Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Pomegranate, strelitzia and agave
Hello all,

After many years of coveting a pomegranate tree, I finally have one, thanks to my friend Parthena, who gave it to me two years ago. And, I'm proud to say, that it is doing well and has produced the fruit in the above arrangement, as well as a few more.

The weight of the fruit makes them difficult to arrange. As with all heavy fruit, we tend to arrange them close to the container and, therefore, close to the centre  of gravity. In this case I wanted to use the long stems, so I had to devise a method of securing them.

The photograph, above, shows how I hammered two horizontal sticks onto the two stems of the pomegranates. I made sure that the structure fits snugly into the opening of the container, making it quite stable.

Winter arrangements -

The first of my Kamo-Hon-Ami camellia and my
Bare ornamental pear branches, eucalyptus and

Three arrangements in a new wall container, which I bought at the International Flower and Garden Show. It was sold as an outdoor planter but lends itself very well to ikebana.

Branches with yellow berries (I think it is duranta erecta)
and lisianthus 
Flowering mahonia

Siberian dogwood and Japanese anemones 
Two arrangements using the technique 'Jika-dome' - Direct fixing.

Ornamental pear branches, camellias, berries and my pomegranates
Plane tree branches and hydrangeas. I made this arrangement in a glass
vase so that the bending technique could be visible to the students

In a recent post I wrote about our weeping willow tree that suddenly fell. Although we were able to retain a good portion of the tree, quite a lot of it went through the chipper. One small stump was forgotten and I discovered that it produced a shoot. And the limbs that have been retained are, also, producing new shoots, in the middle of autumn, no less.

This is one of the limbs that is now resting on the ground and,
together with other such limbs, is holding up the tree. Notice
all the new shoots
I wrote this post earlier than my usual fortnightly post because I'm flying to New Zealand tomorrow. I will be visiting Christchurch and Wellington to run workshops with the Sogetsu groups there. I'm really looking forward to this, as New Zealand is one of my favourite places. And what better way to spend a few days there than immersed in ikebana with like-minded people.

Bye for now,

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Japanese maple, crepe myrtle and nerines
Hello all,

The arrangement, above, was done by Aurelia Dong. It is the last lesson in Book 4 of our curriculum and is called 'You in Ikebana'. I was very proud of this work but, I fear, the photograph doesn't do it justice.

At last month's Ikebana International meeting Lara Telford ran a workshop on colour. The members were divided into five groups, with each group assigned a colour. We were to use blue, brown, green, purple and gold and/or silver. I was in the unenviable, brown group. My first instinct was to refuse to take part but I gave myself a good talking to and got on with the job. Then, as luck would have it, I found in my work room a piece of bamboo blind that I had cut away from the blind I used in my exhibit at the Flower and Garden show. It was, certainly, brown and I was able to twist it into an interesting shape. My sedum, which was turning brown came in very handy and I finished the arrangement with some Begonia Erythrophylla leaves in a tall stainless steel vase.

 Please click on II Melbourne for all the photographs of the workshop.

And now for the latest Sogetsu workshop, which was run by Betty and Toula Karanikolopoulos, my sisters in law. We were to workshop dry palm materials, and use fresh materials to complete our arrangements. The girls had prepared three varied and interesting arrangements each. I've only included one of each but you can see them all as well as the work of the members on Sogetsu Ikebana Victoria.

Betty used the part of the palm leaf that attaches to
the trunk with strelitzia leaves and celosias
Toula's arrangement using the 'inflorecence' on which the fruit
are grown with a fatsia leaf and flowers

I used a palm spathe over a large ceramic vase, with nandina
domestica nana, leucodendrons and strands of inflorecence
In my previous post I included the photograph on the left as an example of the lesson 'In a Suiban without a kenzan'. Once the leaves of the Siberian dogwood dropped, I reworked the piece by adding more dogwood stems and two New Zealand flax leaves.


