Given the challenge of Ikebana style vase this week, I decided to read up on Ikebana. A familiar disconnect in my brain popped up. The Japanese Zen design concepts. Very daunting to a Westerner like myself. My Ikebana should be considered the Lite version. Like Lite Beer. Having read bits and pieces of the theories and schools of Ikebana and most of this flying right over my head, I decided to look at pictures of Hawaiian Ikebana as I could probably find the right plants and voila! Ikebana Lite. My disconnect with Japanese design theory began long ago…during a trip to visit a friend living in Japan.
About 25 years ago, I found myself sitting on a wide set of ancient, worn wooden steps, unshod and somewhat hungover contemplating the famous Zen garden at The Temple of Ryoan-ji in Kyoto, Japan. This garden is the quintessential dry Japanese Garden consisting of stones, gravel and minimal greenery. The meaning of the garden has not been defined – at the time it was thought the stones in the garden represented ships going to the various islands. The photo may be the Ship Rock, I am not really sure.
I chewed antacids, contemplated the garden, then contemplated the garden some more. It was a drizzly, overcast, bonechilling day in early March. I had scheduled the trip hoping to experience Cherry Blossom time, but ended up missing the flowers. The English ladies behind me were exclaiming ‘we understand and see the ships’ Nowadays, of course, someone has made a computer model, claiming the Buddhist monks who built this garden were laying out the tracery of a tree.
I saw none of the above, appreciated the serenity of the space and went on to see if I could spy some Cherry Blossoms.
Back to Ikebana Lite. The vase is the base of a stone jewelry box with a flower frog tucked inside. The taller flowers are Parrot Flowers (Heliconia psittacorum), the orange flowers at the base, Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera). The fine textured foliage accents are recycled grapevine from last week and foliage from Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris).
It is entirely possible I have pioneered the use of Muhly Grass in Ikebana Lite.