunity to thank everyone who has stuck with this silly little endeavor for the last year. So far this year, this has been the best the Triffid Ranch has ever seen, and it’s time to return the love. Keep checking back for details, but I have Ideas.
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Posted onOctober 3, 2022|Comments Off on The Aftermath: October 2022 Triffid Ranch Open House
And now we’re getting into the homestretch. 89 days until the beginning of 2023 in the Gregorian calendar, 80 days until Christmas Eve, and precisely four weeks until Halloween. This is when things start getting busy at the Triffid Ranch, between the understandable interest in spooky plants, the Texas heat finally letting up, and the realization that we only have about a month before we have to pull out jackets and turn on the heat in the mornings. Heck, a month after that, we might see the first frost since last March.
In the interim, because the next four weekends are going to be just too nice to be trapped inside, the Triffid Ranch opened up for one big open house on October 1, because it’s going to be a while before the next one. Everything is moving outside, either for the last Porch Sales of the season or for other outside shows, giving a chance to get in some further updates to the gallery renovations and move in a slew of new enclosures. The idea is that by the end of November, if you thought the first stages of the gallery renovation were nicely surprising, you’ll be in shock as to what can get done in two months. Besides, the Porch Sales keep me off the streets and out of trouble.
North Texas may be drier than a Dorothy Parker insult, but that just makes getting out and doing things that much sweeter. Our famously flexible weather makes most of us meteorological experts, if only so we don’t have to discuss politics, and most of that is in a desperate need to know “If I go out today, will I die?” Well, the heat finally broke, with the odds being pretty good that we won’t have any more of our typical summer weather until next May, with stunningly blue skies during the day and unusually clear and crisp skies all night. In other words, we can go outside without bursting into flame, and that’s what happened at the Triffid Ranch last weekend.
For those who haven’t been to Dallas, or who haven’t been here long, it’s time for caveats. Generally, the rainier things get in October and November, the less likely we’ll get severe cold weather December through February. That’s not an absolute, as February 2021 proved, but it’s true more often than not. Right now, the immediate Triffid Ranch area hasn’t received a drop of rain since the big Labor Day Weekend storm on September 4, and the last fall this dry was back in 2012, leading to the famed Christmas Day 2012 blizzard. Now, five minutes after I type this, we could get another 20 centimeters of rain, but right now, it’s dry and crisp, and autumn in Texas doesn’t get better than this.
This coming weekend, partly because of vague chances of downpours and the opportunity to show off new developments, the party moves inside, with a traditional Triffid Ranch open house running on October 1 from noon until 5:00 pm. Don’t worry: the Porch Sales are coming back, and they’ll be running again on October 8 and 22. It’s just that the Triffid Ranch hits the road in October, with a Crow’s Alley Flea Market event at Outfit Brewing in Dallas on October 15, running from 5:00 to 10:00 pm, and the big Dallas Arboretum Halloween lecture and sale running from October 28 to 30. Please come out to buy lots of plants: I don’t have the time to develop my own safe and effective vaccine for sleep, so I need to hire someone to do the work for me.
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You know that old trope in war and horror movies, involving the red-shirt who stands up when everyone else is worried about snipers and/or monsters, exclaims “Everything’s fine! Come on out!”, and gets pranged in the head in front of compatriots and audience? That’s what planning for outdoor events in Texas is like. Plan for weeks to take advantage of National Weather Service predictions of spectacular weather, and we get thunderstorms, hail, tornadoes, and the occasional autumn heat wave. There’s a reason why armadillos, with all their armor, dig burrows.
That’s what’s happening in North Texas right now: most years, the third full week of September is when the summer heat finally breaks with a massive thunderstorm and then things come out the other side clean and cool. This may or may not happen, and if we follow what happened during the 2012 drought, we may not see a drop of rain until Christmas Day. I look at it very prosaically: one big storm around Labor Day to spook everyone, and then weekend after weekend of fabulous conditions to encourage people to take a risk and get out…in October.
It’s not October yet, but the Porch Sales continue, with the last September Porch Sale running Saturday, September 24 from 10 am to 3 pm. After that, things move inside on October 1 for an open house to show off new enclosures, and then back outside until Halloween weekend. As for Halloween…oh, the plans to be shared very, very soon.
Comments Off on The September Porch Sales Continue
Well, word of the Triffid Ranch’s renovation is getting out, starting with this very nice writeup in the Dallas Observer from writer Kendall Morgan. Now to complete said renovation and validate others’ trust in making the Triffid Ranch a Dallas-area destination. (The current plan is to open the gallery for a major open house on October 1 from noon until 5:00 pm to debut new enclosures and the renovation work so far, with a Porch Sale on September 24 to give everyone their carnivorous plant fixes in the interim, and then another major open house on Halloween weekend. I hope this works to everyone’s satisfaction.)
