Sunday, 11 November 2018

Weeping willow, tall bearded iris, helleborus and Japanese maple

Hello all,
Every spring I like to make this type of 'pond arrangement'. I mainly use this suiban that I made many years ago, on the bottom of which, I laid crushed coloured glass, which melted during firing. The result is a water-like surface, well suited to  this type of arrangement.

I've included a close-up of the stunningly beautiful, tall bearded iris that I used here. The rhizome was given to me by my student, Shaneen Garbutt but she doesn't know its name. I consulted my Irises book and it looks like it might be 'Houdini'. If anyone knows otherwise, please let me know.

Close-up of the bottom of the suiban

Another spring arrangement using my much-prized vases, which were a gift from my daughter and son-in-law.
Japanese maple, roses, euphorbia characias, tall bearded iris and ornithogalum
The foliage of Japanese maple is usually so dense that we have to thin it out considerably to lighten it and to reveal the stems and to create space. For the above arrangement I removed as much material as I had left on the branches. See below

We had considerable frost damage in our garden this year and one of the casualties was my monstera deliciosa. Once the danger of further frosts was over, I gave it a very hard pruning. Much of the material went into the compost bin but a number of interesting cuttings simply could not be discarded. Hence the arrangements below.

Both arrangements lasted for more than two weeks despite the fact that their stems were not in water. However, the fruit started to peel away and become messy, so had to go. According to a You Tube video, this fruit (also known as Fruit Salad Fruit) is edible but only where the outer skin has peeled away by itself. If you try to hasten the peeling process and eat the underneath you might regret it. I have many of them growing, so I will put it to the test and let you know.

In my last post I included a photograph of an arrangement using three strelitsia nicolai flowers. These are quite striking but the white petals are fragile and brown easily. In contrast the dark 'casing', if I can call it that, is very strong, making it physically quite difficult to ease out the delicate and fragile new petals from inside these tough exteriors.

Also, the weight of the flowers caused them to droop downwards after a while, so, after removing all dead material and dividing the flowers, I re-arrangement them into two new arrangements.

Original arrangement

Finally, I leave you with this cheeky little arrangement. The ornithogalum had this interesting stem and required nothing more that a container in which to display it. I bought this little ceramic container in Athens in 1988, long before I started learning ikebana in 1991.

Bye for now,

Sunday, 28 October 2018

This arrangement of viburnum opulus is over a metre tall and wide. It addresses three
different themes - 'Using only one kind of material', 'Mass and lines' and
 'Floor Position Arrangement'
My strelitzia nicolai has many flowers but, unfortunately, they are too high to reach.
These three were cut for me by my husband who climbed to the very top of the
ladder to reach them. The vine is wisteria with the leaves stripped off.

Hello all,

I am, currently, enjoying (or suffering) the embarrassment of riches. With spring, the plants in my garden seem to be trying to outdo each other and I have more materials than time or containers to arrange them all. I know that this will not elicit much sympathy for me from those of you with small or no gardens, but, in fact it puts pressure on me to arrange as many as possible. Mainly because I can't bear to let some of these gorgeous seasonal materials be wasted.

With the abundance of materials in mind, I set a double themed exercise for the advanced students - 'A Variety of Materials' and 'Seasonal Materials'

Vicky used Japanese flowering quince, cottage gladioli, viburnum opulus'
magnolia, green Goddess lily and lilac
Bredenia used iris, euphorbia, mollis azalea, lilac and cherry

I used wisteria, viburnum opulus, crab apple blossoms,cottage
gladioli and cymbidium orchid

Lucy used Mahonia berries, clivias, banksia rose,viburnum opulus and aelstromeria
psitachina leaves
My wall arrangement is also on the same theme.

Shaneen's arrangement of 'Using Two or More Containers'
She used smoke bush and roses
On a previous class I had set the theme 'Floor Position Arrangement' from Book 5 for the advanced students.

Lucy used gymea leaves, New Zealand flax and arum lilies
Vicky used kiwi vine and oriental lilies
Nicole used willow and green Goddess lilies
Bredenia used a dried piece of unknown material and green Goddess lilies
I used pine, clivias and strelitzias under the curved staircase 
Bye for now,

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Ikebana for gift giving. I made this arrangement to give to a friend of mine, who
was celebrating a milestone birthday.
I used Green Goddess lilies, wisteria vine and alstroemeria psittacina leaves. In
the ceramic bowl I used oasis
Hello all,

At a recent class the advanced students were given the exercise from Book 5 - 'Relief Works', where dried, bleached or coloured materials are arranged on some sort of board. Unconventional material may also be used.

