Monday, July 11, 2016

In a Vase on Monday: Ikebana Experiment

Last week, Cathy of Rambling in the Garden challenged those participating in the meme she hosts, "In a Vase on Monday," to try an ikebana-style arrangement.  I've admired the arrangements created by Susie at pbmGarden but I consider the artistic discipline associated with ikebana beyond my skill level.  Nevertheless, I decided to give it a go.  I considered a number of floral and foliage elements, including succulents.  In the end, I selected Grevillea as my focal point, partly because the flowers are complex and partly because I thought the approach would allow me to show off the plant's leaves, which usually get lost in my arrangements.

After reviewing some examples of ikebana arrangements on-line (and becoming seriously intimidated), I decided to keep my first try very simple

I selected materials from 3 plants and used just 2 stems of each.  Clockwise from the far left are close-ups of the pinwheel-like flower of Grevillea 'Superb', a Grevillea leaf, Leucadendron 'Wilson's Wonder' flaunting its summer colors, Coprosma 'Inferno', and the closest thing I have to an ikebana vase.


Because I had no idea what I was going to use in the ikebana arrangement, I cut a lot of different plants on spec as I wandered my garden.  Of course, that left me with plenty of material to use in other arrangements.  The pink Eustoma grandiflorum (Lisianthus) in the backyard border has produced huge sprays of flowers on the year-old plants.  They're so heavy, they're falling over so thinning them out is almost essential.

I used just one stem of Eustoma and the vase my husband bought me for my birthday in May

Top view

In addition to the double-flowered pink Eustoma (top), I reused the Abelia x grandiflora stems (bottom, left) cut for one of last week's vases and Origanum 'Monterey Bay' (bottom, right)


For some reason, the pink Eustoma in my garden are much more vigorous than any of those in other colors I've grown.  Perhaps it's as simple as the sun exposure in the location I selected for the pink varieties last year is optimal for their development.  In any case, I've been disappointed that the beautiful 'Borealis Blue' I grew in prior years hasn't come back.  This spring, I planted a mix of yellow, green and blue flowering plants I purchased by mail order but those plants haven't attained the vigor of those planted in prior years, at least not as yet.  Although I submitted my order in December, I didn't receive the plants until early April and, still small when our nasty June heatwave struck, relatively few have bloomed.  The biggest disappointment is that I'm unable to distinguish the plants that the grower claimed would bloom with green flowers from those that were to bloom with yellow flowers.

I believe that the pale Eustoma (Lisianthus) blooms shown here include both those the grower labeled as green and yellow

Back view showing a few of the flowers sprouting from the red stems of Leptospermum 'Copper Glow' this summer

Top view

Clockwise from the left, the vase contains: yellow and "green" Eustoma grandiflorum, Helianthus 'Lemon Queen' (grown from seed), Leptospermum 'Copper Glow', Leucadendron 'Pisa', and Origanum 'Norton Gold'


As usual, I scattered the arrangements around the house.

The ikebana-style arrangement sits on an end table in the living room


The rose-like pink Eustoma arrangement sits on the dining room table

And the yellow arrangement sits in the front entry


Pipig was unimpressed by my efforts.

But then she generally ignores the flowers unless she thinks they're getting attention that should rightfully be directed to her

Visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to see what she and other gardeners have put together this week.


All material © 2012-2016 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

28 comments:

  1. Great arrangements but Pipig definitely has stolen the show!

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    1. Pipig's in her "don't bother me, I'm hot" mode most afternoons these days. Her active period is between 4 and 6am, when she's hard at work trying to get me out of bed to dish out her breakfast.

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  2. Looks great Kris! I like how you managed to highlight the structure of the plants and flowers in the first design and their colors harmonize so well. And the second one is fascinating. I like the way the triangular fan shape of the flowers matches the form of that gorgeous vase.

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    1. I wasn't really happy with the ikebana-style arrangement, Susie. Although I still like the idea of using the Grevillea as the centerpiece, I think the Leucadendron was too heavy as the "heaven" element and the Coprosma was too insubstantial as the "earth" element.

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  3. I think all three are terrific, Kris! Man, I so LOVE that pink eustoma - great arrangement/awesome vase. Your lemon yellow is so cooling, nice for a hot day!

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    1. The pink Eustoma are currently dominating my backyard border. The plants are much taller and much more top-heavy than they were last year but a single stem makes a nice bouquet with almost no effort.

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  4. The pink Eustoma is so lovely and looks fantastic in your gorgeous vase. And your ikebana style vase is great too! I feel it is so different to your usual vases, and yet at the same time so 'you'! The Grevillea was a good choice. :)

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    1. Yes, when I looked at the Grevillea, I thought "bingo!" I think I should have put more thought into the supporting elements, though.