(For those coming in late, the following is a regular feature highlighting developments involving the Texas Triffid Ranch, including new features, events, and general strangeness. For more of this delivered directly to your mailbox, please consider the newsletter.)
The end of summer 2022 isn’t confirmed yet, and based on previous Dallas weather trends, we can’t confirm it until the end of November. It sure feels like it, though. The convection oven heat faced by the Dallas area all November finally broke on August 22, when we got a full summer of rain in the space of about two hours. The hits kept coming, too, including a surprise storm on September 4 that hit the area with hurricane-force winds. If we can trust standard Texas weather trends, this means that the next couple of months will be comprised of cool and very dry days, with spectacular night skies and a relaxed need for air conditioning, and that’s what the National Weather Service is predicting as of this writing. However, as anyone who has lived in Texas for more than three weeks already knows, we could go to an autumn where we won’t see a drop of rain until Christmas Day, and we could also go to an autumn with torrential rains and even subfreezing temperatures around Halloween. It’s happened before.
Based on the current forecast, though, we’re looking at mild temperatures with gentle nights and no appreciable precipitation until the end of the month, so that means one thing. This means that it’s time to get to work on the gallery. Weather like this is perfect for painting, and there’s a LOT of painting to be done over the rest of the season.
Firstly, because the brain-frying heat of summer is gone, the regular Triffid Ranch events are now outdoors, with lots of opportunities between now and Halloween. For September, the Porch Sales return on Saturdays, running on September 17 and 24 from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm on both days. Since the current weather means that the Sarracenia and flytraps are making up for lost time, it’s a perfect time to come out, look around, and figure out which plants you really need to take home.
While the Porch Sales are going on, the gallery interior continues its renovation, with work starting on the main area toward the back of the space. That’s another reason why I continue to focus on the weather, because autumns in Texas produce the right weather for bulk painting, where it’s not so hot that the paint starts drying as it leaves the sprayer and not so cold that it takes forever to dry. If anything, painting in the evening means a particularly strong and durable paint, as the paint dries slowly under cooler temps overnight and then bakes on in the afternoon. This means that a whole load of enclosures forced to wait because of summer heat are finishing up right now, and the plan is to have an evening open house to show them off on October 1.
(In that vein, because of the gallery’s expansion, it’s actually possible to create multiple enclosure series, which can be shown both collectively and individually. I’m finishing working on the concept for one such series that should be available for viewing at the October 1 open house, that should be as odd as anything else that’s ever come out of the Triffid Ranch before. Keep checking back.)
In ongoing developments, I also want to thank everyone who voted for the Triffid Ranch in both the Dallas Morning News Best of DFW Awards and the Dallas Observer Best of Dallas Awards nominations. The Best of DFW results won’t be available until November, but the Best of Dallas awards will be announced on September 22, with a video discussion of both critics’ choice and readers’ choice winners that evening. The real fun will be watching friends and cohorts win their own awards: there’s a lot going on in this town, and every little boost helps out.
Seeing as how just having weekly Porch Sales and obsessively painting and cutting foam all week isn’t stimulating enough, there’s always more. To start out, the Triffid Ranch is a proud vendor at the Angel Stakes charity benefit from the Vampire Court of Dallas on Sunday, September 18 from 6:00 am to midnight. This is just the start of non-gallery events over the rest of the year, including a Halloween weekend lecture at the Dallas Arboretum, so keep checking back for details as I get them.
And along that line, a prompt for the near future. This Halloween, since the day itself falls on a Monday this year, promises an extra-long weekend, and since I no longer have any family obligations for Halloween, either by blood or marriage, it’s time to try a blowout for the end of the season. Again, details will follow, but it just might include the black-light carnivorous plant show I’ve been promising at the gallery since its Valley View Center days, as well as a celebration of my grandmother’s 99th birthday. The gallery has the room now, and testing commences.
And in long-term plans, there’s always the risk of making major plans and having extenuating circumstances interfere, but expect a lot of news about 2023 events in the next month. The move by Texas Frightmare Weekend to run at the end of May instead of the usual first weekend frees up that first weekend, and it’s time to get more involved in local art events. Even more importantly, the official announcement for the Oddities & Curiosities Expo 2023 schedule comes out on Halloween Day, and this may – MAY – involve new cities on the schedule. I don’t know about anybody else, but I can’t wait.
