I once had a problem identifying the problem of a sickly rose that was here in the Galeazza Garden, so when Claudio “Rose Man” Baldazzi came for a visit this past winter I asked him what he thought the problem might be. He not only knew what the problem was (now I forget) but he even knew what kind of rose it was just by the shape of its thorns.
At the time I was astounded by his knowledge of plants, and then I learned it’s not so incredible, really - its just a question of experience. In the same way that he can tell roses from their thorns, I would love to one day identify pumpkins by their leaves, and beans by their flowers. I’m already getting there - it’s just a question of remembering! Fortunately these photos will help - as will the limited number of pumpkins that I’m attempting to grow this year: only five!
These big round leaves are from a plant which makes big round pumpkins (not sure this is a rule you can normally follow, but in this case it works). The large leaves in the photo are of Cucurbita Maxima, the “Big Max” pumpkin. Seeds from LIDL. Not really a huge pumpkin, but heavy enough to be tricky to carry long distances without dropping - and never by the stem… oh, and a deep dark reddish orange, which is cool. Edible, yes, and good for a Jack-o-lantern, too!
This is another plant with several common names, depending on what country you’re from, but it was sold as Acorn Squash. Acorn squash (Cucurbita pepo) seeds were brought to the castle from an American friend, Shoshana, in April.
Pumpkin 3: This one’s a real cutie: “Jack Be Little”. You can hold them in the palm of your hand. I’ve seen them first as decoration in Longwood Gardens and more recently as a photo in internet… in a baking tray - all glazed over with butter and stuffed with something. I don’t know if they’ll make it to see Halloween!
The seeds are from the tiny shop at the Botanical Garden of Madrid.
To avoid chaos and confusion around the world, identifying a plant by its Latin name normally works quite well, but “Cucurbita pepo” is an odd exception. Just put those words in Google images and see what pops up - a thousand different things, from tiny orange gourds to huge pumpkins, from green zucchini or several kinds of squash to this white fruit here.
Can you grow a pumpkin in a flowerpot? Yes you can. It will be especially happy if you add lots of organic matter, and will flower like crazy if you mix some chicken poo in there.
The seeds of this plant were kindly donated to the Galeazza Garden this year by, you guessed it, Nancy J. Ondra. Thank you again!
Summer Rain, Castello di Galeazza (Crevalcore, Bologna)
It’s not unusual to have a four-month period with little to no rain. Then in August, when it finally does come down hard and steady for hours, it totally breaks the summer heat and humidity that starts building up from May onward… Heavy storms yesterday and today mark what will probably be the beginning of the end of drought, and from here through September, even if it gets hellishly hot again for a few days, the grass and many garden plants will turn the brightest, freshest green and take off like crazy, making way for asters, chrysanthemums, pumpkins, gourds, and a last blast of tomatoes and eggplants.