It has been a very busy time in the ikebana world lately. Last weekend we had two days of workshops with Mr Yoshiro Umemura * from Sydney. On the Victorian Sogetsu website you can see photos from the first workshop *, other photos will be posted over the next week or so. On Monday afternoon the Ikebana International Melbourne Chapter 29 annual exhibition, which I am curating, will be opened. It is open for two weeks. If you are in Melbourne do come along.

At a recent class, with Elizabeth Angell, we were set the exercise of making a simplified arrangement. In the Sogetsu text book the student is advised to study the material carefully and remove all that is superfluous or extraneous to the design. The challenge is to not go too far, so that the material becomes unrecognisable. Before the class I found a dead ivy branch still clinging to the trunk of a tree by the river. The branch had interesting lines and character. 

The photograph above shows the branch before I began trimming. My goal, of course, was to preserve the character of the material and its interesting lines, both the fine and strong lines. 

To provide a foil for the branch I contrasted it with a flowering camellia stem, from which I removed most of the leaves. It is not easy to see, but I have created a support for the principal branch so that it does not rest on the left-hand side of the vase opening.

Greetings from Christopher
30th August 2015

* Click on the blue text for further information.


The 6th August this year was the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. On Sunday 9th August, the first Sunday after the 6th, an ecumenical commemorative service was held in St Paul's Cathedral in Melbourne. Ikebana International Chapter 29 provided two arrangements for the service and the Japanese Consul General, Ms Haneda, was in attendance. The most recent posting on the I.I. website shows some photos of the arrangements, by Chieko Yazaki (Shogetsudokoryu school) and Elizabeth Angell (Sogetsu school), for the Hiroshima Peace Day * service.

A couple of weeks ago my teacher had set the exercise of using either narcissus or daffodils in an arrangement. 

I used these flowers in a revision exercise of a 'basic upright arrangement', for some of my students. The branch material is New Zealand 'mirror bush' * (Coprosma repens). A very hardy, salt spray tolerant, bush that has become an environmental weed in some places in southern Australia.

Here are some more daffodils in a freestyle arrangement. Perhaps a bit too subtle, as there is a third daffodil behind the corky elm. The tips of some petals are peeping on the righthand side. I rather like the contrast of these bright yellow petals with the rough texture of the elm.

Greetings from Christopher
23rd August 2015


At the beginning of this week I attended the AGM of Ikebana International Melbourne. Following the devastation of WWII, this organisation was founded by Ellen Gordon Allen in 1956 ' stimulate international friendship and spread goodwill throughout the world...' 1. , as expressed by the motto: 'Friendship through Flowers' * . There are five ikebana schools represented in the Melbourne Chapter, and at the AGM a representative of each of the schools gave a demonstration as part of the meeting. 

We are now in late winter and the weather is beginning to change here, leading to greater variability. Cold fronts come through bringing rain, which often is then followed by brilliant sunshine.

One consequence is wonderfully dramatic cloud formations in the sky.

But also flowers like this native Clematis (C. microphylla) have come out and festoon our back fence.

 These creamy green flowers are about 4 - 5cms across.

This weekend our local shire council is sponsoring an 'Arts Trail' in which local artists and art teachers hold exhibitions to show the community what is going on that might otherwise not be noticed. My local, beginners' ikebana class exhibited in the same venue as some visual artists.

This work is by Leonie, using dietes leaves and oriental lilies.

Jill has arranged some flowering prunus branches with camellias.

Charmaine created a horizontal arrangement of New Zealand flax leaves and 'red hot pokers'.

I have added to, and re-worked, some material I used on 4th July. It is branches from our apricot tree and chrysanthemums in a 
no-kenzan arrangement.

Greetings from Christopher
15th August 2015

1. Coe, Stella. Ikebana a practical and philosophical guide to Japanese flower arrangement


Below is a view of the western end of the beach as I usually see it in my minds eye. 

However, at this time of year...

            can also look like this. 

I must admit one of the blessings of the environment in which I live is that, in winter it is more common for the sun to shine, even if only for a short time, on most days, than it is to be overcast for days on end.  

The week has been a busy one, with the annual exhibition of the Sogetsu School of Ikebana, Victorian Branch being held. I was privileged to be tasked with making a large ikebana work in the window of the Melbourne Style Gallery. In this I was assisted by my student Nici.

The exhibition is entitled 'Winter in Ikebana' *, and includes a wide variety of interpretations of the theme, as is the Sogetsu practise. In my work I have used three large branches of magnolia, camellia and dwarf nandina leaves, and three white chrysanthemums. I was particularly attracted by the idea of contrasting the bare branches of the deciduous magnolia with the green and red leaves that survive the cold of winter.  

The arrangement is in a Shigaraki * storage vessel, with a highly textured surface and ash glazing on the right-hand shoulder.

Greetings from Christopher
8th August 2015

* Click on the blue text for photos of the exhibition and Shigaraki ceramics.


In my last post I had intended to provide a link to a Sogetsu workshop I had gone to at the beginning of that week. The presenter was Reiko Ito and some photos from the workshop are on the Sogetsu website. The subject was 'Two vessels, with a Winter Feeling' *. 

During the week I attended a class with my teacher, Elizabeth, on the theme of using a glass vessel.

I liked her example of the exercise, above, in which she used an Arum lily and contrasted it with some pieces of red dogwood which she cut just below each fork, creating multiple 'V' shapes.

I used a shallow art-glass dish in which I placed a single red camellia. Because this meant the work was very low and flat I have curved five dietes grandiflora * leaves from underneath the dish and intersected them above the dish creating a much larger work.

This week the Flowering Quince in our garden looked more prolific than I remember it being last year...

...and the cutting given to me by my ikebana colleague, Joan, is also doing well. However, the white one is still too small to cut.


I was really pleased to find some branches with very interesting lines and arranged them in a suiban.

I subsequently added some daffodils that I have arranged with their trumpets facing inward so that they are 'talking' to each other. This seems necessary to give the work an ikebana feel.

Greetings from Christopher
1st August 2015

* Click on the blue text for further information