Sometimes You Just Say – Whoa!

I love the fact that as a seasoned gardener I still get surprised by things….I mean really surprised, to the point of almost mirthful laughter.  I recall being astonished a few years ago to discover the shovel-headed flatworm (Bipalium sp.) in my school garden.  

Not exactly cute, but remarkable nonetheless, though the creature did drop in my esteem when I discovered it preys on earthworms.

 I later found out that it is invasive, so perhaps it had just arrived, but I had the distinct sense of having missed it right under my nose for a good, long time.  Same goes with the asparagus beetle.  Oh, there’s a red beetle on the asparagus fronds, must be a ladybird….NOT!  One day, for whatever reason, I looked at it closely and realized it was something different, which sent me running to my Garden Insects tome for an ID.

Clearly not a ladybug, but I hadn’t looked closely enough to know.

Such was the case when I recently found a Tromboncino summer squash, which heretofore I have regarded only as delectable in its immature stage. 

Here is what I associate with Tromboncino…a tender, tasty summer squash.

 In fact, I have never even let one go past the tender green stage because my goal has been to get as much harvest as possible from this delicious, firm-fleshed, almost comical addition to the summer table.  Well, lucky for me that one vine crept under a bush, put out a flower, and grew a squash to maturity, all hidden from my view.  With winter’s die back, I recently found a rather large, completely tan curlicue which I took home to cook and finally got in the oven last night.

And here is what I now have to include in my mental Tromboncino file – a not so bad winter squash as well.

Wow! What a surprise!  It was like learning that a good friend, who I already knew was a painter, was an accomplished pianist as well (no fair!).  That darn summer squash was now also a winter squash, and as I cut into it, I could have sworn that it was a thin Butternut.  It held up to cooking pretty well, too.  It was a little more watery than a Butternut, but not much.  Plus, good maple syrup covers minor defects in winter squash pretty well.

Are there any who would dispute this flesh is not Butternuttish enough for you?
What does all this say about me as a gardener? Yes, I admit, I am still a novice in so many ways.  What does it say about our world?  That is is richly textured and still full of so much mystery.  What does it say about another season of gardening to come soon?  Bring it on, I’m ready to be surprised.