Tuesday, 17 May 2022



Hello all,

Here is a Virtual Tour of our exhibition, supplied by Jacquie Nichols-Reeves from Artspace at Box Hil Town Hall. As it is attached to another exhibition, you will need to click on the right hand side of the image for our exhibition and go from there.

I have a few more photographs from our exhibition to share with you. The above arrangement was Bredenia's. She used a driftwood-like material balanced on a ceramic vase and with it she massed yellow chrysanthemums at the front and nandina domestica nana to the back.

Jenny, in her arrangement below, used dried rhododendron branches and hydrangeas in autumn colours, in a large ceramic container.

Nicole's miniatures were a big hit with the public. People are often drawn to the 'cuteness' of the miniatures. My mother is one of them. Over the decades she has seen countless ikebana arrangements in mine and my sisters' homes but she never comments on them. Except for the miniatures. She, absolutely, loves them.

Lucy's metal sculpture, below, is made using a material from the building trade called 'reo chairs'. This is an example of the lesson in Book 5 - 'Composition Using Unconventional Materials'.

In contrast, Lucy's second piece, below, was a large, naturalistic, freestyle arrangement. She used ginkgo biloba for her main branches, pomegranates and lisianthus in a tall, ceramic vase. Over the two weeks of the exhibition, Lucy had to change the flowers more than once. She later replaced the lisianthus with white hydrangeas.

Cym's second arrangement was in a large glass cabinet with only a 35cm depth. She used dried, lichen covered branches, a stem of cordyline, dried amaranthus and philodendron chango leaves in a heavy ceramic container. For the second week, Cym replaced the cordyline with two, large New Zealand flax leaves.

Christopher's second arrangement was displayed in a glass cabinet.during the exhibition but, here, it has been photographed out of it. It is a birchwood sculpture with nandina domestica nana and 2 sedge leaves in a large, contemporary, ceramic container. This container is, understandably, much prized by Christopher. It was created by Echizen Potter, Yutaka Nakamura and was acquired by Christopher in 2011 whilst on the Norman and Mary Sparnon Endowment Scholarship.

Christine's arrangement lasted for the two weeks of the exhibition without requiring any maintenance. She used a dried, vine-like material, sprayed black and a single sunflower in a small, ceramic container.

Dianne's arrangement is from the curriculum. It is 'Variation no. 2 Slanting style Moribana'. She used leucodendron branches and roses from her garden in a ceramic suiban.

Lei's arrangement was also from the curriculum - 'Using Only One Kind of Material' and that was Umbrella grass (Cyperus Alternifolius) in a contemporary design.

Wendy's 'Vertical Arrangement' was also from the curriculum. She used gladioli stems and agapanthus leaves in a ceramic container. In contrast to Christine's arrangement, Wendy's flowers were short lived and had to be replaced several times. Wendy was very diligent in making sure that the flowers were always fresh.

My original arrangement using umbrella grass stems only lasted a week and had to be replaced. So, I made another one, using the same technique but a different design. I was looking for a way to showcase the pomegranates that I was able to save from the possums by covering them in plastic bags.

Bye for now,

Monday, 9 May 2022

9th May, 2022


Hello all,

Our exhibition is over and we are all very happy with what we have achieved. It was the first time that I was responsible for an exhibition, even if it was a relatively small one and I had to fight some misgivings of whether I would be able to pull it off. But, of course, I was not alone. Everyone was very willing and eager to be a part of it and to do everything necessary to maintain the arrangements so that they always looked fresh. This is quite an undertaking over a two week period. Also, Jacquie Nichols-Reeves, the curator of Artspace at Box Hill, and her assistants were helpful and accomodating, so that everything ran smoothly.

You may have noticed that I have not posted the photographs of all of the arrangements. There were 20 altogether. I'm having some technical difficulties, which I hope to resolve by the next posting of this blog.

In the meantime I can share with you the photographs of our regular, Wednesday class. The theme for the advanced students was 'Disassembling and Rearranging the Material'.

The arrangement, above, was by Nicole. She used a rhododendron branch, from which she removed all the leaves. She, then placed one flower bud and folded leaves on a kenzan at the back.

Jenny used red stemmed, Japanese Maple - 'Senkaki/Coral Bark' and arranged it, together with the massed leaves, to appear wind swept.

