Ground Cherries, "Aunt Molly's"
4" x 9", Prismacolor colored pencil on Stonehenge paper
(click to enlarge)
Among the heirloom seeds that my daughter gave to me for Christmas, was a pack labelled "Aunt Molly's Ground Cherries". Ground cherries? Even at my age, this was a new one. The fruit in the photo looked more like little yellow tomatillos—a smooth fruit within a papery husk—and what's with the "ground" part? Well, I read the packet to learn that they have that name not because you grind them up (admit it, that crossed your mind too...), but because you wait until they fall to the ground to harvest them. And the sweet fruit, also known as Cape gooseberries, are indeed related to tomatillos. Huh! Who knew?
Isn't it funny (and a bit eerie, if I'm being honest) when you learn about something for the first time, or hear a term you've never heard, and then it pops up again almost immediately? Well, this spring, what did I see in my grocery store, alongside the berries? Pichuberries, which seem to be identical to my Ground Cherries! Check them out here. Apparently they're a new "super fruit" or something. But my favorite fun fact from that discovery is this: "In France, this fruit is also referred to as 'Love in the Cage'". Well, if we're getting all lyrical, I am compelled to add that, while I was drawing, my composition started looking to me a little bit like a nativity scene: two adoring parents and a new baby. Am I crazy or do you see that, too? And if their husk shape looks familiar, it's because they're also related to the ornamental Chinese Lantern plant, usually a showy orange or reddish husk.
My plants aren't huge, but this has been a tough summer in our garden; we're trying to water just enough, considering the drought we're in. These first ones, that I gathered to draw, are on the small side as you can see here: