Monday 15 July 2024

15TH JULY, 2024


Hello all,

I drove past a large clump of ginger (Hedychium Gardnerianum), the  flowers of which had died and were replaced by bright orange seeds. I had to have some. 

Gingers have large leaves growing along either side of the stem. I removed all of them, exposing the long stems and placed them in a self made, ceramic container. I added the strelitzia leaf with an equally long stem. This would be a good example of the theme 'Lines at the Base'.

At a recent class Lei's lesson was 'Complementing an Art Piece'. She chose this print by Katsushika Hokusai - 'Ono Waterfall On The Kisokaido.

She driftwood and variegated New Zealand flax and two ceramic containers.

Mary made a freestyle arrangement using aspidistra leaves and chrysanthemums, from which she removed all the leaves, giving the piece a more contemporary look. The container was particularly appropriate because the extended lip concealed the kenzans making it unnecessary to use jushi and leaving the stems clear at the base.

Reusing materials. 

The strelitzia nicolai flower in the arrangement below, was used in an arrangement at our workshop with Ray Bywaters. The fern fronds dried quickly, so I made a completely different arrangement. Then, once the petals had dried, I removed them and, no longer needing to be in water, I turned what was left up-side-down over the tall metal container. The clivia flowers and berries (Clivia gardenii) were in an arrangement I had done for my daughter's family while their house was for sale. When the other materials of that arrangement had died the clivias were still viable, so I included them in this arrangement.

Second iteration
First iteration

Final iteration

My aunty, Elizabeth and her husband Nick, had moved into an aged care facility about two years ago. They always had a manicured garden with a good selection of plants and flowers. I visited their garden earlier today and was very sad to see it so neglected. Despite the neglect, there were a number of plants from which I took cuttings...

..the roses, below, are actually mauve in colour, not pink as they appear in the photo and have an intoxicating fragrance.

The roses in the next arrangement are from my 'Queen Elizabeth' shrub, which I pruned recently.

My leucadendron is looking particularly attractive with its yellowing flowers and red stems. I removed all the leaves from the stems to reveal their lines and rich colour  and placed them in the same, ceramic container as at the top of this post. To finish off, I added a couple of sprigs of nandina domestica nana.

A few weeks ago I had included in my post the flyer for the Antipodean Palette exhibition, which is currently on and will be until Sunday, 21st July. The official opening was last Saturday and I went along, accompanied by my granddaughter, Hermione.

It's the first time I exhibited at such an exhibition. Mine was the only ikebana arrangement in a room full of paintings. It created quite a lot of interest and I found myself engaged in a few conversations about it.

Hermione and I with my exhibit

Bye for now,

Monday 8 July 2024



The birthday girl, Jeannine

The birthday cake made by me and, yes,
including the stiletto 
Hello all,

My beautiful daughter-in-law, Jeannine, recently celebrated a milestone birthday with a party with her closest friends and family. The venue was delightful, the food delicious and plentiful and the open bar was much frequented by all.

It really was a most enjoyable evening with dancing until closing time. The mini bus that Dennis, Jeannine's husband, had hired to take our immediate family to and from the venue, was a great idea for many reasons.

And now to ikebana. At last week's class, I had provided the students with branches of conifer which I had found on the footpath at a nearby house. Clearly the owners had pruned the tree or trees quite heavily and left the cuttings outside. I love to take advantage of such opportunities, so I loaded up the car and brought them home.

In my first arrangement, below, I used the conifer in a naturalistic style in a donut shaped container which has two openings, one at the top and one inside the circle. I needed strong flowers to go with it, hence the camellias.

In my second arrangement I used a stem of conifer that appears to have been trimmed over time, much like a hedge with a flat surface. I removed a number of subordinate branches, so as to feature the lines of the stems. Having chosen the container, my first instinct was to look for a flower to put with it. However, Ray Bywaters' words about challenging ourselves were fresh in my mind and I looked around for something different. I settled on the strelitzia leaf for its strength and contemporary look.

Vicky made yet another tall arrangement. She removed almost half of the stems and leaves of the conifer branch, creating a dramatic line and added long stemmed oriental lilies still in bud.

Mary referenced Variation No. 4 with a shin and hikai in a nageire container. 

Lucy turned her stem upside down, after trimming it back to reveal the curve of the stem and placed it over a nageire vase. The partially open oriental lily completed the arrangement. It's important to note that the conifer will last for quite a while without being in water. 

