It has been very chilly and wet this past week; so when the sun did break through we took the opportunity to go for a walk outside.  We were surprised to see this bird beside the path near the beach. I think it is a square tailed kite * , however I would welcome identification from an authority. The bird seemed to have just caught an insect or possibly a mouse when we surprised it as we walked passed. It looks strange in the photos as it turned its head completely around to look at us over its back.


This week for my Melbourne students I demonstrated a shin arrangement that my first teacher taught, usually using irises. In the new Sogetsu curriculum it is taught as a 'Vertical Arrangement'. It is important that there is a strong sense of upward movement is this arrangement.

I had to prune quite a number of leaves as well as buds which were too horizontal and interrupted the upward reach. I have used oriental lilies and some dwarf nandina domestica * at the base. The early morning sunlight and shadow contributes to the vertical feeling. The ceramic suiban is by Jane Barrow.

Greetings from Christopher
26th June 2016

* Click on the blue text for further information.


The weather is wintery as I write this, though less cold the last couple of days because of some welcome rain. In our climate, and with the way Australian flora has evolved *, winter does not mean only bare branches everywhere. Australia is notable for its very small number of deciduous plants, so in our winter there is always plenty of green to be seen. Below are some photos I have just taken in the garden. 

A raindrop hanging from a stub on a rose bush. This reveals bad pruning, I know.

Rain on leaves of the same bush, Rosa Cécile Brünner  .

A tiny spider in its web. 

Branches of a corky-barked Allocasuarina torulosa * reflected in the water of the bird bath.

Last week I posted photos of my students winter arrangements showing the surface of water. This week's photos are of their arrangements that show the transparency of water using glass vases.

Helen has arranged a lichen-encrusted branch with gypsophila and a red anthurium focal point. 

Ellie arranged three vessels. Two with autumn leaves and one with a bare branch.

I thought the single plane tree leaf in the glass cube looked particularly striking. It made me think of a block of ice. 

Maureen arranged a single, large stem of Fatsia Japonica * (aralia japonica). This branch seemed to be arranged effortlessly, creating lovely arching lines and spaces with a loose mass on the righthand side.

Photos from the June meeting of Ikebana International Melbourne Chapter * have also been published.

Greetings from Christopher
18th June 2016

* Click on the blue text for further information.


On Thursday I held the last class for this term in Geelong. My four junior students were working on Book 1 exercises. Below is their work from the class.

Tess made a moribana 'slanting variation #1', using acacia baileyana and yellow chrysanthemums.

Helen M. made a moribana 'upright variation #2' using unidentified branch material and arum lilies.

Andrea made a moribana 'reversed basic upright' arrangement using oak and dutch iris iris x hollandica * ... did Jo.

Christine said her first work was inspired by noticing a pool of water on the covering of a utility truck tray and leaves scattered on its surface. She has used the base of a palm frond and a single autumn leaf.

Returning to my Winter theme of last week: 
At the class I had set my senior students the combined exercise of 'making a winter arrangement' and 'emphasising water'. The students did this in two ways, one was to focus on the surface of the water and the other to focus on the transparent aspect of water. The photos below are of the first kind.

Ellie used a suiban with a dark glaze, which allows the surface reflection to show more clearly. She placed an interesting piece of tree-root across the suiban and added a cool white camellia. Two small petals float on the surface of the water.

Helen made two arrangements. In the first she used a deep bowl by Barry Singleton * , with a copper red glaze, and floated three small white roses on the water surface.

In her second work she has used a bowl by Graeme Wilkie * . She placed a piece of driftwood on the edge and contrasted it with two ornamental Kale heads.

Christine said her first work was inspired by noticing a pool of water on the covering of a utility truck tray and leaves scattered on its surface. She used the base of a palm frond to hold a small pool of water and floated a single leaf on the surface.

In a second 'minimal' work she arranged a stem of quince, stretching over the surface of water in a blue suiban.

Maureen arranged some branches of small pomegranates and Japanese maple leaves in a suiban with an inner orange glaze.

The morning after the class, she sent me this delightful photo of her second work taken in early morning light. Red grape-vine leaves and small green chrysanthemums lit from behind.

Lastly I am pleased to report that, after a silence of 1 year and 3 days, Lennart Persson has published a new posting on his Nordic Lotus blog on the subject of Chabana * .

Greetings from Christopher
11th June 2016


The 1st June marks the beginning of winter in our part of the world. After a warm and mostly rather dry autumn we have finally had some cool weather and good rain. The rain has meant the conditions in the garden are right to do some weeding before things get out of control. Below are some late autumn - early winter images I captured between bouts of weeding.

The apricot leaves have suddenly started to turn yellow and fall. There is a good chance they will all be on the ground by the end of the next fortnight.

I have recently planted some nasturtiums and was delighted to see raindrops caught within the gently dished leaves.

An interesting surprise was this scabiosa with what looks like new flowerheads that are entirely green.


This pink flower was one of the last ones in the garden at the end of autumn.

The correa, Dusky bells, beside the path has also responded well to the recent rain.

In keeping with the change of season I set some students the exercise of making a 'winter arrangement'. For my demonstration I chose a lichen covered branch that I placed across a suiban and contrasted with an intense red geranium from the garden.

Greetings from Christopher 
5th June 2016