Lilly Creations 14386 Pierite Road, Nevada City, CA  95959

(530) 477-9183



June 2005

Volume 1

Message from The Artist

Durable hard shelled gourds provide the “canvas” for Karen’s colored pencil work, and people often ask, “Just what is a gourd?”  Gourds in Your Garden by Ginger Summit, published by Hillway Press is an excellent source for the extended definition to this seemingly simple question.  However, a thumbnail sketch is a good place to begin. 

For you scientific types, gourds are members of the Cucurbitaceae Family, and the Lagenaria Siceraria are the hardshell gourds  which have been around for thousands of years.  According to Summit’s book “The family Curcurbitaceae is one of the largest plant families, which has the following general characteristics:

* They grow on a vine.
* The vine is tendril bearing---that is, tendrils grow on the vine near the fruit.
* The leaves are usually five lobed, and grow alternately on the vine.
* The vines are monoecious---that is, the male and female blossoms usually grow on the same vine.
* All curcurbits are plants which produce fruits---that is, they contain seeds and develop from an ovary inside the flower.”

Karen Lilly, The Artist
These fruits are the gourds which are so spectacular as they hang down from the vines where once white flowers bloomed. 

As these green fruits dry, they slough off their protective skin.  This is the nasty mold that has caused many a first time gourd grower to have a panic attack. 

As long as the hard shell remains hard, all is well, and the mold and old epidermis can be removed with plenty of elbow grease.  It may take 6 months to 2 years, depending upon its size, for a gourd to dry. 

The rattling sound coming from within a shaken gourd is its seeds, sometimes loose, and sometimes clumped together by a membrane.

Hardshell gourds come in Basket, Bottle, Dipper, and Trough/Siphon/Snake types. 

Some of the more colorful names include the Penguin, Birdhouse, Lump-in-neck, Wartie Hardshell, Cave Man’s Club, Banana, and Snake. 

Humans have been using gourds as containers, utensils, sacred objects, and instruments for the last several thousand years.  In fact, according to Summit, “The oldest physical evidence of gourds come from the highlands of Peru, dating from 23,000-11,000 B.C.”  Obviously, gourds are no Johnny-come-lately plant.

Beware, however, because gourds are positively addictive; just ask any member of The American Gourd Society or any artist who works with gourds.  For those of us who prefer to purchase rather than grow our supply, Zittel Farms in Folsom is a great source.  Try telephoning (916) 989-2633, or go to for further information. 

Happy gourding!

Upcoming Events
Homewood Aug. 12,13.14
Homewood Mountain Resort, Lake Tahoe
Mammoth Lake Sept. 3, 4, 5
Minaret Rd., btw Highway 203 & Meridian Rd.
The Artist 14386 Pierite Road, Nevada City, CA  95959 © 2005 Lilly Creations