Cross Stitch Patterns from Fine Art by Scarlet Quince
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Scarlet Quince Ramblings

Cross stitch ... art ... life

Confusion in the gourd family
Friday, June 20th, 2008

My gourd flowers turned out to be white, not yellow, and petals are separate instead of joined as I expected. For quite a while I kept wondering when I was ever going to see a flower — there would be buds in the afternoon but in the morning the flower was already shriveled up. I finally discovered that these gourds are blooming at night and the flowers don’t open until it’s fully dark.

Gourd flower around 10 AM

Here’s a picture taken at about 10 AM and the flower is looking pretty tired, although you can see that the flower is downy, which is neat! I tried to take some pictures of a fresh flower last night at 10 PM but I couldn’t see anything in the view finder at all so I got pictures of the top half of a flower, left half, etc. and mostly overexposed.

I looked up Cucurbita pepo and it turns out that practically everything falls into that species — zucchini, pumpkins, acorn squash, summer squash, spaghetti squash, etc. etc. but they all should have yellow flowers. I feel as if the botanists have not made a serious effort to differentiate these plants. It doesn’t seem right that squash with edible shells and squash with hard shells are the same species. I found the packet for the little warty ornamental gourds I’ve planted before but the top of the envelope is torn off so if it ever said what species they supposedly are that information is gone. But I believe what I actually have this year is Lagenaria siceria, which is a white-flowered bottle gourd blooming in the evenings. Fooey. I would have bought them anyway because they were the only gourd seeds I could find locally, but I was hoping for yellow flowers. And, need I say, flowers I didn’t have to use a flashlight to see.

Lesser goldfinch on my zexmenia
Sunday, June 15th, 2008

Yesterday as I was driving out I saw a small dark bird hovering over the xeriscape bed in the berm between the street and sidewalk. At first I thought it was a hummingbird, but it was too dark — we only have rubythroats here (as far as I know). I stopped to get a good look at it and it turned out to be a male lesser goldfinch picking seeds out of the gone-by zexmenia flowers (Wedelia hispida). Very cool! You can see a picture of the bird here. The closest I’ve seen them is 3 hours southwest, in the Uvalde area. I hope it will be a regular visitor to the zexmenia, although I’ve never heard of goldfinches eating anything but thistle seed. Maybe it will make do with zexmenia seeds until the thistles have bloomed and gone to seed.

We have planted the berm with various drought- and deer-tolerant plants. The zexmenia has nice flowers but it’s a weedy, woody kind of plant with rough-bristly leaves and stems (that’s what hispida means). The best thing is that the deer leave it strictly alone and can’t hurt it even when they go crashing clumsily through it. (They keep knocking pads off the prickly pear. Fortunately the pads root readily if you stick them in the ground but I’d rather have one large prickly pear than 10 small ones.)
Zexmenia flower

I love gourds!
Monday, June 9th, 2008

This is the flower bed (mostly flowers!) that I’ve planted to be able to see from the kitchen window. It’s along the side fence so the objective is to have vines that will cover the fence and have flowers up where I can see them. My favorites are the gourds (the big leaves in the picture — it’s not a great picture but the best I can do). There are also quamoclits (like a small red morning glory but with fringed leaves), moonflowers (like a big white morning glory that blooms after dark), some cardinal creeper (Campsis radicans) that migrated in from the other side of the yard and probably won’t bloom, and there may be some Heavenly Blue morning glories. I had some there last year and only saw their backs — they want to face east apparently. I collected a lot of seeds but from the looks of things got few or no morning glories. But I love the gourds. They have bright yellow funnel-shaped flowers that open early in the morning and close by mid-morning, so if I snooze, I don’t see them. The flowers only open one day but I don’t know if that’s because they get pollinated or if they only open one day no matter what. I love the huge leaves and their strong smell. I love the way they know which way is up! They seem to grow slowly until they find something they can get a tendril on and then they really shoot up! The one at the far end was well over a foot above the top of the fence before I redirected its energies. The moonflowers, on the other hand, will climb the fence if they’re carefully trained onto it, but they don’t care about going up, they will dawdle all over the place. I love the way the gourd tendrils wrap around and around whatever they can latch onto — it’s serious overkill. It’s cool to get gourds (fruit) too although I don’t care as much about that. Last year I had the little warty ornamental kind. This year I’ve planted dipper gourds and birdhouse gourds. I don’t really need any dippers but it would be fun to get a birdhouse gourd, since the wrens are shunning the wren house (OK, the roof is coming loose but I have really tried to fix it).

At the left are some volunteer tomatoes that reseeded from plants I had there last year. Unfortunately I wasn’t paying attention when I bought them and they are cherry tomatoes. I didn’t get many tomatoes from them last year because they sprawled out in the grass, didn’t get enough sun, and basically rotted on the ground. But the volunteers are standing bolt upright. They’re helped by the quamoclits which have climbed them, then latched onto the fence and continued on up, so the tomatoes can’t fall over no matter how much they want to.

All these things really should be in bloom now but they’re just getting started because I planted them late. I’m trying to lose my ingrained northern mentality that late May is planting time and I did get this stuff going in March but it still could have been earlier.

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