Vicky used Liquidamber branches as their leaves are changing colour in two, matching, ceramic containers.

I decided to use the pine needles that I had removed from a large branch I had used in my first demonstration. I had laid them on some non-stick baking paper in a circle and sprayed them with adhesive. When I looked at the result, it looked like a flat wreath. So I played around with folding it and placing it in a container. I sprayed black the stripped stem of the pine because its natural colour is a very dull grey. I used some golden coloured chrysanthemums to finish the arrangement. 

Wendy's curriculum lesson was 'Surfaces of Leaves'. She used strelitzia nicolai leaves and roses in a ceramic pot.

Shaneen's lesson was 'Paying Attention to the container and to the Place Where the Arrangement will be Put'. She used a variegated Coprosma and chrysanthemum's in two, self made, ceramic troughs.

Lei's lesson was 'With Branches Only'. We discussed that the ornamental vine she used was not, technically a branch but it was good practice working with the vine, which can be difficult. Shaneen contributed some of her Coprosma to complete the arrangement. Everyone was envious of Lei's container, a recent op-shop find.

Bye for now,

Monday, 2 May 2022




Hello all,

Our exhibition continues for another week. Some arrangements have had to be maintained by replacing dying materials or being replaced altogether.

My student, Lei Wang, a budding photographer, has, very generously, taken photos of all of the arrangements and is editing them a few at a time and sending them to me. I am sharing them with you as I receive them.

Vicky's arrangement, above, is in a large, glass cabinet, which is only 35cm deep. A challenging space to say the least, necessitating a very flat arrangement. She used large, glossy gymea leaves and two bromeliads, Neoregelia carolinae.

The basket, below, was done by Nicole, who has a particular fondness for this type of arrangement.

The next one is mine and it is a replacement one. You will, no doubt, have noticed that the pine tufts are pointing in all directions. I placed it exactly the way it grew on the tree, which should have had all the tufts pointing up but, not so. The container is ceramic with a handle made of twisted wisteria stems. I particularly like the contrast of the hydrangea colours against the vivid blue of the container.

Shaneen's arrangement, below, is from the curriculum and the theme is 'With Leaves Only. She, very wisely, used materials that last well - Birds nest ferns, cordylines, rhapis palm and canna lily leaves.

Cym used fresh and unconventional materials in her monochromatic arrangement. She used Silver Tiki fern, arrow leaves, Anthuriums, tetragona nuts and soft garden mesh.

These are all the photos I have so far. More to come later.

Bye for now,
A very tired Emily

Monday, 25 April 2022


Hello all,

Well, we made it! Our exhibition is on and, as immodest as this sounds, I'm proud of it. I can tick it off the bucket list. I have been wanting to hold an exhibition for my students for a very long time and had been held back by the inability to find a venue. Until now. I spoke to the curator of Artspace at Box Hill Town Hall, who was friendly and accommodating and offered me the All Nations Foyer for our exhibition. This was last year and a couple of postponements later, here we are. Everyone who took part has done so with enthusiasm and cooperation, making my job that much easier.

Above is a photograph of my wall piece. The doughnut shaped metal piece is approximately 80 cm in diameter and quite heavy. I decided to make the bamboo structure to go over it because I wanted to reuse the lovely green bamboo, which I, originally, used in my exhibit at MIFGS last month.

I invited advanced ikebanists, who have attended my Masterclasses to also take part in this exhibition and, happily, they did. Below is Christopher's arrangement in a magnificent, large, Shigaraki container. It sits in front of a mirrored pillar, which reflects two, white phalaenopsis orchids placed at the back of the arrangement. It is best viewed standing right in front of it.The heavy driftwood has a wide sweep forward, which is lost in this image. Lets face it, the photographs do not do it justice, you'll just have to come and see it.

Below is a photograph without the pillar and you have to imagine the phalaenopsis orchids at the back.

I  made my second arrangement using a technique I developed, decades ago, of joining the stems of umbrella grass to create surfaces. I used two ceramic containers in a muted colour and two crucifix orchids.

Those of you who have been following my blog since its inception in 2014, may remember that I used the same technique for my exhibit at the Sogetsu exhibition at the Shinjuku Takashimaya Department Store. The theme we were given was 'Green' and 'Line'. I thought I'd nailed it.

