Notes from Windward: #68


A Garden Romance

Romeo and Juliet meet in Vermadise

Sarah writes:

     One of the long grow-beds in Vermadise is unexpectedly aflame with volunteer squash, and I found our very own Romeo and Juliet playing out between the groundling squash and the strawberries planted above in grow tubes. One of the squash has reached up and wound its curling tendril around a hanging strawberry runner as if to pull itself nearer to its high beloved.

volunteer squash below, strawberries above

      I've been watching the struggle for several weeks now, gauging the strain on the two vines as they intertwine, wondering if their impossible romance will ever be fully realized. The strawberry plant continues to bear cheery fruit, but the squash, though flowering on the ground, has put great energy into its climb among the berries, and now boasts proud leaves towering all the way to the roof, its highest tendrils latching it to the screen that covers Vermadise.

      I can't imagine that this display of aerial agility will result in the production of bigger or more plentiful squashes, and the plant seems to have far overshot his Juliet waiting on her balcony. I don't know much about squash psychology, but we all do crazy things in the name of love; we'll just have to wait this one out and hope for a tasty end.

a squash tendril carresses a strawberry

     In the making of this article, I also did a bit of research into the proper usage of the word "gourd." I was interested in identifying an alternative for "squash," so as to avoid writing "squash" fifty times in one paragraph, but the relation of the terms "squash" and "gourd" seems to be a bit of a grey area. Some would prefer to identify squashes, gourds, and pumpkins as separate but closely related plants within the Cucurbitaceae family, which also includes cucumbers and melons, while others would use "gourd" as more of an umbrella term. "Squash" originates from a Narragansett word, while "gourd" passes back through Middle English and Old French to the Latin cucurbita, from which the family of plants takes its name.

      The ever-enlightening informed me that one can be "out of one's gourd" (crazy), while the Microsoft Word thesaurus reminded me only that "squash" is a handy verb when dealing with mosquitoes. And so in today's word lesson I have come to no great conclusions, except that at the American Gourd Society's webpage, you can "send a gourdgeous postcard to a friend!" "Light up your life with gourds!" says today's postcard, featuring a hand-painted gourd lamp. Clearly there is much more than Shakespeare at work in our garden.
Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 68