Category Archives: ikebana

Saturday…with Japanese Aesthetics

June 10, 2017

Filed Under : Arrangements - ikebana

I always like using a sense of abundance and colour in my work but I also have to connect to a calmer simplicity at times…

I love the Japanese aesthetic principles, particularly wabi sabi, and as I have been working on a sponsored Instagram project this week using Japanese food…

…I have also completely fallen in love with the book illustrated by Florence du Cane which I recently borrowed from The London Library ( you can see more of it here )

I wanted to explore editing my images in a slightly different way to give the photographs the sense of calm I was feeling from Florence du Cane’s illustrations…

The illustrations have such a quiet, asymetric and simple beauty…I have inherited many of my Grandma’s ikebana ceramic vessels, metal frogs and ikebana snips…
I picked a small amount from the garden to create a reflection of the season as well as a sense of calm… rose… heuchera… quaking grass… heuchera leaves… virginia creeper…

I always think that I’ve picked very little from the garden but then when I work on an ikebana inspired arrangement I always find that I have way too much…I love how the plants lead the way; they undeniably know what’s aesthetically best!

You can view some of my Japanese inspiration on my 5ftinf Pinterest account and my Steller Story of this post here

Friday…with The Flower Arranger Magazine ( and my Granny )

February 17, 2017

Filed Under : Arrangements - ikebana - Spring

Towards the end of last year I was asked if I’d like to contribute something to the NAFAS Sping edition of ‘The Flower Arranger’ Magazine

( NAFAS is National Association of Flower Arrangement Soceities by the way )

I was really thrilled as it had been my late Granny’s favourite magazine, having been an avid flower arranger with The Coventry Flower Club since the early 1960’s.

I have held on to lots of her flower arranging bits and pieces ( including the metal frogs and ikebana snips and books in the image above ) as I knew they meant so much to her…little realising how much influence they were going to have on me over the last few years.

She would have been so surprised but also really happy that I had had something published in this magazine, so I wanted to create some arrangements which somehow included her and her work too…I have her sketchbooks, lots of photos of her arrangements and certificates… …she was evidently pretty skilled as these First Prize cards date from 1966 – 1995She had also achieved her advanced diploma in Ichiyo ikebana by 1973……and this is an image I really love as here is Beryl Stanton running what looks like a flower arranging workshop on a lovely wooden table!These were obviously some arrangements she was most proud of…even though they seem rather dated now…She had a beautiful garden too which I spent many weekends running around ( and dodging mud ‘grenades’ my brother would hurl at me from across the lawn! ) this photo is so reminiscent of summers spent there…I can almost smell it I also have a selection of some of her ceramics which she used. The keyhole one is my absolute favourite but they’re all brilliant to work with… …and here is her 25 years of flower arranging badge …and her NAFAS apronIt’s strange, but also quite comforting, to realise the influence someone has had on you during your childhood when you weren’t even noticing…I really wish I could have had a chat to her about it all, or even a class with her in her shed…

However, at least I’m able to share a bit of that history here…even though she’d have been completely freaked out by anything digital!You can order a copy of the Spring Issue of ‘The Flower Arranger’ HERE which is full of really interesting ideas and also a great piece about Japanese Cherry Blossom!

Monday…with an ikebana workshop

February 8, 2016

Filed Under : Arrangements - ikebana - Winter - workshops

Photo 08-02-2016, 08 52 13 I ran an ikebana workshop at the Arlo & Jacob showroom in Putney, London on Saturday…

It was the first time I’d run a workshop like this so I was really pleased with the incredible results  the participants created.

I was also so engrossed that I didn’t take many photos at all, but Emma Herian from Sew Recycled did, so thankfully you’ll get a sense of what the morning was like…( I’ve put her name under when her photos appear! )Photo 06-02-2016, 14 23 34Photo 08-02-2016, 13 26 20( photo above by Emma Herian )Photo 06-02-2016, 14 08 21Photo 06-02-2016, 14 12 29Photo 08-02-2016, 13 30 15( photo above by Emma Herian )Photo 06-02-2016, 14 28 56 Photo 06-02-2016, 12 37 55 Photo 06-02-2016, 13 55 43 Photo 07-02-2016, 11 43 46( photo above by Emma Herian )Photo 06-02-2016, 14 22 40Photo 06-02-2016, 14 24 00Photo 08-02-2016, 13 29 36( photos above and below by Emma Herian )Photo 07-02-2016, 11 40 10A large part of the workshop involved the arrangements being carried around to various areas of Arlo & Jacob so that we could experiment with light and textures which worked well for the display; something that is just as important as the piece itself, so here are a few photos taken by the participants themselves of the arrangements they created…

( below by @suselladeville )Photo 08-02-2016, 13 58 00( below by @alexis.allan )Photo 08-02-2016, 13 58 16( below by @ikebana_jen )Photo 08-02-2016, 13 58 27( below by @dinopi )Photo 08-02-2016, 13 58 37( below by @Sussie Bell )Photo 08-02-2016, 13 58 44Photo 07-02-2016, 11 38 14Photo 06-02-2016, 14 11 59After we had worked on the moribana ikebana arrangements, I demonstrated a flat lay ikebana…something I’ve sort of invented using some of the ikebana principles and with a free style, combining the arrangement of plant material with the arrangement of domestic material and then framing it within a photograph…Photo 08-02-2016, 13 27 35Photo 06-02-2016, 13 27 52

This is a bit of a new passion for me so it was great to share it for the first time and something I’m making into a daily ritual as it’s a wonderful form of simple, uncluttered creative concentration.

I’ll hopefully be running more of these ikebana workshops this year so keep looking at the workshop dates page here in case you miss an announcement and would like to come.

( there’s also a lovely blog piece by one of this class’s participants here )

Photo 08-02-2016, 12 32 36


Friday…with Flat lay Ikebana

January 29, 2016

Filed Under : Arrangements - cycling - ikebana - Winter - workshops

Photo 28-01-2016, 13 43 11 Yesterday I was chasing green fields and the blue sky on my bike for a series of photographs I’m working on at the moment…

I was wanting a rose against some blue sky and as the head had already accidentally come off one of the roses I placed it in an empty spindleberry tree which immediately made me think that it looked like a piece of natural ikebana…Photo 28-01-2016, 13 45 52So today I decided to create a sort of flat lay ikebana reflecting something of the inspiration from yesterday…
Photo 29-01-2016, 12 50 11 here are the stages of the arrangement…Photo 29-01-2016, 12 52 47 Photo 29-01-2016, 12 52 53 Photo 29-01-2016, 12 53 08 Photo 29-01-2016, 12 53 18 Photo 29-01-2016, 12 54 09 Photo 29-01-2016, 12 55 31 Photo 29-01-2016, 12 56 15 Photo 29-01-2016, 12 58 26 Photo 29-01-2016, 12 59 41

Photo 29-01-2016, 12 50 47

( that’s Himalayan rock salt by the way… )Photo 29-01-2016, 12 42 20Photo 29-01-2016, 12 44 01 (1)You can join me at a workshop in London next week where we’ll be looking at ikebana style arranging as well as some of this flat lay ikebana ( you can book tickets for it on my eventcube page  here )Photo 29-01-2016, 12 49 35

Wednesday…with frosty Ikebana

January 20, 2016

Filed Under : Arrangements - cycling - ikebana - My Garden - My Home - Spring - