Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Mary Fulton, me and Vickie Hearnshaw in Mary's garden
Hello all and welcome to the Christchurch issue of my blog. I will write about the Wellington leg of our trip in my next post.

I returned from New Zealand on Sunday evening and hit the ground running. Having been absent for ten days, there are a myriad chores awaiting my attention, not the least of which is preparation for the Sogetsu annual exhibition next week. (More about that further down)

Lucy and I started our trip a couple of days earlier than we needed to be there, together with our partners to have a short holiday in Christchurch. Once our men left, we were picked up by Vicky Hearnshaw of the Christchuch chapter and were taken to Mary's house. There, we were treated to a delicious lunch then were taken on a walk around Mary's magnificent garden to select materials for the workshops. It's a garden of several acres with an amazing selection of plants. Apparently it was established by a couple who owned a nursery. It's a garden that would be the envy of any ikebanist. Lucy and I could not get enough of discovering new and unfamiliar plants, as well as some we grow ourselves but not nearly as successfully as Mary. As a gardener myself, I'm well aware of the amount of work required to maintain such a large garden.

The next morning we were picked up by Vickie again and driven to the church hall where we met a small but enthusiastic group of Sogetsu ikebanists.

Our first workshop had the theme from Book 5 - 'Improving Your Technique - In a Suiban without Kenzan'.
Below is my demonstration piece in which I used larch branches, hydrangea macrophylla and New Zealand flax. This was the first time I came across Larch and was quite surprised that it is a deciduous conifer. Its green needles turn golden yellow in Autumn and drop to the ground.

Lyn Cartright
Lyn Every-Robertson

Ellen Loader
Vickie Hearnshaw

Claire Maetzig

Mary Fulton

Cecile Tait
The following workshop was to work with umbrella grass stems or reeds to create surfaces. This is a technique I developed over the years and it's the one I used when I exhibited at the Sogetsu exhibition in Shinjuku Takashimaya store in 2014. The idea is to join many stems by wiring, thus creating a type of 'ribbon', which can then be used to create a sculptural piece.

An example I had prepared before the workshop
The demonstration piece that Lucy completed
Lucy, showing Cecile the wiring technique with young Tina, who's just a beginner
 next to her
Lyn Cartright

Mary Fulton
Check out the concentration!
Vickie Hearnshaw
Claire Maetzig

Susan Boutecey

Ellen Loader

Lyn Every-Robertson

Mary Fulton

Tina Sheveleva

Lyn Cartright

Cecile Tait
Lucy and I had a wonderful couple of days with the Christchurch ladies. They treated us with warmth and generosity and made us feel very welcome. They took care of all our needs including all the driving around Christchurch. Mary took a little time to drive us to the 'red zone', where houses that were affected by the 2011 earthquake were removed and the land is not to be rebuilt, as it is unstable. A very poignant sight was the gardens that belonged to the houses. These are still there and, I can only imagine, just how hard it must be for the previous owners to see them.

It is not possible to visit Christchurch and not be affected by the devastation that hit the city seven years ago. It's one thing to hear about such tragedies in the media and quite another to witness them.

I can't finish this post without mentioning Lucy's invaluable contribution to the entire trip. She is very talented, experienced and a born organizer and is excellent at anticipating what is needed during a demonstration. She was very helpful, also, to those members that needed a little bit of personal help. Her presence there meant that the organizers did not have to worry about providing me with an assistant. I'm extremely grateful that she came along, also, as my sister and companion for those times not involved with Ikebana.

And now for our upcoming exhibition. It will be held at
Hawthorn Town Hall Gallery,
360 Burwood Road, Hawthorn.
From Tuesday 5th June until Wednesday 13th June.
9.00 am until 5.00 pm.

I hope to see many of you there.

Bye for now,

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Pomegranate, strelitzia and agave
Hello all,

After many years of coveting a pomegranate tree, I finally have one, thanks to my friend Parthena, who gave it to me two years ago. And, I'm proud to say, that it is doing well and has produced the fruit in the above arrangement, as well as a few more.

