GOOD NEIGHBOURS

About four years ago I was given a pomegranate that has grown well and is now producing beautiful bright red flowers. Well, the birds in the garden love them. I suspect the birds think they are already fruit. The consequence is that the ground around the bush is littered with flowers that haven't had a chance to develop into fruit. Mature pomegranate fruit is just what this ikebanist has been hoping to achieve. 


My frustration has led to the following desperate measure, netting. To ensure that the branches do not grow through the net I made a structure about two and half metres tall. There is a reasonable amount of room around the bush to allow for a couple of seasons growth, I hope. In the process I decided to pick two flower stems from a pale blue-grey succulent that were growing through from my neighbour's garden.


I thought the orange of the flower was a good match for this vase by Gail Nichols. This is a soda ash-fired vessel that is soft green except for a couple of strong orange flashes. I have added some primary eucalyptus leaves from the garden of the neighbours on the other side of our house. Their soft blue-grey glaucous leaves harmonise well with the similar powdery stem of the succulent.

On the subject of orange flowers, I picked the last few strelitzias a couple of weeks ago before they could be damaged by rain. It is only now that I realise that I chose a pale green glazed vase for them also.

  
This very unusual vase is by Graeme Wilkie, and not an easy one to use. However, I thought it would suit the rather dramatic lines of the two flowers stems. I was particularly interested in the space formed between them.  For balance, a single leaf with a dull maroon central rib has been placed between the stems to provide some mass closer to the vase opening. I took special care to have all the stems issuing from the vase in a single line that does not touch the sides of the vase.

Greetings from Christopher
12th January 2019

SUMMER GARDENS


On Boxing Day, a cool still morning, we had an early morning walk in the Royal Melbourne Botanic Garden. I was delighted to see the mass of Sacred Lotus nelumbo nucifera, flowering along the board-walk by the garden's lakeside cafe. It is wonderful to be able to stand so close to these beautiful flowers and leaves.                      

One of my favourite ikebana photographs is of a Rikka arrangement by Norman Sparnon made entirely of lotus leaves, buds, flowers and seed pods *. 

   
  
  

I was intrigued by these unfurling leaves that looked like exotic boats on the water surface.  



Outside the cafe tables and chairs were covered in fallen Jacaranda flowers. 


About two months ago I noticed that one of the succulents, Agave salmianahad started to send up a flower stalk.


When it was still just in bud form, on 11 November, it looked quite sculptural... 


...and reminded me of one of the chimneys on the roof of the Palau Guell in Barcelona.


Later flower masses formed at the end of the branches...

   

...that were obviously attractive to the Rainbow lorikeets.

Back in our own garden, last Thursday I had to take some preventative action to protect the hydrangeas from wilting.



We had a short burst of a few hours of 40 degrees celsius then a return to the low 20's. Fortunately my watering and shading preparations paid off. The photo above was taken on the following day.


One of my emergency measures was to pick a few blooms in advance of the heat in case all of the flowers were badly damaged. I made this arrangement of three hydrangeas, from two different shrubs and teamed with some stems from the strelitzia. I bought the box-shaped vase by the Canadian potter Leta Cormier last year at Almonte, near Ottawa. She described it as an 'envelope form' and is from her 'landscape series'.

    
I had made an earlier arrangement in the same vase using a large sheet of eucalyptus bark and a King protea.

Greetings from Christopher
5th January 2019


* Japanese Flower Arrangement, Classical and Modern, by Norman Sparnon. p 61