I planted Cardinal Flower for the hummingbirds, thinking nothing more of the name than that the flower was bound to be flaming red, which it is.
The hummingbirds did love it, and I was delighted by seeing the little dudes make their rounds through the garden all summer long. But the hummingbirds made their way South a few weeks ago, and the Cardinal Flower vine has been slowly wrapping up, flowering more slowly and using what energy it has left for setting seed.
This morning I found a line of Cardinal Flower seed pods on the porch railing, torn open, and a female cardinal pecking away at them. She flew off when she saw me and her husband swooped in and took over the feast. There is a whole feeding station set up along the porch rail where they must have been bringing the pods to break open and eat.
I am delighted by this, by my assumption that a flower was named for a bird’s color, a surface level nod to the wild world, only to find that it was named for the bird that eats it, a much deeper connection between people, the plants we grow, and the wildlife that flit between the wild and the cultivated.