I sure know how to pick an open house date. Labor Day Weekend 2022 started out beautifully: moderate temperatures, sunny skies, and a general feeling of relaxation,. Friday night moved into Saturday, and the weather was just perfect. Sunday can’t be even better than this, could it? Well, the morning was…
…and then the storm hit that afternoon. For those outside of the Dallas area, things went sideways in the space of about ten minutes, as a massive storm roared out of the north. I mean “roar” literally: most of the Dallas area was hit with hurricane-force winds, followed by heavy rain, with downed trees and power lines all over. The gallery was relatively unscathed, although it was touch and go for a while, but the original plan to move everything outside for a Porch Sale would have been a disaster. It wasn’t much better going home, as a whole series of power poles went down in the storm and took out power for about 9 hours, and internet access only came back today. Let’s just say that I’m very glad that Sarracenia are adapted to life in hurricane zones, because they got a little touch of home that Sunday.
With that, I have to thank everyone who came out for the open house, because a lot rushed out to get home before the storm hit and discovered the storm was faster. This definitely qualified as the worst weather the gallery has faced since October 2019, and that involved a literal tornado that hopped over the gallery and took out a subdivision just due east, thereby taking out power for the whole area for nearly a week. It can always be worse.
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(Dedicated to the memory of Nancy Crawford, whose 90th birthday would have been today. Without her gentle encouragement for 20 years, the Triffid Ranch probably never would have happened.)
Ever been in an amusement park and got in line for a new rollercoaster, and right when you get strapped into the car and sent on your way, the earth gives way and all of you go barreling into an abyss that lay beneath the whole park? And when you gently hit bottom, you find yourself cornered in a city full of vampires that have been feeding on humans above them for centuries? And you manage to take on the vampires with a spare boba tea straw that fell from above, organize the various servant races the vampires have been breeding for menial labor and midnight snacks, relay light from the surface via spare fiber optic cables buried by the CIA, and burn the vampires to ash? And then when you get back to the surface, you discover that the vampires were the only thing keeping a species of sentient exoparasite from the rim of the galaxy and a species of hyperintelligent dinosaur from taking over Earth themselves, and your chainsaw is in the shop? And when you lock them all in stasis tombs deep below the surface of Ganymede, you find artifacts from an indescribably ancient civilization that lead you to their perfectly preserved home inside a series of nested Dyson spheres, and you get exclusive real estate rights to the equivalent living area of three billion Earths?
That’s what August 2022 has been like, but with carnivorous plants.
The best part? 2022 has been this wild, and we still have four months left.
Folks outside of the Dallas area might have heard or read about the bit of rain we got on August 22. The Tallahassee-level deluge wasn’t enough to get us out of severe drought yet, nor will the expected rains through the beginning of September, arriving about a month early compared to most years. However, every bit helps, as do the delightfully cool temperatures right now as compared to three weeks ago. The last time I experienced an August that ended like this was in 1987 (I spent my 21st birthday slogging through rainwater so high that it came up to the axles on my bicycle, and I was having the time of my life doing so), and considering how 1987 went, I’m packing a spare parachute just in case somebody else needs it.
The gallery itself continues to undergo its ongoing renovation and metamorphosis, with the front area, now mercifully entourage-free so that visitors can actually get into the place, pretty much finished and ready for new enclosures. The renovation and remodeling of the back area begins in September, although new lighting and shelves are already there. Considering how well the last open house in August went, the first open house of September attempts to continue the tradition, only moving from Saturday to Sunday, September 4 in order to allow folks who couldn’t get to the gallery on Saturdays to have a chance. Keep coming back through the year and take one picture each time, and you’ll get a view worthy of George Pal and Wah Chang.
One of the other benefits of the ongoing cool and wet outside is that the Sarracenia and flytraps, long semi-dormant in the extreme heat of July and August, are now simply exploding with new growth. as things cool off, the regular Triffid Ranch events move outside for a return of the Porch Sales. Depending upon the weather, expect Porch Sales every weekend until Halloween (in case of rain, everything moves inside) every weekend where the Triffid Ranch isn’t attending a show elsewhere. In addition, the new Porch Sales will feature also guest vendors, the number to be announced in the future.
And speaking of shows, it’s time for a range of local and out-of-town shows in the next couple of months. Unfortunately, the Triffid Ranch can’t be out for this weekend’s Plantopia in Arlington, but I’m signed up for the Crow’s Alley Flea Market in Bedford on October 15 and 29, and then there’s the long-running Blood Over Texas Horror for the Holidays two-day event at the Palmer Events Center in Austin on November 26 and 27. After THAT, it’s all local events at the gallery for the rest of 2022. Since the Day Job offers the whole last week of 2022 as additional vacation time, there may be one last big event before New Year’s Day 2023, but that’s still being discussed.