Spreading Arrangements:
Shaneen Garbutt used a bird's nest fern, aspidistra leaves, Singapore orchids and

I used canna lily leaves,New Zealand flax, fishbone ferns and Hawthorn berries

Shaneen's woven tray with what looks like an Autumn harvest
I used carrots, persimmons and a bull rush plant
with the roots attached on a lacquered board

I leave you with this cute, little arrangement, in which I used squiggly grass and alstroemeria psittacina flowers.

Bye for now,

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Hello all,

And welcome to my agapanthus issue. Yes, I know they are as common as dirt around here but that doesn't make them any less beautiful or versatile. The name 'agapanthus comes from the Greek and it means 'Love flower'. And I love them!

Some weeks ago I had to remove, literally, hundreds of spent flowers. They were too many for the two large bins we have for garden waste, so the job had to be done over two collection cycles. In the process I kept finding interesting stems that I could not discard and was compelled to keep and then  arrange. It turned into an agapanthus workshop for one. Which, I have to admit, I enjoyed. The photographs, below, are of arrangements using agapanthus in the stages after the blue or white flowers had died.

Dried and sprayed agapanthus with hawthorn berries and roses

With nandina domestica nana

In an asymmetrical Lacquer container

In a glass container

With New Zealand Flax

And now for class.
For last lesson I had set the theme 'Improving Your Technique - In a suibanan Without Kenzan' from Book 5. This is an extension of the Lesson in Book 4 and it includes using flowers and leaves as well as branches and employing a number of fixing methods. I'd like to point out that in all of the arrangements, below, the structure that was created stands without resting against the sides of the suiban, even though it may look like it does in the photos.

Vicky's very tall arrangement using dried strelitzia
leaves, Japanese flowering quince and a very tall
gladiolus, which was a gift to me from Dianne

Lucy's was also a very tall arrangement. She
used strelitzia leaves and Oriental lilies

Nicole used agapanthus, amaranthus and nandina domestica nana

I used Siberian dogwood branches and chrysanthemums In this more
traditional style arrangement
Here I used a strleitzia flower and leaf with agapanthus

Bye for now,

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Hello all,
My arrangement, above, addresses the theme in Book 4 -'Specific Scenes, Occasions or Spaces. In my case, my arrangement was to celebrate Easter. I found this container with holes all around it at an opp shop and instantly thought of filling the holes with Easter eggs. I also used taro leaves and squiggly grass.

Aurelia's arrangement, above, was to celebrate her brother's birthday. She used a prostrate banksia and Asiatic lilies. Unfortunately, the photograph doesn't show the beautiful curves of the banksia stems, sweeping from the back to the front.

'Green Plant Materials' is the theme for the two arrangements, below.

I used agapanthus and New Zealand flax. 
Nicole also used agapanthus as well as Setaria Palmifolia and
Green berries, with which I am unfamiliar 

The two arrangements, below, fit the theme in Book 4- 'Vegetables and/or Fruit in an Arrangement'

Judith used a pomegranate, pear, quince and a tulip in this
unusual platter with holes in it.

I used bananas, a plum, a cherry tomato and a button

'Seasonal Materials' - Autumn

I used my much prized Haemanthus lilies,nandina domestica
nana, hawthorn berries,amaranthus and a piece of driftwood
that was given to me by my young friend Rita

Nicole used oak branches and nerines ina ceramic vase
I leave you with this arrangement, which I made with the stems of summer flowering calla lilies. I was removing the seed heads before they fell to the ground and self seeded, when I noticed the suppleness of the stems. I took off the gardening gloves and went into my ikebana room to arrange them. The haemanthus lily completed the work.

Bye for now,

Tuesday, 27 March 2018


This show attracts over 100,000 visitors and is reputed to be the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere. To quote from their promotional material - "The prestigious Show is well established in the psyche of Australians as a 'must see' event".

