I took the photo below this morning from the cliff-tops looking to the east where rainclouds were receding.

In the garden after the early rain, the autumn reds were more intense than usual. These quite thick leaves are Vitis coignetiae I think.

Below, Nandina domestica.

In the even light of the overcast day the blue of this Lavender flower seemed richer than usual...

...and I noticed some late Scabiosa flowers.

This weeks ikebana is a vertical arrangement of flax leaves from the garden and some deep maroon chrysanthemum flowers that I bought from the local florist. I really liked the sense of the arrangement reaching upward. I used this arrangement to demonstrate to some new students the importance of asymmetry, line and space in ikebana.

Click the highlighted text to see Emily's latest post on her blog from Tokyo. Emily Karanikolopoulos.

Greetings from Christopher
26th April 2014


Officially Autumn begins on the 1st March in Australia. However, the temperature does not usually feel like autumn until sometime after the equinox (20th March). This year the temperature on the 1st April was 33 Celsius in Melbourne. The weather has now changed and we are getting some cooler days and very welcome rain-showers. This has put me in mind of an arrangement I made when I was in Denmark Western Australia. I placed a beautiful cascading line of  Virginia Creeper in a bamboo vase I made a day or two earlier. The simple line was enhanced by the lovely double shadow on the wall behind.

While thinking about autumn click on the link to autumn grass arrangements from the Melbourne Ikebana International April meeting. Below are two photos of 'Boston Ivy' (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) that grows on the wall beside the steps to our house. It is one of the few plants that show autumn colour in our garden, which has mostly Australian native plants.

Last week I picked some vine from our garden for the first time. It had started to climb into one of the trees and I thought I should cut it back a bit. I have arranged two small pieces in a tall vase with a tenmoku glaze and added a single vitus leaf.

My colleague Emily has 'published' two blog posts in the last week. Click the highlighted text to see her blog. Emily Karanikolopoulos.

Greetings from Christopher
19th April 2014


Last year for the first time I grew some sunflowers from seeds that I bought. I was amazed at just how tall they grew. I planted them in pots because that way it was easier to monitor their moisture level over the hot dry summer. Their height became a problem because we get a lot of wind, so I needed to stake them.

In the photo below you can see the tallest one is over two and half metres.

It was fun watching the first flower slowly open.

I learnt that the head of the sunflower is actually composed of many small flowers. I have admired pictures of dried sunflower heads used in ikebana arrangements in the past and this was my goal. The large mass of the dried seed head has beautiful sculptural and textural qualities. 

This week I attended the meeting of Ikebana International in Melbourne and the subject was an Autumn arrangement. So this was my opportunity to try the dried heads. I really liked the straw colour of the sepals around the dark seed head is and have contrasted them with rose hips. The vase is more orange than shows in the photo below. It was made by the Bendigo ceramic artist Barry Singleton.

My ikebana colleague Emily has also added a 'follow by email' tag on the righthand side of her blog. If you enter your email address you will automatically receive her updates in your email. Click the highlighted text to see her blog. Emily Karanikolopoulos.

Greetings from Christopher
12th April 2014


We arrived home from our trip to Western Australia last weekend just in time to go to the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show on the last day. Below are some photos of the individual school exhibits of the Ikebana International stand. The Melbourne Ikebana International blog has a good photo of the whole stand. I have had to do some major manipulation to alter the backgrounds so that you can see the individual arrangements. So I must apologise for the blurring in the first photo in particular. It is the Ohara School arrangement.

This next photo is of the Ikenobo School work.

Next the Sogetsudokoryu School wall arrangement.

On the right is the Ichyo School work.

This next work is by the Sogetsu School team.

Below is the 'shop window' installation by Toula and Betty Karanikolopoulos of the Sogetsu School. They have used large pieces of bamboo, pine, red anthuriums and a dramatic splash of pink Amaranthus (an ornamental leafy vegetable) in the centre of the work. More pictures of amaranthus.

And lastly among the ikebana work is a 'shop window' display by the Sogetsudokoryu School. To me, a really striking work using woven sheets of rattan arranged in overlapping rectangles with pine and pink oriental lilies.

Finally I couldn't resist including this photo of an installation by students of the Gordon Technical and Further Education College in Geelong, the nearest large provincial centre to where we live. I was amused and delighted by these dancing figures.

Click on the coloured text to see Emily Karanikolopoulos' Tokyo post from last Tuesday

Greetings from Christopher
5th April 2014