(On the subject of 2023, things got very interesting with Texas Frightmare Weekend, moving for next year to the Irving Convention Center for Memorial Day weekend. As brought up before, TFW moved to the Irving Convention Center next year due to massive upgrades to the whole of Terminal C at DFW Airport, and one of the upshots was the ability to upgrade to 10×10 spaces as opposed to the smaller spaces in which the Triffid Ranch had been presenting plants since 2009. This means a LOT more plants, enclosures, and other possibilities, and the next eight months are dedicated to stretching the limits of enclosure design and technology specifically to take advantage of the increased space.)
Finally, there’s still a bit over a week to vote in the Dallas Observer Best of Dallas Awards, and the Triffid Ranch was nominated for “Best Garden Center,” so give love to all of the other things that make Dallas such a fun city when we put our minds to it. Me, I’m happy to be nominated, but if the Triffid Ranch should win, the afterparty open house is going to be the stuff of legends.
In the interim, it’s back to the linen mines: as mentioned, the renovations continue, and with them comes a ridiculous amount of room for new enclosures. Again, come out to the gallery on September 4 to get a view now, and be amazed at how much gets put in between then and the end of the year, especially compared to last year. You’ll boogie ’til you puke.
Posted onAugust 30, 2022|Comments Off on The Aftermath: Seventh Anniversary Open House
Sometimes it’s hard to believe how far the Triffid Ranch has come: it’s been fourteen years since the first-ever Triffid Ranch event and seven since the original gallery opened at Valley View Center, and there’s always something new to put together. This time around, the first stages of the new gallery renovation were reasonably complete, with oh so much more to do in the back area of the gallery and only so many 78-hour days to best exploit. (I kid: I never use anything that short.) Between the revised front area, the revamped and relit hallway, and the space available for additional tables, the beginning of Year Eight was as impressive as hoped back when this all started in the spring.
Considering that the opening date was also the birthday for one of the ea (rly visitors, this was one hell of a birthday. There’s still so much more to do (the whole back area hasn’t had a stem-to-stern revision since the middle of 2020), but at least now it’s a matter of knowing how much is left instead of how much needs to be done first.
To stir things up a little bit, to take advantage of the long Labor Day weekend, and to facilitate those whose work or life schedules keep them from being able to attend Saturday open houses, the next Triffid Ranch open house is on Sunday, September 4, running from noon until 5:00 pm. See you then.
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Posted onAugust 22, 2022|Comments Off on 2022 Open Houses: The August Edition
As of August 22, the months of lack of rainfall at the Triffid Ranch were rectified. In fact, Dallas’s biggest concern right now involves flash flooding for the rest of the week. At the moment, both the gallery and the greenhouse are in good shape, and living near the top of a hill has its advantages. The main thing is that a dearth of appreciable precipitation, an issue since last June, is now rectified, and the carnivores are now awash in, quite literally, more water than they know what to do with. For the Sarracenia in particular, the rain and subsequent high humidity are long-awaited blessings, and we’re apparently going to get a lot of it over the next week.
Before our much-appreciated break in the heat, though, the ongoing heat and dust are a usual issue in August in Texas, and that continues in most years until the end of September. This means that people are loath to get out into the heat if they can possibly help it, and if they do, it’s usually for as long a luxuriation in air conditioning as can be managed. Ergo, things were a little slow at the Triffid Ranch open houses this year, but that just gave more time to focus on finishing things for the seventh anniversary evening open house on August 27.
As for the future, those plans have to wait until after the August 27 anniversary event. One thing is for sure: if the brutal heat doesn’t return and this is truly the end of temperatures above blood temperature in the Dallas area, the outdoor Porch Sales return in September…some with guests.
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As mentioned with the nominations for the Dallas Morning News Best of DFW Awards last week, it’s awards season in the Dallas area. The big surprise this week is that the Texas Triffid Ranch was just nominated for the Dallas Observer Best of Dallas Awards 2022, under “Best Garden Center” in the Shopping & Services section. (The Triffid Ranch is much more of an art gallery than a garden center, much to the consternation of boomers who leave upset that it isn’t an actual ranch, but I’m not complaining.) Not that this is a complete first (the Triffid Ranch won “Best Little Shop of Horrors” in 2017), but it’s a new decade, a newly updated gallery, and a host who has a new hair color, and this is the first time the gallery has been nominated for open voting by the strange and terrible mutants of the Dallas area. Voting is open every day until September, just in time to come around for the big seventh anniversary open house on August 27, so do what thou wilt, and here’s hoping for a plaque at the annual Best of Dallas Awards ceremony. Not bad for Dallas’s pretty much only carnivorous plant gallery, eh?
