A couple of weeks ago I was in Sydney and was delighted to see a large number of Central/South American Jacaranda * trees in full bloom. Their colour was remarkable, and on our first day there it seemed intensified by the overcast sky.

Laurie and Cooper under the Jacaranda.
At the same time the really stunning Australian Illawarra Flame Tree * (Brachychiton Acerfolius) was also flowering abundantly, as you can see in the two photos below

Two weeks ago I posted a photo of a Sulphur Crested Cockatoo, which a number of people enjoyed, including my ikebana friend Joan

This week she gave me the photo, above, of a cheeky looking Kookaburra * she had just fed in her Melbourne garden. Co-incidently, I had seen one that very morning in the Melbourne Botanic Gardens being chased by a smaller bird that obviously felt the eggs in its nest were in danger of being eaten by the Kookaburra.

At the beginning of the week I received a parcel from the USA. It was a porcelain vase I had bought from Mark Bell *, a ceramic artist in Blue Hill, Maine, whom Laurie and I were introduced to thanks to our friends 'the Michaels'. 

Here is the vase with two Oriental Lilies whose stems beautifully echo an inversion of its profile curve, scalloped opening and complement its colour.

Greetings from Christopher
29th November 2014

* Click on the blue text for further information.


Two weeks ago my teacher set the exercise of 'making geometric shapes' for our class. Not to be confused with 'repeating shapes' from the Sogetsu curriculum. I chose to use the common reed (Phragmites Australis) that grows in the creek below our house as well as along the banks of the Yarra River in Melbourne. Through my internet research I was interested to learn that an environmental authority from South Australia * regards these plants as desirable, unlike the wikipedia entry on the same plant.

When arranging five stems of the material I bent the leaves at a sharp angle back to the stem where I threaded the tip through I a small slit I had made. This resulted in numerous triangles ascending vertically above the open ceramic vessel. Maren, a fellow student at the class, kindly lent me the single South African 'pincushion protea' * flower that I have placed at the back of of the righthand reed stems. 

On Monday last, the Victorian Branch of the Sogetsu School held a workshop that was led by Emily Karanikolopoulos on the theme of creating 'Ikebana as a gift'. Emily produced six beautiful examples that are on the Victorian Branch * website along with a slide-show of the participants work. Click on the blue text to see the photos from the sogetsu workshop and then select the heading 'Recent Workshops' .

Greetings from Christopher 
22nd November 2014


A few months ago I posted the photo, below, of the Cootamundra Wattle flowering beside the garden path. When the flowers have finished they form multiple seed pods... 

...that are loved by birds. This Sulphur Crested Cockatoo * is making the most of the free food. I note that Wikipedia says: '...They are very demanding pets, being very loud and having a natural desire to chew wood and other hard and organic materials...', quite true, this includes wooden window frames.

The cockatoo moved closer to a casurina after I took the first photo.

Last Tuesday I attended the meeting of the Melbourne Chapter of Ikebana International. We were treated to a demonstration and workshop by the visiting Iemoto designate, Shihosai Uematsu, of the Shogetsudo Koryu school. I really enjoyed the hands-on workshop which was very well conducted. Following the morning demonstration each participant was presented with diagramatic instructions and a bunch of suitable materials for creating a seika arrangement. Here is my effort at the exercise, re-created at home.

Above is a side view of the work showing how, in this case the (seven), stems are aligned in a single row, one behind the other.

More photos from the event can be seen through the link: Shogetsudo Koryu at I. I. Melbourne.

* click on the coloured text for further information.

Greetings from Christopher
16th November 2014


Since my last post we have returned home to find that the weather has been unusually dry for this time of year; so the newer plantings in the garden have needed a little 'hydro-therapy'. The weather has been typically unstable with changes every couple of days, being warm (mid 20's) then cool (mid teens) in turns. In August before we left one of our native creepers Pandorea pandorana had come into flower.

This particular variety is called 'Snowbells', the photo above shows it growing on the side fence.

I particularly wanted to use it to make a hanging arrangement. In the Sogetsu Ikebana curriculum, the work I have created is nearest to 'An arrangement to be viewed from below'.

After trimming most of the leaves away, I have placed the vine in a shallow bowl and allowed it to cascade over the edge of the plinth on which it stands. As it falls below the level of the bowl the flowers and vine stem are seen against the surface of the plinth.

This is the arrangement viewed from the side; the bowl is by the ceramic artist Phil Elson and the ceramic plinth by Graeme Wilkie.

Greetings from Christopher

8th November 2014


After our tour of Fallingwater (see last week's blog), we travelled with my ikebana friend Michael and his partner Mike to spend a couple of days with them in their Florida home. What a change of climate. Orlando is at a similar distance from the equator to Brisbane in Australia and seems to have a similar climate, though the latter is a bit drier. I was rather amazed to see huge lengths of Spanish Moss trailing from trees (and power lines). Apparently it rarely kills trees, but I saw groves of orange trees covered in it that looked decidedly unhealthy. 

Above, it looks beautiful framing this view of the lake at the bottom of our friends' garden.

In the front garden a 'Silk Floss Tree' (Ceiba speciosa) was in full bloom, scattering many flowers over the path and roof.


Above, by climbing on a wall, I managed to take this photo of a single petal caught among some Spanish Moss that had attached to the spikes on the tree trunk.

Two weeks ago, when we were in Maine, I picked some miscanthus that I later noticed had a white stripe down the central rib. I thought I would like to emphasise this feature so I cut the flowers off and arranged, it in a glass salad bowl, leaning well forward to show the stripe. 

Then I added a long stemmed hydrangea stripped of leaves to preserve the emphasis of the lines in the design.

Greetings from Christopher
1st November 2014

* click on the blue text for further information