I’ve been thinking a lot about diversity in the garden. As I wander around, observing everything that is growing, the beautiful diversity within each family and genus, and even within the same plant amazes me. I don’t have anything super profound to say about this right now, it’s just something that I am appreciating in new ways and I think that my understanding of diversity within plants is maturing with time.
I will say this: lately, the diversity I observe on even a superficial level (I am after-all merely a gardener and an observer and not a botanist) leaves me wondering whether a photo of one flower, leaf, etc from one plant growing within a single garden can represent a specific variety.
I originally intended to demonstrate this phenomenon with a photo of the many different shapes and sizes of currant leaves of the various bushes that I grow. However, my morning routine these days, before I do anything else, is to take a few minutes to harvest the male squash flowers for future eating. And as I was standing at the kitchen counter, packing each one into a jar, it occurred to me that the diversity I was seeking to depict was right there in front of me. So I went outside and grabbed a few cucumber flowers to make the image complete.
The flowers shown here were picked from 3 different squash plants. I love that some have long and pointy “fingers” and others are ruffly and soft along the edges. Some are small, and then some, like the one to the far left are as big as an adult’s hand.
Incidentally, I recently purchased a book from the thrift store, “A Gardener’s Handbook of Plant Names: Their Meanings and Origins” by A.W. Smith and originally published in 1963. I’ve been keeping it at my work station so that I can look up the origin of any plant name that comes to mind. I looked up cucurbit and it wasn’t there; however, it did have cucurbita, which is apparently the Latin name for gourd. I also found a word that is new to me:
Cucumerinus: Resembling a cucumber.
I think this could be used as an insult or compliment, depending on the… errr… context.
My real takeaway from this section of the book was the horrible realization that I’ve been mispronouncing cucurbit as… and now I’m kind of red-faced to admit this… cu-ker-bit as opposed to what I now know is the proper (and obvious, dur) pronunciation, kew-KERB-it. You know, I have probably butchered that word dozens of times before audiences of people, and no one (and I will take this as a kindness) ever corrected me. And now I know.
But I still reserve the right to pronounce basil as baa-sill as opposed to bay-sill.
And one final tangent: I regularly post photos of books that I buy, have already read and recommend, or just find interesting to my Instagram account under the hashtag #thriftscorebooklist. Some are gardening or food related and many are not.