Since last week a second Acacia Baileyana in our garden has started to come into blossom. This is a prostrate form that has only been available in recent years. The shrub shown below has curving branches, is about 60 cms high and 2 metres across. It looks wonderful cascading down a wall or steep slope.

The photo' below shows some new branches spreading beneath some other bushes and across the ground.

Usually wattle does not last well in a vase so I have been surprised and pleased that the ikebana I made last week is still looking good. I think it is because after cutting them under water I scraped the bottom of the stems for about 3cms. I have also kept it in a cool room.

The work below is a single camellia and stem of Abelia. The small leaf in the middle of the stem picks up the colour of the flower. The eccentric vase is black glazed ceramic which I brought at the Spring Pottery Festival in Mashiko in 2011.

Greetings from Christopher 
29th July 2012


As I mentioned last week the winter flowering wattles are coming into spectacular full bloom just now. They look glorious and lift the spirits, especially on a bright sunny day. I thought the dense blossoms would work well as a mass. This work pictured below is inspired by an arrangement made by one of the mature students of the Men's Class that I attended at the Sogetsu Kaikan in Tokyo last year. His material was lilac. Not a plant that is likely to grow well in my garden. The vase is by the ceramic artist Greg Daly (see:

Below is a picture of a three year old Acacia Baileyana in our garden from which I picked the branches. This is a self sown tree that unexpectedly appeared next to the stump of the tree that the seed had come from. These trees usually only live 20 to 25 years.

For a close up picture and more information about this wattle go to:

Greetings from Christopher
22nd July 2012


It is now twelve months and two weeks since I returned home from three months studying at the Sogetsu Headquarters in Tokyo. After all this time I want again to thank the many people who offered friendship to me during that time. 

Over the last couple of weeks it has been really quite wintry here in Victoria. The exotic (northern hemisphere) deciduous trees have lost their leaves revealing the beauty of their bare branches. Their surface textures are the subject of this ikebana in a shallow trough. I cut some small apple branches into short lengths and braced them across the vessel in uneven groups so that their bark and their knobbly growth points are featured. A single camellia provides a colour and textural contrast.

In this view the surfaces of the stems and the spaces between the groups are more evident.

Below is a second work in which I have used the stems to create a design of lines and spaces.

I repositioned the stems and have added a white camellia in the space created. 

Lately I have noticed the earliest of the winter flowering wattle trees coming into bloom, spectacular sights of gold. I plan to use some next week.

Greetings from Christopher
14th July (vive la France!)


This weekend I led a workshop for the Melbourne members of the Victorian Branch of the Sogetsu School. I am very grateful for all the preparation and assistance on the day by the members of the committee. This was a hands-on workshop to practise a variety of fixing techniques used to make structural forms. 

In my introduction I asked the participants to remember that our intention in ikebana is to make something beautiful. It is interesting that scientific theories are often described as 'beautiful' or 'elegant'. Beauty, ideally, is uplifting or consoling to the viewer and we should aim for this to be their first response to our ikebana. Therefore our techniques in general should be invisible or at least inconspicuous. The techniques we practised were the use of dowels, screws and wiring. The twenty participants seemed to really enjoy getting out their electric drills, pliers and wire cutters. Each of them got to take home a reference example of wiring, doweling and countersinking of screws.

Below is my demonstration example of the use of wiring to create a floating mass of red lines in this work featuring a single pink camellia in a vase by Shigeo Shiga. 

In the next example I have used dowels to hold short lengths of silver birch together. Doweling is especially suitable for thicker pieces of wood. It is invisible and makes it possible to achieve lightness in the design even though the material is solid looking. I really like the tumbled effect that can be created with short lengths of randomly arranged sections of branch material. I have contrasted the birch with a single leaf and flower of strelitzia in a cylindrical vase by Graeme Wilkie. 

Greetings from Christopher 
8th July 2012