Sunday, August 07, 2005

The Flatland Gardener - a Triffid update

The Flatland Gardener

Little did I realise when I first wrote about my love for that most misunderstood of ‘mobilius’ plants, The Triffid, that it would capture the imagination of my readership as much as it has.

I still get questions daily, regarding my young Triffids’ progress. The volume of calls and emails peaked over the summer with that particularly virulent outbreak of red weed. (Thankfully all now cleared up). With many of you concerned, that The Triffids’ extremely hardly immune system, simply would not cope with the alien menace. Ironically, it turned out that the weeds’ immune system succumbed to that rather nasty root infection known affectionately by gardeners as ‘the cold’.

Triffid root
Wyndham aged 2 weeks

So, with this post I intend to combine an update as to my Triffids’ health, and provide a little bit of background to my fascinating pet, whom I recently named Wyndham (I believe there is also a popular online interweb diarist/ satirist by the same name – purely a coincidence I swear).

triffid family
The Lucknors, a lovely family, but not lucky with the stingers

I grew Wyndham from a seed, which I purchased at one of the numerous Triffid farms in the Midlands area. The closet farm to me is ‘Triffid Home Farm’ a family run business, which is a franchise of the Arctic and European Oil Company (85% of all Triffid farms are directly or indirectly via franchise owned by the AEOA).

Walter Lucknor and family have been Triffid farmers for almost a quarter of a century. He is an expert ‘docker’ (the process of removing the Triffids’ poisonous stinger) and ‘gelder’ (gelding is the far more ethically friendly process of removing the Triffids’ poison sacks).

What's yr take on triffids
This post had 52 commets with a 40/60 in favour of Triffs.

Currently a good quality Triffid seed should set you back no more than about £300, which may initially seem steep, but is certainly comparable to the cost of a Golden Retriever puppy. Obviously there are distinct advantages of having a Triffid over a Retriever puppy, not least of all the fact that the Triffid will typically leave your toilet roll alone.

I potted in early February in the driest area of my South facing enclosed garden. Wyndham was of course pot bound for the first eight weeks, at which point he started to learn to move on his boles (or as they are often referred to, feet). It was at this stage I asked Mr Lucknor to pop round and geld Wyndham. This means he is still able to give a nasty lash with the stinger, if he is agitated, but he cannot deliver a deadly dose of poison.

Dixon and Triffid1
Difficult first steps.Notice Dixon paw bandaged from a sting.

Mr Lucknor charges in the area of £30-50 per Triffid, dependant on age of Triffid and location. This appears to be in keeping with the majority of Triffid farmers.

It was early July that I put Wyndham forward for a part in the popular blogzine, or webcomic/ sitcom ‘Strangeways, here we come’. The Director initially required a slightly older Triffid, but he was a fan of my weekly gardening column and once he met Wyndham he immediately signed up for the series.

Triffid first appearance
Ahhh, Wyndham with a tiny bit of stage fright.

Wyndham’s first appearance was in episode six, in which he is seen wandering around in the hall, whilst the Father convinces the Son to go fishing. In an interesting twist, the Director went on to cast my dog Dixon in the role of family pet. He was impressed by the interplay between the two, and was pleased this seems to come across in the panels.

Deleted scene from Strangeways 2
Wyndham soon got over his camera shyness.

Of course, having a young Triffid on any working set can lead to some fun and occasionally annoyance. Here are just a couple of scenes that for one reason or another never made it to the final cut of the show

Deleted scene from Strangeways 3
The guy who plays Donald; 'difficult' is the term.

These deleted scenes also include the now notorious ‘Comedy relief cull’ incident, when Wyndham, quite accidentally ate the up and coming comedy duo, Avon and Roj.

Deleted scene from Strangeways 1

Tragically, Avon and Roj were about to embark on their first UK tour under their act name 'The Bookshelf Boys'

The Bookshelf Boys promo poster
The promotional flier for the now cancelled show.

Wyndham is slated to appear in 'Strangeways' up to and including the season finale, with an offer to come back for the next series, but at this stage he is keeping his options open.

Ideally, I would like to see Wyndham tackle something a little more weighty, with currently some discussion regarding a webcomic adaptation of the great ‘paranoid fantasist’ novel ‘Day of the Triffids’, a book which arguably put the acceptance of Triffids back 50 years.

Day of the Triffids
Day of the Triffids will be like Braveheart - only not as shit.

The initial suggestion is that the book is to be heavily revised with an emphasis on the Triffids’ struggle to overcome a cruel and barbarous human race. Watch this space for further developments.

In the meantime, be sure to pick up some of the new fashion and leisure items, available soon from most retail outlets, including this fine 100% cotton, pre-shrunk, baseball T-Shirt.

Triffid T-Shirt


MHN for short said...

Nice back ground on the Wyndam the Triffid. Who'd a thunk that triffids had done so much??? Good Morning Herge!

edwaado said...

Nice bit of work there. Glad to see the uphill, err, flatland gardner is back.

garfer said...

Fuck's sake! That's a weeks worth of posts in one. Bwaaavo!
I feel that the on screen chemistry between Dixon and Triffid is comparable to Bogart and Bacall at their most smoulderingly intense.

