Last week I posted the photo below of a tree in rich autumn colours on the Oak Lawn of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne. Being in the gardens again on Monday, I decided to check its botanical name and was amused to see that it is a Liquidambar (liquidambar styraciflua). If I had walked up to the tree previously I would have realised by the leaf shape it was not an oak. Having grown up on the southern coast of Victoria I must admit to not being particularly familiar with northern hemisphere trees.
This week in my class with Elizabeth, our exercise was from the new Book 5 of the Sogetsu curriculum: using a 'Vertical type fixture' Tate-no-Soegi-dome. In Australia this is usually called a 'down stick'. This is the preferred method of securing branch material, especially to stabilise heavy branches. It enables the ikebanist to control the angle of the branch and prevent it from rolling on the edge of the vessel. We were asked to use a difficult vessel in the exercise. Unfortunately I was unable to photograph the arrangement in the class.
This is the vase I used. It has a narrow opening within the raised rim and the 'shoulders' of the vase are wide. Therefore it was difficult to secure the branch ends against the inside of the vase.
When I came home I re-set the arrangement in a larger vase, also with a narrow opening, and even wider shoulders.
Here is how it looked initially. The long branch on the right-hand side tended to rotate forward so that the buds were pointing toward the viewer instead of up toward the sun. By using the fixing technique I was able to correct this problem.
The addition of two arum lily leaves gave the branches a feeling of freshness.
I then added two autumnal hydrangea heads which picked up some of the warmer colours in the ash glaze of the vase. Thanks to Trish who allowed me to prune the magnolia branches from her garden. The vase is by the New South Wales potter Sergio Sill.
Greetings from Christopher
10th June 2017