Esprit Bonsai International – August 2019

(Nancy Kaufman) #1
76 - EspritBonsaiInternational #101


Every human being knows that water
is intrinsic to our life, our existence. Now that we are
back in the summer season again, for anyone who
practises an oriental discipline such as bonsai, the
tea ceremony, brush painting or, above all, ikebana,
the subject is worthy of our full attention.
Firstly, as Earth-dwellers, our bodies need not only
food, but also water. Although they can easily do
without the former for a few hours or days, it is diffi-
cult for them to be deprived of this vital element for
a similar period.
Every ikebanist would like their arrangement to
last the longest possible time, and that time varies
greatly depending on the chosen types of plants. This
is not the most crucial aspect in ikebana, although it
is important to choose good-quality plant material.
It is also important to clean the stems, put them in
water as soon as possible after they have been picked
and before arranging them, and use pure, clear water
to plunge the material into.

Displaying the water
There are a number of plant conservation tech-
niques in existence. From the most chemical to the
most complex, they are not always effective: alcohol,
vinegar ... But one single technique is very simple
and effective! With water, you can quite easily get
gerberas to recover from the shock of being taken out
of a cold room, and can bathe roses so that they will
last longer in vases. Without water it would not be
possible either to “give flowers a new life” – a trans-
lation of the word “ikebana”.
In the same vein, bonsai growers are well aware
of how to detect the needs of their potted trees, as
well as the symptoms of either too much or too little
water – both equally harmful.

Likewise in ikebana, water is of paramount im-
portance. For the Ohara School, it is considered a
compositional element in its own right. While the
container and choice of plants of course needs to be
harmonious, the presence of water is also taken into
account. Even if it is not itself visible in the arrange-
ment, it must be able to be implied and enrich the
balance of the composition.
In summer, the water should be displayed more
prominently, because it symbolises vitality and
conjures a sense of freshness. On the other hand, in

� � � Water is crucial for flowers – so much so that it has become

a featured element in compositions by the Ohara School of


Ikebana and water

are life sources

Author: Damien Dufour

� Tokyo in Summer Rain. Driftwood, hydrangea, and
branch of Ginkgo biloba, symbol of the city of Tokyo.
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