This large strelitzia nicholai is in a garden in a street adjacent to ours. The really large blue-black flowers caught my attention when we were going for a walk recently. It was the first time that I had noticed the dramatic flowers in this particular garden.


This close-up of the flowers includes one of the more common orange and blue strelitzias which is growing at the base of the larger plant. I have planted strelitzia nicholai in our garden.  However, it is only knee high and will be quite a number of years before it will flower.

The most mature strelitzia in our garden is this strelitzia junea, which flowers well from late September to early December.

Several months ago I noticed these two distorted leaf stems, above, cork-screwing around each other in a double helix. When I looked more closely at the plant I saw that there were a few other stems that had a corkscrew twist in them. I wondered if this double helix started out as a single leaf that divided into two, early in its development.

I thought I should try the challenge of using these strange stems in some ikebana. The challenge was going to be to show the twist, because when the stems were separated their curves would be very slight.

I was surprised during my first experiment to discover the stems interlocking at the top, which lead to this arrangement in a narrow trough vessel by Hiroe Swen.

In this example, in an attempt to exaggerate the curves I have set the two stems so that they curve in opposite directions. The small bowl is by the South Australian potter Jane Robertson.

Here it is again with a jushi flower added.

This time the curves match each other, with two strelitzia flowers on the outside of the arrangement, emphasising the space between. The iron-coloured ceramic bowl is from Seto City in Japan.

Finally I arranged the stems in a contemporary stainless steel conical vase with the two flowers embracing the vessel.

Greetings from Christopher
15th January 2017

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