Here in the southern hemisphere the weather is becoming summery so things are flourishing in the garden. There are more insects including butterflies like the one on this pincushion flower(scabiosa atropurpurea).

The insects have brought the return of our old friend the echidna who we haven't seen for a while. Our neighbour took this photo while the echidna was eating ants by the side of the garden path.

I was surprised yesterday to notice this straw-necked ibis scratching for insects among the leaf litter. It is only the second time I have seen one in the garden. In this photo you can make out the iridescence in the dark feathers of its wings.

Summer is further evident in these photos of a New Zealand Christmas Bush on the foreshore at Torquay. The flowers looked like they were glowing in the afternoon sun.

I decided they were just what I needed for my small Christmas arrangement, so I picked some from a neighbours garden to add to the fragrant white lilies I had bought from the florist. Some golden mizuhiki provided the Christmas sparkle. The crescent-shaped ceramic vase is from Japan.

Belated Christmas Greetings from Christopher
28th December 2013


The big event this week was the participation by the Melbourne Chapter of Ikebana International in a community arts program at the National Gallery of Victoria, as part of a major contemporary art exhibition called Melbourne NowFive ikebana schools presented works in the 'community hall' that has been created in the foyer of the art gallery. There are some photos that I took during the event on the Ikebana International blog, unfortunately the environment was exceptionally difficult for taking satisfactory photos.  As you can see in the photo below, that I took a week earlier, the foyer is dominated by a very large 'waterwall window'. So, presenters and their ikebana were silhouetted when standing at the bench in the centre of this image. 

However, in spite of this there was a great response from the viewing audience and the works were beautiful. In the afternoon session my colleague Emily Karanikolopoulos and I each exhibited a freestyle arrangement and then demonstrated a 'basic upright' and a 'basic slanting' arrangement. We then invited members of the public to make an arrangement with materials that we had prepared in advance. This was enthustically taken up by about 14 people.

Below are photos taken later at home of our freestyle arrangements. The first is a quirky Christmas arrangement by Emily using two agave leaves in a silver bowl.

My arrangement features dried flower stems from agave and massed Yate (eucalyptus lehmannii) open flowers, buds and seed pods. The ceramic box shaped vessel is by Yutaka Nakamura.

Seasons Greetings from Christopher
22nd December 2013


This week my students and I celebrated the end of the year with a party at the home of one of the students. I asked them to create an ikebana arrangement for Christmas or another celebration and that it needed to suit a specific place. The photo below shows six of the eight students in Janine's house where we began our evening with some food and a glass of champagne. 

I am afraid the photos are not very good because I had to use the flash in most of them. The students did not know in advance where in the house they would be creating their ikebana and they had to find a way to make the ikebana suit the particular location. In this first image the colour of Alana's materials complemented the surroundings. However, she had to make a low horizontal work because of the busyness of the pictures on the wall.

Christine's challenge was to make an arrangement to be viewed from two positions at right angles to each other. This corner was just inside the front door and this view, below, is at 90 degrees to the view from the front door.

Nola made this small arrangement, of pine and red berries, on a window sill that related to the plants in the garden outside the window.

Janine's own work was using two beautifully naturally-curved agapanthus stems in a two kenzan arrangement with some pink asiatic lilies. She was constrained by the small space next to the television and the low setting of the table.

Ellie made a white and red Christmas arrangement in a tall vase. Its original position was on a dressing table against a mirror. 

I have placed it on the floor for a better photo.

Helen, who made her arrangement in the same room, also used white painted branches that she teamed with peonies and dry and fresh leaves. Her position was on an elevated book shelf with a television to the left so she used the bare wall to the righthand side.

Maureen made the work below with leeks grown in her own garden. She said that the work was to be for her son's 10th wedding anniversary. The two taller stems represent her son and his wife's lives being intertwined and the lower two lines representing their two children.

Greetings from Christopher
14th December 2013


The reason this blog has its name is that when I first started taking ikebana lessons here in Australia I used to gather materials from the roadside. At the time I did a lot of driving in the countryside for my work. I have always enjoyed the beauty of wild-growing things that so often have the character of the environment and the elements, wind, rain and sun, etched into their form.

For the last few weeks I have been admiring the rich reds and pinks that have developed in a patch of wild dockweed (rumex patientia). Below is a view along the intermittent waterway near our house where it is growing. In the foreground is the dock and some other weeds.

I think the intensity of this pink is extraordinary and beautiful.

When I started to arrange the dock I felt its simple character called for naturalistic treatment. So I have created a 'basic upright' arrangement in a ceramic suiban (flat bottomed bowl). This is the first lesson that we teach in the Sogetsu School curriculum. I have used a large beautifully coloured leaf on the lower right where we would usually have a flower.

When I finished the arrangement I realised that it was looking too wispy so I gathered some more leaves to give the centre of the work more body.

It is such a delight that Ikebana gives us the opportunity to show the beauty of nature even in a humble weed.

Greetings from Christopher
7th December 2013