Faltanus said...

what an excellent lesson in the life and culturing of triffid - it was both entertaining and educational. and how clever of you Herge, to manage to work in that close up of the Strangeway's bookshelf.

Nobody Special said...

Christ, no wonder she'd going for a mamogram!

Karen said...

Herge, you're fucking hilarious. I love your sense of absurdity.

Sniffy said...

Fuck, that t-shirt's better than the proper one!

Brilliant, superb, loved it!!!! I shall digest and comment further...

Sniffy said...

(Tomorrow - got to go to bed now (: )

cali said...


Dave said...

I went to our local gardening shop and asked if thy knew about triffid's. The man there asked for 400 dollars cash for the seed and told me it would be 3 to 6 months until they were available. That was 9 months ago. I want my money back.

boabhan sith said...


What a post!

Steve Dix said...

sad fanboy I am, I got the "Avon and Roj" reference.

Herge Smith said...

MHN - Wyndham is a busy little bugger, he's currently trying to sting my neighbours cat - bless him.

Edwaado - It's only a one off, no full scale return, sadly.

Garfer - You're right, it's like To have and have not, here some nights.

Faltanus - I put the bookshelf in for your benefit - now can you tell me the relevance of the books to the story, or a character portrayed within?

Trillion - I'm not certain it's down to the T-Shirt

Karen - What's absurb? - I'm just blogging about my pets and plants.

Tina - I await with baited breath...

Cali - Triffic!! - Superb.

Dave - Which variety did you order? If you go for the North American Red, then I can understand the delay, however the European Standard (which Wyndham is) shouldn't incur such a long delay - although $400 is quite reasonable for both varieties.

Ms Sith - as always, a pleasure.

Steve - It's not enough to say you got a reference, you need to say what it is, even if it is a shameful admission...

thordora said...

and you claim to hate children....


red one said...

Only lack of a garden prevents me getting a nice triffid myself - but it seems cruel to keep one indoors where the limited number of passers-by would make for a very restricted diet.

I can't believe the poll was only 40-60 in favour of triffids. I demand a recount!

Vote triffid, vote often!


Dave said...

I ordered the Southwestern blue variety, it lives in Arid West Texas and feeds off of rattlesnakes and horny toads. They are very elusive and dangerous because of their 6 round stingers.

Faltanus said...

Herge, i was going to lay it all out in my first comment, but then i didn't want to harp on it lest some of your regular readers become unstrung. that could've been a gorey scene. i'm sure the books help keep the doubtful guest from getting too lonely.

Herge Smith said...

Redone, thanks for popping in, and yes, I think a recount is in order.

Faltanus - Did you get it straight away? or did you have to research it?

I was filled with joy today when I discoved (belatedly) that Gorey illustrated War of the Worlds - my TWO favs - I'm getting me that book ASAP.

Dave, Triffids are dangerous when docked or gelded, the six stinger variety is utterly lethel, so I would have to say, unless you have the requiste training you might want to reconsider...

...just a thought.

Faltanus said...

Gorey illustrated War of the Worlds? i had no idea. now i'm gonna have to track down a copy.

As far as the references - they nagged at me - i knew there was something familiar about them, but i have to admit, i had to do a little research to figure out why.

Sniffy said...

I can't believe you managed to cram so much into one post so naturally.

You've got Flatland Gardener, Strangeways, Triffid (of course), Dalek PLUS a whole new spin-off and the evolution of Strangeways as a TV show! With out-takes! And to get that shot of poor little Dixon in there too is brilliant. Oh yeah, and you've turned my norks into comedy stinging things. Not only that, but you've turned Wyndham the Triffid into a superstar.

Your imagination and attention to detail to deliver your ideas is astounding.

Herge Smith said...

Tar tar, thanks Tina... my ego is suitably boosted - thanks for noticing. I try to make this stuff as welcoming for the none regular as possible, whilst giving the regular something else.

Your norks were always stars (erm, what are norks - oh, i think I can guess)

I might do more on the 'backstage at the Strangeways Show' - hmm, sooo post modern.

I like the idea of them standing round the buffet table after a recording moaning about the guy that plays Donald (he did a Morse you know).

Tar tar.

Faltanus - thank fuck you didn't know about it either - I couldn't believe I'd never come across it before - and I consider myself a bit of a Goreyphile - Have you seen the book - 'The Strange Case of Edward Gorey' bu Alexander Theroux? - It's a slim Fantagraphics book, but defiantely worth getting.

Nobody Special said...

Tina, your norks are comedy...

thordora said...

out of curiosity, what do you think of the stuff Crispin GLover has put out?

Ship Creak said...

Brill! I love the behind the scenes look at Strangways. Found it interesting that the people in it aren't that different from their characters, and I've only just noticed that there's no swearing in Strangeways, is there?

Fave pic of all so far is the one with Dixon keeping her eye on the young Wyndham - the lighting and everything worked even better than that picture of Sam you did before. Nice one.

Wyndham said...

Well, what can I say - not only is it a post that's dear to my heart, but it's also your best yet! You've spread a little sunshine in the life of one very sick Triffid.

Rowan said...

You can take silly to the extreme huh? I love it.