Monday, 25 February 2019

Bromeliad flowers courtesy of my generous neighbour, Thomas
Hello all,
It's been a busy time ikebana wise lately. We had our first Ikebana International meeting for the year and a week later, we had our Sogetsu Annual General Meeting and workshop.

At the II meeting we enjoyed a talk on Sumi-e (ink brush painting) by Emi Kamataki, who is a very experienced practitioner of this ancient art form.

Before Ms Katamaki's very informative talk, the members were asked to make an arrangement using the theme Japanese Art Work/Sumi-e.

The first Japanese art work that came to mind for me was the giant yellow pumpkin on Naoshima island by Yoyoi Kusama. This is because I had recently seen the documentary about her life, 'Infinity'. Also I had visited Naoshima with Sam in 2014 and was quite impressed by this sculpture sitting on a jetty and greeting visitors as they approach the island. There was, also, an exhibit of hers at the NGV in 2017 called 'Flower Obsession'. I had taken the two older grandchildren to that, something we all enjoyed.

I used fishbone fern and hydrangeas to reference the giant pumpkin
For more photographs of the members' arrangements, please go to II Melbourne.

After the Sogetsu Annual General meeting a workshop was conducted by Angeline Lo on the theme from book 4 and book 5 of an 'Arrangement without a kenzan'. This means that branches and other materials are to be arranged in a suiban (shallow dish) without the use of a kenzan. There's quite a degree of difficulty in balancing the materials whilst creating a pleasing arrangement. I used some large branches of viburnum opulus and agapanthus intending to make the 'legs' of the arrangement vertical but the side branches were too weak to hold the weight, so I ended up with this 'tee-pee' style instead. Not my favourite look.
For more photographs please go to Sogetsu Ikebana Victoria

As this is a large arrangement, I used two suibans to
accommodate it.

Lucy used Hawthorn berries and New Zealand flax

Nicole used dried Manchurian Pear brunches and kangaroo paw
For class last week I set the theme from Book 4 - With Leaves Only because there are few flowers left in our gardens after the extreme temperatures that we have been experiencing. Coincidently, my colleague, Christopher, also set the same theme for his class. To get to Christopher's blog click on 'Roadside Ikebana' on the side of this page.

Leaves can vary greatly in colour, texture, shape and size, so that it is not difficult to create a pleasing arrangement without adding flowers. For this exercise we use only individual leaves not leaves on a branch. Two or more different types of leaves should be used and thin leaves, such as dietes or spear grass are to be avoided as they are considered 'lines' in this context.

Lucy used a strelitzia nicolai, a strelitzia regianae
and New Zealand flax leaves
Bredenia used bird's nest fern, philodendron and some small
curly leaves, whose name is unknown to me

Nicole used canna lily leaves, monstera deliciosa and

Vicky used a canna lily leaf and two
clivia leaves in her minimalist arrangement
I used calla lily leaves, aspidistra and mother-in-law
tongues (sanseveria trifasciata)
My student Shaneen, who is working her way through Book 3, made this next arrangement - Composition of Curved Lines.

Shaneen used New Zealand flax and leucadendrons

I've really enjoyed using these garlic flowers, which, apart from being large and beautiful, they are very long lasting because they dry without changing appearance. In the arrangement, below, I have used the flowers from a previous arrangement I did in late December. They still look great two and a half months later.

I used dietes leaves with the garlic flowers
Bye for now,

Monday, 11 February 2019

Wisteria (leaves stripped) and hydrangeas
Hello all,

I've had my wisteria for more than twenty years, growing vigorously over the fence but frustrating me immensely by not producing many flowers. I've threatened it many times with removal but to no avail. Recently I discovered that I have not been pruning it at the right time. I was told at the nursery that I should prune after flowering, which I did. Then, more recently, The Gardening Australia Show, which I watch religiously, advised that wisterias should be pruned now. So I went and removed all the long thin vines and am keeping my fingers crossed that I might enjoy some more flowers in spring.

There is always inspiration for ikebana when pruning and this was no exception. I made the arrangement, above, with the very long vines in this large container. I had enough length to thread the vines through the holes a couple of times.

This delicate new growth looks
beautiful but, sadly, wilted by
the next day

I particularly like the russet colouring of the new growth, which
is picked up by the hydrangea and the vase by Paul Davis

I've spoken before about our local fauna - possums, rats, birds and bats, all of whom are very well fed thanks to our fruit trees. We've not been able to eat even one pear from our very old tree because the bats have been feasting on it whilst the fruit are still quite green. So, I was delighted when I found not one but two pears, still intact that I could use in my arrangement, below. I made a wall arrangement because I wanted to use the whole length of the branch. These sunflowers I grew for the first time. It was a wise decision to plant the smaller ones as they are much more manageable than the large. And, I was surprised that they lasted well over a week.

When the flowers and most of the leaves on the branches died, I reused the pear branches, cutting them shorter and adding the hydrangeas in the tall glass vase.

Classes started last week, and, as is often the case on the first lesson, a number of students were absent. For the advanced students I provided Japanese maple branches from my tree that needed pruning. It was a good opportunity to workshop this material, which has a number of characteristics we need to bear in mind when working with it.

Firstly, the branches are almost always slanting or horizontal and often hanging. Very rarely can I find an upright branch. Secondly, the foliage is very dense and needs to be thinned out to reveal the character of the stems. And thirdly, the soft young growth has some give but the woody stems do not bend but snap.

I used these two, self made vases with two different dahlias. The branches are in
the slanting position
Nicole, also used slanting branches with belladonna lilies and hawthorn berries

Vicky used oriental lilies with her sweeping branch

I leave you with this next arrangement for Valentine's day. Yes, I know it's kitsch and a cliche but, come on, cut me some slack. I'm having a bit of fun.

Happy Valentine's day!
Bye for now,