Cimbie spend a considerable amount of time removing subordinate branches and leaves to reveal the reddish brown stems. The large container that she chose was ideal for the heavy branch, however, she had to employ strong mechanics to stop the branch from tipping forward.

Nicole used an exquisite tsubo vase and fixed the stem in that position by splitting it and attaching it to a split vertical fixture. In the photo the flowers appear to be filling the opening but this was not the case. On the left side the rim was clearly visible.

Jenny secured her branch into the corner of her container with the use of a fork shaped stick. She then placed the chrysanthemums behind the conifer stem keeping all the stems together leaving ample space at the top of the container and making a dynamic arrangement.

Similarly, Bredenia secured her branch in a corner of her container and added a strelitzia with a double head.

It's always satisfying when using unfamiliar material and managing to master it. 

Bye for now,

Monday 1 July 2024


Hello all,

The photographs, above, are of my Prunus mume tree in full bloom and a close up of the blossoms. It seems incongruous to have blossoms in the heart of winter, which makes this tree most desirable for us, ikebanists. Its delicate fragrance is an added bonus.

For last class I provided the advanced students with branches of this tree, as the basis of a freestyle arrangement. They were to bring containers and accompanying materials to complete their arrangement. The branches grow in a rather unruly fashion making them more difficult to arrange than one would think.

My arrangement, below. was to be placed on the coffee table. I used the blossom branches in a slanting style and added a couple of haemanthus lily leaves. There was a sweeping forward movement of the branches which is lost in the photograph.

Shaneen used a ceramic jug as her container and  kept her arrangement relatively simple adding only a couple of small stems of coprosma.

Vicky used a slate container made by her husband, Peter. The design of the container is such that it conceals the small kenzan that is glued inside, thus doing away of the requirement to cover the kenzan and allowing the lines at the base to be unencumbered.

Jenny had a rather wide, ceramic vase and placed her branches so that they swept to one side. She, also, used salvias in deep purple and white, which looked quite lovely but, which are somewhat lost in the photograph. The deep purple doesn't show up against the dark background.

Mary used a ceramic suiban into which she placed branches she had trimmed to emphasize a forward sweep,( again, lost in the photo). She had roses with a pink centre, that looked to me as though they were puckering up for a kiss.

Nicole added to the feeling of spring by the use of daffodils with the blossoms. She also added some alstroemeria psittacina leaves at the opening of the ceramic container.

Cymbie used two rectangular. glass containers. In the large one she placed the large branch and a much smaller branch, following the same lines in the smaller container. 

Bredenia's arrangement was one 'In a Suiban Without a Kenzan'. She balanced the branches with minimal wirering and added a single strelitzia stem with a double head.

Bye for now,

Monday 24 June 2024



Hello all, 

At our recent Ikebana International meeting, our guest speaker was Mr. Eijiro Fukuda, a Kumiko Woodworking Artist - Kumino. So, we were asked to make arrangements using wood.

Our Lucy was the member demonstrator. She used a 'log', which had been sliced in two and she drilled holes on the cut face of each half and added spear grass to create curved lines. She then drilled a larger hole into which she placed a plastic vial to hold the stem of crucifix orchid. Photograph, below.

Lucy had, also, done an arrangement to place on the table using black bamboo attached to a board. She poured water in one bamboo 'cylinder' and used it to place the rose stem.

For my contribution on the theme, I wanted to use something other than the countless 'wood' materials in my storage room, which I'd used before. On my street there are a number of huge, mature, cypress trees. On the lower parts of the trees, limbs had died and dropped off, leaving stumpy pieces jutting out. I wanted to use these but I did not want to cut them with a saw, So I broke a couple by hanging on them like Tarzan (or maybe his monkey). I'm sure it would have been entertaining for passing motorists to see an old lady hanging from a tree. But, we, ikebanists wiil not be deterred!

I attached them together with a screw where they meet at the top and at the bottom. Then it was just a matter of adding flowers and I couldn't go past these red camellias. As any of you who have worked with camellias will know, there is a degree of difficulty in arranging them. The flowers often grow facing downward and care must be taken not to allow the backs of the leaves to show.

For photographs of other members' work, go to II Melbourne.

On Saturday our Sogetsu group welcomed Ray Bywaters, the director of the South Australian Branch and the most recent recipient of the Norman and Mary Sparnon Scholarship.

