What a difference a week makes. 

This is the photo posted last week with the Acacia Baileyana  cascading low over the garden path. As I had suspected it came into full bloom this week...

...and hung even lower. It is really most spectacular and fairly glows in the bright sunlight.

Also last week I mentioned the Melbourne Chapter of Ikebana International had a Saturday workshop focusing on 'Shape' in freestyle ikebana. The workshop was led by Yukako Braun, the Head of the Ikenobo School in Melbourne. Some of her students had prepared examples of ikebana to demonstrate the concepts. These first two examples have a circular form, but very different expressions.

In this arrangement, made by Angela Chau, the materials are arranged naturalistically.

Yukako's own example was a large arrangement with a generous expanding feeling. Her arrangement is 'creative', as distinct from naturalistic, with the materials arranged emphasising surface, lines and the focal point of the flowers.

Julie Ayers' arrangement was also 'creative', emphasising repeated triangular forms.

Bill Riches has made a naturalistic 'vertical' arrangement. In Sogetsu terms this is very similar to a 'double shin' arrangement. The double shin form is also one of the many forms of Rikka. If you click on the link you will see that it obviously takes a master, and many hands, to create such a work. The two halves are separated by a narrow space and each half must have the requisite number of lines to make a complete rikka in itself.

Last week I showed the arrangement I made at the workshop using the 'square' form. This arrangement, above, extends the idea more clearly into three dimensions than last weeks arrangement. Also, the shapes I have made with the leaves are obviously rectangles. The materials are gymea lily doryanthes excelsa leaves and banksia integrifolia, in a ceramic suiban.

Greetings from Christopher
28th July 2018


On a cold winter's day with bright sunshine, surfing at Bell's Beach was the thing to do. We enjoyed the spectacle from the cliff top, rugged up in our coats with caps and gloves to keep us warm. 

This is for Kenichi Wada, who spent some time on the Gold Coast a few years ago.

In recent postings I have shown the progress of various wattles coming into bloom. Laurie caught me ducking my head under the Cootamundra wattle that cascades over the garden path. The weight of the blossom causes the branches to bend considerably lower at this time of year. It is almost in full bloom.

Yesterday, Ikebana International held its second weekend workshop for this year. The leader of the workshop was Mrs Yukako Braun, the head of the Ikenobo School in Melbourne. The theme for Yukako's workshop was 'Freestyle' ikebana focusing on shape. The participants were sent some photographs of arrangements demonstrating the following basic forms: Circle, triangle, square, vertical, horizontal, slanting, cascading and gathering.

I decided that the theme of a square shape would be interesting. It was an opportunity to contrast the geometric lines that can be made with 'umbrella grass' and the natural lines of Japanese Flowering Quince Chaenomeles, which is flowering in the garden at the moment.

As you can see my 'squares' are rather rectangular and a bit out of shape. I ran out of time and was not able to encourage the top left corner to make a 'right angle'. 

The photo was taken after the critique. At the critique Yukako commented that, from an Ikenobo perspective, the more naturalistic elements of an arrangement should harmonise with the 'creative' freestyle aspect. Therefore in this case the branches of the Flowering Quince should be bent at angles to harmonise with the shapes made by the umbrella grass. This has been done to some extent in the photographed work. I think the principal branch is altogether too stiff and straight and was therefore a poor choice of branch on my part. It was really interesting to participate in the workshop and listen to Yukako's introductory presentation as well as the critique. Next week I will provide a link to the Ikebana International blog when it is published.

In the mean time if you are in Melbourne between Tuesday next 24th and Sunday 30th visit the Ikebana International Exhibition at the  Level One foyer, Sofitel Melbourne on Collins.

Greetings from Christopher 
22nd July 2018


Last week I showed some photos of winter blossom in our garden, including some wattle that was just coming into bloom. Over the past week I have noticed more wattle on the roadside and in gardens around the town. At this time of year the wattle is very eye catching because trees are transformed by masses of golden yellow blossom.

This particular cascade of yellow-gold is of a Cootamundra Wattle acacia baileyana. It is not in our garden but... 

...on a front fence in the township.

It was the focus material of an arrangement by my student Kim. We were given a large amount of prunings from a Manchurian Pear pyrus ussuriensis by the management of the community facility where we hold the classes.

This is the arrangement he made. The bare branch had a really strong character and Kim has contrasted it with a small somewhat delicate mass of acacia baileyana.

This photo shows the delicate blue-gray leaves of the tree. It helps explain the drama of the transformation from blue-grey to yellow-gold.

I was surprised to notice this Golden Wattle acacia pycnantha by the roadside as it is blooming rather early. Because this is a very young plant the trunk is smooth and covered with a grey-white powdery 'bloom'. It makes a very strong contrast to the blossom and leaves.

The flowers are larger than the Cootamundra wattle and a stronger yellow...

...and the large leaves are green, not blue-grey.

For my ikebana I have re-used the branches of my 'no kenzan' arrangement from the Sogetsu exhibition of six weeks ago and added acacia pycnantha. To this I have added contrasting green lines of sedge leaves lepidosperma gladiatum, giving a swirling movement to the work.

Greetings from Christopher
15th July 2018.


The last couple of days have been quite wintery here, with strong cold winds and some rain. In our garden the middle of winter is signalled by the blossoming of two plants in particular. The Cootamundra wattle acacia baileyana and the Japanese Flowering Quince Chaenomeles.

I took the photo above of the acacia today in the late afternoon sun. It is not there yet. I think it will be a further week or two before the tree is in full bloom.

However, when I went looking, I found these five small balls of blossom fully opened.

This is Joan's white flowering quince. I noticed last Wednesday that it had a small group of three flowers open on an otherwise bare looking bush. Something to look forward to in a few weeks.

The red flowering quince, which is in a more exposed part of the garden, had its first flower open about three weeks ago. Today there were a couple of larger branches that had enough flowers to make an arrangement suitable for tomorrows' guests.  

To make this ikebana I have used three branches, two large and one small. I have placed the second and third stems behind the one which extends to the right so that the whole arrangement appears to be a single branch. The third stem is the very small one in the middle, which leans to the back.

When I positioned the work in the living room niche I bent the finer stems inward so that the arrangement did not flow too far to the side. As I have mentioned in the past, these beautiful flowers evoke childhood memories for me. The parents of my oldest friend had an orchard and toward the end of winter large branches of apple blossom were arranged on the mantle shelf. I hope these bring you joy. 

The ceramic vessel is from Seto City one of the 'Six Ancient Kilns' of Japan . I think the style of this vessel is not actually a characteristic of Seto ware but rather a reproduction of a style from elsewhere in Japan. The shape and surface has the character of a cast iron vessel.

Greetings from Christopher
8th July 2018