The making of that arrangement is quite an interesting story and, if you can be bothered going back to my post dated 11th June, 2014, you can read all about it. It's an exhibition and an experience I will, certainly, never forget.

Vicky's arrangement is made up of these strange looking seed pods of a creeper, the name of which we've not been able to find. She also used nandina domestica nana in two matching metal containers.

Mary Sutherland, who is still on the curriculum made an arrangement with the theme ' Paying Attention to the Shape of the Container'. However, it can also fit the theme 'Repeating Similar Shapes and Forms'. Mary used umbrella grass stems for the shapes and lisianthus in a ceramic container.

These are all the photos I have so far but, I promise, I'll share more with you in the coming weeks. Now I'm going to go out and try to plant some of my spring flowering bulbs, which are already growing shoots in the storeroom. Poor, neglected things!

Bye for now,

Monday, 18 April 2022

18th April, 2022

Hello all,

Preparations for our exhibition are in full swing and are occupying most of my time. So, I'm afraid I'm a little short on content for this week's post. I hope to make up for it in the next couple of weeks.

I was removing some dead leaves from my strelitzia reginae and couldn't resist these two, partially dried leaves. And, as Lucy and I were looking through the garden for materials, she noticed a single, yellow kniphofia. Thus, my arrangement came together. I wanted to emphasise the clean lines of the stems, especially at the base of this simple arrangement.

A few days later, when the kniphofia died, I replaced it with a strelitzia reginae, which flowered out of season.

In my arrangement, below, I used the leaves from Iris Japonica and the berries of the stinking iris, Iris Foetidissima. The flowers of this iris are small and rather insignificant. I rarely use them in ikebana. I grow them for the berries which burst out of their seed heads in a bright orangey red colour. I have to be quick to cut them when they do before the birds get to them. They are highly poisonous to humans but not to birds.

The fern in this next arrangement had self seeded next to the water tank and I have to keep cutting it back because it will take over the whole area if left unchecked. I keep looking for different ways to use it. The fronds are quite large, so by stripping most of the leaves, I created a longer stem and an interesting, diamond shape at the tip of the fronds. The crucifix orchids complemented the lightness of the ferns.

I mentioned on a previous post that the generous people at the store called Tombo had let me borrow an antique, Japanese table and large ceramic urn for my exhibit at MIFGS. As a thank you, I offered to make an ikebana  arrangement, using one of the containers they have for sale. That's the arrangement, below.

The possums have been particularly troublesome this year. Not only do they eat any fruit that is not protected but they've also been denuding a number of our trees by eating the leaves. It's incredibly frustrating especially since there is nothing we can do about it. I managed to save one tomarillo from our little tree to use in this wall arrangement.

I'm including the flyer for our exhibition again, just in case some of you have missed it.

Bye for now,

Monday, 11 April 2022

11th April, 2022


Hello all,

At the International Flower and Garden Show last week, one of the exhibitors was the Gloriosa Nursery, from whom I had bought my original tubers many years ago. They have a wonderful habit of multiplying and, over the years, I have shared them with students, friends and neighbours. 

At bump out time, a kind gentleman at the gloriosa display gave me a bunch of the flowers, which would otherwise have been dumped. I looked for material to use with them and the vibrant colour of the golden elm struck me as a perfect contrast to the vibrant pink of the flowers. Hence, the arrangement, above.

And below is the same arrangement on a plinth under the stairs.

It was Lucy's turn to pick the theme for the advanced students at last week's class. She gave us one word 'Cascading' and instructed us to interpret it any way we chose.

Below is Lucy's arrangement. She used two bamboo, nagaire containers, once owned by Norman Sparnon and cascading golden ash. For colour contrast and floral accent, she used cosmos.

Vicky used a vine draping down from her ceramic, nageire container and bougainvilleas. We had a discussion as to whether it was, strictly speaking, cascading. However, Lucy did say we were to interpret the theme as we saw it, so, Vicky's lovely arrangement stands.

Nicole used a rather large branch of silver birch, which cascaded beyond the table top. With it she used a bluey-mauve hydrangea and nandina domestica nana in autumnal colours.

