This week the annual Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show is being held in the grand 1880 Royal Exhibition Building. This is a very popular event having a wide variety of floristry-related displays and demonstrations within the building and gardening-related displays in the extensive parkland outside the building.  

One of the most unusual and eye-catching displays was a memorial of hand-crocheted red poppies commemorating the soldiers who  died in WW I. 

Click on this link FOR further information about 5000 Poppies *.

In the foreground of this photo of the huge main hall, seats are lined up for one of the many demonstrations.

The Ikebana International exhibit, viewed from the gallery above the main floor, shows how the work of the five schools were related to each other in the design and in their use of certain thematic materials. 

Two teacher members of  Ikebana International created individual exhibits this year.

Emily Karanikolopoulos * created this very strong design using large diameter bamboo, amaranth, strelitzia nicoli leaves and agapanthus.

This side view shows how the design is continued onto the floor.

Chieko Yazaki created this three piece work representing the elements: Heaven, Earth and Man; which is the reading of the characters on the back wall.The vertical lines of bamboo on the left are the 'heaven' element. Congratulations to Chieko for receiving 4th place.

Greetings from Christopher
29th March 2015

* click on the blue text for further information


Following my visit last week to the tropical glass house at the Royal Melbourne Botanic Garden, I returned on Sunday morning to find that the Titan Arum, having opened on Friday afternoon, had started to close by Sunday morning. Below are two photos I took in which you can see the remarkable, burgundy coloured, interior of the spathe.

The Royal Melbourne Botanic Garden Facebook * page has additional images of the flower in its final stages. T
o me it looks quite tragic in its collapsed state after such a spectacular but brief flowering.

While in the gardens I came across these beautiful red Blood Lilies (haemanthus coccineus ), natives of South Africa. 

You can imagine my surprise to find my neighbour had this collection of pots of Blood Lilies on her garden wall. Being a generous person she gave me a plant and below is close-up photo of its flower.


To return to my previous theme of environmental sculpture. The site of the next photo is Fisherman's Beach at Torquay.     

On the beach is a derelict winch mechanism that, in the past, was used to pull larger boats out of the water. 

I have used it to create an environmental sculpture with Strelitzia flower-heads, the colour of which tonally complements the old rusty iron. 

Greetings from Christopher.
22nd March 2015

* Click on the blue text for further information


On Wednesday I visited the Tropical Glass House of the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, to see a rare gigantic tropical flower from Sumatra. Known as a Titan Arum *, because of the size of the flower, it is related to anthurium and calla lilies. Like amaryllis belladonna *, the huge flower appears after the leaves from the previous year have died down.

The petal-like spathe wrapped around the base of the spadix is deeply ridged and green in colour. However, the inside is a rich burgundy which is just becoming visible in the photo above. The Botanic Gardens website announced that the flower began to open at 4.30pm on Friday. There is a Facebook page about this plant. If you click on the following link and scroll down you will come to a slide show with a time-lapse of a flower opening in 2012. Titan Arum *. Even though it is fascinating, this flower seems truly beyond ikebana, and apparently is unpleasantly smelly.

While in the glasshouse, I couldn't resist photographing this large pitcher plant. I am in the next photo just to give a sense of scale.

To continue the theme started last week, over the next couple of weeks I will show some further examples of environmental sculpture using botanical materials. 

Above, I have 'disassembled' agapanthus stems, flowers and seed-heads. I have then interwoven the materials with a large tree root sculpture in my garden.

Here is the material used to a very different effect in a man-made setting, with thanks to Ellie.

Greetings from Christopher
14th March 2015


Following on from last week's posting, I thought I would show additional ways of using agapanthus. The interesting thing is that even after the flowering has finished this plant still has plenty to offer. In the photo below you can see a large bucket of agapanthus stems that I collected from a friends garden. 

I spent two hours removing the seeds from the heads. In the process I filled this bucket with seeds, which I am now carefully composting so that they don't grow. As I mentioned previously, agapanthus is an environmental weed in this part of the world. I want to dry the material for later use.

In the mean time, here is a small out-door environmental sculpture * I created using agapanthus stems and flower headsEnvironmental sculpture is a site specific work that relates directly to the place in which it is created and is intended to change our perception of, or response to, the site where it is placed. The sculpture would be diminished or irrelevant if it were transferred to another place. One version of the sculpture is shown below.

For practitioners of the Sogetsu School of ikebana what I have created will be recognised as conforming to one of the exercises or our curriculum; which is 'disassembling and re-arranging' the material. The exercise requires us to study material carefully, identify its component parts, separate them and create a work using the discrete elements arranged in a different way. This exercise, along with a number of others in the curriculum, causes us to look closely at botanical materials and pay attention to their many characteristics which includes: colour, form, texture, flexibility, strength, weight and so on. Here is another slightly different version of the sculpture.

The better we understand the materials we use the more we can express with them. This sculpture was created between two trunks of a eucalyptus beside a busy road.

Greetings from Christopher
7th March 2015

* Click on the blue text for further information