Monday, 24 October 2016

Hello all,

For the above arrangement I am indebted to my student Shaneen Garbutt, who provided these stunning flowers and leaves. I channeled  our Theresa Faile, who has recently passed away and, who was the foremost authority on the rules for arranging flag irises. Theresa was trained by Norman Sparnon and was called on, time and time again, to demonstrate this arrangement. In my demonstration, I hope I did it justice.

For class last week for the senior students, I went back to the old Book 4 for inspiration. I set the theme, which is no longer included in our current curriculum, 'Arrangement using wood, without container'. Basically, it means creating a sculptural piece using woody branch materials, which stands alone.

Once the students finished their pieces, I asked them to then incorporate some fresh material. They were not prepared for this and had to use what was lying around or could help themselves to my garden.

Again, only Lucy and Vicky were present for class as there were a number of absentees. Below is Vicky's piece, before an after fresh materials.

Vicky used corky elm 

The little container is not resting on the table but is held up by the
Lucy used crepe myrtle for her piece, which she cut into small parts and then joined using small dowels but leaving gaps in between. She, then, used a piece of agave for fresh material.

As for me, I used some lichen covered elm branches for my first piece. I then added yellow flag iris stems, curtesy of Shaneen. They pick up some of the yellow lichen, which unfortunately, doesn't show in the photo.

For my second piece I used a number of wisteria vines, which I joined to create this tall (1.8 m) piece. The gymea leaves work well here as they don't need water.

The three photographs, below, are of my arrangement 'To be viewed from all sides'. I used strelitzias, viburnunum opulus, calla lily spadix (the little yellow bit inside the lilly), gymea leaves and strelitzia nicolai leaf.

I leave you with this wall arrangement with the theme 'A variety of materials' (six in this case).

Bye for now,

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Hello all,

At our recent Ikebana International meeting Lucy was the demonstrator. She used a piece of dried bamboo from which she removed a strip, thus opening up the cavity and allowing for materials to be placed inside.

Lucy showed us first the naturalistic arrangement, below, where she used a leukadendron salignum and clivia leaves and placed the strip of bamboo she had removed, back into the arrangement.

Then she disassembled the arrangement and created the more modern piece by placing one long sansevieria trifasciata (mother-in-law's tongue), a small piece of amaranthus and some coloured wisteria.

For my contribution at the meeting I used two doryanthes palmeri leaves and viburnum opulus in a modern arrangement.

As always, please go to our website for more information and photographs.

For class last week, we had another opportunity to run a workshop with material of which we had abundance. This time Vicky had to prune back her nandina domestica and offered to bring some for all of us. Below are my examples of different ways to use this versatile material.

Here I removed half of the leaves of each stem to give this divided look 

In two glass containers, a leaf stem and berries

Here I used only the nandina flower
clusters while still in bud and calla lilies

Unfortunately, only two of the senior students attended class last week and here are their pieces:

Lucy Papas
Lucy Papas

Vicky Kalokathis
Sorry about the quality of the photo but I felt the
arrangement was too interesting to omit.

I leave you with the two different versions of the arrangement below. I created the first because I didn't want to throw away this rather aging cymbidium orchid, which needed some support. When it finally died, I created the second using the doryanthus palmeri leaves and one calla lily.

Bye for now,

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Hello all,

 Sam and I were at the Gold Coast for a short but much needed break recently. As always, when I'm up north I become envious of all the lush, tropical plants and this time was no exception.

Dotted all around the resort we stayed in were large planters each with a single plant of Agave Desmettiana variegata. These stunning plants are softer than the agaves we have down south and I was itching to get my hands on them for use in ikebana.

I have posted many times arrangements using strelitzia nicolai, which I prize very highly and, for which, Sam has to risk life and limb, climbing a ladder to cut them for me. Up north they grow like weeds and, if you look closely at the photograph below, you will see buds and flowers on this plant,  growing at ground level or close to it.

Yes, I was envious!

We returned home at about 8.00pm, a lot later than we expected, due to a number of delays, including a dead battery at the long term parking at the airport. We came from a 26 degrees day to dark, wet and freezing and in those conditions I had to go into my garden, using a torch, to cut materials to prepare for classes the next day.

Within 10 minutes, in those hostile conditions, I had cut so much material that I could barely carry it all inside. In the five days of my absence, I was surprised to see a number of plants had flowered. I made six arrangements including one themed 'A variety of Materials'. So, right then and there, my envy of the tropics changed to a deep appreciation and gratitude for my wonderful, productive and forgiving of neglect, southern garden!
The first of my favourite rose, the 'Altissimo'
And this

This delghtful phalaenopsis orchid stem was 
given to my by my new student Guy.

I had to include a close up.
'Using only one kind of material'

As I had many aspidistra leaves left over after the Ikebana International exhibition, for class I decided to run a workshop on aspidistras for the senior students.

This material is also called Cast Iron Plant for a very good reason. It is practically indestructible. It grows in shady spots and thrives on neglect. But, for us ikebanists, it has the great advantage and flexibility of surviving without the need for water.

I have already featured my three pieces on a previous post but, just as a reminder, here they are again.

Add caption

The aspidistra here is rather insignificant but, I felt, it was
a neat way to cover an awkward spot

There were a number of absenteeisms recently, for various reasons but the students that attended the class were quite enthusiastic and produced a number of arrangements.

Lucy Papas
Vicky Kalokathis
And again

Vicky again

Helen Novic

Helen again

Robyn Unglik

Robyn again
Bye for now,