This week I noticed that the Australian clematis (clematis microphylla) I showed you in August was now producing it's fluffy seed heads. Below is a close-up photo of the flowers on our fence taken back in August.

At this time of year the vine looks especially lovely when the seed heads are lit by sunlight coming from behind. Unfortunately when I took these pictures yesterday it was cloudy. The first picture shows the seed head's silvery tassels as they are beginning to become like balls of cotton wool.

Here is a mass of them in a more developed state.

In our garden I noticed the first Strelitzia flower had opened. It has been slightly damaged by today's rain. Notice the strange leaves of this variety. They are like spears and have only the tiniest leaves that are like a small groove at the tip of the stem.

Here is a close-up of one of the leaves. The stems are useful in ikebana for designs with straight lines.

This week I also noticed some Dock Weed 'curly dock'(rumex crispus) growing wild in the creek nearby. At this time of year it often turns a wonderful intense red or pink. I thought it would go well in this Japanese lacquered basket. A neighbour gave me the 'rock rose' (Cistus) flowers that seemed to complement the Dock. 

A new student has joined my class this term so I made this basic upright arrangement for her using the yellow calistemon and two banksia flowers from the garden.

Greetings from Christopher
30th October 2011


Last week the weather here was quite cold, getting down to 7-8 C overnight and only up to 14 in the day  time. This week has been warm. On Saturday, yesterday, it was overcast and I put the heater on in the living room;  today it was quite hot with bright sun. Our weather is so variable in Victoria, especially in Spring. Last weekend I did a lot of pruning in the garden. There are some trees in the front garden that were overhanging the garage and so the gutters were full of leaves. This is potentially a serious risk in the bushfire season at the end of summer. If burning embers are blown into the dry leaves in the gutters the roof of the house can catch fire. I feel a bit more safe having done the pruning but I think I really need to do a bit more. I really love the trees in our garden but I must make sure they don't endanger the house. As you can see from the photo below there are some big trees behind the garage, which is the building on the left. 

Below is a view looking up the garden path toward the street where you can see a tall eucalyptus.

This picture below is of the first flowering of the Mr Lincoln rose in our garden this season. I bought a bunch of these roses many years ago from a florist that sold flowers that were sometimes grown in private gardens rather than from the flower market. I was amazed at the fresh fragrance of this rose. It always delights me with it's scent that reminds me of apples. The blooms are relatively large.  When we created our garden I was determined to have Mr Lincoln as one of the flowering plants.

I have placed one in a 'specimen' vase in the bedroom and the fragrance is noticeable each time I walk past. I like the contrast between the rich red and the dark blue of the wall. 

For next week I have set my advanced students the exercise of making an arrangement using a three or more flowers of related colours and a single leaf. I decided the New Zealand flax leaf I was using was too big so I split it into two. The flowers are: Goodenia, Broom and a pale yellow callistemon. All are from the garden. The vase is a bizen style vase by Ian Jones of Laughing Frog Pottery in New South Wales.

Greetings from Christopher
23rd October 2011

LORNE SCULPTURE walk and two IKEBANA works

This weekend was the opening of the third Lorne Sculpture Exhibition, the town where the Qdos Gallery is located. This is an exhibition of sculpture along the foreshore and Graeme Wilkie the ceramic artist and owner of Qdos was one of the  people to begin this biennial exhibition in 2007. The picture below is of the lighthouse at Aries Inlet on the way to Lorne.  

This is the view along the coast from the lighthouse with Lorne in the distance in the centre of the picture.

The first sculpture we saw was hung underneath this suspension bridge.

It is made from clear PET bottles some of which contained blue water. 

This was a ladder of green and dried tortuous willow branches, that floated on the water surface 

One of Australia's most famous ceramic artists, Petrus  Spronk is seen here making a work called Illegal Immigrants. It shows a suitcase disgorging rabbits, made from sand using a  shaped mold.

This ephemeral work is by Shoso Shimbo a Sogetsu Ikebanist from Melbourne.

These very large dogs are made from concrete.

Here is a sculpture of straight sticks placed against a retaining wall creating a rhythm like waves. 

This work was my favourite. It is composed of two spirals that are connected by straight lines. Each spiral makes three cycles. It has a wonderful dynamic feel.

On my way  back to the car my attention was caught by this sulphur crested cockatoo.

At class this week my teacher set the exercise of making an arrangement with a mass and multiple lines. I have used a pittosporum and added a pale mauve flower as a focal point. The two  bowls are from Qdos gallery

I bought this rather quirky irregular vase in Mashiko. 

This is the last of the vases I brought back from Japan in July and I have now made an ikebana work in each of them. The material is the pale yellow callistemon from our garden that I included on the blog a couple of weeks ago

Greetings from Christopher.
16th October 2011


As we were walking along the cliff tops a couple of days ago I noticed several seabirds wheeling about. 

In the picture below the bird on the left is being chased as it has a piece of fish in it's beak.

Then I saw that they were fighting over a dead crab and I think some fish as well. 

There was a fisherman nearby who may have discarded the fish.

Further along the cliff top I came across this dainty little climbing plant with small blue flowers. It has used the larger bush behind it to climb up.The leaves and stems are so fine that you only notice the plant in spring when it comes into flower for a few weeks.

Many of the vases I have are symmetrical and a few are large.  So when I was in Japan I decided I should try to buy some smaller vases and I also looked for some that were irregular in shape. I found this interesting small vase in Mashiko. It is shaped a little like an iron.

I was pleased to discover today that it could be placed on it’s side and remain stable. I have created a small ‘massed‘ arrangement using a single stem of Echium. It seems a bit like cheating to use this flower spike that is already a mass. However, I like the way the flower spike picks up the blue on the side of the vase and the compact form it creates echoing the shape of the vase in reverse.

Greetings from Christopher
9th October 2011


Over this last week I have noticed our pale yellow callistemon flowering. I remembered that they were featured in an Ikebana International magazine last year. The article showed only red or pink flowers so I thought it was a good opportunity to show these from our garden. These flowers are very attractive to small 'honey eater' birds that like their nectar.

These banksias are growing in my friend Heather's garden. She is an excellent gardener and I used some of her flowers in the autumn arrangement I made for the book 'Ikebana Through all Seasons', which was published earlier this year. This was the third in a series of books about ikebana. The first, Ikebana Today, was published to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ikebana International.   

Their large size was not apparent in the arrangement I did for the book so I have taken a second photo' to give a sense of scale. This bush is about 2.5 meters high.

I couldn't resist taking this close up of a brightly coloured Kangaroo Paw also in Heather's garden.

These banksia roses are from our garden and I thought their cascading habit would go well in the Bizen hanging vase I bought in Okayama.

These orange and yellow tulips were a gift from a visitor last week and they really capture the orange marks on this vase with a soda ash glaze by Gail Nichols. I think I should have swung the three flowers on the left a little further to connect them to the flowers on the right. They have a lovely sense of movement.

 However, I must admit when I came home two days after I took this picture above their movement was downward and they were resting on the table top. My solution was a much taller vase by Graeme Wilkie. I'm afraid the arrangement is not quite as attractive. 

Greetings from Christopher
2nd October 2011. (our first day of daylight saving for the next six months.)