In the West, flower arranging is a pleasant hobby, or perhaps a business, but not something to be taken too seriously. The majority of florists are women and flower arranging is something we do to add the beautify of flowers to our homes.
Not so in Japan, where ikebana, the ‘way of the flower’ is a serious art form. In contrast to the busy arrangement of the West, Ikeabana produces arrangements which are sparse, yet because of their minimalist quality, they add to, and emphasis the beauty of the individual flower.
Ikebana arrangements often emphaises other features, and don’t concentrate, as we do, solely on the bloom. The container is important, and most arrangements have three focal points. They make prominent use of twigs and leaves.
Ikebana is an old tradition. The first practitioners were priests and monks who arranged the flowers offered to Buddha in temples. As time passed the art was practised by Noblemen and many different styles emerged, though all share the same minimalist view.
One lesson ikebana makes very clear, is that there is no need to have a huge number of blooms in order create a stunningly beautiful and unusual flower arrangement. The right vase and a single stem of the right flower can be all you need to create something truly beautiful.
Rather than the florist foam most of us are used to, ikebana relies on pin holders or kenzan. These come in various sizes and are usually weighted. This allows a very tall stem to stand in a shallow container without overbalancing.