Balancing Red

Shortly after seeing my evergreen wreath in the sidebar on the right hand side of this blog, I had an urge to 'balance' it with something red and immediately started looking for some relevant images. Why I wonder? Years of cultural conditioning during the christmas season of balancing out evergreen pines with red holly berries or red bows? Why red with green in the first place?

In the medieval roots of winter solstice celebrations red and green were commonly associated with dichotomies - from old to new, the pairs of fire and water, male and female. So there is a history of this combination. Situated at opposite sides of the color wheel, the combination is often considered jarring as a design choice but at Christmas perhaps when the bleakness of a monochromatic landscape craves something more vibrant, this combination has endured and remained popular.

I've never previously been a great fan of red in the garden except when the reds are dark or unusual or combined with something else in a striking way, but not here in the tropics. Here I've been craving more reds. Is it because of the huge amount of green foliage that dominates, so no matter how many red flowered plants you have, they are but tiny splashes on this green canvas? Is it because of the blinding sun that washes colors out making more subtle color combinations that I used to prefer downright dull? Probably both.

In the photos, the red Passiflora Coccinea is a delight regularly producing red stars of color overhead on the arbour. In the mornings, I often see sunbirds swinging on their trailing vines, while sippping on nectar from the flowers. The Costus Woodsonii sends out  3 foot spikes with red cigar shaped flowers smouldering at the end. Its a terrifically common plant here though used exhaustively in public planting schemes probably because of its dependability and low maintenance requirements.

There are a few more red items I'll update on, including some Ixoras that aren't sizeable enough to make much impact but the search continues for more red, my pinterest wish list is piling up with red flower desires and I scan the markets and nurseries for not just red floweres but foliage too. 


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