Well, the gallery renovation continues, and last weekend’s open house gave a wonderful opportunity for both regular visitors and new patrons to view the progress. The next few weeks continue the progress, with hope that everything will be in a decent place by the time of the seventh anniversary open house on August 27
Posted onJuly 19, 2022|Comments Off on Upcoming August 2022 Events
Because August is the only month of the year without an official federal holiday, the Triffid Ranch has to take up the slack, and that means open houses after the Aquashella Dallas show on August 6 and 7. The usual noon-to-5:00 open houses resume on August 13, and things switch to a seventh anniversary blowout on August 27. As always, admission is free and masks are recommended, and if you’re averse to going through the whole Eventbrite dance of Europe to get tickets, rest assured that you don’t need tickets to attend. (The Eventbrite listings are mostly for local news venues to include open houses in their event calendars.) At bare minimum, look at it as an opportunity to get out of the heat, get into air conditioning, and view the renovated front space now that the entourage has vacated the premises. The plan includes debuting a whole new series of enclosures by August 27, so if you don’t view them earlier, you can view them then. And so it goes. (And no, the dinosaurs shown here are not located at the gallery. Yet.)
Posted onJuly 18, 2022|Comments Off on 2022 Open Houses: July 9 and 16
It finally happened. Not only did the summer heat ride in like a Komodo dragon with a mouth full of pinworms and candiru, but we’re looking at the worst heat the state of Texas has seen since the last drought in 2012. We’re not talking about “oh, this is a minor inconvenience” heat: we’re talking about “this could KILL you” heat. Minus-40 may be a gosh number, in that it has the same value in Fahrenheit and Celsius, but that’s not true of positive-40. For Americans, we’re now hitting 107F, and for everyone else, we’re hitting 40C. Either way, it’s completely understandable that nobody wants to get out in this, especially with the repeated warnings about rolling blackouts through Texas if our antiquated and mismaintained electrical grid should conk out due to record use.
This is why I have to thank everyone who chose to come out to the last two open houses, because you didn’t have to. You could have been at a water park, or in a mall, or safely in a bottle of liquid nitrogen, or any place where the temperatures don’t turn unprotected victims into Near Dark cosplayers. instead, you came out to view carnivorous plant enclosures and check out the ongoing renovations to the gallery, and for that, I can’t thank you enough. It gives extra incentive to keep going, and going I shall.
For those who missed out on previous attempts, the gallery is open for one more open house on July 23, and then it’s going quiet for two weeks to get prepared for Aquashella Dallas on August 6 and 7. As always, admission is free and masks are recommended. After that, keep checking back, because the open houses return in August, with a very special evening open house on August 27. See you then.
Posted onJuly 14, 2022|Comments Off on State of the Gallery: July 2022
So…what about this weather, huh?
The first half of 2022 was more than a bit of a tribulation: even with everything happening this year, the end of that first half still counted as the best year the Triffid Ranch had ever seen. The first stages of the gallery renovation were complete and accessible to clients and visitors, shows and events were even more successful than in previous years, and people loved the new changes. The plan for the second half of 2022 was more of the same: build upon everything done so far, go wild with new enclosures, and end 2022 with the biggest party possible. I mean, New Year’s Eve falls on a Saturday this year, so why not hold one last big showing and party to celebrate everything that had come before, right?
Yeah. Things may get even more interesting than before, including the possibility of moving.
The news about the fate of the gallery’s location and the surrounding industrial park hasn’t really been news for a while: according to several people working for the company, the property owner started a six-year plan to tear everything down and build a retail/apartment block, very much like the block across Spring Valley Road, about four years ago, and COVID-19 only delayed the situation. As of last March, when getting the locks changed, I first learned of both this six-year plan and the possibility that things could change sooner if another company bought the property. The first hints that something was happening when the property manager asked for verification that every tenant on the property had their certificates of occupancy in order and inspected the fire alarm systems over the July 4 weekend. I just learned yesterday that the second option happened, and that a new company just bought the whole complex. I’m fully expecting a complete announcement in the next couple of days.