For my cascading arrangement I used the willow that was in my MIFGS display. I had to shorten it but, otherwise, it was ideal for the wall arrangement, as it allowed the space necessary for such a large stem. I also used disbud chrysanthemums, hydrangeas and amaranthus.

Lei's curriculum theme was 'Only one kind of material'. She used umbrella grass in a vase she bought from an op-shop on her way to class. 

Wendy's curriculum theme was 'Mass and Line'. She used tulips and agapanthus in a ceramic suiban.

Shaneen's theme was 'To be Viewed from Above'. She used pittosporum with some sort of mutation, rendering the leaves white, sedum, society garlic and some small,white flowering material.

I leave you with an award winning Easter bonnet, gracing the head of my youngest granddaughter. Aria. It is her own creation with only a little help from mum.

Happy Easter to all who celebrate it.

Bye for now,

Monday, 4 April 2022

Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show

Hello all,

The Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show has been and gone.We dismantled everything last night. As I have done since 2007, I took part in the Shop Window Competition. This is an area of 2.5 metres wide by 2.00 metres deep by 2.4 metres high. 

The theme this year was 'A Celebration'. After considering all types of celebrations, such as birthdays, New Years Eve, etc, I settled  on a Japanese wedding celebration. I felt this would suit my aesthetic very well. I did some research on line and spoke to my friend Emiko Chishima in Tokyo to find out what the customs of a traditional Japanese wedding are. I then proceeded to create a scene as per the photograph, below.

I'm aware that I sound like a broken record when I complain about the difficulty of a two dimensional medium capturing a three dimensional scene but, damn it, it continues to frustrate me. I did take a short video but I don't know how to upload it to this blog.

The arrangement, above was one that sat on the table in my exhibit. You have to look closely to see it against the busy background of the kimono.

The three special little cups are called sakazuki and are used in the wedding ceremony by the bride and groom who sip sake from them. The bride usually writes a letter of thanks to her mother, which is meant to be quite emotional and tugs at the heart strings. Emiko, very kindly, wrote such a letter and emailed it to me. I was able to print it on a pretty parchment paper. Of course, being in Kanji, very few visitors could read it but those few that did were impressed.

The wedding kimono in the background was given to me by my friends Gary and Margaret Eidem some years ago. They were scaling down and needed to reduce their possessions, so they gave the kimono to me, knowing just how much I would treasure it.

The Japanese, antique table and large, ceramic urn were lent to me by the generous people of 'Tombo - Japan - China' . I found way too many things in their shop that I wanted to buy but I managed to restrict myself to one (for now).

The wall of bamboo required a large number of fresh, green bamboo. Enter Diane and Alf Ottrey. Two very generous people, who, not only gave us as much bamboo as we wanted but helped cut it and load it into the car.

And the lovely scroll in the tokonoma was lent to me by my student, Shaneen Garbutt. So, my display was made possible with the help of a number of kind and generous people.

And speaking of kind and generous people, my family are right up there. My sisters, Lucy and Vicky, my brothers in law Peter and George, my son, Dennis, and son-in-law Warren. But first and foremost and always my rock is Sam. In just about everything I do, I rely on my family and they have never failed me.

Ikebana was very well represented at the show this year. There were three other Sogetsu ikebanists participating in the Shop Window Competition, The Ikenobo group had a stand on their own and Ikebana International took part in the Visual Display competition, and.... wait for it... they were awarded a very well deserved, silver medal! Congratulations to all the participants and organisers. The common thread between the arrangements was a reference to a Haiku poem by Matsuo Basho - Bright Red, The pitiless sun, Autumn winds.

Below is Lucy' contribution to the display. It was placed on a high pedestal as it was at the back of the display area.

So, no sooner have I finished with one exhibition than I'm working on another. It has been in my bucket list for some years to have a solo exhibition. When I say solo, I mean my own work and that of my students. My only stumbling block has been finding an exhibition space and finally, last year, I did. Like so many things, this was supposed to have taken place late last year but the delay is probably to our advantage, as it has afforded us more time to prepare. The details are in the flyer, below. Feel free to share it with your friends.

Just one thing - if you wish to attend one of the demonstrations, you will need to book.

I leave you now, as I'm utterly exhausted,