Tag Archives: Dallas Arboretum

State of the Gallery


Four months. Four months since the old Triffid Ranch location had to shut down, and we had to track down a new space. Four months of potting, painting, sweeping, drilling, screwing (keep your mind out of the gutter), stacking, pitching, dumping (again with the bathroom humor), repositioning, and vacuuming. Four months of discovering the joys of the difference between renting residential and commercial properties, the vagaries of plumbing replacement, and the tribulations of a moth invasion that came literally from nowhere. Four months of learning more about security systems, air conditioning units, bathroom plumbing, and glass polishing than anyone would think was necessary, and then the real fun with potting and prepping plants began. Combine this with two of the biggest Triffid Ranch shows of the year in the middle, and the necessary downtime on gallery preparation to focus on those shows, and guess what?

We’re nearly there.

Things still aren’t perfect: one of the advantages to the new gallery is a significant increase in usable wall area and volume, along with a nearly exponential increase in power outlets compared to the old Valley View space. This means doubling the old space’s shelf space, which also goes with an increase of usable floor area and tables to take advantage of it. This means that the next big Triffid Ranch exhibition is tentatively scheduled for mid-October, just to build enough enclosures to fill all that new display space. (Sadly, the regular ARTwalk exhibitions are as dead as Valley View’s artist community, because the time lost in preparing for and cleaning up after each ARTwalk cut into enclosure preparation and construction time.) Details will follow, but the upshot is that the Triffid Ranch opens for commissions and consultation as of July 1. 

(Please note: as with the Valley View space, the new gallery is open by appointment only, preferably with at least 24 hours’ advance notice. Apologies for the inconvenience, but a day job intrudes.) 

And on the subject of shows, the rest of summer and all of autumn are going to be busy, with things staying lively all the way through the end of November. Many of the events are awaiting final confirmation, but Small-Con in Addison on September 9 and the Blood Over Texas Horror for the Holidays show in Austin on November 19 are absolutes. As this changes, the calendar will be updated accordingly. This goes double for events in spring 2018: vendor applications for Texas Frightmare Weekend officially open on June 23, and we hope to have a special surprise lined up for next April. We’ll see how it goes.

In other developments, visitors at the Dallas Arboretum may have noticed the new carnivorous plant bog in the Children’s Adventure Garden, and expect more carnivores very quickly. Because of a bumper crop of second-year plants from last year’s seedlings, getting the new plants potted up requires having to make room, and the big established Sarracenia are perfect for the Arboretum’s purposes. Expect photos soon, especially if our expected rains on Saturday don’t wash us all back to Oz, because everyone involved really made an exceptional display, and it just needs more plants to fill out the area. It has a way to go before it can compete with the Atlanta Botanic Garden’s carnivore beds, but the challenge is half of the fun. 

Free plugs: both of these deserve proper reviews, but keep an eye open for both the BBC/PBS two-part miniseries Plants Behaving Badly, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, and the new Janit Calvo book The Gardening In Miniature Prop Shop, published by Timber Press. The former dedicates one episode each to carnivorous plants and orchids, and the only issue with either is that one hour is nowhere near enough time for a decent presentation. The latter, though, is going to be an essential resource in the Triffid Ranch workshop, so buy both for the best effect. And so it goes. 

 

“We have such sights to show you…”

The days are much shorter. The air no longer smells like burning flint. Sundays are the perfect days to run errands, because most people are at home watching football. It’s that most wonderful time of the year, and by being in Texas, it gets to keep going until the end of the year. Sure, it’s not cold enough to justify dragging out jackets, but that also means that moongazing isn’t painful, and it’s perfect T-shirt weather. The wonderful weather also gives less of a reason to skip out on going out, and most of us have been waiting underground like Gila monsters until the summer heat breaks. Well, it’s broken, and we’re hungry.

