Continuing from last week, Laurie and I spent four days and nights travelling on 'The Canadian', the train from Vancouver to Toronto. For the first part of the journey after the Canadian Rockies the scenery was of agricultural, wheat-growing country, in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

These interesting, gable roofed silos beside the track are quite small and domestic looking compared to the the concrete cylinders typically seen in Australia. 

A day later we woke to see the sun lifting the mist off the many lakes in the western region of Ontario. This area was very beautiful, with the dense and huge area of Boreal or 'snow forest' that covers a great swathe across northern Canada. This forest is comprised principally of conifers.

The forest type changed to broad leafed species of trees as we came into Ontario. Beside the railroad tracks were lots of late summer wildflowers and I finally understood why someone in the past had described Goldenrod, solidago, as a weed. However, that doesn't stop if from being beautiful. 

I was really pleased to see some planted in a central business district ornamental garden, when we finally arrived in Toronto.

This is a close-up of the same bush .

After three days in Toronto we headed to Ottawa where we are now staying with my ikebana friend Leonora and her husband Richard. We were greeted by a number of freestyle ikebana arrangements including this one using purple statice, linomium sinatum, and globe thistle, echinops bannatictus.

This ikebana arrangement is an example of the curriculum exercise, 'an arrangement complementing an art work', which is the subject of one of the workshops I am conducting today for the Sogetsu Branch in Ottawa. I will report on the workshops next week.

Click here for more photos from our train journey Vancouver to Toronto.

Greetings from Christopher
25th August 2018


On Tuesday this week the Melbourne Chapter of Ikebana International held its Annual General Meeting. As is the usual practise at the AGM, the heads of each of the different ikebana schools in the Chapter gave a brief demonstration. Being the director of the Sogetsu School branch I participated with a nageire free-style, horizontal arrangement. 

I have used materials from our garden all of which are Australian native flora. The main branches are the beautiful orange leaves of Bushy Yate, Euclyptus lehmanii. I have been watching these leaves from my bathroom window over recent weeks. Their colour, which is quite autumnal-looking, is most unusual. I suspect those branches are infected with a fungus or have been attacked by some insect. Stretching further to the left are some stems of Swan River Pea, Gastrolobium celsianum. This is a semi-prostrate plant with bright red pea flowers in late winter/early spring. Below are photos of the plant taken in our garden.

I have removed all the dark green leaves to emphasise the warm colour palate in the arrangement. The third material is Golden Wattle Acacia pycnantha, which grows in the reserve at the back of our garden and is the national floral emblem of Australia.

I re-set the arrangement when I returned home. The tapering porcelain vase is by the Victorian ceramic artist, Arnaud Barraud.

For more photos from the AGM, click on the blue text.

Yesterday Laurie and I set off on 'The Canadian', VIA Rail's four day train from Vancouver to Toronto. 

This photo is taken from the 'dome' car on the train as we travelled through the Canadian Rockies. The 'mist' is actually smoke from the 500-odd wildfires burning in British Colombia.

The red dot at the top of this photo was how the sun looked at 9.30 this morning when we stopped at Jasper.

Greetings from Christopher, 
enroute to Edmonton.
18th August 2018


This weekend has seen an annual arts event promoted by our local Surf Coast Shire. This is the local government council in which my home town of Torquay is situated. The event is the Surf Coast Arts Trail. Over the weekend artists and art groups in the Shire open their studios and class rooms to the general public to show-case their work. 

This year, at sixty-five locations around the shire, a huge variety of arts and crafts have been on display. My local ikebana class has again been one of the participant groups in the event.

In the couple of months before the Arts Trail I noticed that this Manchurian Pear, pyrus ussuriensis at the Lions Village was due to be pruned. A request to the Manager meant that my class was given permission to have the prunings, from which we could make our sculptural ikebana. The unexpected gift of the prunings turned out to provide a theme and visual coherence to the small exhibition.

Kim used just two branches and no fresh material in his work. The elegant lines are held in place by very tall, 60 - 70cm, glass vase.

Giana has also inverted a branch to emphasise the lines where the branches separate from the main stem. She has added two large flowers of Banksia Praemorsa, from her own garden.

Róża has placed her branches upright in a red painted bamboo vase, emphasising the vertical lines. She also used Banksia Praemorsa flowers and a small group of leaves.

Val has placed her principal branch across the top of her tall rectangular vase. It has been secured by discreet wiring to the smaller branch on the right, which is stabilised on the table surface. She has added Banksia Coccinea as a focal point.

Rhonda has used a hand-built ceramic vase with a very narrow opening. The branch has been secured across the vase using a vertical fixture. She has also used Banksia Coccinea as her focal point.

Well, this will look familiar to readers who have seen last week's posting. I have re-used my exhibition piece from the Ikebana International Exhibition in Melbourne. Before transporting this structure home to Torquay (100km) I did have to remove the Cushion Bush leucophyta brownii and then re-attach it again. I was pleased to be able to photograph the work against a plain background and front-on rather than at an angle, as was the case at the exhibition.

Next week Roadside Ikebana will come to you from somewhere on the train between Vancouver and Toronto, as Laurie and I are heading to Canada for a few weeks' holiday. My posting could be even later than this week as apparently there is no wifi on 'The Canadian' (train).

Till then, greetings from
12th August 2018.


Oh dear, more wattle! This one is a little different. It is a semi-prostrate Acacia Baileyana, in our garden. Interestingly it is flowering a little later than the a. baileyana tree by the garden path.

This main part of the original plant is about 60 cms high.

In this close up you can see, at the top left side, how the branches have an arching growth. Similar to, but much smaller than, the growth pattern of a weeping mulberry.

Some branches of the plant have become completely prostrate, creeping under other plants and reappearing on the other side.

I suspect they will start arching again having reached full sun again.

In the last week of July the annual exhibition of Ikebana International Melbourne Chapter was held at the Sofitel in the city. I participated, making a structural ikebana using some of the Manchurian Pear pyrus ussuriensis prunnings that my students and I had been given.  

This is what caught my eye when I saw them lying on the ground. I loved the multiple parallel lines and the small light grey highlight of the velvety leaf buds.

The stems also had a very interesting patterning that reminded me of other stone fruit trees, like cherry. With the chance of having such a lot of the material I immediately wanted to create an abstract style ikebana that would emphasise the linear form of the branches. 

I decided to use a large ceramic vessel made by Graeme Wilkie of Qdos Gallery. It is a 'half pillow' form that he developed in 2007.

In 2008 I made this large sculptural ikebana using three of them in an exhibition at Qdos. After the exhibition I acquired the vessel on the left in this photo. To make the new sculptural ikebana for the I.I. annual exhibition, I arranged the majority of the branches horizontally supported on a single oblique branch. Doing so emphasises the parallel lines. If I had arranged them vertically, to most people, they would look like a row of trees.

The technique I used to secure the branches was to drill through them where two branches touched. I then inserted a bamboo skewer from the kitchen as a dowel which I glued into place.

Here is the finished work to which I have added a mass of Cushion Bush leucophyta brownii, which penetrates the plane made by the horizontal branches.

More images of the exhibition are at: Ikebana International Melbourne Chapter Annual Exhibition.

Greetings from Christopher
4th August 2018