And what does this mean for the gallery? Well, the current lease expires in March 2023, so there are several paths in which things could go over the next seven months. The first is that absolutely nothing changes other than where the rent payments go: the new owner may decide to just keep things going the way they are and wait until the general world financial situation stabilizes. Another possibility is a massive update and improvement: a big strip plaza just east of the gallery was purchased by new owners and massively renovated, and it’s now turning into quite the hangout for those looking for barbecue, pizza, and Middle Eastern cuisine. A third is that things will continue but without renewing leases until everyone moves out: this happened to a big medical office building due west, and it was quickly and efficiently demolished immediately after the last tenant left. The fourth, and it’s always a possibility at any time, is that the new owners decide that the land is more valuable than the rents they’re receiving, give everyone 60 days’ notice, and tear everything out by Halloween. (A medical office facility due east was stripped out that way about four years ago. In that time, the property remains stripped, as a succession of companies have bought the property, started digging trenches for storm drains and water and power inlets, shut down, and sold to someone else. At this point, having seen this happen so many times in Dallas and the surrounding suburbs in the last 40 years, eventually someone will finally build something on this spot, but it may take decades before anything other than weeks actually come up.)
The good news is that, unlike the surprise announcement of the Valley View gallery location being shut down, this has been on the horizon for a while. Right now, not only is the city of Richardson pushing to diversify tenants at a huge block of industrial park spaces just north of the gallery, but Richardson is working toward making these spaces friendlier for artists and others: while checking out the area last night, I discovered where all of the escape rooms and axe tournament spaces had gone over the last few years. Moving to a new location is on the table, and so is staying at the current location for another two years, and I’m already taking advice on good locations if the lease ends early and I have to clear out before the bulldozers start. Right now, it’s all up in the air, and if I get to stay until after the beginning of 2023, that’s longer than I expected.
In the meantime, it’s time to get back to work. If you haven’t had the chance to see the gallery under State 1 of the renovation, feel free to come out to the open houses on July 16 and July 23. (The gallery will be closed on July 30 in order to get ready for the big Aquashella Dallas show at Dallas Market Hall on August 6 and 7.) One way or another, August is going to be a blowout month, with both noon-to-5-pm open houses through the month and a big evening show on August 27. After that, who knows?
As quite a few artists have impressed upon me in the past, there’s “finished” and there’s complete. In the past seven years since signing the original lease on the old space, the Triffid Ranch gallery has never been complete, as it’s always in flux and always being built upon, especially as existing enclosures move out and new ones debut. The important aspect is at least the hope for change, and the Triffid Ranch 3.0 is now live. With no need to make room for the entourage up front, the Entourage Table is gone, and with it the horrible 1980s gold wallpaper that encompassed the whole room. Weeks of painting, finishing, and assembly tied up by the beginning of July, and now the plan is to continue said revamping and updating through the whole of the gallery. It may be done about the time the building owners decide to shut everything down and demolish the whole block, but that’s how it is.
Even in the front, the renovation continues. The gallery redesign intended from the beginning for the front room to hold the larger enclosures, with significantly more room for those than in the past. Between this and moving the old workspace out of the gallery entirely, this frees up a truly impressive amount of room for smaller enclosures, and now the challenge is to fill up said space over the summer. Now that the front room is getting under control, though, that’s not as much of a problem as before.
Another aspect of the reboot: for those outside of North Texas, the Dallas area amped up the heat quite quickly this year. We’re already desperately short on rain, facilitating the purchase of a reverse osmosis filter in order to take care of water needs, and what promised storms coming through just evaporate once passing Fort Worth and Arlington. Because the whole of July and August are just going to get worse, everything is moving inside until September, so no Porch Sales until then. Sorry about that, but if you’re horrified by the idea of standing outside on a parking lot surface that’s burning the soles of your shoes, think how the plants feel.
Now that the front area is done, everyone is welcome to come by to view the work in progress, with Saturday open houses running from noon until 5:00 pm in July. See you then.
Posted onJune 28, 2022|Comments Off on State of the Gallery: June 2022
Well. It’s not understating things to say that June was an excellent month in the best quarter in the history of the Triffid Ranch, in what’s already the Triffid Ranch’s best year since it opened. Between open houses, Porch Sales, and outside events, 2022 has been a spectacular year so far, all the personal tribulations aside, and the plan is to make it even bigger for the rest of the year. At the rate things are going, I may have to rent space at Dallas Market Hall to have enough room for plants during the holiday season.
(And speaking of Dallas Market Hall, here’s the friendly reminder that the next big Triffid Ranch show is at Aquashella Dallas at Market Hall, on August 6 and 7. If things go quiet in July, it’s only in order to get those things ready. This may be even bigger than this month’s Austin Oddities & Curiosities Expo and Texas Frightmare Weekend combined, and that’s saying something. I’m definitely going to need a vaccine for sleep until mid-August.)
