There are still many spring-blossoming trees to be seen in this part of the world. I took the photo below as an outdoor exercise of the Photography Group of the Friends of the Royal Botanical Gardens Melbourne. I joined the group in the hope of learning how to make better use of my new pocket camera that I bought in Japan last March.

This photograph surprised me by the amazingly abstract-looking quality of the reflections in the water. 

In the garden at home over the last couple of weeks I have been watching with pleasure as a range of flowers bloom.

This gazania is really striking for its dark, brick-red, colour, which contrasts beautifully with its furry, soft green foliage.  Some gazanias have smooth, shiny green leaves

My second photo shows the first flowers of a small Forsythia bush that was bought for me last autumn by my friend Shirley. I am delighted and amazed that it has produced these flowers in the first spring since planting. I have great ikebana hopes!

Again this week I have photographed the apricot tree in flower. This time to contrast it with a small flower...

... that has finally appeared on a branch...

...in an ikebana arrangement I made eight weeks ago. The photo above shows the 'no-kenzan', bare-branch arrangement today. I have moved the arrangement into the warmth of our conservatory in the hope that it will flower further. 

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My Melbourne-based ikebana colleague, Lara Telford, is now in the second week of her Norman and Mary Sparnon Scholarship in Tokyo and has posted photos from her first week of classes at the Sogetsu Headquarters
On the righthand side of her web-page there is a button where you can sign up using Facebook. I think that means you will get an automatic notification when she publishes a posting.

Greetings from Christopher
23rd September 2017.


We have had quite a bit of welcome rain in the past week. The early part of winter had been quite dry. 

These Galahs seemed very happy to be feeding among the, now thickly, growing grass in a nearby park.

On the same walk I noticed the change in some native Clematis micro-phylla. The flowers have now finished and the seed heads are beginning to form. First they develop fine shiny fibres that will soon become fluffy balls capable of distributing the seeds in the wind.

In the garden... 

...the apricot tree has now passed the peak of its flowering. 

At the base of the apricot some tiny grape hyacinths have come up. These plants originally came from my parents' garden.

I was also somewhat relieved to see the first small leaves on the ornamental grape. In autumn I had transferred it into the ground from a pot.

On the fence an unusually blue Hardenbergia is now flowering prolifically, and threatening to engulf the nearby Nandina domestica. I decided to quickly create an ikebana with the Hardenbergia taking advantage of its cascading possibilities. 

In this photo I have arranged it in a shallow bowl by Phil Elson. The right hand side of the bowl is cut off because of the distracting detail in the background of the photo.

I removed a lot of leaves and some flowers to show the twining nature of the vine as you can see in this close up photo. The vine is trailing against a ceramic plinth made by Graeme Wilkie.

Earlier in the week I attended the meeting of Ikebana International where the theme was Clivias, a native of South Africa which does well in our climate.

Greetings from Christopher
17th September 2017


Over the period of the Ikebana International Exhibition mentioned in last weeks posting, I spent a number of days in Melbourne. When I finally returned home and had time to walk around the garden at Torquay I notice that the apricot tree was in bud...


...and Joan's white Japanese flowering quince was at its peak. The red flowering quince is now covered with leaves and only a few flowers can be seen.

I thought the two quince flowers would make a good ikebana subject, to reflect this time of transition. The ceramic vase is by the Castlemaine artist Barry Singleton.

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The exercise I gave my Torquay students this week was to make an arrangement using green materials only. It is something of a challenge to create ikebana without any flowers and it causes the ikebanist to pay close attention to form and texture. I thought the results were interestingly varied and quite delightful.

This first work was by Val.



and lastly Fran.

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This weekend my colleague from Melbourne, Lara Telford, arrives in Tokyo to spend three months studying at the Sogetsu Headquarters. She is the sixth recipient of the Norman and Mary Sparnon Endowment Scholarship. It is her intention to publish an internet blog each week about her activities. 

Click here for Lara's website blog. I will also provide a link to her posting each week. If you have a Facebook account you should be able to connect directly with her blog and share it with your friends.

Greetings from Christopher
9th September 2017


The last two weeks have certainly been a busy time. Last weekend I brought you photos from the Sogetsu workshop I had conducted on the theme of using text in an ikebana work. 

The following day, Tuesday 22nd August, was spent setting up the Ikebana International Melbourne Chapter annual exhibition. In this exercise I was the principal curator, assisted by a small team of Kaye Wong, Margaret Wilson, Chieko Yazaki and Elishia Zhang. The exhibition space was the lobby of the Sofitel Melbourne on Collins.


As this photo shows, it is a very large space, with a number of challenges from a curatorial perspective when the artwork is ikebana.

The large windows on the lefthand side look into a glass-roofed atrium. This meant that in the day time there was quite strong light coming from behind the three installations in the window recesses. Ikebana works were also set on long narrow tables behind the groups of couches and chairs.

We also used the open central space. For this we brought our folding shoji screens and plinths as were unable to use the walls.

The exhibition was opened by the Consul-General of Japan, Mr Matsunaga. He and his wife are the co-patrons of Ikebana International Melbourne Chapter. The photo above was taken on another occasion.

I was assisted by my student Kyoko Imai in setting up this contemporary style ikebana work in a large Shigaraki vessel. The materials are: driftwood melaleuca lanceolata,  gymea leaves doryanthes excelsa, white chrysanthemum, and lattice made from red painted agapanthus stems. 

In this photo, taken at the the official opening of the exhibition, I am sitting on the window sill to provide a sense of scale. 

II Annual Exhibition photos link.

Greetings from Christopher
3rd September 2017