Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Hello all,

For our last class I asked the senior students to make an arrangement using bare branches. I pointed out that this does not mean dry or bleached materials and, although the branches were to be bare, they should still have life in them. The above arrangement is one that I made using magnolia branches and camellias.

Lucy used elm branches, oranges and cotoneaster berries.
Bredenia used lilac branches, nandina berries
and nandina domestica nana at the base

Nicole used silver birch and proteas

Vicky used magnolia branches and stock
At our Ikebana International meeting, last week, our speaker was Caroline Davies, World President of the Mediterranean Garden Society. Caroline gave a very interesting talk on Mediterranean gardens and plants and, for those of us who hail from there, it was particularly engaging.

Caroline Davies
My sister-in-law, Toula was the demonstrator of a Mediterranean arrangement and she chose agave as her material. This was quite apt because Toula, being a Greek teacher explained that the word 'agave' is derived from the Greek 'Agaue', the name of one of the daughters of Cadmus in Greek mythology.

Toula with her arrangement
(apologies for my poor photography)
A clearer picture of the arrangement

Toula used one large piece of agave placed vertically on a board fitted with a spike, which pierced the agave and held it in place. She then attached to the main piece smaller agave pieces taken from the unfurled spikes and added bougainvilleas for colour.

For my arrangement, below, I used this very old container, which is made up of three metal rods held together by a brass strip, onto which sits a large dish. It looks like something that might have been used by the oracles of ancient Greece. It stands at 1.4 metres in height, hence its position on the floor. I used variegated ivy, oranges and geraniums to complete my Mediterranean arrangement.

Please go to Ikebana Melbourne for photographs by the other members.

I leave you with this next arrangement, for which I have re-used this succulent material when I demonstrated the theme "Arrangement Expressing a Movement".

The re-worked material in a stainless steel container.

Original arrangement - the movement - 'Crawling'

Bye for now,

Monday, 10 June 2019

Hello all,

Ikebana colleague and former student, Marcia Lamrock, made the above arrangement during a recent Ikebana International meeting. It is a wall basket woven from palm inflorescence, into which she placed the coloured, ornamental vine to complete this delightful arrangement. Marcia bought her basket at the International Flower and Garden Show.

This basket was the inspiration to make our own baskets. When I suggested the idea to the class, they agreed enthusiastically and we set aside one lesson for basket weaving. I made a basket before the lesson to work out any problems so that I could guide the students. I provided the inflorescence, which I had soaked earlier and off we went. It was a most enjoyable lesson with every student delighted with her creation. In the following class, as well as their regular lesson, we each used our basket to make an arrangement. The photographs are below.

This was my first attempt

Shaneen Garbutt - Wall basket

Nicole McDonld, table basket

Wendy Sun. This is a wall basket but Wendy made a base,
into which the basket can sit and be placed on a table

Bredenia Raquel - wall basket

Rachel Jones, still in book 1,- wall basket

Vicky Kalokathis - table basket

Lucy Papas made a larger basket by weaving it more loosely
Lei Wang - wall basket

Dianne Longley - wall basket

Mary Sutherland, who has just finished Book 1, made this table basket. I helped
with the arrangement
I had some of the inflorescence left over, after cutting branches for the students, and couldn't help playing with it. I made two more baskets.

As you can see, the baskets are very different reflecting each student's personality and taste. In the previous books of our curriculum we had a lesson - 'Making Your Own Container'. The thinking behind this was that while making a container, the student thinks about how it can be used and becoming more intimate with it. Making our own baskets fits right into that concept.

We are, also, toying with the idea of taking up pottery. We'll see.

Bye for now,

Monday, 27 May 2019

My persimmon tree, which produces masses of fruit but the
local fauna leave very few for us. It's worth having such a tree
if only for the autumn colour.
Hello all,
Autumn is a glorious time of year for us Victorians. We often envy the more northern states for their warm weather but, come autumn, we can be grateful for the chill that produces the wonderful colours on our deciduous trees.

My weeping Japanese maple

The golden elm, which we share with our neighbours
My favourite of all my trees, the ginkgo biloba.
Of course, there is, also a down side to all these coloured and falling leaves, having to rake them up. If you look closely under the golden elm, there are piles of leaves collected by Sam, waiting to be spread  around the garden beds. My little assistant, AKA Aria, and I were raking on the other side of the garden. She was quite keen until she discovered that she could use the rake handle to shake the tree and watch the leaves showering down.

