In a Romano-Japanese Vase on Monday: Birth of Venus

IMG_7575When setting the challenge of utilising a Japanese ikebana style for our vases this week I forgot that not only was I not going to be on hand to comment promptly on your vases on Monday but I wasn’t going to be at home over the weekend to prepare my own vase – so the above effort was created on Friday, not that you would have known if I hadn’t confessed!

When I did a quick google search for guidance, I realised there were in fact several styles and schools of ikebana, the term ‘ikebana’ actually meaning the ‘Japanese art of flower arrangement’ so the world is really your oyster for this challenge, or spider conch in the case of the above vase. No doubt most of you taking on the challenge will have done birthofVenussome research so I shall let you tell your own tales. For me, I took on board a reference to the use of natural materials for a vase and chose one of several shells that have been awaiting their opportunity to appear on a Monday – it didn’t then take much lateral thinking for an image of Botticelli’s ‘Birth of Venus’ to pop into my head and thus the essence of my vase was born.

In the absence of any perfect flowers remaining on Zantedeschia aethiopica ‘Crowborough’, I selected a flowering stem of Hosta sieboldiana and was planning to roll up a slim leaf of hart’s tongue fern, hinting at a rolling wave, when I realised that the wavy edges of another hosta, ‘Praying Hands’, was an ideal candidate without any manipulation whatsoever. In a matter of minutes the two stems were snipped to appropriate lengths and inserted into the shell, held in place on a metal frog. Venus still looked naked, and as in the original painting she does her best to cover her modesty so a suitably twisted stem of contorted hazel came to her rescue with just a hint of a resemblance to her flowing locks.

IMG_7573Blue gravel cover the innards of the shell, but also played a vital role in the background – you can read about the gravel and shell mural here but suffice to say it was perfect for today’s vase, even if it did take a little stage management to set up the main photograph!IMG_7575




The overall effect of the vase is not quite the same in the absence of the theatrical background, but I am still pleased with the simplicity of the vase and the absolute ease with which it was put together. I do so hope those of you who have risen to the challenge have enjoyed coming at your vase from a different angle and that those more reticent will be inspired by the ikebana vases that others have shared. As promised, all those who have ‘had a go’ will be entered into a draw for a packet of seeds, but for non UK bloggers I will need to check whether seeds can be imported into your country. I shall, however,  be later than usual catching up with your vases but look forward to seeing them as soon as I can. Let the fun begin!


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71 Responses to In a Romano-Japanese Vase on Monday: Birth of Venus

  1. Pingback: In a vase on Monday – Rich and Sumptuous – Creating my own garden of the Hesperides

  2. Christina says:

    Very clever indeed Cathy! Perfectly conceived and named. Here’s my contribution to the meme but not the challenge this time, you’ll read why later.

    • joanna says:

      @ Christina – I always want to comment on your lovely vases, but WordPress won’t let me as I do not have presence in any of the four options. Any chance you can let us deprived social networkers use the form to fill in like Cathy does here?
      anyway – I loved your fabulous vase with zinnias and sunflowers.
      Thank you Cathy for letting me contact Christina here.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Christina – as usual, it just seemed to come together…and reminds me that there are uses for blue gravel! Always good to have your vases, whatever they are 🙂

  3. Well not only am I impressed with your vase but the background too….wow! And a shell for a vase. I agree ‘Praying Hands’ was perfect the perfect leaf for the waves. I was planning to make a contribution but life and weather got in the way. But I had done some research and will likely make one in the coming weeks.

    So here is my contribution although not Ikebana….

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Donna – I couldn’t have asked for a better background really! Or wavy leaf 😉 Life and weather can be tough task masters and I hope that overall your week has been OK

  4. What a beautiful arrangement and so very inspiring. Thank you.

  5. What a brilliant idea to use the shells. You are so organised! I have had a go
    I am enjoying looking at your gallavanting.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Dorris – that’s the trouble when you beginning acquiring lots of vases… they and other potential receptacles rarely get a turn! I shall write more about the gardens we visited later in the week

  6. Most interesting combination. I can’t wait to hear more about the mural.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Lisa – and the mural has been there for 2 or 3 years now so do click on the link or look under The Garden tab

  7. Pingback: In a Vase on Monday: the Ikebana Challenge | Words and Herbs

  8. Cathy says:

    Oh, you are ingenious Cathy! This works very well! It’s also interesting to see behind the scenes of the photo set-up. 😉 I have taken up your challenge too:
    Thanks for ‘challenging’ us!

  9. pbmgarden says:

    An imaginative and successful interpretation! Loved reading how you developed each stage Cathy. Thanks for setting up the challenge and happy travels to you. My vase is

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Susie – and to you for instigating the thought of the challenge 🙂 It is empowering to be taken out of our comfort zones

  10. joanna says:

    There is always so much to read here. Your post is giving me itchy feet : I’ve got to get on the road again and experience some of what you describe.
    We visited Rosemoor – a place I never thought I would reach. Most definitely worth a long trip: the roses were perfect.

    My ikebana post is HERE:

    Thank you so much for making me attempt this after many years.

    • Cathy says:

      Thank you Joanna – in a way I missed out on a thoughtful planning process because I made my vase early, but I know I am now inspired to try others in an ikebana style and I am very grateful to you for your enthusiasm and support. Your post is so informative and is clearly being well received by everybody

  11. I love the arrangement and the setting is fantastic. I had difficulties balancing the flowers (physically and design wise) the conch shell is great as well as the flow and balance of the flowers used.
    Here is my attempt:

  12. Noelle says:

    What a tease….and how perfectly to you have brought elements together to make your vase this week. A tenuous attempt maybe?

