|Something lots of gardeners wonder about their cuke tendrils:|
why are there two coils,
one going one way and the other,
the other way?
Did Walafred Strabo notice the coils? He continues."Gourds also grow up high from modest seeds. Their leaves look like shields and cast huge shadows, and they send out their tendrils from several different branches.You know how ivy encircles tall elms, how it wraps its arms around the tree trunk on the ground and then hides the rough bark all the way to the top in a covering mantel of green leaves.
And you know how the grapevines growing in an orchard will climb up a tree and hang grapes on the top branches, pulling themselves upwards by their own strength-- how reddish grapes hand from alien branches, and Bacchus sags down through a carpet of green, while vines poiferate and penetrate the canpoy of foliage.
The gourd plant rises up from weak seedlings and, in a similar fashion, clambers up a supporting trellis, and grasps the alder branches with its coiling shoots.
So that no raging storm can tear it loose, it sends out just as many shoots as there are knots which need to be tied, and since each tendril then bifurcates, each joint on the trellis is doubly tied left and right.
|1834 copy from New York Botanical Garden|
With external support, they even learn how to transcend steep roofs of arched hallways and fly throught the air.
And who could adequately praise the fruits that form on every branch? They hand on long delicate stalks and swell from slender necks into strong bodies.
The shapes swell into an oversided waist and belly while inside, in a cavernous jailhouse, the seeds grow with pomise of yet another fine harvest.
As long as the gourd is still soft, and before the juice inside has dried up in late autumn leaving a woody outer shell, the fruits come to the table often with other fine foods, soaking up the fat in a hot pan. People also serve them frequently in juicy slices as a tasty dessert. But of course, if you leave the gourd on the vine, let it endure the growing heat of the summer sun and then chop it off with a knife you can make a durable container out of it.
Just remove the guts from its ponderous belly, then smooth out the inside with a scraping tool.
It will hold anywhere from a pint to a half-gallon and if you seal the vessel with some adhesive pitch, it will preserve the kind gifts of Bacchus unspoiled and potable for many a long day.
Science Friday recently reported on the "Unwinding the Cucubmer Tendril Mystery".
- Looking for a translated online Hortulus... Sometimes this link is missing pages, but sometimes the whole book is there. On the cultivation of gardens : a ninth century gardening book is partially translated and annotated.
- This Wyrtig article has a picture of what the garden looked like.
- An Eden in the Lake: the Abbot's Little Garden
- The Wonder of Numbers in Strabo's Hortulus based on this article (?), Verbaal, Wim. '"The Arithmetic of Poetry: The Poetry of Numbers in Walahfrid Strabo's Hortulus," in Hortus Troporum. 2008