This week Roadside Ikebana comes to you from Hobart the capital of our island state, Tasmania.

At the bottom right, of the view above, is the Saturday market in front of the 19th Century Warehouses and Bond stores of Salamanca Place. Mt Wellington is in the background.

The city of Hobart climbs up hills that surround the estuary of the Derwent river giving it a very picturesque setting.

Within the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens in Hobart is a Japanese Garden. It seems to me that the Hobart gardens are the only Botanical gardens in an Australian capital city that has a truly suitable climate for such a garden. When I first visited this garden four years ago, I really enjoyed the way they flourished in the cool climate here.

Laurie on a plank bridge over the lowest of a series of small ponds in the garden.

The second pond has a bright red curving bridge and this splendid stone basin being fed from a bamboo pipe.

From the top of the garden is a distant view of Mt Wellington providing 'borrowed scenery'. This garden was created in 1987 as a sister city project with Yaizu city in Shizuoka Prefecture.  

As we were leaving the Botanical gardens I could not resist photographing this very large bush of Japanese flowering quince.

This weeks ikebana is in a vase, by Jody Johnstone * , that I bought in Maine USA last year. Jody specialises in wood fired ceramics in the Bizen style. Her website is well worth a look.

I first arranged two bare branches from my apricot tree prunings and then added some Acacia Baileyana *. I think this will be the last of this wattle for this winter.

Greetings from Christopher
in Hobart.
26th July 2015

* Click on the blue text for further information


Two years ago at an Ikebana International meeting our guest speaker was Mr Peter Leigh, from the Post Office Farm Nursery north west of Melbourne, a specialist in hellebores. At the time I was surprised that he described these plants as being 'hardy', even drought tolerant. Taking him at his word I bought four plants. This week I was very pleased to notice that one of the hellebores was flowering, in spite of some neglect in the dryer months last year. I think the plants have appreciated the increased layer of mulch I applied recently.

This photo reminds me of the description of hellebores being the 'heroes of the winter garden'. Probably a fair description for short stemmed flowers and they do look fresh and perky. 

A couple of days later I was delighted to see these little hands pushing through the mulch. I had thought I had lost two of the original four plants, not so. I am hoping this one will be a different colour.

At the beginning of last week I attended the July meeting of Ikebana International. The guest speakers were from the Waverley Bonsai Group * , who gave a fascinating presentation about their passion. Unsurprisingly, a number of principles that guide design in the creation of Bonsai also apply to ikebana design. For example, asymmetry, pruning to reveal linesemphasis on the trunk and shorter lines at the back to give a sense of depth. I.I. Members at the meeting made small and landscape ikebana to complement the subject of the guest speakers.

I chose a small leaved native, the Costal Beard heath * Lucopogon paviflorus, that grows on the cliff tops as the material for my ikebana. This medium sized shrub has very tiny white flowers that are just beginning to come into bloom at the moment. Its form, bark and the smallness of the leaves lend it to being interpreted as a tree in a miniature landscape.

This is how my ikebana looked. I have deliberately left some of the leafless twiggy branchlets on the main stem to imply a sense of age to my little tree. More images from the meeting can be seen by following the links at: I.I. July meeting 

Greetings from Christopher
19th July 2015

* Click on the blue text for further information


The temperature gauge was measuring 8 degrees Celsius today, a rather cool day in this part of the world.  

So I was surprised when I went for a walk along the clifftops to see a small group of enthusiastic surfers out from the beach waiting for a good wave to catch. There was little wind and an occasional set of good waves did appear.

In the garden two of my favourite plants have come into bloom.

The first is the Cootamundra Wattle Acacia Baileyana * . In the photo above, the sun was shining through the blossom making it glow.

I photographed it again today when I noticed that the rain-soaked branches hung heavily as though weighted by gold.

The second plant is the Japanese Flowering Quince (Chaenomele) that I also used in last week's arrangement. As more branches have blossomed this week I was able to make an arrangement to welcome my niece and her husband when they visited on Friday night. 

First I made an arrangement that contrasted the sharp angles of the branches with the smooth form of the spherical ceramic vessel.

I then added a sprig of wattle high in the arrangement, which contrasts with the colour of the quince blossom, but matches the yellow of the quince blossom stamens.

Often wattle blossom does not keep well when picked. It tends to dry quickly, causing the blossom to shrivel. This thin stemmed branch is still doing well after 24 hours. I cut  two thicker stems at the same time. One of which I scraped and the other I bashed, but both of them shrivelled. All of the stems were first cut under water and then placed into deep water with a teaspoon of sugar and a little bleach for a few hours before arranging.

The spherical vessel is by Don Jones, an Australian potter who worked in South Australia in the 1970s.

Greetings from Christopher
11th July 2015

*  Click on the blue text for further information.


The theme at the class I attended this week was 'Winter Branches'. In Melbourne over the last few weeks the exotic, northern-hemisphere deciduous trees have lost their leaves, and the streets and gardens where they are planted have developed a wintery aspect. This is not the case in our garden which is predominately planted with native species. However, I had recently pruned the apricot tree which provided me with some suitable branches for the exercise.

I arranged the branches in a freestanding manner in the class and added a red camellia as a focal contrast. Because I wanted to re-work the arrangement on a narrow shelf at home I did not prune the branches in the class. So, in the photo above, the centre of the arrangement is too cluttered.

The narrow shelf at home occupies a corner at the end of a corridor.

Once I started to set the branches up I realised the space was indeed too narrow and I needed to reconfigure them for this space.

The camellia did not survive the journey home. So, when I was satisfied with the branches I added some Japanese flowering quince Chaenomele * which has just started to flower in our garden.

Greetings from Christopher
4th July 2015

(Happy Independence Day to Michael and Mike, Gail and my other readers from the USA) 

The ceramic vessel I used last week is by Nadine Spalter * .

* Click on the blue text for further information