I was recently advised of a website that has excellent information about the flora and fauna that occupy the transitional places along the coast of south-west Victoria, between the sea and inland. It was created by the 'Friends of the Bluff' *. The bluff in question being a feature at the mouth of the Barwon river about 20kms to the east of Torquay. On the righthand side of the website are three, free, downloadable booklets with great content and photographs. (Thank you for the information, Margot). There are similar environmental niches along the beaches and cliffs at Torquay.

A week before Christmas we experienced a dense morning fog that resulted in some lovely lighting effects on the beach.

Here you can see sunlight silvering the water while some early morning surfers wait to catch a wave.

Looking from the eastern end of the beach the sun was spotlighting the yellow of the cliffs. 

Below two photos from the O'Keefe Family Christmas luncheon organised by Laurie's sister, Margaret.

Tables set for 28 family members and friends in the Flemington Community House.

Nola's Christmas tree in a vase.

I am writing this post on a pleasantly cool Boxing Day following a Christmas Day with 35 Celsius temperatures. The heat has finished-off most of the hydrangea flowers. So the photo below is a re-working of last week's arrangement with some additional material, Bursaria spinosa.


I have used the lines of the bursaria to make an elevated focus above the vessel thereby creating the Sogetsu curriculum exercise 'showing lines at the base' of the arrangement.

Wishing you peace at Christmas-time and in the New Year

26th December 2015


I took the garden photos below, over the last few weeks. They show some of the annual flowering plants at their peak.

I am delighted that the Scabiosa is tending to go a little wild-looking. Though, in fact, I removed a lot of seedlings at the beginning of Spring, before I put down a heavy layer of mulch.

These two poppies were a beacon of bright yellow to my eyes, as well as to a bee.

One of my greatest gardening successes recently has been two pots of hydrangeas that I have been able to keep well watered in the shelter of this south facing wall, which is also protected from the west. I say for the moment, because the really hot dry weather of summer has yet to come. Today we are expecting 41 Celsius, the first of the really hot weather. 

I love the fullness of these large flower-heads.  They also remind me of a huge bed of them at my maternal grandmother's house in Melbourne

Here they are in a 'one kind of material' arrangement, in a bowl by Isabella Wang that I used two weeks ago. I wanted to contrast their generous mass by the line curving to the left that accentuates the space in the arrangement.

Greetings from Christopher
19th December 2015


Now that we are approaching the end of the year, my Geelong based students and I have held the final ikebana class for 2015. The class took the form of a celebration by sharing food and friendship at my house with Laurie co-hosting. The students were required to create their ikebana in our house in a location of my choosing. For the advanced students I selected more challenging locations and they had to choose one of my vessels. This meant they could not do too much planning. 

The photographs below are of the students work. The first two are by two students who began classes this term. They made the curriculum exercise: 'Slanting Varitation No 1, moribana ' using strelitzia flowers. 

Jo has skilfully concealed the kenzan with clivea leaves.

Andrea used ornamental grape leaves to conceal the kenzan. Unfortunately there is some foreshortening in these photos and as a result the proportions are distorted.

Karen created an 'Upright Variation No 1, nageire ' using New Zealand 'mirror bush' (coprosma repens) and roses. In this difficult exercise she has used a particular fixing technique for the principal branches for the first time.

The following photos are all freestyle arrangements by the advanced students who have had to adapt their work to fit into and 'relate to the space in which the work is set'. This is an advanced Sogetsu curriculum exercise.

Helen created a simplified, horizontal arrangement on a corner bookshelf using beautifully marked Gymea leaves and a single banksia flower.

Christine created a tall arrangement in a narrow space on a plinth between a doorway and a heater, out of view on the right. She used weeping elm branches and the flowers of carrot gone to seed. 

Ellie also had to contend with a narrow space on a small pedestal beside a door. Her work is in the form of a 'double shin' arrangement. 

Maureen created this straight and curving line arrangement using a cockscomb flower and leaves and the curving lines of leeks, from her own garden. The corner space is slightly wider than the others shown above and at the end of a corridor between a window and a door.

I must thank all my students for another delightful year of sharing the joys (and frustrations) of creating ikebana together.

Greetings from Christopher
12th December 2015


Last week I attended the final workshop of the Sogetsu School, Victorian Branch, for this year. It was lead by Lara Telford, one of the Melbourne based teachers. She challenged us to choose one of the four Iemotos (Heads of the School) and create an ikebana work based on his or her style. 

In her preamble Lara made some observations that I found particularly interesting. This included that: 

  • an artist's style is that 'thing' which makes you recognise a particular work as being by a particular artist even when viewed from a distance; 
  • that material is not the same as style; it is the way an artist uses material that reveals their style; and 
  • artists express something of themselves in their work.

I chose to take the present Iemoto, Akane Teshigahara, for my inspiration because I think two things that characterise her ikebana are, the use of abundant materials and her focus on fresh floral material. The question that arises is how do you do this and maintain a feeling for the intrinsic qualities of ikebana?

I have used some branches of Bursaria spinosa  that has masses of very small white flowers. These branches were just coming into flower, so they were not quite ready. I have added some dark mauve and white chrysanthemums and dietes bicolour. The mass on the left is balanced by the line on the right and spaces within the arrangement. See more photos from the Sogetsu Melbourne * workshop.

The deep potbellied vessel is by Isabella Wang * a Melbourne based ceramic artist.

Greetings from Christopher

5th December 2015

* Click on the blue text for further information