Monday, April 13, 2009

Alstroemeria and Sogetsu

Alstroemeria aurantiaca ''Dover Orange'
The old fashioned Alstroemeria like the one shown above is one of the hardiest of garden plants growing in sun and shade and producing masses of flowers on tall stems for all of summer and autumn. Most of the taller varieties, which come in colours such as soft pink, buff, apricot, flame and carmine are sold as "bulbs" by mail order firms advertising in garden magazines. What usually arrives is a package of fleshy white roots and rhizomes. Once established in a garden bed these roots go very deep and are almost impossible to remove if you change your mind and no longer want them in the planted position.The flowering stems on these varieties can reach a metre or more and form an imposing clump. In recent years new Alstroemeria hybrids have been released and sold as "Princess Lilies" These are less tall and reach a height of about 30cm. They are just as tough and you could almost say that they will grow through concrete. In the picture below, the white ,yellow flecked cultivar 'Camilla' is growing through a couch lawn!

Alstroemeria cv. 'Camilla'

One of the great attributes of Alstroemeria is that their flowers are excellent for picking and have a vase life of up to 3 weeks. Below ,white Alstroemeria are used in combination with bark in a Sogetsu Ikebana arrangement.

The bark takes on the form of a giant stick insect and we are left to ponder whether it is embracing the flower giving it protection or about to devour it for its next meal.
For those not familiar with the Sogetsu, it was formed by Sofu Teshigahara (1900-1979) in downtown Tokyo in 1927. Flower arranging being seen as art not mere decoration.By the 1960's the Sogetsu Art Centre became the mecca for Japanese avant-garde movements . Sofu's son Hiroshi Teshigahara (1927-2001) not only excelling at sculptural flower arrangements but having a successful film career as a director. He was awarded a Special Jury Award at Cannes for his 1964 film Woman in the Dunes. Throughout the 1980's and 90's he produced some amazing Sogetsu work including massive bamboo installations in Europe and America. The innovative and powerful Sogetsu opus is continued today by Hiroshi's daughter Akane Teshighara.

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