Ray spoke to us of her experiences during her stay in Japan and presented a short power point presentation. She, then, demonstrated two arrangements on the theme of the Japanese idiom : 'Kachoufugetsu'. We were told that the meaning is 'The beautiful features of natural scenery, the beauty of nature, artistic pursuits with natural themes, the wonder of nature, scenic nature.

Please go to Sogetsu Victoria for more information and photographs.

For my arrangement the greatest challenge was to cut down a strelitzia nicolai flower, which was very high on the plant. With Sam's help, I stood on a trestle table and, using an extendable cutter with a saw attached, I just managed to reach and cut my flower. 

My aim was to represent a bird. Then I was faced with the challenge of balancing the very heavy strelitzia in this doughnut shaped container, without resting on top of it. I pierced a skewer through the stem to help stop it from twisting. I then, added fern fronds and cordyline leaves as feathers.

Side view

The theme for the afternoon workshop was 'One Leaf and One Flower', which seemed much easier in comparison, but, for many of us, it proved anything but. We were told we could do a second arrangement if we wanted to.

My first arrangement was very simple using a haemanthus leaf and one arum lily. I did have to employ some mechanics to ensure that the lily stem did not rest on the leaf.

My second arrangement was a bit more challenging. It started with the crucifix orchid with aerial roots that I've been wanting to use for some time. I needed a high container from which the roots could hang and a strong leaf to hold up the flower and for visual balance. Hence the gymea leaf. To prevent the flower stem from resting on the leaf, I used a piece of wire which I pierced through the stem and into the top and bottom of the leaf 'tunnel'.

We had some discussion as to whether the roots constituted a part of the flower, with differing opinions. The orchid is epiphytic and draws nourishment from its aerial roots, which allows me to place it in the arrangement without it being in water. I just spray the roots every time I go past it.

Two days later and the fern fronds in my bird arrangement were drying and curling up. This necessitated the rearranging of the strelitzia.

I started by securing the flower in this ceramic container. That meant using skewers through the stem and wedging them on the inside walls of the container.

In new container

Mechanics holding the flower 


Now, this is a deep enough container to conceal my mechanics but I was not happy with them being seen when up close. So I brought in a gymea leaf, which can survive a long time without being in water. The arrangement is now fits the theme of 'One Leaf and One Flower.

The final product

Bye for now,



Monday 17 June 2024



Hello all,

I run the Masterclass once a month but had to cancel the last three due to clashes with 2 exhibitions and a demonstration. So, it was great to get back to it. Providing the advanced students with challenging work and seeing what they come up with is very rewarding for this teacher.

Vicky had done some pruning in her garden and offered bare, magnolia and apple branches for the class to use. I gave each student two branches and a stem of Oriental lilies plus two leaves, all of them different. They were to choose the container themselves.

In my arrangement, above, after positioning the magnolia branches securely in the container, I removed a number of side stems to create a windswept look. I added the flower at the back and weaved a number of dietes leaves to follow the direction of the stems.

Lei came up with an interesting design but struggled with the mechanics needed to keep the branches in position in this difficult to use container. Because the branches are bare, they can be placed out of water and the aspidistra leaves can, also, survive out of water.

Cym chose a tall vase with two openings and placed her magnolia branches diagonally over it. She, then, carefully arranged the strelitzia leaves so that the pinky coloured spine would be visible, picking up the colour of the flowers. Her flower stem had three flowers and she was loathe to remove any, so she used it as it was, placing it behind the leaves.

Lucy started with a ceramic vase with an antique metallic patina and a small opening. She arranged her branches and gymea leaves over the container placing inside the vase the flower and an interesting branch with a thick stump on the end.

Jenny placed her branches in and out of this heavy, ceramic container with a split down the middle. She used one of her New Zealand flax leaves and the flower stem with partially open buds.

Vicky wanted to feature the beautiful line of her apple branch, so chose a tall, white vase for her arrangement. She placed one stem in the vase and one in front of it. Two monstera deliciosa leaves and the flower stem completed the arrangement. There was some debate as to whether to remove the two leaves at the top. In the end I left it up to her to decide and she chose to keep them. 

Mary's class theme was Jika-dome - Direct fixing. She used camelia branches, which she was able to bend. She placed the branches with the bottom of the stem resting on the inside wall of the vase and the bend on the lip. The chrysanthemum stems, also, needed some bending to bring them forward.

Before I leave you, I'd like to extend an invitation to an exhibition - 'Antipodean Palette', in which I will be taking part. Details below. 

I will be on duty on Saturday morning, 13th July, if anyone wants to drop in and say hi.

Bye for now,


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