News from the rose garden

Mail from the Park of Roses in Columbus OH a few days ago, to say that the variety in the rose bed dedicated in my man Jacques’s memory had recently been replaced by a new variety, with an interesting name:

(#1) Grandiflora rose ‘Cardinal Song’ (from the Dave’s Garden website)

It’s all about that shade of red: the color of the bird whose song provides the name for the flower. Both the bird and that shade of red get their name from the color of a cardinal’s robes in the Roman Catholic Church.

And the church dignitary is so-called for reasons that have nothing to do with colors. From NOAD:

ORIGIN Old English, from Latin cardinalis, from cardo, cardin– ‘hinge’. [The noun in the church dignitary sense] has arisen through the notion of the important function of such priests as ‘pivots’ of church life.

Roses for Jacques. From my 1/31/20 posting “Revisiting 41: roses for remembrance”, about

two hybrid tea roses in memory of my man Jacques Transue, a red Mister Lincoln in Bucks Harbor ME (where his family has long had a summer place), a peach-pink Gemini in Columbus OH [a memorial in the Columbus Park of Roses, where J did volunteer work for some years]

(#2) The now-replaced Gemini rose

The northern cardinal and its song. The familiar, very noticeable (and audible) bird of the US east of the Great Plains (and down through Mexico. Text from Wikipedia:

(#3) A male northern cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis (photo from The Spruce site)

The northern cardinal is a territorial song bird. The male sings in a loud, clear whistle from the top of a tree or another high location to defend his territory. He will chase off other males entering his territory. He may mistake his image on various reflective surfaces as an invading male, and will fight his reflection relentlessly. The northern cardinal learns its songs, and as a result the songs vary regionally.

… Both sexes sing clear, whistled song patterns, which are repeated several times, then varied. … The [bird] has a distinctive alarm call, a short metallic chip sound. This call often is given when predators approach the nest, in order to give warning to the female and nestlings.

The (Stanford) cardinal. As a sort of faculty member at Stanford, I note that since 1981, this is the name for Stanford’s sports teams. It refers to the color (like the Harvard crimson), not the bird.

The history of names for the Stanford sports teams is indeed complex. The modern history begins with the choice of the Indians as the name in 1930. Then the politically fraught period, as described by historian Jared Farmer in the posting “Stanford Indians” (of 11/21/13) on his website:




Then from Wikipedia:

From 1972 to 1981, the official nickname returned to “Cardinals,” a reference to the color, not the bird [there are no (avian) cardinals in California]. … On November 17, 1981, school president Donald Kennedy declared that the athletic teams be represented by the color cardinal in its singular form.

One Response to “News from the rose garden”

  1. Mary Shafer Iliff Says:

    The exact Stanford color is Cardinal #2. It was also one of the colors at Patterson Union High School (CA). I remember the name from touching up the paint on the plastic football helmets with my father, the coach, back in the 1950’s.

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