I have lived in a temperate rain forest for several years now. The rainy season lasts from the middle of March to the middle of August. Each morning, I walk my dogs around this four acre property and am amazed at the diversity of life that awaits my discovery. This week has seen lots of rain, and I have really enjoyed looking at all of the different mushrooms and fungi that are everywhere. I find all the shapes and colors very interesting - hope you do too.
Another great meeting at the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway yesterday. Susan Cano presented a demonstration on "Utilizing Unconventional Materials in Ikebana Designs". One of the things I like about the Sogetsu Schools approach to design has to do with trying to get you to see materials in a completely different way. And I must say, after today's demonstration, I will never look at wire, shredded paper, rope, plastic netting and bangles and beaded pearls the same way again. But that is exactly what art is supposed to do, help us to see our world differently - in a new and refreshing way.
Had a great meeting today in Hendersonville, NC. Susan Cano (Riji in the Sogetsu School) gave a presentation on the manipulation of plant materials. The process of changing the appearance and presentation of design materials feels more akin to painting and sculpture, with many of the same considerations relating to space, line, color, surface, texture, theme, emotion, and deconstruction. By cutting some of the materials down into more basic elements, Susan showed us how to see the possibilities from a whole new perspective. A branch of Holly became a smaller cluster of berries, a separate cluster of leaves and a sculptural line element of bare branches. Another example included the deconstruction of stems of Gladioli that were cut down into individual flowers - completely changing the appearance.  The manipulation and deconstruction of Monstera, Aspidistra, Equisetum, New Zealand Flax, Asparagus Fern and Eucalyptus was very inspiring and will be most useful in designing Free Style arrangements.

And so, this is how my own arrangement ended up after the demonstration and workshop today. It reminds me of Bob Marley's song about "three little birds" - I just love that happy song.

This was one of my first exhibition arrangements. A Free Style arrangement in one of my own containers consisting of azalea, blue cedar, gypsophila and orchid. Shown at the Arboretum in Asheville, NC.

Bottom left was a Free Style arrangement I made at home in a glass container consisting of plants growing outside my house. "Red Hot Poker" (Kniphofia-uvaria), wild onion, and hosta were the materials used.

Bottom right is another exhibition arrangement in a square bottom basket balancing on one of the bottom edges (I used a rock under the back left corner to give the basket lift). Materials included; dogwood, yarrow, bittersweet, mountain laurel, and chrysanthemum.