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Noelle- and it didn’t take much thought in the end which may or may not have been a good thing!

      • Noelle says:

        I meant a tenuous attempt on my behalf; should have been a : after the question mark. I have been admiring all the acrobatic arrangements and felt mine was still in the ‘plonking’ but thoughtful ‘starters’ class of ikebana…

        • Cathy says:

          Ye, I guessed you meant yours, but wanted to assure you that mine perhaps didn’t justify being described as ‘perfectly brought together’!!

  13. How very clever, I enjoyed the link explaining the artistry behind the sea blue wall too. Thank you Cathy and well done.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Kate – and the blue gravel hung around for a long time before I came up with a use for it, so I am pleased I am now using it in vases too!

  14. Peter/Outlaw says:

    You’ve done it again, oh flower master! I love how your arrangement illustrates the essence of the story. Thank you for this fun challenge, I very much enjoyed taking a stab at Ikebana – like arrangement.

  15. Eliza Waters says:

    I love your take on this challenge, Cathy – it’s brilliant! Botticelli’s Venus is one of my favorite paintings. My vase this week:

  16. Great challenge and solution. I have been on vacation and missed this concept. Maybe I will give it a go next week as it offers lots of creativity — and angst.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Linda – and I think that most of us who gave it a go have enjoyed doing so. It was refreshing to look for material with a different eye

  17. What a wonderful idea… sadly I missed the challenge setting last week, so here is a not-remotely-Japanese vase on Monday from me – – and a well done to you for giving such inspiration. I’m not sure if this is the first themed vase challenge you’ve ever set, but please do give us another one every now and then as there’s nothing like stepping out of one’s comfort zone!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Joanna – hope you had a good break. It wasn’t compulsory in any way so your vase is just as welcome – but you want another challenge? Hmmm, I will need to work on that…. 🙂

  18. Cathy, it looks fantastic! I am not the biggest fan of Ikebana – I enjoy it in gardening shows, exhibitions and so on, but would not necessarily decorate my home with it. (Except from Novemer till February when “reduction” happens naturally). Your piece is amazing, though. Love the colours and the concept. In fact, I like it much much more than classical Ikebana, because it’s playful, smart and fun, with great colours. And it does not seem strict or rigid. I did put together some vases today, too (no Ikebana), but I haven’t had time to sort through the pictures yet, let alone write a blog entry. So my “Vase on Monday” will actually be posted on Tuesday.

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  21. Sam says:

    I completely forgot about your challenge… Oops. Your ikebana arrangement is great! My conventional vase is here:
    Thanks, Cathy. Sam

  22. I love all the thought and references that have gone into your arrangement – especially the ‘back stage’ view of how you set it up to take the photo – ingenious! Here’s mine:

  23. How lovely, what a great idea! This is my In a Vase Monday post

  24. Of course you’d have a backstory for your creation! I’m very impressed by how well you rendered your story in floral and foliage form. The shell was an inspired choice for a container and the contorted hazel was a perfect way to tie the image together. I wish I’d approached my own ikebana experiment with half as much creativity but I did give it a try – thanks for the push! I had difficulty finding your IAVOM post this morning – probably yet another glitch in the Blogger-Wordpress connection – so I’m late with my link but here it is:

    Best wishes with your ongoing gallivanting.

    • Cathy says:

      Sorry you had a problem linking – and I hope people weren’t confused by me posting a second post soon after. The vase one was scheduled and posted automatically but I hoped to post the Gallivanting one the day before but did not have an internet connection where we were! Thanks for your kind words – I was pleased about the twisted hazel afterthought as it really made all the difference

  25. Anna says:

    What a perfect choice of plant material with its North Asian origins to illustrate the ikebana theme Cathy 🙂 Wet, yet more wet, and a backlog of post holiday catching up got on top of me today but I’ll have a go at an ikebana vase one of these Mondays.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Anna – and I meant to say I look forward to hearing about your travels too. Hope it wasn’t wet and more wet while you were away…

  26. smallsunnygarden says:

    A beautiful rendering of east and west, Cathy 🙂 Love the narrative approach to Botticelli! Thanks for showing the background shots as well.
    I did have a go at it today — it’s just as well to stretch one’s approach from time to time, isn’t it?! Results are not particularly spectacular, but here it is:

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Amy – deliberately creating something in this style was out of my comfort zone but when it came to it it wasn’t difficult and I enjoyed seeking inspiration from a different angle

  27. Pingback: In a vase on Monday – sweetpeas are blissful and so are we | Views from my garden bench

  28. Bec says:

    a beautiful arrangement Cathy, love the background and story. Defintely need to do some reading about Ikebana before I have a go – Mine is very simple sweetpea vase – Things have been very hectic since the Spring – good news too. Here is my link – have a lovely week gallivanting around 🙂 love bec xx

    • Cathy says:

      I missed your comment till now Bec – don’t know how and I am sorry, but I am off to see your vase and hear your good news…

  29. Pingback: In a Vase This Week: Ikebana | Cosmos and Cleome

  30. How very creative and well-thought out, Cathy! I love it! It took me a couple days to figure out what I wanted to do, but here is my take on Ikebana:

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Kimberley – I was pleased with the results. Again I am late responding to you – I tend to have a break from blog commenting after the Monday blitz!

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