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.
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.
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?