Ikebana on Monday

Something a bit different from me for this week’s In a Vase on Monday: I was recently asked by a friend and colleague to arrange some flowers for his wife. When we discussed specifics, it became apparent he has a very particular taste in floristry, inspired by his love of Japanese culture and society. And so began a few hours’ research into the floral art of ikebana, followed by a search for just the right seasonal flowers and a vessel to complete the arrangement.

Here is a brief summary of what I learnt about this fascinating disciplined artform.

Ikebana is about bringing together nature and humanity. Its style is much more minimal than my usual one of colourful seasonal abundance, and it showcases the shape and lines of the structural parts of the plant such as stems and leaves, as much as (or more than) the flowers. The colours, shapes and lines of each piece are carefully designed to convey the artist’s meaning. In some schools, the container is a key element of the composition.

The spiritual side of practicing ikebana is considered very important to its practitioners. Ikebana brings the artist closer to nature and its relaxing effect on mind, body and soul. Some people advocate silence while making the arrangement, but whether you are silent or not it is a time to slow down and appreciate the beauty of nature and the idea is that it makes yous more patient and tolerant of differences, not only in nature, but also in general.

Photo taken by Dave Musson

My arrangement started with the pussy willow and irises which were bought locally; I love their shapes and I wanted to be able to use seasonal flowers and foliage in my design. Since ikebana is all about love of nature, I thought it only right to use something in season at this time of year. The moss at the base is, however, entirely homegrown, and there’s plenty more where that came from in the unkempt, shaded lawn I have inherited in my garden.The irises inspired an idea of a pond, and so I searched for something wide, low and preferrably blue and I came across the perfect bowl second hand in my local town. There are no marks on the bottom so I have no idea of its heritage but I think it’s beautiful.

Creating the arrangement was thoroughly enjoyable; selecting the pussy willow stems each with a little less curve than the previous one to create the fan shape, trimming the irises to size, filling the ‘pond’ with water and seeing the whole thing come together as I added the moss was indeed a lovely and calming experience.

Ikebana is very much not the style I usually go for, but I loved learning about a new way to practice floristry and anything that encourages me to slow down and appreciate nature is good in my book. I’m sure I will try this again.

Photo by Dave Musson

In a Vase on Monday is hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, where she encourages gardeners and flower lovers around the world to share what’s seasonal where they are. Do take a look at her latest post and all of the comments that will lead you to other people’s offerings, and if you have anything to share why not join in with this very warm community Cathy has created?


17 Comments Add yours

  1. Cathy says:

    Oh this is lovely (and you must have missed the Monday when I challenged bloggers to create an ikebana style vase!) – and you must be really chuffed with the results. Did you feel any pressure creating it for someone else? I suppose if it was a colleague you would know each other quite well and that would have made it easier but it sounds as there was quite a specific brief! I love the way that you have chosen the graduated curves of pussy willow which is such an attention to detail, and the bowl you found is absolutely spot on. Thanks so much for sharing it with us too ps was his wife pleased?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think I had yet discovered ‘In a Vase on Monday’ when you posted that Cathy but I will go back and take a look as I’m intrigued.
      I didn’t feel too much pressure, as we had been discussing my love of floristry and my ambition to do more and that was why he commissioned me, so I appreciated the opportunity. Both he and his wife were very pleased with it.
      Thank you for your kind comments Cathy, I thought you would like the bowl- I do too, I think it’s beautiful.


      1. Cathy says:

        What a great colleague, encouraging you in this way. I wonder what direction you will go in…?

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I don’t know whether I can claim this is true Ikebana but it was certainly inspired by it and I am glad to have discovered the practice.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I did some reading on Ikebana once and i think it takes a long practice to understand the meanings but the vase is still inspired!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I agree, I think it takes a lot more than putting some stems in a vase but it was certainly inspired by the style and the practice.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Kris P says:

    This is wonderful, especially as your first go with ikebana. I adore pussywillow and it’s a perfect feature for use with this arrangement. I hope your colleague and his wife were pleased with it – I certainly would have been.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Kris, yes I think they were pleased. Unfortunately their cats were very interested in it too…!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Christina says:

    I admire the Ikebana style, it’s one reason I live Susie’s vases as she often uses Ikebana vases. Btw the Irises are only in season because they are forced. Cathy is very forgiving but the vase should be flowers from your garden not bought.


    1. Yes you are right, my mistake. These are not the same sort of iris as is currently flowering in my garden. Thanks for the suggestion but since they are Cathy’s rules it is her prerogative to be lenient with them so as long as Cathy is happy I am fine with that!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Christina says:

        Me too, I didn’t mean to sound domineering, 😐 sorry

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m cracking up about the cats comment. For years my sister couldn’t keep any floral arrangements in her house because of her playful and nosey fur-babies. Your result though is stunning – so hopefully they were able to redirect and untowards attention.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Honestly, it was so funny. We stayed for a cuppa when I took the arrangement to their house, they put it on a coffee table near the window and the cats kept sidling up to it, pretending to be fascinated by the curtains, the windowsill, anything but looking at the arrangement itself, and then when they thought nobody was looking they’d try to have a bite. My friends spent the whole evening retrieving the cats. Heaven knows what it looks like now, though I know the cats aren’t allowed in the room when the humans aren’t at home so there is some hope!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Cathy says:

    This is really lovely! The way the pussy willow fan out, and the straight stems of the iris, and then the blue pool-like bowl – I am very impressed! Hope this special gift was received with enthusiasm!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words Cathy. Yes, both my friend and his wife were pleased with it.

      Liked by 1 person

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