Friendship through flowers

Hanging HelaconiaIkebana International is a world-wide organization dedicated to friendship between nations through the Japanese art of flower arrangement.  “Friendship through flowers..” is a harmonious bridge between flowerflingers of any country.

kebana InternationalEach year at the Philadelphia Flower Show, the Philadelphia Chapter of Ikebana International organizes a fascinating, changing display of designs by their master members.

 Tawny liliesIkebana arrangements are never judged.  Created purely for the enjoyment of their audience, Japanese flower arrangement is a disciplined art form with a reverence for nature.  There are 5 Schools of Ikebana: Ikenobo, the oldest and most traditional; Ichiyo, modern styles often without a kenzan (pin holder); Koryo introduced in the 18C plus Sogetsu and Ohara.

Monsterra BranchesThis Ohara School design is set in a shallow circular tray, resting on a four-legged stand on a 4’ platform.  The placement of the design on the platform is an integral part of the whole composition. The great size of the plant material is achieved by using the large monstera leaves as they are still attached to their original stem.  Ikebana International describes Ohara School as “focusing on seasonal use of branch and flower material….expressing the natural environment with an emphasis on landscape arrangement”.

Magnolia branches with liliesA pair of Ohara School designs are placed at angles to the viewer.  Full of ready-to-burst magnolia branches and large white lilies, they launch themselves across the space on charming bamboo mats that look rather like rafts.

Flowering QuinceEmerging quince blossoms are barely open on the dramatic vertical branch of  another Ohara school design.  Dramatic red ti leaves, black painted grapevine, and white lilies contribute to the drama of this design that also includes long pheasant feathers. The seemingly-arbitrary, but in reality well-considered, placement branches are what I love best about ikebana.

Orange and Pink pairOver the course of the 4 years I lived in Tokyo, I tried (and failed) with two different schools of ikebana.  But I never lost my interest in this fascinating art form.  The idea of a pink design and an orange one is a good example of what confused me about some Ikebana designs.  My uneducated Western eyes look for the visual link between them beyond the obvious white branches that physically connect them.

Palm and pink mendinillaMedinilla magnifica, the bright pink drooping flower, is a chic potted plant seen at many fine florists these days.  This is the first time have seen it used as a cut flower.  The medinilla is balanced by the slender line of a flowering quince branch in another Ohara School design.

Ruscus and anthuriumThree anthurium on the right balance the swooping lines of small-leaved ruscus foliage branches.  This is a more floriferous ikebana design than is usual, looking more Western-influenced.

Bamboo and OrchidsBamboo goes to great heights in this design in a terracotta container.  Balanced by the horizontal monstera leaves and pink orchids, this design is a good example of the extended proportions loved by ikebana, whose mastery always which make us pause in admiration.

Black Birds of ParadiseSogetsu is a School with more “freestyle and abstract designs, more sculptural in their character”.  This vigorous design, in almost Armani like greys and taupe, features handsome black birds-of-paradise, with their iridescent finish, placed in an almost crowded manner, playing off the open, sinuous coiling vines.  This accomplished design is my favorite arrangement of the group. Ikebana is open to anyone, and chapters are in most large cites.  Why not check them out soon?







About Susan

Susan Detjens is a former landscape painter, she lectures, demonstrates and runs workshops on floral design for museums, horticultural organizations and garden clubs across the US.
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2 Responses to Friendship through flowers

  1. sarah ribeiro says:

    Loved all your comments which helped me understand and see the arrangements better.

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