Aside from that, the big news involves the gallery renovation and reboot. For the moment, the back of the gallery is going to stay (mostly) unchanged, although with a lot more room as the working area gets cleared out and moved. The front, though, will be unrecognizable. The Entourage Table is gone since there’s no longer any need to seat a now-moved entourage, freeing up a truly amazing amount of room for larger enclosures. Both front and back are undergoing massive changes between now and the end of the year, but the front needed it the most, so removing the sigils and covering over the awful 1980s-era gold wallpaper that was in the place on move-in were the priority. This also gives folks who haven’t been to the gallery in a while an extra incentive to see what’s inside. (Incidentally, this gives further opportunities to expand into contemporary museum design: the Triffid Ranch obviously isn’t a typical art gallery, and moving from an art museum look toward more of a natural history museum motif makes more sense.)
Another reason for the gallery revamp has everything to do with the outdoor temperature. Based on last year, holding Porch Sales outside until Halloween made perfect sense, but this summer is already overly hot and sticky, even by Dallas standards, so moving things back inside for July and August is going to be necessary for both visitors and plants. The Porch Sales will probably make a return in September, depending upon the weather, and they’re definitely returning for October to show off Sarracenia colors, but if the rest of the summer is like June, impersonating a Gila monster and moving underground is both safe and sane. (Discovering what was going on with the new AC unit installed in 2020 made a big difference, too, and the back is now considerably more comfortable in the summer heat than it was last year. I might even try another Nepenthes edwardsiana enclosure this year, now that I know the AC can keep it sufficiently chilly.)
Otherwise, once the gallery reboot is complete, it’s time to get back to debuting new enclosures, which now can be designed and assembled without taking up valuable display space. New materials, new techniques, new references…the first half of the year was rough, but that just set up opportunities for the second half, and everything will focus on a whole extravaganza for the Nightmare Weekends Before Christmas shows in December. We have four available weekends then, including Christmas Eve falling on a Saturday, and getting started early never hurt anybody. In fact, it might be necessary.
Posted onJune 10, 2022|Comments Off on The Triffid Ranch Schedule…So Far
Three weeks until the big Triffid Ranch 3.0 gallery reboot, and time tends to get away from me, hence the relative lack of updates. As always, everything runs on Riddell’s Law of Artistic Expression (“All art forms derive from painting, because every artist has to find something else to do while waiting for the paint to dry”), but it’s all coming together, along with new enclosures to go with the new front area. It’s the getting there that’s the aggravating part, but that can’t be helped.
Both before and after the gallery reopening, the fun just keeps coming. To start off, the summer Porch Sales continue through June, but taking note of our impending record afternoon temperatures by starting at 8:00 am and ending at 1:00 pm before the day gets too bad. (After the gallery reopens, these will switch between Saturday outdoor sales and Sunday indoor events, both to give opportunities to attend from visitors with prior Saturday commitments and just to give folks a break from the constant lead-smelter heat.) Right now, the next Porch Sales are scheduled for June 11 and 25, but they’ll keep going until Halloween and move inside for rain, snow, asteroid strikes and random volcanic eruptions.
Why nothing on June 18, you ask? Well, that’s because as mentioned in the past, the Triffid Ranch hits the road to go to Austin for the Oddities & Curiosities Expo at the Palmer Event Center that Saturday. This will be the last Oddities & Curiosities Expo show for the Triffid Ranch in 2022, as well as the last one in Texas for the year, so until the new O&C schedule comes out around Halloween, get your tickets now. If the crowds are anything like they were in 2021, the Austin show may well be sold out by midday, and you won’t want to miss this.
This won’t be the last Triffid Ranch show outside of the gallery, either: word just got back about the final Aquashella Dallas floor layout for August 6 and 7, and the Triffid Ranch is near the front door at Dallas Market Hall. In addition, the Triffid Ranch returns to the Palmer Event Center for its seventh year and sixth Blood Over Texas Horror For the Holidays dark bazaar on November 27 and 27: I purchased the booth as soon as the word came out, because there’s no way I’ll miss it this year.
Oh, and it isn’t on the official calendar just yet, but the Triffid Ranch finally breaks through to the Dallas Arboretum this year, for a lecture on carnivorous plants at the Arboretum on October 28 starting at 11:00 am. This should be perfect timing, as all of the Sarracenia and flytraps should be at their best autumn color before going dormant in November, and there’s no better time for outdoor events in Dallas than the end of October. As usual, details will follow as I get them.
