My first encounter with carnivorous plants was over 40 years ago. I was at Boy Scout camp in the Adirondack mountains up by Lake Placid. I was doing an environmental science badge and needed to make observations of a biome. There was a bog just down the trail from our campsite, so I decided to do it. In the bog I discovered these plants that were glittering in the sun and had sticky stuff on the end of tentacles! I plucked one out (I now regret that choice) and showed to my Scoutmaster. He told me that it was a sundew, and that it ate bugs! I thought that was the coolest thing I had ever heard and was determined to learn more about that.
Being 40 years ago, there was no internet. Heck, there wasn't even PCs at that time. My first stop was the public library to look for books are carnivorous plants. There wasn't much in the library but a couple of plant reference books had some information. My next stop was a bookstore. In it, I lucked out and found, "Carnivorous Plants of the United States and Canada", by Don Schnell. I poured over that book, reading it over and over again. The best part was, in the back, it listed companies that sold carnivorous plants! I wrote letters (remember, no e-mail) requesting catalogs. If I remember correctly, the catalogs were more like price lists, none of them had any pictures or really any information about the plants. I started order books and plants. In a couple of years, I had a decent collection of various plants.
The summer when I was 17, I had my terrariums; I should interject here. At that time, the common consensus was that all carnivorous plants should be grown in terrariums. I continued to operate under this wrong knowledge up until a few years ago. So, as I was saying, I had my terrariums outside to get bugs and rain water. I went on a trip with my family and left them outside. Unfortunately, they were in range of the automatic sprinklers and, when I came home, the now aquariums were full of water and everything in them, including my cephalotus, had drowned. That put a damper on my collecting and I had one or two plants for the next couple of years, but eventually I stopped growing them.
Fast forward about 30 years. My wife has family that lives in North Carolina, and I had remembered reading that flytraps grew in North Carolina in an area around the Green Swamp. I asked them about the Green Swamp and they told me that it was only 40 minutes away. I made a trip up there and went exploring with my sons. We found mats of Venus Flytraps so thick that you couldn't walk without stepping on one. We also found S. flava and D. intermedia growing. I was hooked again. I started collecting again, still growing in a terrarium, a few sundews, typical flytraps and pitcher plants.
I continued with those few plants until 2020. While doing some research to see if I wanted to get more plants, I ran across this forum. Holey moley, did that open the flood gates! I started with only about 6 species of plants and around 20 actual plants. Now my grow list has over 100 species/varieties/hybrids, and hundreds of plants. That explosive growth has been due to the knowledge that I have gained from the very experienced growers that I have found here and other places on the internet. Add to that trades, giveaways, and the seed bank, and I have been able to successfully grow my collection and add plants that I have wanted for 40 years, those being heliamphora and cephalotus.
This is a great time to be growing CP. Things that have become available since I started: internet, e-mail, Facebook, tissue culture, plant exchanges, online purchasing, and the list goes on and on. I am truly thankful for the great community of growers that we have here, and for the free sharing of information and plants! I couldn't do it without you all. Thank y ou.