The piece, above, is mine. I used two dried strelitzia leaves, which I lightly sprayed with a copper spray to take away their dull beige colour. I don't know the name of the other material but I curved the stems by soaking them in warm water then tying them around a cylinder until they dried and the curve was set. For the board I used a canvas which I sprayed with this charcoal coloured paint.
Vicky Kalokathis
Dried and sprayed agapanthus

Nicole McDonald
Dried strelitzia and agapanthus

Bredenia Raquel
Dried strelitzia nicolai and dried garlic flowers

Lucy Papas
White paper
And below is an example of what NOT to do. I made this Relief Work at a time when my mobility was almost zero. There was a dried branch with squiggly ends in my ikebana room, so I challenged myself to use only that branch. I cut the shapes in graduating sizes and, painstakingly, drilled holes in the canvas, into which I put a drop of glue to attach each stick. This took a considerable amount of time and then there was the waiting time for the glue to set before I could lift the canvas and hang it on the wall.

Looking at my work as it sat on the table, I was quite pleased..........

The work as viewed on the table

Closeup of work on table

....But then I hung it on the wall and my heart sank! Looking at it face on, you see only squiggles. Having lost its depth, it also lost all the interest.

Dull as dishwater!

And the lesson to be learnt is to, always, consider where the work will be placed and from where it will be viewed. We even have a lesson in Book 4 - 'Paying Attention to the Container and to the Place Where the Arrangement will be Put'.

On a more pleasant note, my student, Shaneen Garbutt has recently started on Book 3 and below is her
Ka-bu-wa-ke arrangement.

Sycamore and arum lilies
At our recent Ikebana International meeting we workshoped mizuhiki. This material is made of twisted paper to look like wire. It comes in many colours, including gold and silver and is used as a decorative element in celebratory arrangements.

We had four demonstrators, one of whom was my sister-in-law, Toula. She made a very striking, modern arrangement, below.

For my arrangement, I used a piece of pine that had an interesting stem. It took some work to prepare the stem by removing the superfluous, smaller stems and pine needles along the stems and then cutting short the needles that I kept. I had difficulty finding a suitable position for the mizuhiki because I did not want to take away from the line of the stem. In truth, I prefer the arrangement without the mizuhiki. For more photographs of our meeting please go to II Melbourne.

One more thing- The lovely ladies of the Box Hill Floral Art Group are having an exhibition in conjunction with 2018 Whitehorse Festival. I hope to be mobile enough to go.

Whitehorse Civic Centre
379 Whitehorse Road,

21 October 2018
10 am - 4 pm

I leave you with this spring, wall arrangement. The white lilac tree was a gift from my parents because I have a particular fondness for it. In the tiny village in northern Greece, where I was born and lived till I was eleven, we had a mature, white lilac tree just outside our kitchen. Now, every time I see or smell the lilac, I'm transported back to my childhood.

Bye for now,

Sunday, 30 September 2018


Hello all,

It is spring in Melbourne and my garden is doing its darnedest to make up for the winter bareness. I've been inundated with fresh spring material that is crying out to be cut and arranged. However, my mobility is still quite limited due to recent injuries and the way to get around is to limp very slowly around the house and garden. But I will not be deterred from taking advantage of all this wonderful material, much of which I planted months ago and which is very short lived. Hence my decision to focus on simplicity.

I should point out, however, that simple does not always equate with easy. In fact it often takes a great deal of effort to make something look simple. Below is one example. At first glance, one could be forgiven for thinking that I merely placed the tulips (grown by me) in the little vases. But, with the hole much larger than the stems, the tulips flopped in one or other direction. I had to devise a method to keep them upright.

And here it is. I inserted a piece of wire into the bottom of the tulip stem and carefully placed the wire and stem into the vase. The wire helped to stabilize the stem and stop it from falling forward.

For this next arrangement, I used stems of the arum lilies that I had shaped whilst they were growing. Otherwise they would not keep the curve, they would kink, instead. The container is one I made many years ago.

Variegated agave and crucifix orchid
(The two agaves are wired inside the vase)
Magnolia liliiflora nigra

The first of my neighbour's roses

Variegated agave and Dutch iris

Green Goddess lilies
(Wired in 3 places to keep this shape)

Spirea cantoniensis and rhododendron

Many stems and leaves had to be removed to reveal these interesting shapes.

I leave you with this cute little arrangement, which was very easy to do thanks to the container with the three holes.

Bye for now,