The Many Shades of Red

by on December 24, 2019 · 3 comments

in Ocean Beach

Traditional Red Poinsettias.

 All Photographs by Kathy Blavatt

by Kathy Blavatt

In nature, color red is as vital as it’s complementary color green. Red makes the greens pop.

What would the Christmas holidays be without the brilliant red poinsettias and berries?

Valentines’ gift of crimson roses is the traditional flower representing love and passion.

Red Roses the flower of amore.

Nature celebrates autumn by changing leaves from green to red.

Gardens scenes and red sunsets have inspired artists for centuries, but the digital technology, especially iPhone with cameras have advanced photography at lightspeed.

Massive amounts of people race to the beach and cliffs to see and photograph sunsets.

Hillside view on Christmas Day 2012, shows Ocean Beach’s evening sky as the sunset turns flaming red over the ocean and highlights our silhouetted trees, especially our signature palm trees that look as they are reaching into the fiery sky.

Besides the ocean, Sand Diegans are lucky to have the desert nearby.

The spikey red barbs of the barrel cactus instantly catch the eye warning predators to stay away.

Red is a color commonly seen in the desert rock formations.

Desert sunrises light shines pale reds onto the mountain hillsides that play against the soft greens of scrub brush and cactus that dot the flatlands.

Many of the plants and cactus blossoms in the desert have red or brightly colored flowers. Some bloom yearly, while others only come to life after a heavy rainy season.

Red is a color that warms us, stands out, is a bit of a showoff and eye-catcher as seen in the blossoms. A variety of popular plants that grow here come in bright red. These include bougainvilleas that historically are popular in the gardens of many of the Spanish-mission style homes on the peninsula and the traditional red geraniums whose roots come from European cultures that hang them in baskets that beautify their homes. With the advent of low water plants, red-leafed succulents are a welcome addition in many gardens and pot arrangements.

Red-leaf succulent

Pink blossoms are reds flowers little sister who welcome the coming of spring and dances into summer. Some of my favorite varieties of pink blossoms include the delicate blossomed Pink Evening Primrose, which tends to move around the yard and down the slope. In my garden, they moved from my backyard to the front yard, then down along the front street curb. They cry for attention as I collect their seed, or replant them further back in my yard so they can make their journey once more.

Naked Lady Amaryllis, whose name was inspired by the cluster of lilies on a single long stock sticking out of the ground, is a favorite bulb sold at Point Loma and La Jolla rummage and plant sales.

Another favorite is the Peruvian Lilies (Alstroemeria), which come in various shades of pinks, reds, yellows, and purples. It is said to be the best selling lily at nurseries. When I had my floral arranging business, many women requested Peruvian Lilies to be in their bridal bouquets and arrangements.

Redish-Plum colored tree leaves

When giving tours of my garden, the embolden plum-reds foliage causes people to do a double-take, sometimes to see if the leaves are real, or they ask if something is wrong with the plant. I love planting plum leaf plants or red flowering plants next to gray-green plants. It adds an unworldly look to the garden.

Red fruits and vegetables bring beauty to both your garden and your dinner plate. Red grapes, tomatoes, strawberries, and sliced peppers are the perfect garnish or adding a bit of color to brighten a salad.

A creative O.B. cook created a whimsical butterfly bagel sandwich garnished with red grape eyes and antennas.

Foods made from red fruits and vegetables such as salsa, cranberry sauce, and red wine are a standard at most holiday parties.

Two of my favorite red dishes to cook in the winter are vegan tomato bisque and red curry with coconut milk. Both will warm you up on a cold day and help keep you healthy. This year I’m lucky I still have fresh tomatoes growing in my yard in the winter. A few big plump ones went into the soups and curries, along with garden-grown herbs, chives, and greens. A teaspoon of cream sherry adds a scrumptious flavor to your soup.

When I make a large batch of tomato bisque soup, I sometimes turn it into red curry a couple of days later to add variety to our meals. To change tomato soup to curry, add some coconut milk to the soup. Then add your spices.

Some of my favorite curry spice blends include a bit of curry powder, fresh peppers, or a dash of cayenne pepper depending on your heat tolerance, fresh chopped garlic, and turmeric, a sprinkle of cinnamon, salt, skillet roasted seeds: coriander and cumin. Roasted mustard, poppy, and caraway are also tasty additions. If you want to go towards Thai flavors, add Thai curry red paste instead of peppers, ginger, and onions.

When I have fresh oranges, papayas or mangoes, I sometimes add them to make a sweeter curry.

Once you have the curry sauce made, you can add vegetables, tofu, or other goodies and pour it over rice or noodles.

Red foods are perfect for warming up a chilly winter day!




{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris December 25, 2019 at 11:14 am
Bob Edwards December 26, 2019 at 12:57 pm

Loved the theme of this article! Great job!


retired botanist December 26, 2019 at 4:26 pm

Nailed it again, Kathy- always a pleasure to read your botany notes! :-) In my world, everything comes down to plants: color, food, cooking, spices, herbs, gardens, flowers, landscapes, bouquets, seeds, fragrance, oils, fuels, trees, building materials, animal foraging, climate, linen, cotton, silk, alcohol, smokable plants (tobacco, marijuana, willow bark and others), drugs, oxygen, fruits, grains, nuts, mushrooms, seaweeds… all in no particular order, other than free association, and its hard to think of anything that doesn’t start with plants!
Happy holidays, happy solstice, and may 2020 continue to bring us the glory of the plant world. At the risk of being obvious, our lives depend on it! Thanks for your creative perspectives!


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