Ah, what a weekend. The existing greenhouse suffered quite a bit of damage from two hailstorms, including the big one we had last April, so Sunday was spent hanging out with my best friend as we replaced polycarbonate glazing. Next on the agenda is putting up a new greenhouse, specifically for the Sarracenia. Part of the reason is to build up humidity a bit so they don’t suffer through the summer: we’re already slipping into 20-percent relative humidity territory with the typical stout Dallas south wind, and we’re likely only to get worse. The other reason is to leave the top open to allow insects to come inside but to dissuade squirrels. The blasted treerats are not only back to their old habits of digging up pitcher plants and flytraps in search of magic coins hidden under the rhizomes, but we have one brat of a male treerat, whom the Czarina nicknamed “Big Bad Bob,” who sits outside the bedroom window and chitters at the cats all day. They aren’t threatened by him in the least, so he throws larger and larger tantrums until they deign to acknowledge him. It reminds me a bit of a writer I used to know.
I wouldn’t be bothered by the discovery of a truly giant red-tailed hawk that perches atop the old greenhouse, if she took the time to pick off the treerats. Instead, she joins in with glaring at the cats when they get in the window. I only knew about this because of the truly heroic amounts of bird guano on one side of the greenhouse, but I spooked her last Saturday and watched her take off toward the south. Now all that’s left is the amount of time before my friend Joey suggests naming her either “Shayera Hol” or “Lorraine Reilly”. (It could be worse. After the Harry Potter movies came out, I had regular dealings with a screech owl who would fly out of a big linden tree next to the garden and buzz past my head before disappearing into the night. Somehow, calling him “The Angry Inch” seemed appropriate.)
Once these developments are done, it’s time to get back to shows and events. The next official show is at FenCon IX this coming September, but depending upon the summer heat, a few shows at the Four Seasons Market in Richardson may be in order. After that, well, I haven’t heard anything yet from the Perot Museum of Nature & Science in Dallas about another Discovery Days event in November, but I’ll be the first to volunteer once the schedule is nailed down a bit. And so it goes.
The war with the treerats just slid up a few more notches, after finding that the vermin just dredged up three more dragonfruit pots. Just let me get into character…
Well, it’s three weeks late, but Tlaloc finally smiled on North Texas, and we got 60 millimeters of rain and a drop in the heat at the Triffid Ranch on Sunday. Considering that this was the first appreciable rainfall in nearly a month, nobody was complaining. (As it is, between Tlaloc and Huitzilopochitli influences this year, I feel like I’m a peripheral character in an Ernest Hogan story. Not that this isn’t the first time it’s happened, either.)
With the rain came the return of one of my gardening nemeses: the treerat. Don’t go all goopy on me about cute and cuddly widdle squirrels. You can come out here and make kissyfaces with the vile little vermin while you clean up their messes. All summer long, not a sign of the pests. A bit of cooler weather, and I discover on Saturday morning that one had uprooted three hanging dragonfruit cactus pots in the hour between sunrise and my stepping out to take greenhouse temperature and humidity readings. Then I find the extras, such as their digging into the Sarracenia planters. (I didn’t worry about their uprooting the Venus flytraps, the way they did last spring, but that’s only because none of my flytraps survived the late August inferno.) There was also the pestilence-carrying mutant who dragged pecans over to the front porch of the house, shelled them all, and dumped glass-sharp pecan hull shards all over the place. And should I mention the future recipient of a double-serving of slow and painful death that cracked the bedroom window while trying to harangue the cats?
As you can tell, I am no fan of treerats. The secondmost-asked question I receive when I bring out the plants is “Yuh gonna raise any man-eating plants?” I argue that all of my plants are man-eating, if you grind up the person into small enough bits. However, I’m working very hard at developing a pitcher plant that can dispose of treerats, alive or dead. A friend of mine has been teaching the local crows to act as guard-birds by popping her resident treerats with a BB gun and tossing the corpses onto her roof: the birds then respond to the regular buffet by yelling loudly at anyone they don’t recognize who comes too close to the house. I’m wondering if I can do the same thing with the Nepenthes.
But no. I wasn’t going to go that far, at least until Elizabeth Bathory over at Google+ showed me this Photoshopped horror:
Oh, NO. These treerats are superior in only one respect. They are better at dying.