Friday, October 23, 2009

Seeing Red...

One of Ohio's most eye-catching native plants, the Cardinal Flower- Lobelia cardinalis is generally found on the edge of vernal pools in woodlots throughout Ohio. It is a treasure when found in the wild, but it is equally as welcomed in the landscape. Just remember to keep it well watered!

This photo of the Richland County Master Gardener's Enviro-garden shows the clever design of a water garden with an intentional "leak." A rivulet feeds a small wetland next to the main pond where the Cardinal Flower stands with wet feet. Interestingly enough, the Cardinal Flower attracts birds- but not the Northern Cardinal. It is the hummingbirds that go mad for fire-engine red flowers.

And speaking of hummingbirds, an Ohio oddity, a Rufous Hummingbird has been hanging out at the Sage home near Loudonville, Ohio. I popped by to admire the little gal, and she certainly put on a good show. The rufous underwings were quite visible as she came and went from the feeder. And as I admired the yard of these kind folks hosting the little hummer, I noticed one thing in common with the other two other places I have seen fall hummingbirds: loads of red.

Each time I have visited a home with a Rufous Hummingbird I have noted the general area. Red flowers were still obvious in a western Ohio yard a few years back. Two years ago, they banded a Rufous in Mansfield, and at that time I noted a very large red Christmas bow decorating the wreath near the hummingbird's feeder. The Sage's have several red articles in the area, including a large red pad on their bench. Hummers are definitely attracted to red flowers, and I can't help but wonder if these homeowners raised the odds of becoming a host for a late hummingbird by their displays of red. Wouldn't it make sense that a bird in migration would be looking for a friendly spot of red to signal "oasis" for hummers? It is enough to make me want to roll out the red carpet for any passing through my area.

And even if I don't attract any oddities to my yard, I'll be having a great time, as I am headed to Arizona for vacation. Hopefully, I'll see some unusual birds and plants for your blog-reading pleasure. Who knows what adventures lie ahead? You can bet I'll be looking for red!


  1. What a great post, Cheryl! Cardinal flower has always been one of my favs! My sister lives in a rural area outside of Carey, Ohio, on a stunning piece of property that they mostly leave wild. The driveway to their home is this gently arching lane of loveliness that transects a fairly large wet woodlot filled with Hickories and Oaks. If a person has blinders on, it should take all of about 40 seconds to travel from the road to the house. But, being the blinderless person that I am...I always have to schedule loads of extra time when I visit because it has literally taken me hours to make that 40 second drive. I can NEVER stay in my car! There's always something along the lane that demands my attention.

    Once they cut the drive in and allowed a bit of sunlight to penetrate, the wildflowers burst onto the scene! So many of my fav are there: Squirrel Corn, Trillium, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, and Blue Cohosh. (don't you just LOVE the foliage of Blue Cohosh?!!) But, the star of the show is the amazing Cardinal Flower, and it's there in abundance.

    Thanks for filling my day with such pleasant thoughts!

  2. Thanks Kim! We'll have to get some Cardinal Flower growing near the pond at the BSBO Window-on-Wildlife. You already get amazing birds there!