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Attracting Hummingbirds To The Garden

As I write this article I am looking outside through the rain at my humingbird feeder. If you look closely on the left side you can see the red hanging from a post.  The right side of this picture is the computer screen.  This article is about attracting humingbirds to th

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e garden with one of my favorite red flowers the cardinal flower.  So while I have humingbird feeders in the garden, I plant lots of flowers that attract them as well. 

Named after the Flemish botanist Matthias de L''Obel (1538-1616), the cardinal flower brings a splash of brilliant scarlet red to the landscape in late summer. The blooms are vibrant and very showy and I can see them from afar as I walk through the woods here in Massachusetts. They love to grow near marshes, streams and lowlands.
I would be hard-pressed to find a more brilliant shade of red on any perennial. The blossoms open on tall spikes up to 4ft and if you look closely you can see five petals merge into a pair of scarlet lipped corolla. 
The leaves are dark green tapered at either end or rest at the base of the flower stalks. The plant thrives in sunshine or light shade but does well in filtered light and the roots should be kept moist. If the plant is happy you will find it reseeding itself all over and before you know it you will have a vast stand of blazing red every August into September.
The Ruby throated hummingbird loves this plant and you can see them darting from flower to flower each morning and evening. While the hummingbirds have no trouble pollinating this plant, you do not want to ingest it. Extracts of the leaves and fruit can cause violent illness and death. Maybe the red means, stop! Don’t eat me.


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