Fresh Green Ikebana

The rainy season is here, so of course it’s time for a lush ajisai (hydrangea) ikebana.

I actually did this one while I was in California last month; I’d had the bamboo-shaped vessel mailed to my friend there to save on shipping costs. I actually found the hydrangea while we were grocery shopping. I loved the refreshing pale green colour and the dense texture of the blooms, and thought they would be an excellent contrast to the stark white of the vase. I stuck to one plant material for this one to emphasise texture, contrast, and simplicity. It feels well-balanced and evokes a cool feeling to counter-act the summer heat and humidity. I do like the restraint of one type of plant material and suspect I will do more arrangements focusing on one type flower at a time.

However, I’m not sure this was as successful as I’d like it to have been because from a distance I think it looks like a bunch of cauliflower! I will have to try something different with this vase in the future.

Architectural Ikebana

Most of the arrangements I’ve done so far have been fairly loose and natural in feeling, working with the shape of the flowers instead of forcing them. I really wanted to try something more sculptural and geometric and work with straight lines and the very linear quality of lucky bamboo (which isn’t really bamboo) seemed like an excellent starting point. While I was at the florist’s I saw these gorgeous miniature purple calla lilies and I knew I’d found the perfect counterpart for the bamboo.

I focused on the diagonal lines to draw the eye from the top of the arrangement to the bottom. Initially I’d just wrapped the vase in the faux banana leaf but the colour balance felt off. I found this ribbon while packing for vacation; it’s actually the belt from a dress I have. The mauve was a perfect match for the calla lilies, and it really helps to anchor the whole arrangement and make it feel much more balanced. Overall, this one turned out very close to what I’d initially had in mind, and I’m very happy with it!

Rough Magnolia Ikebana

As I’ve progressed along this journey I’ve focused on the shin, soe, and hikae of a fairly straightforward moribana-style arrangement, and the low natural shapes and textures of a rougher natural arrangement. For this one, I wanted to focus on the concept of “unbalanced balance”, weighting something off-centre while still evoking a feeling of pleasant balance.

Magnolias are one of my favourite flowers. Honestly, I’ve never met a flowering tree I didn’t love. Magnolia, dogwood, cherry, plum, forsythia, lilac – you name it. If it blossoms on branches it’s more than fine with me! The magnolias in this arrangement were taken (with permission!) from a huge tree in the front court of my local library. They did look at me a little strangely when I asked, but we have to make sacrifices for our art, right?

I wanted to emphasise the raw, natural forms of the branches and the visual repetition of the blossoms, so I chose a fairly simple but interestingly textured little glass vase. I then coaxed the branches into shape slightly, but I preferred to work with them rather than against them, and let their curves and lines guide me. I actually arranged this and let it “settle” for a day before taking the photos, both to encourage the blooms to open slightly and to ensure that the branches were in a natural and pleasing shape. The fact that they ended up looking vaguely fan-shaped was an unintentional but happy occurrence. I placed them on the mantel, leaning towards the window as if to soak up the warm spring sun and they look quite at home here. Overall, I think this was a  fairly successful arrangement. I’m not entirely sure I got the balance ideal, but I will continue to practice and read and learn as I go.

 

Rock Garden Ikebana

 

I said I’d be trying to do at least one ikebana arrangement per month, but that was the bare minimum. I was inspired to do a second before April ends.

I wanted this one to feel much more natural and organic, a bit like a rock garden at the edge of a pond. I found the beautiful white and purple ranunculus first, and then found the smaller filler flowers in the exact same colour scheme and knew I wanted to experiment with texture and repetition instead of the more traditional shin/soe/hikae structure of a more vertical arrangement. The roundness of the glass vessel echoes the rocks and the shape of the flowers, and and the colours repeat each other which gives the whole piece a feeling of cohesiveness. This has a very different feel from the last one, which makes me feel very happy. I can’t wait for the next strike of inspiration to hit me!

Winter to Spring Ikebana

Here is is, guys; my first attempt at a proper ikebana arrangement!  After spending the past week and a half poring over the books I’ve received. There’s two still in the mail, but the ones I’ve got already help a ton. There is so much to learn, and I suspect in a year or so I will look back on this one with embarrassment, but for now I’m very proud of myself.

For this first project I wanted to keep things simple, so I stuck with a moribana-style arrangement with three types of plant materials representing the shin, soe, and hikae elements. The pussy-willows were chosen to represent the upcoming spring, but also to remind me of my grandmother Lorraine, whose collections and passions for Japanese art have always inspired me. She had pussy-willows in a glass vase in her apartment at all times. The white spider chrysanthemums felt like an ideal way to represent Japan. The red berries represent the last of winter, and bring a bit of colour and rhythm into an otherwise very quiet arrangement.

This was very soothing for me to make, and I’m very much looking forward to continuing this project as I get more access to flowers and greenery.