A couple of weeks ago I posted a photo of a heron wading in the Creek at Torquay. 

This one, however, I photographed in the Yarra River in the heart of Melbourne. Black Swans are a more common sight and I was a little surprised to see it there. By chance the photo seemed to capture the gracefulness of the bird's heavy, slow-flapping wings.

During the week I went to a class with my teacher Elizabeth. She had set an exercise of 'line, colour and mass'. I wanted to use a shallow, open ceramic vessel that I had recently bought in New Zealand. I thought it would allow me to show the lines of the long stems of some orange/yellow chrysanthemums. This would then allow me to create a mass above the vessel. To emphasise colour, I decided to use additional red lines in the form of a 'stick sculpture' I had made which harmonised with the colour of the flowers.

The red sticks provide the support for the flowers, which enabled me to avoid having to use a kenzan that would have been visible. The blue vessel, which has a pink interior, contrasts with the other colours in the arrangement. 

I was not particularly happy with the original version of this exercise and felt that the elements did not relate well to each other.

When I got home I added some more red sticks among the flower heads thereby making a visual connection with the base of the arrangement.

Here is the final version of the work installed in the niche in our living room. The ceramic vessel is by  Nadine Spalter * .

Greetings from Christopher
27th June 2015

* Click on the blue text for further information


This year the winter solstice occurs tomorrow, Sunday 21st June. Winter has been busy in our garden with a number of activities, including putting down a deep layer of mulch to suppress weed growth and to hold moisture in the soil when dry weather comes in Summer. 

While in the garden yesterday I noticed that the first of the Cootamundra wattle (Acacia baileyana) *  blossoms were opening.

The tree is beside the garden path, and the photo shows the blossom buds before opening, the blue-gray foliage and dark trunk and branches.

Here is the prostrate form beside some of the newly lain mulch.

Underneath the Cootamundra this small red flower has also just started to open. 

It belongs to a low spreading shrub called Swan River Pea, from Western Australia, that I have just discovered was re-classified as (Gastroloium celsianum) * in 2002. The next series of photos shows a local Banksia (B. integrifolia) * in three phases as the flower opens.


Above is a seed head.

photographed the flowers close-up on this tree. 

On a side fence is a vine pandorea pandorana * (sometimes called 'Wonga wonga vine'). I recently had to prune it quite hard as it had grown up into a tree. The vine was fairly thick and had beautiful lines.

I thought it would make a good ikebana subject. Because this single entangled piece was so long I needed to use two cylindrical vases to support the vine and explore its lines. The arrangement is 1.2 metres wide. As a contrast I have added three oriental lilies and two buds.

I have recently learnt that 14 members of the Victorian Branch of the Sogetsu School have had their work selected for 'Poetical Ikebana' the latest publication by Stichting Kunstboek in Belgium. Special congratulations to Robyn Unglik who had one of her images chosen for the front cover of the book.

Greetings from Christopher
20th June 2015


This week I attended the monthly meeting of Ikebana International in Melbourne. (The meeting included a tribute to a former life member of the Chapter, Mrs Masumi Jackson, who died in March.) The theme of the meeting was Japanese Day and our guest presenter was Mr Sam Ito, a chef, who gave a wonderful and informative demonstration of how to make sushi rolls, which later we all got to practise. 

I discovered the importance of moistening one's hands before handling the sticky rice (it stops the stickiness). 

The sushi in this photo was all made by I. I. members. Not too bad, I suppose, for a first effort by some of us.

Before the meeting members were encouraged to make ikebana in tableware, in keeping with the sushi-making theme. 

I decided to use some interesting dishes made by Terunobu Hirata * , some of whose pots can be seen on this link. For more photos from the meeting, follow the links: Ikebana International * June meeting.

Greetings from Christopher
14th June 2015

* click on the blue text for further information


A further 'holiday pics' indulgence. When I down-loaded photos from my camera this week I discovered a few from our last day in Queenstown, New Zealand, a couple of weeks ago. 

I was amused by the advertising gimmick of this landscape design firm. (They weren't just advertising plastic grass).

The depth of snow at the carpark on Coronet Peak, about 20 minutes from the centre of town, was sufficient for this child to have fun throwing handfuls of snow.

We were therefore rather surprised to see snow making machines operating.

For someone not much used to snow this view across Lake Wakatipu was really splendid. I was entranced by the bright patches of sunlit snow glowing through the layers of clouds. By comparison winter is much more mild on the south coast of Victoria. However, we regard it as cold when the temperature is less than 13 C at its maximum; as was the case earlier this week.

Today I spotted this Egret * in Spring Creek, Torquay...   

...and realised this was what made these lovely patterns in the mud a few weeks ago.

This week's ikebana has a wintery feel, and is a freestyle using lichen covered seed pods of Eucalyptus forrestiana * . I am not sure of the name of the greenish flower, which is also a Eucalyptus species. The silvery looking ceramic vase is by Arikawa Makoto, a young ceramic artist who had a temporary exhibition that I saw in Tokyo in 2011. 

Greetings from Christopher
6th June 2015

* Click on the blue text for further information.