This morning I was greeted in the garden by the arrival of a single Sulphur-crested cockatoo. I think I startled the cockatoo while it was drinking at the birdbath. These birds usually appear in flocks but have not been around so much over the winter months. Perhaps there will be more arriving soon.

The weather turned chilly in the middle of the week and I needed to wear a windproof jacket and gloves when we went out for a walk. It was windy, wet and 14 degrees Celsius. Then I received an email from Leonora in Ottawa who said it was '...minus 14 and already lots of snow...'. Chilly is a such a subjective experience.

A few weeks ago I was asked to make some ikebana arrangements for a wedding taking place in a friend's house. The ceremony is tomorrow and today I put my plans into action to create a table-centre ikebana and a larger work on an antique sideboard.

For the table centre I arranged some prostrate banksias in a ceramic holder made by an ikebanist friend, Kid-Ching Ong. The vessel looks rather like a log or piece of curled bark which harmonises well with the banksia. As the leaves of the banksia are stiff and stand upright I have softened their appearance by curving them and catching the ends in the slits in the vessel.

The second work is a massed arrangement in a very large bowl by Graeme Wilkie that Laurie bought some years ago. I have used some branching driftwood within the bowl to fix the King protea Protea cynaroides, and arranged it with branches of Cootamundra wattle Acacia baileyana. In the photograph I have covered the mirror with a white cloth to better show the arrangement.

I chose a massed form of the ikebana  because it was to be placed on a large sideboard with a mirrored back. This meant that any lines would appear to be doubled by the reflection and the back of the arrangement also had to look good in the mirror. 

I want  to advise regular readers of this blog that since I was overseas in September/October I have not been notified when people have written comments at the bottom of the page. I have since fixed this problem, however I cannot reply directly to the writer of comments as the system protects your address. I can be contacted directly at: 

Greetings from Christopher
2t5h November 2018


In the garden the spring growth is very apparent, especially on a sunny day like this one.

We have two varieties of strelitzia. This one above is Strelitzia reginae  and has flowered for the first time this year. I planted this strelitzia especially so that I would eventually have a supply of its beautiful leaves. The flowers are welcome also. Its growth is a little slow in our garden as it does best in a 'rich loamy soil', not our hydrophobic sand over heavy clay.

Our other Strelitzia juncea is doing very well now, after probably 20 or more years, and is almost at its flowering peak for this season. Often the flowers are damaged by late spring rain, so I was keen to pick some to make an ikebana arrangement. Last year I was not fast enough. The flowers go very well with New Zealand flax leaves so I didn't need to cut any from the Strelitzia Reginae.

This year the flax has only put up one flower spike so far. I am not really expecting more at this stage. I felt therefore I could take a couple of the older leaves from the back of the plant for my ikebana.

I have used the flax leaves to make irregular elongated loops to give a flat surface facing forward. In the arrangement the loops show both the back and the front of the leaves. The two flowers rise above the flax and face in opposite directions. Placing them in 'profile' maximises their impact. The asymmetric vase was made by Graeme Wilkie and fired in his anagama kiln in 2001.

Earlier in the week I attended the last meeting of Ikebana International Melbourne Chapter for this year.  Follow the link to see photos.

Greetings from Christopher
18th November 2018


Spring is such a time of floral abundance one cannot help but feel uplifted.

This large mass of foxgloves and other annuals were in a flower box outside the Melbourne Town Hall on Monday last week. They were in place for the parade before the famous Melbourne Cup horse race. The race was the following day and, sadly, there were massively heavy rains that morning which left the foxgloves lying horizontally in the flower box.

In our garden the neighbour's climbing rose has cascaded through the fence. Because of the angle of the fence there is more sun on our side and therefore the blooms face into our garden.

In a bed I planted two years ago, are these other exotic flowers which I grew specifically to use when demonstrating the basic Sogetsu exercises to students. They have the advantages of being long-flowering, prolific and having straight stems.

On a recent walk I noticed some Everlasting Daisies, a native helichrysum flower, on the clifftop heath.

These Everlasting Daisies cephalum apiculatum, were planted in our garden two seasons ago. This is their best year so far. I am hoping they will spread further.

At this time of year the melaleucas are also in bloom. This one is melaleuca armillaris that I referred to last week as being the source of my short sticks for making the small sculpture.

And here is the eye-catching red callistemon, closely related to the melaleucas. Apparently, some experts think they should be in the same genus. We have a couple of red callistemons in the garden.

I have used flowers from our garden for this arrangement in a blue ceramic trough. I wanted to mass the flowers to emphasise their intense red, so I stripped off all of the leaves. This left me with some interesting lines to then contrast with the mass.

Greetings from Christopher
10th November 2018


After last weekend's workshops I had a chance to relax, then re-work the arrangement I had made from wiring chopsticks together to create a small sculpture. This time I used some fresh materials from the garden. I have used dieties grandiflora leaves and two racemes of tubular flowers of Natal Glory Bush Makaya bella. It is native to 'mixed forests' of South Africa.

I took this poor quality photo against a rather intense blue wall so that the form of the chopstick sculpture is clearly visible.

This photo is of better quality and the colours are more accurate. 

In re-working the arrangement I liked the idea of contrasting the flowing green lines of the dietes leaves with the irregular lines of the sculpture. 

Here is another example of this method of making a small geometric-looking design from a number of short lines/sticks. In this case the 'sticks' are from a small forest of self-sown 
melaleuca armillaris that grew in our garden. The miniature forest was in the wrong place and had to be removed, which turned out to be an opportunity to use what would otherwise have been garden waste. 

Because these sticks are from the garden they are irregular in length and thickness. I painted them red and, in this ikebana arrangement, have contrasted them with two agave leaves and a lemon. For readers of this blog with good visual memory, yes, you have seen the above photo before, in November 2013.

Greetings from Christopher
4th November 2018

Click here for posting of the Sogetsu Victorian Branch Saturday Workshop.