Because of that and the general vibe of the season, things have been exceedingly busy around the Triffid Ranch. Besides a consultation meeting with the Dallas Arboretum (expect a surprise when the Children’s Adventure Garden reopens in March after the winter hiatus), it’s been work, work, work in getting ready for both upcoming shows and the impending holiday season. Combine that with still not knowing for sure about the status of the mall and its announced demolition…if someone could develop a cure for sleep, I’d really appreciate it.

Well. To begin, October 15 is the date for the next Midtown ARTwalk, and the new organizer wants everyone to know that all attendees are encouraged to show up in costume. Not a problem here: we generally treat Halloween the way Hunter S. Thompson treated New Year’s Eve. We aren’t just encouraging attendees to come out as their true selves, but we’re rewarding it. While supplies last, those showing up in appropriate attire will receive a prize, and kids are encouraged to attend as well. ARTwalk starts at 6:00 p.m., and keeps running until it’s done.

Four weeks later, the Triffid Ranch makes its first big leap: showing plants outside of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. I’ve heard all sorts of fascinating stories about the Blood Over Texas crew in Austin, enough to make the four-hour drive to Austin to investigate, and this year is the one to make the trip for the Horror for the Holidays bazaar and festival. It’ll be right at the end of Sarracenia and flytrap season, so this gives those wanting to work with temperate carnivores the opportunity to see what their plants will look like when they re-emerge from winter dormancy in March and April. If this works well, not only expect Triffid Ranch involvement with other Blood Over Texas events through the rest of the year, but an active push to encourage similar events and activities in the Dallas area. We have enough lovers of the macabre in this town, and it’s time to show some solidarity.

And speaking of Dallas solidarity, the word came out recently that Convergence, the first Internet-ready goth convention, runs in Dallas in 2017. As details present themselves, they’ll be mirrored here. In a way, it’s a convergence in more ways than one: the Triffid Ranch first launched the weekend of the Ybor City Convergence in 2008, so as ninth-anniversary parties are concerned, we couldn’t have picked a better one.

And further plans? Things are tentative this year, but it’s time to expand viewing hours at the main space for the holiday season. If you’re in need of gifts for friends and family that stretches the definition of “appropriate,” give a yell.

Views from Chihuly Nights at the Dallas Arboretum: 11

Preamble: The Czarina has been a very enthusiastic fan of the glass artist Dale Chihuly for as long as I’ve known her. Me, I’ve been looking for a good excuse to visit the Dallas Arboretum, especially at night, for years. Last Wednesday, we celebrated Independence Day not in the usual manner, but by having a date night at the Arboretum’s Chihuly Nights exhibition. Explanations of what you’re seeing may or may not follow: if you have questions, get out here before November 5 to see it yourself.

Chihuly 28

Chihuly 29

Chihuly 30

Chihuly 31

Chihuly Boat

As a tip for anyone wanting a similar effect with a fountain or pool: the illusion of depth was produced by adding black dye to the water. For those who want to keep fish and other life in the pool, there’s no reason why you can’t go with a blackwater arrangement.

Chihuly Boat 2

Chihuly Boat 3

Views from Chihuly Nights at the Dallas Arboretum: 10

Preamble: The Czarina has been a very enthusiastic fan of the glass artist Dale Chihuly for as long as I’ve known her. Me, I’ve been looking for a good excuse to visit the Dallas Arboretum, especially at night, for years. Last Wednesday, we celebrated Independence Day not in the usual manner, but by having a date night at the Arboretum’s Chihuly Nights exhibition. Explanations of what you’re seeing may or may not follow: if you have questions, get out here before November 5 to see it yourself.

Chihuly 23

Chihuly 24

Chihuly 25

Chihuly 26

Chihuly 27

Views from Chihuly Nights at the Dallas Arboretum: 9

Preamble: The Czarina has been a very enthusiastic fan of the glass artist Dale Chihuly for as long as I’ve known her. Me, I’ve been looking for a good excuse to visit the Dallas Arboretum, especially at night, for years. Last Wednesday, we celebrated Independence Day not in the usual manner, but by having a date night at the Arboretum’s Chihuly Nights exhibition. Explanations of what you’re seeing may or may not follow: if you have questions, get out here before November 5 to see it yourself.