Is this it? That’s a really good question, as a lot of other possibilities are only now coming together. A demonstration of cartoonist Sam Hurt’s adage “it’s not a small world: it’s a big world that’s folded over so many times” involves a return of Triffid Ranch carnivorous plant workshops at the newly reconstituted Curiosities near the Dallas Arboretum (the old Lakewood location is shutting down and everything moved to the space next to the current Curious Garden) is that Curiosities owner and old Exposition Park neighbor Jason Cohen went to high school and college with the Triffid Ranch 3.0 designer Susan Duval. It’s with that in mind that I note that regular carnivore workshops return to Curiosities this year after the move is complete. There’s even a discussion on the Triffid Ranch hosting a Dallas Carbaret outdoor drive-in showing this summer, running either the best documentary about life in 1980s Dallas ever made or the best documentary about Dallas goth culture ever made, complete with a barbecue truck.
That’s it for the moment: now it’s time to get back to plant repotting. See you soon.
Posted onJune 1, 2022|Comments Off on Hemsleyana In the Belfry
It could be the increased circulation in the gallery, especially after discovering that the break room had its air conditioning vent shut off for a very valid reason. It could be that this winter was cold but not THAT cold. Heck, it could be that the crowds coming to gallery events since the beginning of the year are considerably lacking in energy vampires. Whatever the factor, there’s an explosion in new growth among the Nepenthes enclosures, with the most spectacular showing with the Nepenthes hemsleyana in the enclosure Bat God. For the first time since the gallery moved here from Valley View Center, this beast of a pitcher plant finally started producing upper traps.
For those unfamiliar with N. hemsleyana, this is an Asian pitcher plant that goes through a fascinating change once it starts producing upper pitchers. Before this point, the lower pitchers it produces are short and squat, pretty much identical to those from its cousin Nepenthes rafflesiana: in fact, until last decade, this plant was considered a rafflesiana subspecies. When the first upper traps form, though, the plant stops secreting digestive enzymes into the fluid in the bottom of each pitcher. Most species of Nepenthes also fluoresce strongly along the lip or peristome under ultraviolet light: N. hemsleyana doesn’t do a thing. This is because in lieu of attracting insects into its pitchers, hemsleyana attracts bats.
The wooly-haired bat Kerivoula hardwickii isn’t trapped by the pitchers: far from it. These tiny bats are some of the smallest in Asia, and they would regularly be bullied out of other nesting sites by larger and more aggressive bats. Instead. K. hardwickii roosts inside of the upper pitchers. The bats get roosts with a minimum of parasites and no predators, and the plant gets both a regular supply of bat guano but, thanks to bats’ fastidious cleaning habits, a supply of bat fur. Both are excellent nitrogen sources, with the fur being more of a slow-release form, which gives the plant more than enough nitrogen and phosphorus to grow.
What is equally interesting is how the bats know that N. hemsleyana pitchers are a suitable roosting site. Right where the lid of the pitcher meets the lip are two very distinctive flanges or fins, and these reflect back a very distinctive sonar signature to the bats emitting it. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the knowledge of this particular sonar signature isn’t instinctive, but that mother bats teach their young the significance of that pingback.
Anyway, this is just one of many surprises turning up in the gallery, all available for viewing when the new gallery debuts. With luck, this hyperactive plant will produce more upper traps: since they don’t produce digestive enzymes, they can’t be fed with insects, but offering the opportunity for visitors to feed the hemsleyana orchid food pellets could be just as interesting. Just don’t start calling the gallery “Stately Wayne Manor.”
Posted onMay 31, 2022|Comments Off on 2022 Porch Sales: May 28
The first month of Triffid Ranch Porch Sales are done, two years after the whole concept started in the literal corner of the gallery porchway, and they’re now becoming a regular event in the Richardson area. This weekend was an opportunity not just for new folks to come by to view carnivorous plants (and the occasional fly or wasp getting a little too close), but for local artists to come by and discuss plans and options for the rest of the year. By the time the tent had to come down, the grand discussions and tentative strategies were still coming strong, and there may be time in the near future to discuss the ones nearing completion.
In addition to discussing other events, several local artists who came by joined in early views of the gallery renovation, which started this last week. It’s all coming together, slower than I’d have liked, but much easier than if the events of last December and January hadn’t happened.
As far as future Porch Sales are concerned, they’re taking a short hiatus for the weekend of June 4 in order to take care of essential errands and get the next stage of the renovation completed. The Porch Sales return for June 11 and 25 (with a sidetrip to Austin for the Oddities & Curiosities Expo at the Palmer Event Center), and then again after the gallery reopening on July 2. After that, they’ll be a regular feature in front of the gallery until after Halloween, when the regular activities move back inside for the winter. As always, details will follow.