Marching through all the vagaries and trends of floral design are those stalwart designers who create Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement. Since the 1930’s, classical ikebana has had a huge influence on Western design. The purity of line and form of Ikebana was in direct contrast to the popular floriferous mass arrangements.
This asymmetrically balanced design features the fascinating undulations of fasciated pussy willow in linear contrast to the bold red anthurium and the shaggy texture of the pine. Fasciated willow is Japanese fan-tail willow, Salix sachalinesis ‘Sekka’.
On a vivid red wooden mat, the central placement of two types of foliage continues the green tone in the container. A small purple flower just peeks through at the back. Floating above, the delicate curves of forsythia branches emerge from a cluster of golden lilies.
This Ikenobo School design follows the towering placement of the classical Rikka style design which has seven branches to represent nature. Here just three overlapping materials: ginger, ti leaves and a stately red-twig dogwood branch sit in a kenzan (pin holder), not disguised at all.
Ohara is the school in which I first tried to learn ikebana. I was told Ohara was the least rigid, which seemed a good thing, perhaps less to remember. Complete failure. This Ohara school design is created with handsome black pussy willow branches, bright red ranunculus with a feathery fern.
If I saw this design away from an Ikebana display, I’m not sure I would recognize it as an Asian design. The mass of hydrangea and protea have a very Western feel, and even the Manzanita strikes a more symmetrical balance.
Both the striking complementary color scheme of blue and orange and the daring placement of the painted Poncirus branches proclaim this design to be of the always modern Sogetsu school. Birds of Paradise and a tawny, textured pottery container complete the design placed asymmetrically against the royal blue background.
Another orange/blue complementary scheme carried out in three containers on a blue pedestal. Red-orange painted Harry Lauder Walking Stick (Corylus avellana “Contorta’) makes a calligraphic statement through which the shimmering blossoms of Onciddium orchids and pincushion protea are framed. In front, a big statement Queen protea sits like a beacon.
The ne plus ultra of this display, or any other, is this Sogetsu School design of hundreds of painted bamboo and fiber sticks which cascades on three levels of the large space. It stands out magnificently against the royal blue wall. This is Ikebana moving into global contemporary design. Huge green anthurium are the boldest flower but tucked away are clusters of yellow (dyed?) gypsophila and on the right form, craspedia.
A close-up shows how painstaking the construction was. Very few joins show, it is mostly glued in what must be tiny dots of glue. This was a labor of love by a whole team of designers from the Sogetsu Brandywine Study Group in Delaware. As my correspondent wrote: “Oh, and my husband hand painted all 2300 bamboo skewers and fibersticks for this installation, and the structures have some UGlu and painted wire. The structures using paper and plastic straws are just constructed with UGlu.” Maybe we need to make him Mr. Sogetsu!!
In this detail of the back wall, you can see the cluster of baby’s breath that makes a delicate contrast to the geometric linear forms. A fantastic design to end 4 weeks of reporting on Philadelphia – flowerflinging’s own March Madness!