August 6, 2010

Cardinal Colors

Cardinal flower is supposed to be red.  That's what Lobelia cardinalis is.  It is cardinal colored.  But I have a lobelia called Ruby Slippers that is not red, it's not even ruby colored, but a deep wine purple.  It does have the common attribute of lobelias: the color intensity is vivid and velvety.

This one is best enjoyed close up (I have it right at the edge of my patio wall).  I had it planted out in the far garden previously and the deep color was so dark it disappeared at a distance, looking almost black or rusty colored.  It didn't have the punch that the bright red cardinal flowers have from far away.  But up close it's rich, moody, saturated.

And then there is the original cardinal flower, the red one.  The very red one.  Screaming red, beautiful on its tall stalks calling for your attention from across the yard.

And what is this?  Just as the bright red cardinal flower burst into bloom, the hot orange geums, which last bloomed in May and have been sleeping since, decided to put on a second show at the feet of the cardinal flowers.  Planned for completely different bloom periods so I would have some bright color in the far garden in both spring and summer, I now have orange and red duking it out in August.  Didn't they read the plan?
Clashing as they do, I actually like the two colors together, tempered by the cool gray of the tree stump close by.  What is the August garden if not over-bright, hotly sunny and just a tad gaudy?


  1. Wow ... that Ruby Slippers is such a gorgeous colour ... and it makes a nice pairing with the pink! The red Cardinal and the orange Geums make another fabulous combination ... I also think they look great together. I'm a fan of bright and gaudy!

  2. It is a nice punch of August colour before we start to crave the brilliance of Sept. See, your garden *is* working to a plan! :)

  3. Bernie, I also think the pink zinnia (an accident) and the Ruby Slippers look rich together... just wish I'd actually intended it!

    Garden Ms. S, you're right, there is a plan: the plants know what they're doing even if I don't :)

  4. Sometimes it's fun to have something clashy or jarring in bloom. Just think of yourself as "edgy"....

    I can't believe I've never tried perennial Lobelia before. It's on the list now, thanks.

    Christine in Alaska

  5. I don't see this as clashing. I think it is exciting. Do you have drip irrigation for your flowers? I can't get Cardinal Flower to grow in my garden. I figured it must be because of lack of water. It is a mystery to me why it won't grow. I would take either color. I wouldn't be a bit picky if it would just grow for me.

  6. Christine, I love being "edgy" --- thanks!

    Lisa, lobelia is reputed to be hard to grow, and your experience bears that out. Mine, for some reason, have thrived on harsh treatment and they grow easily! I've moved them repeatedly, manhandled them each time, put them in difficult spots and they do well. Go figure.

  7. I'm so impressed with your lobelia. I had to grin at the name issue - I grew some columbine from seed years ago and there was 'ruby' in the name - but all the flowers have been decidedly purple.

    Love the hot colors for late summer - red and orange.

  8. Melissa, thanks! All I could think of were Dorothy's ruby slippers in the Wizard of Oz, but they're definitely not that color either.


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