This last week my student Ros brought some beautifully coloured eucalyptus leaves to class. The colours, in broad stripes, were so striking that the leaves looked painted. They had in fact been attacked by some sap sucking insect. It seems amazing that nature can produce colours which to the human eye are so wonderful and yet are the result of insect damage.

This photograph is not the best quality because I failed to take a close-up and it is a small section of a larger photo.

The exercise I had set for the students was to make a freestyle arrangement in a glass vessel. In this case Ros used a glass jug. Care was taken to remove leaves from inside the curve of the left hand stem to emphasise the line of the branch.

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Recently I have noticed yet another garden escapee in the nearby creek, growing among the tall bullrushes. 

It is verbena bonariensis * from tropical and temperate South America. It has been declared a weed species in some tropical climates, but not here. Co-incidently, only this year I have planted it in our garden as its long stems will make it a good subject for ikebana. 

In this photo you can see it along side dock (rumex acetosella) which, in the moist environment of the creek, has grown to 2 metres. 

I gathered a couple of the verbena flowers because the plants in our garden have not begun to bloom yet. I thought its mauve colour would compliment the highlights in the globe artichoke that I had grown this year for the first time.

A couple of weeks ago the margins of the outer petals were beginning to turn a purplish colour. I decided to use the flowerhead with the almost leafless stems of strelitzia juncea, which is also growing in our garden.

This clump, with its spear-like leaf stems, is growing in the Melbourne Botanic Garden.

I have made a massed arrangement using the, now more deeply coloured, artichoke balanced by a mass of lines made from the strelitzia. The verbena provides a complementary highlight colour. The black ceramic vessel is one I bought a number of years ago in Seto City, one of the 'six ancient kilns' * in Japan.

Greetings from Christopher
3rd December 2016

* Click on the blue text for further information

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