Welcome to Christmas Day on the beach at Torquay, 8.30 am.

These dogs were certainly having fun. 

Waves splashing on rocks draped in seaweed.

We had lunch with our friends Heather (wearing red), John and some of Heather's extended family.

I loved Heather and John's Christmas tree made from a branch of eucalyptus. The ornaments were hand decorated by the visitors at the meal.

My Christmas ikebana has lilies and a branch of pine. The old silver lacquer-ware suiban was made at the Zohiko Studio in Kyoto.

Greetings from Christopher
29th December


It is just two days to Christmas and the temperature was 38 degrees today. Some friends from Naples are visiting and enjoying their first Christmas in Summer. We were amused to see this Santa Clause riding a cow on the back of a 1928 Ford truck outside a farm gate nearby.

I have not made my 'official' Christmas arrangement yet. I will show it to you next week.The arrangement below is using Strelitzia from the garden and red dock weed from beside the creek nearby. I like the space between the two main stems and the feeling of movement in the dock. The bowl is by Petrus Spronk.

I send my greetings on a hot summer day in Torquay, Victoria and would like to wish you peace at Christmastime. 
23rd December 2012


Since the beginning of December, we have officially entered the season of Summer . The weather has been alternating between hot dry days then cool and wet in quick succession. This makes it difficult to decide what to wear some days but, has been good for the garden, everything seems to be growing extra fast. My attention was caught by this unusual daisy growing over the front steps. It looks to me like rain splashing in a puddle.

I made the ikebana below from some Japanese Maple from a friend's garden and a nasturtium I found growing wild. I love the intense orange of the flowers (and realised too late that I should have removed a couple of them).

Greetings from Christopher 
16th December 2012


This large Dracena (I think) caught my attention because of the twisted form of its dead leaves. They are a lovely light brown and have dramatic black markings, perhaps made by water. When they fall from the tree the part of the leaf that attaches to the trunk is a surprisingly bright white. That part reminds me of a lily or an orchid.

In the centre of his photo you can see a dried leaf hanging in a cork-screw shape.

I thought they made an interesting form in this glass vase. Their curves create an attractive movement. The surprise is that they are very brittle which, makes them difficult to arrange as they have no flexibility.

I used the same material in a workshop given by Mr Kawana on the theme of a 'simplified arrangement' in 2009. His correction of the work below was to turn the vase so that the line was coming straight forward and therefore not visible.

Greetings from Christopher (in Torquay on a hot day where it is a sticky 35 degrees Centigrade).

8th December 2012


My students and I celebrated the last class for the year with 'Ikebana at Home'. The class was held at Nola Bird's house which meant that the students had to work in an unfamiliar environment. Unfortunately a number of the photo's were blurred and I am only able to show you a selection of them. The theme was a 'Christmas Arrangement' and was widely interpreted as you can see.

Maureen Duffy's work below uses silver painted vine floating above an irregularly shaped ceramic vessel with orange blossom on one side.

Ellie Welkamp used silver painted wheat ears and red cockscomb (Celosia cristata) with silver tissue-paper in a tall black vase. 

She also created a second work in a small kitchen alcove using red aluminium wire with the cockscomb in a glass bowl. 

In this close up picture it is easier to see that the wire has been arranged asymmetrically creating greater space on the right-hand side of the bowl.

Helen Quarrell, who made the work below, explained that her grandchildren have requested 'rainbow' colours to be the theme of this year's Christmas decorations at their house.

The work below is my gift to our host for the evening. I must confess it does not refer to Christmas. I have used Strelitzia from our garden in a large glass vase of Nola's.

Greetings from Christopher 
1st December 2012


Late Spring is the season for the most spectacular of the Grevilleas (G. robusta. see: I saw this one in the Domain Gardens in Melbourne and was delighted to be able to take a close-up of the flowers on a low hanging branch.

As you can see this particular Grevillea grows into a substantial tree. The one we planted in our garden has a long way to go!

This week my teacher set a revision exercise from book two of the Sogetsu curriculum. 'Variation five', in this case 'upright'. I have used Magnolia Grandiflora from the garden of my office and two Strelitzia flowers from our garden. The suiban is larger than it looks in the photo and the forward movement of the left and right hand sides of the work is lost with foreshortening. Because the suiban is large this arrangement allows space between the two groups of the material and on the righthand side to show the surface of the water.

Greetings from Christopher 

25th December 2012


Today I was delighted to see the first flower on a Grevillia I had planted about three years ago. Because of the poor water holding capacity of our soil its growth has been rather slow and as you can see in the second picture the plant is still quite small. Eventually it should reach two metres or so.

Recently my teacher set an exercise of making ikebana using roses with leaves, grass or reeds. I used three New Zealand flax leaves from the garden and a single red rose. 

The rose didn't last well so I re-worked the arrangement with a single Strelitzia. I think the balance was a bit more successful the second time. However, I have lost impact of the surface of the water in this deeper suiban.


 If you scroll down to last week you will be able to see the names of the ikebanists with the works shown that I added after I first posted the entry.

Greetings from Christopher 
18th November 2012


This weekend I came up to Sydney as the guest of the New South Wales Branch of the Sogetsu Teachers Association to give a workshop and a presentation about the time I spent in Japan last year as the recipient of the Norman and Mary Sparnon Endowment Scholarship. 
On Saturday afternoon we had afternoon tea with my sister-in-law on the terrace of the Museum of Contemporary Art with the opera house in the background. In this picture are Laurie, me and Julie, Laurie's youngest sister.

Australia's most famous building.

The theme of the workshop was 'Having in Mind Water'. I asked the attendees to think about how they might make ikebana with this theme. Such ikebana can show the surface of the water, show its translucence in a glass vase, imply water by using water associated plants or try to indicate the movement of water. Therefore some of these works may not actually show the water. 

Here are two of my examples. First, ripples on a pond.

Second, splashing rain.

Below are nine ikebana works created by some of the attendees. I was not able to photograph all of the works, here is a selection of them. I hope you can see and feel the intention of the ikebanists. They are by:

 Jorgen Rasmussen.


Ann Smith


Masae Ako

Evelyn Lines


Joan Perkins


Margaret Hall

Sandra Cottee

Kevin Walpole

Shirley Ma

Greetings from Christopher, in Sydney,
11th November 2012.


The pictures below were taken on a rather cold over-cast day a couple of weeks ago in the bushland about 10 minutes drive from our house. I wanted to show this splendid flowering Xanthorrhoea in its natural setting.

My ikebana this week uses two arum lily leaves in a black vase by Alistair Whyte.

This last week our TV and newspapers have shown images of the terrible ravages resulting from the converging hurricane and storms in the east of north America. My thoughts go particularly to friends in the USA and Canada who share our joy in ikebana and who may have suffered losses.

Greetings from Christopher 
4th November 2012