As we transition from Winter to Spring, on the south coast of Victoria, the weather has become unexpectedly calm with cool foggy mornings followed by bright sunny afternoons. At this time of year the weather is often unsettled and windy. Not so recently, so Laurie  and I took the opportunity to visit a nearby nature reserve called Iron Bark Basin. The view below is from the road at the top of a ridge looking out to the sea.

This is the walking track through the basin where the local wattle acacia pycnantha is in bloom.


I noticed some correas flowering beside the path. We have a variety of these lovely bell-shaped flowers growing in our garden.

This banksia below is actually beside the path in our garden.

Recently my teacher set the class the exercise of using rope or man-made fibre in an arrangement. In the class my colleague Emily Karanikolopoulos  * used very thick cord that she wrapped around a vessel. She cleverly used the cord as a 'spacer', inserting firm green leaves between the loops and adding a stem of white Japanese Flowering Quince as a focal point.

I decided to use a light blue vase I had been given by a friend. The shape of the vase suggested to me the idea of using 'straight' lines to emphasise it's shape and contrast them with the lines of the rope. By creating straight lines with a single sedge leaf I have also been able to create a space to the righthand side of  the vase in which the rope is then suspended. The bright yellow of the stiff synthetic rope also contrasts well with the colour of the vase. I have added two leucadendron * flower-like heads that surround their seed 'cone'.

Click here for photos of the Melbourne Chapter of Ikebana International annual exhibition at the Gasworks Arts Park *.

Greetings from Christopher
30th August 2014

* Click on the blue text for further information.


At the beginning of August I posted some photos from the workshops run by Mr Umemura for the Victorian Branch of the Sogetsu School. One of the exercises that he set was the 'Intertwining of Materials', a subject I had coincidently set for my students a few weeks earlier. The two photos below are of an ikebana arrangement by my student Maureen. I really liked the way she had made her intertwining materials also stretch upward in a strong vertical movement.

This second photo shows the lines emerging from the vase and then entwining.

The Apricot in our garden is self-sown and does not fruit well. However, it provides some shade and screens the north wall of the conservatory in summer

The next photo is one I posted two weeks ago of an ikebana work I made for the Surfcoast Shire Art Trail using winter branches of the apricot. I had joined the tips of the branchlets together to make crescent shaped curves. This was the final evolution of my experiments with these branches from my garden.

The arrangement below is the earliest version of using this material, with cotoneaster berries as a focal contrast. The split cylinder vase was originally designed by Hiroshi Teshigahara * and the surface design in this case was designed by the Iemoto Akane Teshigahara * for her tenth anniversary year.

Greetings from Christopher
24th August 2014
 * Click on the coloured text for further information.


In the garden the Flowering Quince * (Chaenomeles Japonica), also commonly called Japonica, is blossoming well this year; much to my delight. To me this blossom is a strong reminder of beautiful large arrangements of blossoming branches my oldest friend's mother used to make when I was a child. Here it is in our garden.

Last weekend, the local Surfcoast Shire held its annual 'Arts Trail' with the studio spaces of over 30 local artists and art groups being open to the public. An exhibition of paintings by a local study group was held in the Spring Creek Community House and I was invited to participate by creating two ikebana works. I posted a photo of the first of these at the end of last weeks blog entry. Below is a photo of some strongly textured dried agave leaves that I found with interesting shapes. I thought they would go well with the Flowering Quince.

This next photo is of the second work I made using a box shaped ikebana vessel is by Nakamura Yutaka * from Echizen in Japan.

On Tuesday, I attended the Annual General Meeting of Ikebana International In Melbourne in which the heads of three schools (Shogetsudokoryu, Sogetsu and Ohara) gave a demonstration on the theme of using Willow. The following link will take you to photos of the demonstration and to other photos of ikebana by attending members.

* Click on the coloured text for further information.

Greetings from Christopher
17th August 2014


This week I will continue last week's theme, the recent workshops given by Mr Yoshiro Umemura for the Melbourne branch of the Sogetsu School.

On the second day, the first exercise was to make an arrangement which emphasised the lines at the base of the work. Mr Umemura pointed out that this exercise reminds us of the attention given to the base of a Rikka arrangement in which all of the materials rise in a single column from the surface of the water in the vessel. You can see some examples of this traditional style that was first developed in the late 15th century, Rikka photos *.

For this exercise I used New Zealand flax and three irises in a small deep bowl. I have looped the flax to create interest at the top of the work and left the base simple with 'clean lines'.

The second exercise for the day was to make an arrangement 'To be viewed from all angles'. This can be quite difficult because the work should look different and attractive from each direction. I must confess I was not happy with the result of my work. I created some interesting shapes with some apricot branches by wiring the ends of the fine branches, but their placement across the vessel was not satisfactory and not stable. I was however, satisfied that the arrangement did look different as I looked at it from different angles. I have added coral tree flowers, and sedge leaves on one side.

I re-worked this material in an ikebana I created for an art exhibition in Torquay this weekend. In the photo below the shapes I created with the apricot branches are a bit clearer and this time I have added  some leucadendrons * and a single sedge leaf. 

Photos of the second day of workshops may be viewed  by clicking on the blue text: Mr Umemura in Melbourne * then click on the tab 'Recent Workshops'.

(click on the blue text for more information)

Greetings from Christopher
9th August 2014


Now that mid-winter's day has past, the early wattles are coming into bloom. The first in our garden is the Cootamundra Wattle, Acacia Baileyana .  I took the photo below about three weeks ago when the blossom was just starting to open.

This week it is glorious in full bloom.

The next close-up photo shows the soft mass of the golden blossom and the pale blue-grey of the fine leaves. Wattles are notorious for drying quickly once cut. However, I had success with these blossoms when, after cutting the stems under water, I then held the base of the stem in boiling water for two minutes before putting them into deep cool water with a small amount of bleach and a teaspoon of sugar.

I had been wanting to use the wattle from the garden in my ikebana and the opportunity came last weekend when the Victorian Branch held two days of workshops lead by Mr Yoshiro Umemura * from Sydney. The theme of the first workshop was 'Intertwining Materials'. I used New Zealand flax, also from our garden, with which I made a loose mass of irregularly sized intersecting loops. The wattle provided a focal colour contrast. 

The second exercise was to make an arrangement using a 'Repeated Shape or Form'. I had grown some very tall reeds in the our pond and had never used them before. I was keen to see whether they would be suitable for making rectangles. They did work but the result was rather fragile and I was not able to make the best placement of the lemon, which I had decided to use as an alternative to a flower contrast.

When I got home I reconstructed the work and used the wattle again. 

You can see more photos from the workshop by clicking on the blue text: Mr Umemura in Melbourne * then click on the tab 'Recent Workshops'.

(click on the blue text for more information)

Greetings from Christopher
2nd August 2014