Friday, 17 November 2017

Lucy with George, both dressed in the style 'Steam Punk'.
If, like me, you don't know what that is, I recommend

Hello all,

As this is an ikebana blog, I keep posts of personal events to a minimum. However, I would like to share with you some photos of a recent, somewhat significant event. Lucy, pictured above, is my sister and most senior student and has recently had a milestone birthday. And, as with the previous two milestone birthdays, she celebrated it with a fancy dress party.

A great deal of preparation was required by the whole family for the party that turned out to be a resounding success. The venue was large and well appointed so that we had ample room for dancing. We Greeks love to dance and we danced our shoes off that night. The caterers did a great job and the friends and family members, who provided cakes for the dessert part of the meal, outdid themselves. But it was the effort that everybody put into their costumes that created the most fun. Here are some photos.

 Lucy, mum as Judge Judy, me as Queen Nefertiti and Vicky as Maleficent.

Sam as King Henri VIII and I

My granddaughter Hermione
My grandson Xavier, as Michael Jackson in 'Thriller"

Xavier with his father, Warren the zombie 
Granddaughter, Aria as 'Pebbles'

My son, Dennis as 'The Green Lantern' with daughter, Hermione
and wife, Jeannine as Carrie Bradshaw from 'Sex and the City'

Peter as Sultan and Vicky

My daughter, Madeline as Uhura from 'Star Trek'

A great number of amazing costumes were worn on the night, which I can't include here but the photo, below, is of the five of us from my ikebana class that were in attendance.

Lucy, Bredenia, Vicky, Aurelia and I
Apart from making my costume, my daughter's and granddaughter's, I also made four table arrangements and the cake with Lucy's assistance.

This, too, is in the Steam Punk style. I apologize for the poor quality
of the photo. It didn't occur to any of us to photograph the cake. This is
an enlargement from a larger photograph which I cropped
Lucy, Vicky and I made four table arrangements each, all of them different. Unfortunately, I was the only one to photograph mine before placing on the tables. The variety of ikebana arrangements created interest, even among people who would not normally notice the flowers on the table. Below are just a couple.

Hippeastrum, Canna lily leaves and mizuhiki

Umbrella grass stems and strelitzias
I leave you now to rush to the airport. Lucy and I are flying to Sydney to attend workshops and a training session on Book 5 of our curriculum, run by Misei Ishikawa sensei from headquarters. More about this later.

Bye for now,

Sunday, 5 November 2017

A spring arrangement to lift the spirits.
Using five materials - clematis, wisteria, viburnum
opulus, cottage gladioli and alstroemeria leaves
Hello all,

The ikebana highlight of the past fortnight has been the annual Sogetsu exhibition at the Malvern Arts Society, which is still on and will end on Tuesday.

For my exhibit, below, I used a large, doughnut-shaped metal piece, the front of which I painted in this greeny-yellow colour. The branch material is a weeping mulberry and it measures 1.7 metres in length. I used a vivid blue paint colour to contrast with the green. The strength and colour of the green goddess lilies finishes this large, wall arrangement.There will be photos of the whole exhibition in our Sogetsu website in due course.

With the off cuts from the mulberry, I put together this arrangement using a flower from a strelitzia plant that came from my dear aunt's garden. You will notice that the flower has grown with an unusual bend to it.

An example of two themes - 'Colour of the Container' and 'Shape
of the Container'
At the moment my garden so prolific in materials for ikebana that I don't have the time to arrange them all, nor the places to put them. Basically, I'm suffering the embarrassment of riches, a condition for which I expect no sympathy.

My flag irises have all bloomed at once. Here are a couple of the arrangements I made with them.

A pond arrangement in a container I made using
 crushed coloured glass, which, after 
firing, becomes a glaze.

A close up of the flower, whose colour is such a
deep purple that it is almost black

White flag iris with weeping willow and
Japanese maple

My spuria irises are also flowering now. These grow very tall and are a challenge to arrange, so I bent them to point downwards in this modern wall arrangement. I used stainless steel strips to create an interesting balance.

The flower stems in this next arrangement were almost two metres tall and belong to a plant I thought is curculigo. It was given to me by my generous coleague, Pat Hetrel, who is a very knowledgeable gardener. I wanted it for its leaves, which are pleated vertically. I did not expect flowers and was absolutely delighted when I saw the spikes coming through. I waited to see what they would look like when fully opened and then I cut and arranged them. I had to remove some of the length to make them fit under the staircase. The sad thing is that after two days the lovely yellow flowers turned brown and the tips of the spikes drooped. Clearly, not great as a cut flower.

Here is the plant growing in a corner of the garden
next to the rain water tank

I leave you with this little arrangement using what I believe are arisaema flowers. I consulted google to find the correct name for them but had no success. If any one knows it, I would be very grateful if you would email me.  I have them growing in deep shade in a pot. Their flower is very interesting with this long thin 'toungue' as are the leaves.

Bye for now,

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Hello all,

The rhizome for the iris, above, was given to me by Lyn Thomas, a former student. When she offered it to me she referred to it as 'flesh coloured', to which Lucy and I screwed up our faces. When it flowered, however, we were delighted. Lyn doesn't know the name of the iris but I looked up my iris book and found one that looks very much like it called 'Smoke Rings'. I arranged it in the traditional ikebana style, finished off with Japanese maple.

It's been a particularly busy fortnight, ikebana-wise, with Ikebana Intenational meeting on the 10th, two days of workshops with Yoshiro Umemura last weekend, classes on Wednesday and now preparing for a Sogetsu Exhibition in early November. More about that later.

