This week we have been visited by our friends from Norway, Lennart and Svein. Lennart was the creator of the Nordic Lotus blog * . Its publication is currently in recess. During their visit we took them to see the huge Tree Ferns in the Otway ranges.

Svein and Lennart at the Erskine Waterfall.

There are a lot of steps to descend to the waterfall... the falls are 30 metres high.

This pool is below the falls, which you can just see reflected in the water.

On our return journey we stopped to see kangaroos at the Anglesea Golf Course. It was mid-afternoon so they were not very active as you can see.

Lennart joined my class in Geelong, where I had set a combined exercise using a theme from both Book 3 and Book 4 of the Sogetsu curriculum. The combining of exercises is an idea introduced to the Victorian Branch of the Sogetsu School by Yoshiro Umemura from Sydney. In this case the exercises are Kabuwake (divided groups, using two or more kenzans) and Using Branch Material only.  The important feature of Kabuwake is to emphasise the space between the groups in the arrangement.
Unfortunately, in some of the photos the space seems less obvious because of the flattening in the photographic image.

Maureen used lemon tree branches and Azalea.

Christine used white Crepe Myrtle and Smoke Bush leaves.

Helen used geranium and roses.

Ellie used Casuarina and native Hibiscus.

Lennart used Acacia Baileyana, Nerium Oleander and two different kinds of Eucalyptus, one in flower and the other having seed pods. Here it has been reconstructed in the niche at home after the class.

Greetings from Christopher
28th February 2016

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Last week I posted a photo of an arrangement in which I had braced a branch within the 'ikebana niche' in our living room. This meant it was supported and did not need to be in the vessel I was using. 

Subsequently I received an email from my New York-based Sogetsu friend, Lynn, who had seen the same idea in an internal restaurant window. In that case,  they had used an espaliered grape vine cutting. The glass vessel seems to contain river stones at the bottom, then finer gravel or sand. I would have preferred just water, with perhaps a leaf floating on the surface. However, it makes a rather striking winter arrangement.

At a class late last year, Elizabeth set as an exercise 'an arrangement using leaves and roses only'. My very imaginative colleague Toula Karanikolopoulos made the work below using New Zealand flax leaves and roses from her garden in a vessel she had made herself. 

In contrast my arrangement is fairly naturalistic and I used dietes leaves with some small pink roses I bought from the florist. The vessel is by the Castlemaine-based ceramic artist Tom Cockram.

On Tuesday 9th February the Melbourne Chapter of Ikebana International held its first meeting for 2016. The focus was a presentation by three members whose work was represented in the book 'Poetical Ikebana', including on the front cover of the book. Click on the blue text to see the I.I. blog posting for that meeting: Haiku * .

Greetings from Christopher
21st February 2016.


In mid December I posted the photo below of hydrangeas in a pot in the garden. They have suffered rather a lot in the few, very hot (40+ Celsius) days in January, while we were away. Since we returned home I have pruned them and started nurturing them again in the hope of a few late flowers before autumn.

With the heat and dryness the flower heads have become green and the bracts thickened.

Where they have become damaged, by insects or perhaps water droplets, they are going a deep pink. I am looking forward to see how this develops when the weather begins to cool.

Among my collection of dried ikebana materials in the garden are a few branches with some attractive green lichen. I thought the two elements would make an interesting combination for my ikebana.

Because the branch I have used is dry, I didn't want to put it in water in the vase. I found to my delight that I could wedge it in the niche, where it protrudes a little forward, which is not so evident in the photo above. I have kept the flowers on one side of the arrangement and allowed two leaves to emphasise the space on the right. The cylindrical vessel is by Graeme Wilkie of Qdos Gallery * .

On Monday last week the Victorian Branch of the Sogetsu School of Ikebana held its first meeting for this year, with a workshop lead by sisters-in-law Toula and Betty Karanikolopoulos. Their workshop had the theme: "Use your imagination with balloons in water or with other material" * . Follow the link to see the amazing imagination of these two ikebanists and the members of the Victorian Branch of the Sogestu School. 

Greetings from Christopher
13th February 2016

* Click on the blue text for further information.


This looks like being another busy year on the ikebana front, starting with the first meetings of the Victorian Branch of the Sogetsu School * and also Ikebana International Melbourne, * Chapter 29, taking place next week. On each of their websites is a listing of the program for the coming year.

Last week marked the beginning of formal ikebana activities in 2016 for me, with the first classes for my Geelong and Torquay-based students. The theme of the first class was: 'Memories of Summer Holidays'. It turned out to be a fascinating topic that was interpreted so differently by each of the students. I found their very personal explanations of their work quite touching. 

The first two photographs below are by two new students doing their first 'freestyle' arrangement at only their ninth class.

Andrea had gathered some fig branches from her beach house. As you can see the leaves had started to wilt in the heat of her car. However, this made her very aware of the beauty of the veins on the back of the leaves and that became the subject of her ikebana.

Jo brought along materials from her home garden: spent agapanthus flowerheads, an almond tree branch and overblown Mr Lincoln roses. This arrangement contrasts straight and curving lines. 

Maureen created this work that includes 'unconventional' (man-made) materials which represent the clues in a treasure hunt she set for her grandchildren at Christmas.

A couple of days later some of the children became sick. The twisted canes in this work represent the 'knots' in their stomachs. 

Christine spent much of the summer in her large garden where the pear tree has borne more fruit than ever before.

Ellie revealed three memories of summer from her childhood. Above, driving through the Australian countryside.

Exploring rock pools at the beach...

...and carnations, the first flowers she was ever given, as well as the hydrangeas along the side fence of the house they lived in at the time. Notice the three stems that represent the fence, braced across the ceramic trough.

Greetings from Christopher
7th January 2016

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