This morning the sun was shining brightly although the air was cold (about 11 C) when we went for a walk along the cliff tops to Bell's Beach. I took the photo below for Kenichi Wada who represented Japan in the International Surf Lifesaving championships at the Gold coast last April. He is the son of a Sogetsu teacher I met in Tokyo.

At the bottom of the next picture is the heath-land of small bushy plants that grow on the cliff tops.

I was really delighted to come across this pink heath. It is one of our winter-flowering indigenous plants.There are two plants in this photo, the intensely coloured flowers are of Pink Heath (Epacris impressa) and the sharp green leaves and interestingly shaped berries belong to the Coastal Tea Tree (Leptospermum laevigatum). Click on the highlighted text for further information.

The Yate, eucalyptus lehmannii, (see 12th May posting) continues to flower in our garden so I have made an arrangement with one open and several un-opened flowers. The latter have gone a beautiful orange just before they open, that complements the decoration on this vase designed the Iemoto, Akane Teshigahara, of the Sogetsu School.

When I was in Tokyo in 2011 one of the many people who greatly helped me was Mrs Kazumi Ishikawa. Here is a link to her tour of Africa where she gave workshops in three countries. The images and English text have been uploaded by the Japan Foundation and can be viewed by clicking on: Mrs Ishikawa.

Greetings from Christopher

29th June 2013


At our last class my teacher set us a revision exercise of the Variation No3 slanting nageire: that is, in a tall vase. As I was walking by the Yarra River in Melbourne I noticed an oak with a particularly good branch and thought it would go well with the chrysanthemums I had used at the Ikebana International meeting on the previous day (see last weeks posting).

In this variation the long shin branch on the left is balanced by the soe branch on the right. In the photo this looks a little flat, but the two branches are reaching toward the viewer. The hikae flowers occupy the space between them and I have placed one toward the back to give a feeling of depth. The large black vase, that belongs to my partner, is by Alistair Whyte (follow link) a Melbourne based ceramic artist who has studied in Japan.

Greetings from Christopher
22nd June 2013


On Tuesday last week the Melbourne Chapter of Ikebana International celebrated the Tanabata festival. The festival is held in June and recalls the legend of the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi who were lovers. As a punishment they were separated and only allowed to meet once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar in the form of the stars Altair and Vega. In Japan it is an occasion for feasting and writing wishes on paper and tying the wish to a branch of bamboo.
I was invited to create the Omukaebana, 'welcoming flowers' for the occasion and chose pine and white chrysanthemum. Below are two pictures of the branch I cut from a nearby plantation that I then had to trim carefully.

The second picture is after I removed a large branch going to the left.

Below is the completed arrangement with five chrysanthemums and some red and white mizuhiki, the decorative strings used for celebrations. The large vessel is a storage container from Shigaraki, which is the site of one of the six ancient kilns of Japan. These vessels are prized for their strong rustic character and natural wood-ash glaze.

Greetings from Christopher
15th June 2013


This week I had some visitors who were unfamiliar with Ikebana so I thought I would make an arrangement of the most basic moribana (flat bowl) kind for them. I think the beauty of these simple designs in ikebana clearly illustrate the elements of line, mass and space. Also they show the asymmetry of the design and reveal the surface of the water as being integral to the work.

I chose a native small leafed shrub called pomaderris (p. paniculosa) that grows on the nearby cliff tops where it often looks as though it has been pruned by the wind. The shrub on the right side of the photo below is a pomedarris.

There are some close-up pictures of it if you click here. I used some red lipped orange roses as the floral accent and felt they went well with the dark green and the soft brown underside of the leaf

Greetings from Christopher
7th June 2013


This week I set my students the exercise of making an arrangement using autumn leaves. I asked them to 'use their imagination' because I find the beauty of the leaves tempts me to simply use them naturalistically. I wanted the students to think beyond the obvious. I gathered some plane tree leaves in Melbourne and discovered the ones that had fallen into bushes had more interesting shapes whereas those on  the pavement were all flat. 

I have used a single branch of pittosporum (pittosporum undulatum), an Australian native tree, from which I have removed all the leaves to show the bright orange berries. I massed the berries by entwining all the smaller branchlets. 

(Today is officially the second day of winter in Victoria)

Greetings from Christopher
2nd June 2013