A few years ago we were planning a program for our garden club. It was January and we needed a "floral" break in our lives. We didn't have much money in our treasury...so something reasonable had to be planned. I thought of doing a Japanese arrangement. We gathered the few simple flowers and some branches and then a small glass bowl. When our members gathered at my house...we brought out the supplies and with some instructions everyone groaned. Some said, "I can't arrange flowers....they never turn out for me." We encouraged everyone and got started on our project. This type of arrangement...anyone can do. It will fit in any style home...It might be fun to do today. Go to the grocery and buy a few carnations, cut some branches from your shrubs and get a container from the basement. Go for it...something fun to do today. There are instructions all over the internet with videos to help out. This one program really gave people the feeling that they could do something creative and beautiful. Even years after the program...women told me that they still do this type of arrangement, because it is so easy to do.
Here are some facts about the Japanese and their flowers.
The Japanese people have a deep respect for nature and flowers are important part of their art. Certain flowers have special meanings. Drawings or paintings of flowers are used to decorate clothing, furniture, and even family crests [family symbols]. Inside their homes many Japanese have an alcove or special place that is decorated with flowers and plants to show the changing of the seasons. Japanese people often make field trips (like "pilgrimages") to see the flowers and trees in different seasons.
Here are some of the meanings of certain flowers and trees to the Japanese:
Plum blossoms: "Almost before the winter snows have melted, the barren landscape welcomes the blooming of the plum tree, whose fragrant and delicate blossoms of the snowy white or light pink share, with the angular tree itself, older people's special admiration. The Japanese see the contrast between the knotted trunks and young green shoots as symbolic of age and youth - one bent and crabbed, the other fresh and vigorous, suggesting that in spite of age, the charm and joy of youth can always rise anew." From A Gift of Japanese Flowers by A. Koehn
The lotus flower of midsummer is a symbol of truth, perfection, and immortality [never dying]. Roots come from muddy pools, and the flower emerges always fresh and clean. Buddhism uses this symbol for the Buddha's life - born in the problems and darkness of society, he grew to become pure and truthful, suggesting that a pure and lovely spirit can lift itself above worldliness to live in peaceful serenity [peace, calm].
The peony is called the "flower of twenty days" because of its short blooming season. It is especially favored by the upper classes and is considered a symbol of prosperity [wealth, becoming rich].
The morning glory is associated with mortality because its life is so short, but its beauty of its brief blooming is a joy to be remembered.
The chrysanthemum, The flower of Autumn - It is the symbol of longevity [long life] because it blooms longer than most flowers. It is used at gatherings celebrating a man's retirement from public office since it suggests a life of well-deserved ease.
The pine is the hardiest [strong, tough, can live through disasters] and noblest of all evergreens. Artists see rhythm of line in its wind-twisted branches and ruggedness of character in its defiance of storms. In Japanese art this tree is associated with the crane and the tortoise, and in flower decoration thick gnarled branches of pine are used to convey the idea of a strong and happy old age. No happy occasion is complete without its honored presence.
I am adding this bit 2:45 pm....we just got back from an outing to Rockford. What a beautiful day. It seems much warmer than it is. We saw a bald eagle on the way along the Rock. Hubby doesn't hear well...I am yelling eagle, eagle and pointing. He said, "Next time you see an eagle...enjoy it yourself...don't share or I may go off the road!" :) It was magnificent. So beautiful to see in the white world lit up by sunlight. Sam's had huge saucer shaped planters of spring bulbs...tulips, daffodils, hyacinth...they smelled like heaven. We are home, tired and hungry, so I will fix a late lunch. Bye