My first botanical treat on arriving back in PA recently was to find one of my favorite American wild flowers blooming luxuriantly by our little stream. The cardinal flower, Lobelia cardinalis, is usually eaten off at the knees (or even the ankles) by the deer as it runs up to flower but this year they seem to have left it largely alone. There are fewer deer this year, I think, and fewer deer means more flowers – it’s that simple.
The plants are growing in partial shade both in the water (just a few inches deep) and on tussocks in the stream but nowhere drier. Their brilliant scarlet flowers really gleam in the shadows.