As we travel towards the south of Israel the scenery gradually becomes less green and more the colors that you associate with desert scenery. This area is called the Negev, the biblical equivalent to the word “south”. In Israel the Negev immediately conjures up images of desert scenery.
The Northern part of the Negev indeed has a barren landscape in the summer months, but, thanks to agricultural innovations, is very green from fall to late spring.
In addition to this, between the second half of January until mid-March large expanses of land in the Northern Negev become covered with bright red Anemone flowers, thus the name “The Scarlet South”. Indeed this phenomenon has developed in recent years into the “Scarlet South Festival”, combining the beautiful scenery, with local food markets, art stalls and activities for families.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the Greek word anemone means “daughter of the wind”, from ánemos the wind god. The Metamorphoses of Ovid tells that the plant was created by the goddess Venus when she sprinkled nectar on the blood of her dead lover Adonis. Therefore, the common name for anemone is “wind-flower”. This also could be the source of the connection between violent death and red flowers. Nowadays the fallen soldiers of the World Wars are commemorated with poppies, and the Israeli fallen are remembered with the Red Everlasting flower.
Anemone should not be confused with poppies or with the red buttercup wild-flower. All three look similar but have distinctive characteristics.
So, if you are in Israel anytime between mid-January and mid-March, a short trip to the Northern Negev is well worth it.