Chihuly 13

I’m the last person who will fuss about visitors arriving at a particular time to see the Chihuly exhibition at the Dallas Arboretum, but I do recommend coming out for the Chihuly Nights shows (currently, running Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights) about an hour or two before dark. This way, you get a chance to see the displays and how they interact with the rest of the gardens, before night falls, the lights come on, and the foliage disappears into the black.

Chihuly 14

At around dusk, visitors start noticing something interesting and a bit disturbing. Contrary to suspicions, the sculptures aren’t lit internally. Instead, they’re illuminated through cunningly hidden spotlights, and the refractive properties of glass do the rest.

Chihuly 15

Chihuly 16

Chihuly 17

When I first started posting these, a few smartaleck friends joked “”Chihuly? I first read that as ‘Cthulhu’. In this grotto, with this lighting on glass this color, I can’t disagree that there’s quite a bit of H.P. Lovecraft in the air on a hot summer Dallas night.

Chihuly 18

Chihuly 19

Chihuly 20

More strangeness from the Dallas Arboretum

While wandering about like lunatics at the Dallas Arboretum last week, we realized that one of the biggest problems with twilight is getting decent photos with my camera. I’m already acknowledging my deficiencies in the form, and these may or may not be cured with practice, training, or surgery. However, trying to get a good focus on an item that’s moving too fast to capture (such as the hummingbird hawkmoth we spotted feeding on sedum flowers) isn’t helped when you barely have enough light to see by.

Julia Child roses

This little trip also made me appreciate the inherent UV fluorescence of many flowers, including roses. Naturally, the Dallas Arboretum has yellow roses. Not only do they threaten to take your Texas Resident card away if you don’t have them in your garden in Texas, but all sorts of horrible things happen to you if you don’t keep at least one bush of them at all times. You can’t get decent seats at restaurants. The only spots in movie theaters are directly behind dolts who text through the entire movie. Your favorite bars suddenly become hipster hangouts. Worst of all, if you don’t keep them going, the only time you can get decent seats for a Texas Rangers baseball game is when the Rangers are doing worse than the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs.

So we found the yellow roses in the Arboretum. However, since anybody who develops a new rose cultivar can name it whatever s/he wants, take a look at who was honored with this variety?

Julia Child rose sign

Suddenly, I don’t mind yellow roses quite so much. It also makes me want to develop a variety of miniature black rose and name it after Ralph Steadman.

Views from Chihuly Nights at the Dallas Arboretum: 8

Preamble: The Czarina has been a very enthusiastic fan of the glass artist Dale Chihuly for as long as I’ve known her. Me, I’ve been looking for a good excuse to visit the Dallas Arboretum, especially at night, for years. Last Wednesday, we celebrated Independence Day not in the usual manner, but by having a date night at the Arboretum’s Chihuly Nights exhibition. Explanations of what you’re seeing may or may not follow: if you have questions, get out here before November 5 to see it yourself.

Chihuly 6

Chihuly 7

Chihuly 8

Chihuly 9

Chihuly 10

Chihuly 11

Chihuly 12

Views from the Chihuly Nights at the Dallas Arboretum: 7

Preamble: The Czarina has been a very enthusiastic fan of the glass artist Dale Chihuly for as long as I’ve known her. Me, I’ve been looking for a good excuse to visit the Dallas Arboretum, especially at night, for years. Last Wednesday, we celebrated Independence Day not in the usual manner, but by having a date night at the Arboretum’s Chihuly Nights exhibition.

Chihuly 1

All of the glassworks in the Chihuly exhibition are large, but this one was so big that it needed a whole new base.

Chihuly 1 base

Chihuly 2

Chihuly 3

Chihuly 4

My knowledge of glassworking is miniscule at best, but I still knew that addition of various elements gives particular colors to the final glass. That said, would you have guessed that adding neodymium would lead to this shade?

