Happy Lunar New Year to all of you celebrating it.
I made the two arrangements, above, for our neighbours on either side, who are Chinese. I used red and gold spray on the dried agapanthus, white and blue hydrangeas and alstroemeria psittacina. We are very lucky to have neighbours, with whom we get along very well. I love giving ikebana arrangements to people I know will appreciate them. And they are very generous too, sending freshly made dumplings, as well as other goodies and, most importantly, allowing me to cut anything I want from their gardens.
Below is a photo of my gloriosa lilies, which I grow in pots against a north facing wall. They are tropical plants but do very well in this sheltered position.
I used the flowers in the two arrangements, below. In the first, I used pear stems with the gloriosa lilies in this odd, bottle shaped vase, which is closed at the top but has two openings just below the top. In the second one I used a mass of the gloriosas and a long stem of Port St Johns creeper (Podranea ricasoliana), which grows over the fence from our southern neighbours. The container, which I won in a raffle at Ikebana International, is one I'm particularly fond of.
|Mass, line and colour.|
Last week, as Sam and I were returning from a market just outside the city, we came across a prunus full of yellow fruit. Over the years I've become very good at noticing material as I'm driving. Many's the time I slammed on the brakes suddenly, terrifying any passenger next to me, because I saw something along the roadside, potentially useful for ikebana. This time Sam was driving and, very kindly, agreed to make a u-turn and go back to cut a stem or two for me.
I removed quite a lot of the side shoots, leaving only those facing one direction and creating a wind-swept look. I used New Zealand flax, which I split and bent to follow the same lines. The fruit on the table add to the effect. Of course, the container had to be strong and heavy to hold the very heavy branch.
In the first one I used Lyn's dahlia (so called because a former student, Lyn, gave me the rhizome) and Lee's hosta leaves (because Lee Johnstone, a colleague gave me the plant)
In this next one, I found this stem of viburnum opulus as I was crawling under the shrub, weeding. It has developed this interesting habit because it was squashed under other branches. The two kniphofia are quite small and, so, more manageable than the larger ones I have growing. And I like the colour of the hydrangeas against the yellow kniphofias and container (self made).
The materials in the next arrangement were sitting in a bucket, left over from other arrangements. I decided to quickly put them together in this container. Well, they came together, alright, but not quickly. The weight of the crocosmia required some mechanics to secure them upright. I wired each bunch at the base, then pinned them where they meet. This was almost enough. The addition of the agapanthus, wedging in, was what secured them properly.
I'm sure you all know the dreadful, unprecedented, wild weather we have been experiencing. Last week it, literally rained mud. It was a combination of a dust storm with heavy rain. Everything was covered in red dirt. Since then, for all the arrangements that I made I, first, had to wash the dirt from the materials. Below are a couple of examples.
|Viburnum opulus and cornus siberica alba|
This can only be done when the stems of the flower buds are very soft and pliable, in other words, very young. I bend them towards the ground and put a fork over them. Then, as they grow reaching for the sun, they create the curves in the stem.
My sister and student, Vicky, cuts a slit in a leaf near the bud and fits the bud through it, to keep it bent. I've tried this but, because mine are growing so vigorously, they split the leaf and continue to grow straight.
And now, I'd like to leave you with some happy news. You may remember during a particularly strong wind, a couple of months ago, the trunk of our nectarine tree broke. It was quite heart breaking, as I loved both the tree and the fruit. Well, nature has a wonderful way of recovering. I was delighted to discover that a fresh new shoot is growing from the roots of the original tree, eliminating the need to plant something else in its place. We quickly put the rods around it to protect it, mainly from our lawn mower man, who would have gone right over it with his ride on mower.
Bye for now,