Last Friday and Saturday we, the Sogetsu group, had our annual workshops with Yoshiro Umemura. We always look forward to these workshops and have not been disappointed yet.

On Friday afternoon we were challenged by a completely new theme - 'Create an arrangement which some would surely say "You shouldn't do that"'. In other words, break some ikebana rules.

Umemura sensei created a flower-like shape out of disposable wooden forks glued together. He then placed them in a container shaped like a curved pipe and added tortured willow for line and scattered flower petals for colour. We have always been taught to avoid 'crafty' works. This was the rule sensei was breaking.

When I first read the brief for this workshop my first thought was to make an arrangement up-side-down. I have since come up with other ideas but I went with my first. It is important, when addressing a particular theme, to end up with a pleasing ikebana arrangement as well. It took me an inordinate amount of time to balance the ceramic container on the big, curly branch, which I found on the footpath. I had to remove some pieces from one side and add them to the other several times, until I reached equilibrium. I then considered the flowers, which looked wrong when placed up-side-down. I chose gerberas, not my favourite flowers, because I could wire them and curve them so that they faced upwards when placed in the vase. Of course, I had their stems in little water vials.

When I took the arrangement home, I turned it right-side-up and straightened the stems of the geberas to, again, face upwards. If I had kept it up-side-down it would have disturbed my family, in particular my son-in-law, Warren, who can't tolerate a picture on the wall being even slightly crooked.

A more conventional arrangement
Lucy made an arrangement with fresh materials but no water. A definite no no! She used variegated New Zealand flax and mahonia flowers elevated from the table by a rusty metal frame.

Vicky used a large glass vase into which she placed dry material, something we don't normally do and balanced the sun flower outside the vase, depriving it of water.

Our second workshop was of an autumn arrangement in a nageire vase using a vertical fixture. Sensei used stachyurus, beauty berries and roses.

I used ginkgo, hydrangeas, three pomegranates (not visible in photo) and a strelitzia.

Nicole used liquidambar and hydrangeas.

Lucy used viburnum opulus stems and rhododendron.

For our third workshop, we swapped containers and then swapped materials, so that we, each, had to make a completely improvised arrangement. I did not get to photograph mine, but Lucy photographed hers, so I leave you with that.

Please go to Sogetsu Ikebana Melbourne for photographs of arrangements by the other members.

Bye for now,

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Hello all and a very happy Mother's Day to all the mums out there.

Yesterday I ran a workshop for our Ikebana International chapter on the subject 'An Arrangement Expressing a Movement' from the Sogetsu curriculum. This is quite a challenging exercise, particularly for the non-Sogetsu members, who were faced with it for the first time. So I was very pleased to see so many members attending and attempting something for the first time.

Theme - 'Crawling'. This succulent was given to me by my student, Shaneen because
she thought I could find some use for it. She was right

Theme - 'Fencing'. I used New Zealand Flax to simulate
the swords and agapanthus flower heads
Theme - 'Hula Hooping'. I used agapanthus,
Siberian dogwood stems and nandina
domestic nana
Theme - 'Pouring'. I used stripped aspidistra leaves in a ceramic vase, which
I tipped using a metal structure, which I bought at  headquarters.
Nicole expressed the theme - "Embracing" She used
stelitzia flowers and leaves

Lucy's theme was 'Bouncing'. She used umbrella grass stems and
crab apples

For the rest of the photographs from the workshop, please go to II Melbourne Chapter. Christopher may not have had a chance to post them on the blog yet but he surely will.

And now for class.
After the previous II workshop on baskets, I thought it was time to do the same exercise in the class, as it had been a while since we did it last.

I used amaranthus, swan plant  (Gomphocarpus
fruticosus), Japanese anemones and nandina
domestica nana
Vicky used camelias
Bredenia used small Chrysanthemums, pomegranates,
and nerines

This container of Vicky's, shaped as a basket is in fact ceramic with
a wooden handle. She used viburnum opulus branches and roses

Lucy used viburnum opulus branches, stock and Japanese

My wisteria is hell bent on climbing the loquat and nectarine trees. I'm constantly cutting it back to prevent it taking over. After a recent such prune, I couldn't let the opportunity pass without making some arrangements. Below are two of them.

Bye for now,