Views from the Chihuly Nights at the Dallas Arboretum: 7

Preamble: The Czarina has been a very enthusiastic fan of the glass artist Dale Chihuly for as long as I’ve known her. Me, I’ve been looking for a good excuse to visit the Dallas Arboretum, especially at night, for years. Last Wednesday, we celebrated Independence Day not in the usual manner, but by having a date night at the Arboretum’s Chihuly Nights exhibition.

Crape myrtle tunnel

Want the ultimate rebuttal to crape murder enthusiasts? This whole tunnel is composed of nothing but crape myrtles, gently shaped to meet at the top of the arch. Forget Narnia and Oz: the next time I’m out here, I want to see what is at the far end of this path.

Views from the Chihuly Nights at the Dallas Arboretum: 6

Preamble: The Czarina has been a very enthusiastic fan of the glass artist Dale Chihuly for as long as I’ve known her. Me, I’ve been looking for a good excuse to visit the Dallas Arboretum, especially at night, for years. Last Wednesday, we celebrated Independence Day not in the usual manner, but by having a date night at the Arboretum’s Chihuly Nights exhibition.

Ent

It’s something only visible in late evening during the summer, but the Dallas Arboretum has its own ent. At any other time of the day, or any other time of the year, it’s probably invisible, but the light hit it at just the right time.

Ent closeup

Even better, said ent is a ringer for Wilford Brimley. He could be mistaken for grumpy, but I like to think of him as thoughtful.

Views from the Chihuly Nights at the Dallas Arboretum: 5

Preamble: The Czarina has been a very enthusiastic fan of the glass artist Dale Chihuly for as long as I’ve known her. Me, I’ve been looking for a good excuse to visit the Dallas Arboretum, especially at night, for years. Last Wednesday, we celebrated Independence Day not in the usual manner, but by having a date night at the Arboretum’s Chihuly Nights exhibition. Keep an eye on this blog over the next few days, because there’s a lot to see. Just keep in mind that the photos don’t come close to displaying the beauty of the Arboretum, and that the best way to experience it is in person.

Chihuly 5:2

Chihuly 5:1

Chihuly 5:3

Crape myrtle trunk

Agave blooms

Views from the Chihuly Nights at the Dallas Arboretum: 4

Preamble: The Czarina has been a very enthusiastic fan of the glass artist Dale Chihuly for as long as I’ve known her. Me, I’ve been looking for a good excuse to visit the Dallas Arboretum, especially at night, for years. Last Wednesday, we celebrated Independence Day not in the usual manner, but by having a date night at the Arboretum’s Chihuly Nights exhibition. Keep an eye on this blog over the next few days, because there’s a lot to see. Just keep in mind that the photos don’t come close to displaying the beauty of the Arboretum, and that the best way to experience it is in person.

Black grass 1

This unidentified plant is reason alone to make a trip back to the Arboretum, just to identify it. Finding good black plants for goth gardening is hard enough, but something at lest twice my height?

Black grass 2

Black grass 3

Dragonfly 1

Among the trees were dozens of absolutely gigantic dragonflies, even for North Texas, and one was absolutely fascinated by one particular point on a Chihuly spearpoint. The beauty was seeing it on the tip. The humor came from when it kept sliding off and attempting to get right back.

Dragonfly 2

And then we had simply surreal. As the sun set, more and more wildlife came out, including Mexican free-tailed bats, toads, geckos, and lots of frogs and katydids attempting to drown out the noise from the omnipresent cicadas. The best surprise was the rabbit that leapt out of the undergrowth with a large mouthful of something. It was probably grabbing up grass and fern stems for a nest, but boy howdy did it look as if it was dragging a dead rat back into the shrubbery.