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  5. The Abelia smells heavenly after the rain.
    Your Lisianthus/Eustoma is so pretty. I wonder if I can grow it indoors or in the greenhouse.
    Ilm so glad to see that you can still find plenty of material for vases. And that birthday gift is exceptionaly lovely. Inspiring many future arrangements, I'm sure.

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    1. Christina of myhesperidesgarden is growing Eustoma/Lisianthus in her greenhouse so she may be able to comment on how they're doing. Here in SoCal, they're long-lasting flowers, both in the garden and in a vase, which is fortunate as it appears they all want to bloom at once. The Agapanthus, my other summer stalwart, took more of a hit from the June heatwave than I'd first realized and I've already begun cutting them back so I may be down to succulents by the time August comes around.

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  6. Tried to grow Lisianthus for years, realized I needed to be in California! It is lovely and the Ikebana Med looks great.

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    1. The Eustoma/Lisianthus have surprised me by surviving and thriving 2-3 years (so far). I'm hoping that I can get some of those in colors other than pink to do as well next year. I've nothing against pink but a steady diet of the same color becomes wearying.

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  7. Kris these are lovely...your first is a perfect simple Ikebana, and I love all the mellow yellows, but I am partial to your birthday vase....full of pink delight!

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    1. Those pink Eustoma really do look like a bouquet of roses, don't they? That's a pleasure as there's not a real rose to be found anywhere in my garden at the moment.

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  8. Your grevillea is perfect for the Ikebana, and I love the subtle blend of colors among the three elements. The vase with the Eustoma is to-die-for, of course -- both vase and flowers :) Not to mention the yellow arrangement... how do you make three such nice ones at one time?!

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    1. I've taken to walking through the garden on Sunday morning and just cutting some of whatever looks good. I figure out the pairings after-the-fact when I bring everything into the house. Despite that nasty heatwave in June, there's still a fair amount out there but I suspect the pickings will be slim in August once the Eustoma is gone. As it is, not much of the Agapanthus is worth cutting anymore.

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  9. Replies
    1. But very spoiled! My husband regularly reminds me who's responsible for that.

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  10. Great Vases Kris, especially your ikebana entry. Oh and you used your birthday vase to great ends...perfection! Now about Pipig, too darn cute.

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    1. That pose of Pipig's with her paws over her head gets me every time.

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  11. Well done with the Ikebana vase; you've made me feel guilty for not attempting one with at least a few of the flowers I had. But it is still the pink Estoma that attracts me the most, such a beautiful delicate looking flower and so prolific!

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    1. I was lucky to find a floral pin frog among my vases - without it I'm not sure I would've attempted the ikebana arrangement.

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  12. As usual your garden runneth over with wonderful foliage and flowers. Its quite right that you have three to show them off.

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    1. The Eustoma/Lisianthus are in full production mode and the pink ones in particular look better in a vase than in the garden so I feel almost compelled to cut those, Noelle.

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  13. For those of us 'playing' with ikebana style simplicity definitely seems to be the keyword, doesn't it? And one of the advantages is that this shows off the individual elements more clearly, as you have said about your Grevillea leaves. It certainly works well and well done for risng to the challenge - but you seemed to enjoy making your other vases more! :) The vase with the eustoma is gorgeous, though - the whole shape of the arrangement - and I was really interested to raed what you were saying about the eustoma. You can buy them as plug plants in the UK (my seeds failed) but I have no idea whether they would then flower in that first year or whether they would last more than one season. Something to investigate..

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    1. I admit that I'm more of a plonker than an arranger when it comes to our weekly vase exercise, Cathy. Re the Eustoma, they're sold as annuals here, even in the 6-pack plug size, so I expect they'd bloom first year in your climate. Officially, they're short-lived perennials and, in my climate, they appear to gain a sturdiness in the second year that they lack in their first year (if they even survive our periodic flashes of intense summer heat). For the record, I wasn't successful in growing them from seed either.

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  14. The Ikebana vase really does do the Grevillea leaves (and the flowers) justice - it is beautiful, and the colors are perfect! Somehow, though, I connect the second vase more with you. Obviously this is a mere guess, since I've never really met you, but I have come to think of you every time I see a Eustoma. In the vase your husband gifted you - it is absolutely fabulous! Gorgeousness abounds in your house, and well, Pipig - so adorable she made me laugh!

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    1. I guess Eustoma has become something of a signature plant for me. I just hope I can expand my collection beyond the pink-flowered varieties. I've no issues with pink but I'd love to have more blue, yellow, green and white varieties too.

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