This week I decided to make a Mazeshashi of summer grasses. All of them have been collected within 300 meters of the house and are native to the area (with the exception of the Dock). I think this work has the feel of the dry Australian summer and is therefore less lush than when a Mazeshashi is made of grasses in Japan. I don’t know what they are all called but included are: bullrush, Downs nut grass (which looks a little like umbrella grass) common reed (which has a flower head like Miscanthus) and dock. 

To accentuate the feeling of dryness I have placed most of the dryer material on the left side of the work and the fresher material on the right side of the arrangement. The head of the bullrush is very dark green and looks like black velvet while the dock leaves have turned a beautiful intense red. The contrasting curling line on the right side is the drying end of one of the leaves of the Downs nut grass.

The unique suiban was made by Graeme Wilkie from Qdos and has a sinuous curving front. 

Greetings from Christopher 
29th January 2012


During this week we went for a drive down the coast toward Lorne and had a picnic lunch on the beach about 15 kilometres away at Urquhart's Bluff. In spite of the bright sunshine the wind was strong and cool when I took this picture. 

We sheltered  in the lea of the cliff when we had our lunch and I was fascinated to see some sedimentary clays in the cliff base that had  close alternating lines of terracotta-red, pink and cream. 

It reminded me of the design on the vase I used last week. Although Pippin Drysdale took her inspiration from distant views of the 

Near by I noticed these small flowering succulent plants growing in the sand. Caught among the plant in the centre of the image are two  seeds of some Marram Grass. This plant was introduced to Australia to help stabilise sand-dunes and has now become a weed. 

Below is a picture I took of a large mass of seeding Marram Grass in Tasmania a year ago.

On Tuesday, this week it was hot and windy, 39 degrees. The scabiosa in the garden is going to seed and looking rather 'leggy'. So, when I pruned it, I picked these flowers to make this naturalistic freestyle massed arrangement. There were only maroon flowers at the time and when I look at the arrangement now I feel that it would be improved by a couple of contrastingly coloured flowers. The bowl was made by Graeme Wilkie of Qdos and has been twice fired. The inner surface has a pale celadon glaze that has dribbled attractively on the outer surface.

Greetings from Christopher
21st January 2012


The  vase I have used for this weeks ikebana is by a ceramic artist from Western Australia named Pippin Drysdale. I first saw her work in Darwin in 2004 and was entranced. Pippin had been perfecting her technique and style for many years. Around the year 2000 her work took a new turn inspired by the landscapes of the north west of Australia, particularly the Tanami Desert. The surface decoration technique she has developed involves fine lines of contrasting colour that are effectively incised over the entire outer surface of the pot. The result is magical and the connection with the landscape is immediately apparent. The forms she uses are elegant and visually light, having a relatively large body on a small base. (You will find more pictures of Pippins work at:

Creating an ikebana work that enhances and yet is not overwhelmed by such a strong vase is quite a challenge. I have made a design of a single line and a mass of small white flowers of the same material, (Bursaria Spinosa). The line arises from the centre of the vase and leaves the right hand side open. This is a large bush that we have growing in our garden and is indigenous to the east and south coast of Australia from Cape York to the west of South Australia.

Greetings from Christopher 
15th January 2012


On Thursday we visited 'The Australian Garden', an extension of the Melbourne Royal Botanic Garden that only has flora native to Australia. We came across the flowering eucalyptus that I showed in last week's blog. I was surprised to learn that it has been re-classified as, Corymbia ficifolia. Apparently the re-classification process has resulted in three different groups being: Eucalypts, Corymbia and Angophora. The distinctions between these groups is in many cases very subtle and difficult for an amateur to identify.

When we walked along the cliff-top on Wednesday afternoon we saw this blue tongue lizard basking in the sun. They eat insects, fruit and flowers.

This lizard is a resident of the Australian Garden.

As you enter the Australian Garden the first feature is this large artificial dry lake representing the interior of Australia. In the foreground is a mass planting of Kangaroo Paw.

These Xanthorrhoea are up to three hundred years old and have been transported from central Australia.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed this Canna-lily in our conservatory had started to flower. The leaves are beautifully striped so I thought I should use them for ikebana.

I decided the flower should be secondary to the leaves so I made a slanting free-style work in a black suiban and partially concealed the flower behind a leaf.

Greetings from Christopher.
7th January 2012