During this week we spent a few days with some friends in Cairns * in the tropical north of Queensland. Usually this is the dry warm and sunny season; however it was overcast and drizzling every day and steamy, in the high 20s Centigrade. It was a dramatic change, coming back south. This morning's temperature in Torquay was 8C with cold winds and rain. I am not complaining, just contrasting. 

I think the joy for an ikebanist in the tropics is the lushness of growth and the extraordinary intensity of colour and range of form in the flora. One of the first plants to visually 'leap out' at me was the Lipstick Palm * (cyrtostachys renda). This example was in the median strip of a divided road...


as was this Cordyline fruiticosa * . 

During a walk through the Cairns Botanic Gardens I was amazed to see the copper colour on the underside of these huge leaves on a Pentagonia Wendlandii from Central America. I also found myself thinking about exercises in the Sogetsu Curriculum...

...including: 'Colours in contrast' and...

...' With leaves only'.

This photo is a close up of the trunk of a broad-leaved paper bark * (Melaleuca quinquenervia). The lines of colour have been exaggerated by visitors peeling fine strips of the tissue thin bark. It made me think about lines, as I mentioned in last week's posting, as well as the importance of varying texture in ikebana.


This large flower was growing directly from the trunk of the Panama Flame Tree * (brownea macrophylla).

I think this would have to be the largest pitcher plant that I have ever seen.

Above is one of the most extraordinary heliconia I have come across. Masses of large, hanging, multiple flowers. 

The conservatory contained unblemished exotic plants because the caterpillars of the indigenous butterflies that floated through the air are unable to feast on any of them.

Unfortunately this week's ikebana is not tropical.

I have arranged orange Asiatic lilies with some acanthus leaves and drift wood in a ceramic suiban  by the New Zealand potter, Elena Renka * . 

Greetings from Christopher, recently returned from Cairns.
23rd July 2016

* Click on the blue text for further information

1 comment:

  1. I love the photos of all these interesting and lush tropical plants. I had never heard of or seen lipstick palm before or seen such an amazingly long heliconia flower. Thanks for sharing these pictures with us.