Rat-eating rabbit

Jerry Junkins garden

And speaking of eating rats, I’d heard about the Jerry Junkins garden at the Dallas Arboretum. Having worked for the man when he was CEO of Texas Instruments in the late Eighties and early Nineties, I was absolutely floored that the garden wasn’t full of poison ivy and stinkweed. (Those of us who worked at TI during his obsession with the Malcolm Baldridge Award for Corporate Excellence aren’t surprised that Southern Methodist University’s technology school is named for Junkins. We’re just waiting for SMU to continue the tradition and open a psychiatric hospital named for Charles Manson, a culinary school named for Jeffrey Dahmer, and a music scholarship program named for G.G. Allin.)

Views from the Chihuly Nights at the Dallas Arboretum: 3

Preamble: The Czarina has been a very enthusiastic fan of the glass artist Dale Chihuly for as long as I’ve known her. Me, I’ve been looking for a good excuse to visit the Dallas Arboretum, especially at night, for years. Last Wednesday, we celebrated Independence Day not in the usual manner, but by having a date night at the Arboretum’s Chihuly Nights exhibition. Keep an eye on this blog over the next few days, because there’s a lot to see. Just keep in mind that the photos don’t come close to displaying the beauty of the Arboretum, and that the best way to experience it is in person.

Chihuly 3: 1

Chihuly 3:2

Chihuly 3:3

Chihuly 3:4

Chihuly 3:5

Chihuly 3:6

Views from the Chihuly Nights at the Dallas Arboretum: 2

The Czarina has been a very enthusiastic fan of the glass artist Dale Chihuly for as long as I’ve known her. Me, I’ve been looking for a good excuse to visit the Dallas Arboretum, especially at night, for years. Last Wednesday, we celebrated Independence Day not in the usual manner, but by having a date night at the Arboretum’s Chihuly Nights exhibition. Keep an eye on this blog over the next few days, because there’s a lot to see. Just keep in mind that the photos don’t come close to displaying the beauty of the Arboretum, and that the best way to experience it is in person.

Chihuly globes 1

Chihuly globes 2

Chihuly globes 3

Chihuly globes 4

Chihuly globes 5

Now here’s a feature of garden design at the Arboretum that just stunned me when I saw it. The gardeners in charge went to especial efforts to offer complementary plants to go with the glassworks, but the addition of “Black Pearl” peppers with these globes was truly inspired.

Black Pearl peppers

It’s one thing to use the black-purple foliage on Black Pearls to make the globes pop. After dark, the flat finish on the leaves accents the glow of the sculpture under spotlights. But to continue the globe theme with each plant…now that was genius. (I’ll also add that when the fruit ripens, it turns a translucent red that resembles uncut rubies, so the theme gets even stronger.)

Views from Chihuly Nights at the Dallas Arboretum: 1

The Czarina has been a very enthusiastic fan of the glass artist Dale Chihuly for as long as I’ve known her. Me, I’ve been looking for a good excuse to visit the Dallas Arboretum, especially at night, for years. Last Wednesday, we celebrated Independence Day not in the usual manner, but by having a date night at the Arboretum’s Chihuly Nights exhibition. Keep an eye on this blog over the next few days, because there’s a lot to see. Just keep in mind that the photos don’t come close to displaying the beauty of the Arboretum, and that the best way to experience it is in person.

Chihuly 1

Chihuly 2

Chihuly 3

Chihuly 4

Chihuly 5

Things to do in Fort Worth when you’re dead

This weekend will be dedicated to getting everything ready for next week’s Texas Frightmare Weekend show at DFW Airport (and check out the PDF vendors’ list), but those readers who don’t need to go insane with repotting Bhut Jolokia peppers or Medusa head Euphorbia might want to take note that the annual Spring Festival at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden‘s Japanese Garden is this weekend. Go have fun, and if you hear random screaming and cursing from the east, that’s just me.

And speaking of Dallas, I’d also like to note that the big Dale Chihuly garden glass exhibition at the Dallas Arboretum opens next weekend. Obviously, opening weekend is out, but just watch us stay away after that. For the people who come up to the Czarina and request to see her famed elbows, just tell her “Chihuly sucks” and watch them go to work firsthand. It’s like some oddball fusion of a world-class boxing match and a Ginsu commercial.