ikebana and life in japan

a blog about ikebana and life in japan


Summer Ikebana

It's almost the end of June, and the rainy season has started here where I live. Usually during this time of year, it is hot and humid. But this year, it has been unseasonably cool -- which I love! We've had a few hot days, but they've been few and far between. I wish this trend in the weather would last all summer, but I'm sure it will be hot and humid again and I will be wishing for the cold and snow of winter. Until the cooler winter comes, I try to cool myself off with my ikebana arrangements.

In Ohara-ryu, part of the beauty of the arrangements is the way careful attention is paid to the seasons and how to portray them indoors in a confined container. During the summer months, flowers, branches, and leaves are abundant. Different colors, shapes, and textures give you so many options to choose from. I try to choose things that look cool and refreshing and also show off the water of the container, helping to give a cool and refreshing feeling to the work.

A couple of weeks ago, I did a natural summer landscape. My image was that of a bank beside a flowing stream.  I used the Japanese natsu haze branch as my basis to fill out the space and reach across the water's surface. I added a few Hosta leaves to emphasise the land, and then used a single Star Lily to fill in the space and become the star of the arrangement. I tried to be careful with the placement, puling the Lily forward and giving the sense of a cool breeze. I also trimmed many leaves off of the natsu haze branch to also give a sense of lightness to the work. If there are too many leaves, it feels crowded and hot. Trimming the leaves is one of the hardest things to do for me. If you take too many off, the branch looks naked, but if you leave to many on, it feels hot and crowded. But this time, I think I struck the perfect balance.

Summer Natural Landscape arrangement
Natsu Haze, Hosta Leaves, Star Lily

Having an arrangement like this brings the outside in and also gives the sense of a cool breeze on a hot summer day.

Last week, I wanted to do another typical summer arrangement. I did a Traditional Color Scheme Arrangement using Hosta leaves and Chrysanthemum in the Upright Style. Here in Japan, Hosta plants are everywhere, and they represent summer to me. In this style, the position and angle of three of the stems are set, but once you have the basic form of the arrangement, you can play with the lengths and angles of the other stems. The Hosta leaves also have a cooling effect for me. And if you spray water on the leaves, the water beads up, giving a glistening effect to the leaves making them seem even more cool. They are definitely one of my favorite materials to work with.

Traditional Color Scheme Arrangement
Hosta Leaves and Chrysanthemum

I tried to use a paper background for the first time. I thought it might make it look a little more professional and bring more attention to the flowers. What do you think?

So if you are feeling hot this summer, try some cool, refreshing flowers to cool you off.