The theme for the Ikebana International meeting was Japanese Day, so we were asked to make arrangements with the theme 'Memories of Japan'. I used in my arrangement Viburnum Opulus while still green, as I had first used it that way in class at Headquarters in 2014. I loved the vivid green of the flowers. The instructor on the day told me that this material is part of the Hydrangea family and I should dip the stem in burnt alum to help it last longer. A number of our Japanese members demonstrated the use of mizuhiki for gift wrapping and, also made origami bags with a mizuhiki 'knot'inside for everyone. And the light lunch that was provided at the end was delicious. For all the photographs please go to


The themes for Yoshiro's workshops were all from Book 5. The first was Lesson 3 - Arrangements on the Table' Mine was for a coffee table, so the view from above was important.

Dietes leaves, strelitzias and alstroemeria leaves
The second workshop was Lesson 9 - 'Floor Position Arrangements'. Apart from the description in English in the book, Yoshiro explained that the arrangement was meant to appear to be rising out of the ground.

Green Goddess lilies and stem of palm leaf

The third workshop was Lesson 20 - 'Complementing an Art Work'. In this theme we were to incorporate the art work in our arrangement. I picked a print, which I treasure because it was given to me by my friend Akiko Takahira. I made my arrangement to continue 'the story'.

Close-up of the print

I used bamboo and lilac in ceramic container

And the final workshop was Lesson 24 -  'Using Various Locations'. I chose this storeroom door in a dull blue colour. Yoshiro explained that if we were to make an arrangement on a wall we needed to incorporate the space around it and not to just make a 'Wall Arrangement'. I tried to do this by using the door handle, on to which I attached some of the material, continuing the line towards the circle. The door frame acted as a frame for the arrangement.

I have to give credit to our members, as the work produced in all four of the workshops was quite impressive. Please go to our blog for Yoshiro's arangements as well as our members'.

For class last week, Vicky, after cutting back her agave, provided us with ample material for a workshop on this very strong but also versatile material. It is a favourite of mine and I have used it in so many different ways in the past, that coming up with something new was challenging.Below is my arrangement. After creating the structure and placing it with this heavy container, I looked around my garden for complementary material to use as a mass but nothing satisfied me. I used the calla lilies as the best of a bad lot. A few days later, my yellow mollis azalea flowered and I replaced the lilies with it. For the green mass at the back I used my trusty alstroemeria leaves.

Aurelia Dong
Nicole McDonald
Lucy Papas

Bredenia Raquel
Vicky Kalokathis
Today is a cold and wet Melbourne day but we recently had some very warm weather, which was appreciated by all, including some of the fauna inhabiting our garden. I almost stepped on this blue toungued lizard when I turned the corner to go to the back garden. It had a companion, that scurried away at my approach but this one seemed quite comfortable in my presence. Later that day, Sam saw a juvenile lizard walking across the path. We feel privileged to be living in an area where we can have wildlife such as these lizards, the occasional tawny frogmouth, a family of cookaburras, frogs and dozens and dozens of birds. There are, however, some drawbacks such as the possums that eat all our fruit and the one that has made our windowsill its home. It cuts branches from my conifer and carries them to the window sill, making its bed with them. when the branches dry, it drops them in to my garden and goes and cuts new ones. Every single day! Then there was the Crow with a megaphone that sat on the pittosporum  outside my window at some ungodly hour of the morning and who had a great deal to say. The expression 'Stone the Crows!' came vividly to mind.

Our Sogetsu group's annual exhibition will be held at the Malvern Artist's Society Gallery (1297-99 High St. Malvern) from Thursday 2nd November until Tuesday 7th, from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm. I will be on duty there on Tuesday afternoon.

Bye for now,

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Bamboo culm sheath and bromeliad flower
Hello all,

I think I was always meant to study ikebana as is evidenced by a number of vases suited to ikebana that I bought long before I knew anything about this art form. I bought the little vase, above, in 1988 in Athens, three years before I started ikebana.

My grandchildren usually pay no attention to my arrangements. They seem to have accepted them as part of the furniture. Except for the arrangement, above, which is more that a metre tall, requiring 15 stems of Green Goddess lilies and which caught the eye of my granddaughter, Hermione. She said she liked it because it looked like a water fountain.

I made this arrangement because my rhododendron demanded it.

And now for some class work. The two arrangements, below have the theme - 'Keeping in Mind the View from Below'

I used flowering elm branch and rhododendron
flowers in this wall arrangement. 
Aurelia used freesias and alstroemeria leaves

I set the senior girls the theme from book 5 - 'Composing with Branches - A Two-step Approach'. First we created a composition using cut branches that could stand alone. Then, we introduced an appropriate container and fresh materials to complete the arrangement.

The two photographs, below, are my attempts at this exercise. I found a rather large elm branch on the ground and used it by cutting the thicker parts, creating a base and adding the finer branches at the top.  Thereby creating a type of mass. I tried many containers before I settled on this one. Most of them looked too heavy, whereas this one, with the opening in the middle seemed to fit the bill best. The clivias just finished it off.

Bredenia used thick contorted hazel branches with clivias and
alstroemeria leaves

Lucy used dried pine branches with flowering elm
In my absence my stachyurus came into full flower and I almost missed it. However, I managed to get this one arrangement from it.

I leave you with this arrangement which epitomizes  spring.

Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum and Dutch iris
Bye for now,