Hello all,

The competition that I entered is called the Babtcare Shop Window Competition. The site dimensions are : 2.5 metres wide by 2.00 metres deep by 2.4 metres high. The theme for this year's competition was 'Blossoming with Age' and we were to write something about our interpretation of the theme and how our display related to it. I have to admit that I had some difficulty with this. Conceptual art is not my forte, so I took the following Haiku by Matsuo Basho and referenced it in my display.

This autumn -
why am I growing old?
bird disappearing among clouds

You may remember from my last post, the tragic loss of most of my willow tree. One small, silver lining of that catastrophe, was that I had big branches of willow, from which to choose to use in my display.

I was pleased to receive 'Second' in the competition.

The two photographs, below, were of entries in the same competition and were done by Sogetsu ikebanists.

Akemi Suzuki Fuller, an Ikebana International member

Shoan Lo

The Ikebana International exhibit, representing the five schools of ikebana in Melbourne.
They were awarded the Bronze medal.
On  Sunday, the last day of the show, five Ikebana International members did a demonstration on the main stage. I represented the Sogetsu school.

On the stage in deep concentration

The finished piece after I re-arranged it at home and
photographed it against a blank background

I, also, took photographs of the other four arrangements. However, because of the very busy background, they do not do justice to the lovely work, so I was not able to include them here.

I was very proud of my student Nicole McDonald, who, apart from studying ikebana, is a member of the Vermont Floral Art Society and who, together with Myrna Demetriou, was awarded the Second prize in the Victorian Floral Art Association competition.

Exhibiting in the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show is quite an undertaking. It takes days of preparations, countless forms , such as Health and Safety to be filled and submitted, loading trailers and cars with materials, tools, ladders etc. As I've been exhibiting for many years and have a great deal of experience, I arrived at the Exhibition Building on Sunday afternoon, quite confident that I was properly prepared. Imagine my surprise when I walked up to my allocated site and found that it was made of completely new  material. Whereas previously, the walls enclosing each site were made of some sort of particle board covered by a black, carpet like fabric, these new walls were made of a stark, white metal. And, whereas I was previously able to hammer nails or put staples into the walls, I was now unable to do anything like that.

I had planned an autumnal scene for my exhibit  with a distinct mood. I had, also, planned a canopy from which I could suspend fishing line, which would hold up the gypsophila creating the 'clouds'. All my plans seemed impossible since I could not attach a single nail to the existing structure.

I bought 9 metres of very wide fabric in pale green, which I intended to attach to the walls to change the colour from what I thought was going to be black. I had cut and stitched the fabric to fit into the space but, then, had to spray the whole thing with a fire retardant spray. Finding the spray and applying it was another story altogether. Unbeknownst to me, the fabric shrank when it got wet and I only discovered it on Sunday when I tried to attach it. So, back home to re-cut and re-sew.

I had two things in my favour, my husband, Sam, who's really good at carrying heavy things and my brother-in-law, Peter, who was only there to provide us with his trailer but who stayed on to help with building a canopy that just sat on top of the walls of the site. Peter is a genius as a handyman.

All of the following day, I had the benefit of help from my sister, Lucy. She and I work very well together because we think alike and are quite good at problem solving. And, I can assure you, we had to use all of our resourcefulness and ingenuity to achieve our goal. Next day was Tuesday and I was on my own but, just when I needed someone to hold a branch for me to screw it onto another,Trish Ward, our president, arrived to see how I was doing and was promptly put to work.

I have always had to rely on help from my family members but never more so than this year. I'm very grateful to all of them, including Vicky, who was not with me but looked after mum leaving Lucy free to help me. I am truly blessed!

So, here it is, Tuesday night and I still have not finished putting away all the paraphernalia I brought back after dismantling my exhibit. Some of the material was still viable, so I made a couple of arrangements, because, God forbid, I should let anything go to waste!

The yellow orchids were from my exhibit and the New Zealand flax was left over
from my demonstration
I reused the amaranthus and nandina domestica nana and
I added the roses to complete this wall arrangement

Thank you for staying to the end of my rant. And now, utterly exhausted, I bid you Good Bye,