The weight of the fruit makes them difficult to arrange. As with all heavy fruit, we tend to arrange them close to the container and, therefore, close to the centre  of gravity. In this case I wanted to use the long stems, so I had to devise a method of securing them.

The photograph, above, shows how I hammered two horizontal sticks onto the two stems of the pomegranates. I made sure that the structure fits snugly into the opening of the container, making it quite stable.

Winter arrangements -

The first of my Kamo-Hon-Ami camellia and my
Bare ornamental pear branches, eucalyptus and

Three arrangements in a new wall container, which I bought at the International Flower and Garden Show. It was sold as an outdoor planter but lends itself very well to ikebana.

Branches with yellow berries (I think it is duranta erecta)
and lisianthus 
Flowering mahonia

Siberian dogwood and Japanese anemones 
Two arrangements using the technique 'Jika-dome' - Direct fixing.

Ornamental pear branches, camellias, berries and my pomegranates
Plane tree branches and hydrangeas. I made this arrangement in a glass
vase so that the bending technique could be visible to the students

In a recent post I wrote about our weeping willow tree that suddenly fell. Although we were able to retain a good portion of the tree, quite a lot of it went through the chipper. One small stump was forgotten and I discovered that it produced a shoot. And the limbs that have been retained are, also, producing new shoots, in the middle of autumn, no less.

This is one of the limbs that is now resting on the ground and,
together with other such limbs, is holding up the tree. Notice
all the new shoots
I wrote this post earlier than my usual fortnightly post because I'm flying to New Zealand tomorrow. I will be visiting Christchurch and Wellington to run workshops with the Sogetsu groups there. I'm really looking forward to this, as New Zealand is one of my favourite places. And what better way to spend a few days there than immersed in ikebana with like-minded people.

Bye for now,

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Japanese maple, crepe myrtle and nerines
Hello all,

The arrangement, above, was done by Aurelia Dong. It is the last lesson in Book 4 of our curriculum and is called 'You in Ikebana'. I was very proud of this work but, I fear, the photograph doesn't do it justice.

At last month's Ikebana International meeting Lara Telford ran a workshop on colour. The members were divided into five groups, with each group assigned a colour. We were to use blue, brown, green, purple and gold and/or silver. I was in the unenviable, brown group. My first instinct was to refuse to take part but I gave myself a good talking to and got on with the job. Then, as luck would have it, I found in my work room a piece of bamboo blind that I had cut away from the blind I used in my exhibit at the Flower and Garden show. It was, certainly, brown and I was able to twist it into an interesting shape. My sedum, which was turning brown came in very handy and I finished the arrangement with some Begonia Erythrophylla leaves in a tall stainless steel vase.

 Please click on II Melbourne for all the photographs of the workshop.

And now for the latest Sogetsu workshop, which was run by Betty and Toula Karanikolopoulos, my sisters in law. We were to workshop dry palm materials, and use fresh materials to complete our arrangements. The girls had prepared three varied and interesting arrangements each. I've only included one of each but you can see them all as well as the work of the members on Sogetsu Ikebana Victoria.

Betty used the part of the palm leaf that attaches to
the trunk with strelitzia leaves and celosias
Toula's arrangement using the 'inflorecence' on which the fruit
are grown with a fatsia leaf and flowers

I used a palm spathe over a large ceramic vase, with nandina
domestica nana, leucodendrons and strands of inflorecence
In my previous post I included the photograph on the left as an example of the lesson 'In a Suiban without a kenzan'. Once the leaves of the Siberian dogwood dropped, I reworked the piece by adding more dogwood stems and two New Zealand flax leaves.


Spreading Arrangements:
Shaneen Garbutt used a bird's nest fern, aspidistra leaves, Singapore orchids and

I used canna lily leaves,New Zealand flax, fishbone ferns and Hawthorn berries

Shaneen's woven tray with what looks like an Autumn harvest
I used carrots, persimmons and a bull rush plant
with the roots attached on a lacquered board

I leave you with this cute, little arrangement, in which I used squiggly grass and alstroemeria psittacina flowers.

Bye for now,