New Zealand Flax and Spring bulbs

Sunday 28th August
It is still winter and the Japonica in the arrangement below captures the mood of the season with it's intense red flowers on the bare stem. I have arranged it in a white bottle shaped vase with a dramatic black design on it that I bought in Mashiko. I think the elegant line of the Japonica goes well in this space at the end of the gallery. I have used a vertical fixture to hold the stem in position.

Here is a close up of the work. The vase was made by Akutsu Tadao. 

Last week when I was in the garden I noticed a single blossom had opened on the apricot tree. A week later there are quite a few flowers open. Unfortunately we get very few fruit from the tree because it is self-sown from a seed. However, it looks beautiful and it provides a little shade to the conservatory in the summer.

This rose flower is the first to open since we passed the middle of winter and is on a climbing Lorraine Lee on the corner of the terrace.

I went for a walk in the Royal Melbourne Botanical Gardens on Thursday and these blossoms on a Dwarf Russian Almond (Prunus Tenella) caught my eye. Notice the bee on the left side of the nearest stem to the camera lens. 

Here are a couple of pictures of textures to which I was attracted in particular. 

Below is the bark of a Montezuma Cypress that comes from Texas. The fine horizontal lines and the sheen of the bark make to look like silk fabric.

In my teacher’s class this week the theme was New Zealand Flax and Spring bulbs. This vase has a dull charcoal black glaze with a gold leaf design and is by the Australian ceramic artist Greg Daley.

Greetings from Christopher 
28th August 2011

PINK FLOWERS and others

These tulips have a beautiful satin like sheen and the two at the top of the arrangement have some green on the petals that looks particularly eye catching. When I bought them they felt really firm in their wrapping paper. Then I opened the wrapping and they flopped dramatically. In spite of re-cutting them underwater, re-wrapping them and leaving overnight they have continued to flop. I suppose this is a nageire arrangement in the sense of being ‘thrown in’. I used a cross bar fixture and cut some short which has helped a little. The silvery grey of the vase seemed to compliment the rich pink and the sheen on  the petals. The vase is ceramic despite it's silvery metallic finish. When I first saw it in a temporary gallery in Tokyo on Omote Sando Dori I thought it was made from pewter. The potter is Arikawa Makoto.

One month ago I posted this image of Japonica from the garden.
Today, Sunday 21st this is how it now looks. What an amazing plant showing the progression of the season while in the house. 

On Saturday 20th we went for a walk in a nature reserve called Iron Bark Basin. It is about five minutes drive from Torquay and on the east side of Pt Addis. The shallow valley of the ‘basin’ ends at the top of some high cliffs that over look a long curving beach. 

This, slightly blurred image shows the characteristic low scrubby forest that grows on top to the cliffs in this area.
We came across a small dam of still dark water with some duckweed growing on the surface. The picture reminds me of a brilliant M C Escher drawing showing water surface, reflection and something beneath the surface, all on a flat piece of paper(!). The water is the colour of dark brown tea because of the tannins leached from the gum-leaves that have fallen into the pond.
As it is late winter there are a lot of wattles out including Acacia Pycnantha, that I used last week and which is the national floral emblem of Australia.
We also came across a small ‘forrest’ of dainty Green Hood orchids. There are at least four varieties of them that grow in this area and the second one shown here grows with several small flowers coming off the single stem.

If you click on the following link you will go the the blog of Ohki Yoshiya whom I met at the Sogetsu Headquarters: 

Greetings from Christopher.
21st August 2011


The cascading flowers in the bamboo vase of last weeks entry were correctly identified by Joan Norbury (and Kath Dacy) as Hardenbergia. This a native from the east side of Australia and is sometimes known as false sarsaparilla or happy wanderer. I had mistaken it for one of the Kennedias from Western Australia.

This weeks theme in my teacher's class was a horizontal arrangement using material of multiple shades of one colour. The agapanthus will immediately tell you that the colour I chose was blue. Not very noticeable behind the agapanthus is a single stem of rather intense blue echium ( a picture of which was also included in last weeks blog entry), to the right is buddleja salviifolia and rosemary. The budlia is really mauve, of course, and the green leaves were left because  looked rather dramatic with some of their backs showing a silvery green. The vase, by Graeme Wilkie, is ceramic with a crazed grey glaze.
Below is another interpretation of the theme by my fellow student Eugenia Chudacek. She has used leucadendron, a yellow grevillia (cascading down the vase) and an unnamed vine, in a ceramic vase. The angle of the photograph is not good. The grevillia should be against the side of the ceramic vase.

Joan Norbury, who also attends the class, created a design of repeated shapes using golden stemmed dogwood on the left and a yellow tinged monstera deliciosa leaf on the right side in a glass vase. 
The arrangement I made three weeks ago using Japonica continues to look good as I remove wilting petals and refresh the water. As the new blossoms open they are more pale than before. This week I have added some blue Dutch iris that I had bought to use in the above horizontal arrangement. As they were not needed I was able to give the Japonica a fresh feel with these contrasting lines and colours.

This morning (Sunday) I made this arrangement in the entrance of the house. I have used four handless beakers that we had bought in Mashiko. I gathered the material from the cliff top and the roadside when I went on a short walk. The leaves are a native sedge, the wattle is Acacia Pycnantha. The tiny white flowers I haven't identified. The grow on a shrub that can be up to about 1.5 meters in diameter.

Here is a close up of the beakers are slip cast and made by Shimazaki Saori. Each one has a different raised surface design and they all have some colour at the rim, one blue and the others a faint yellow.
If you click on the following link you will go the the blog of Ohki Yoshiya whom I met at the Sogetsu Headquarters:

Greetings from Christopher 
14th August 2011


This prunus is in the street outside my office. Last week I noticed on Tuesday morning that a single blossom had opened. A week later and it is almost fully out.

A closer view shows there are a few unopened buds. Keeping in mind that Ikebana is an art form attuned to the seasons the sight of the tree prompted me to set my students the exercise of an arrangement of blossom in a suiban without a kenzan. Tonight we are expecting a return to rain and wintery conditions. Next week there may not be many blossoms left.

 The sun's weak and watery looking rays were streaming through the clouds on Thursday morning. The picture is taken from Point Danger at one end of the Front Beach at Torquay.

This was the sight looking a little to the left of the picture above, showing the front beach at Torquay. What a comparison to the pictures I took two weeks ago. Now the tide is low and the sea is as 'calm as a mill-pond'. 

This is the scene at next beach, the Surf Beach. With the tide out and the sea so still there is no chance for surfing. The most distant piece of land almost on the horizon is Point Addis. 

 Here is a better image of the wind-swept cypresses without any rain.

In the garden this white Japonica I planted last year is about to open its' first flower,

and the Echium (E. Fastuosum I think, from the Canary Islands) is also just coming into bloom. There is a larger plant in the garden and this one is a self sown.

The delightful, delicate Australian native clematis (Clematis microphylla) has also started to open its' flowers.

Here is a new arrangement of Japonica in the vase I used last week. Fortunately this is a much clearer picture.

I created this ikebana with the purple flowering Kennedia vine, in our entrance using a hanging bamboo vase given to me by Maatsura Keiko, a friend from Nagoya. I love the way the Kennedia cascades its' beauty in welcome. The arrangement looks better viewed from the side when you walk past it. However, I didn't photograph that angle because of the door in the background.

Greetings from Christopher.
7th August 2011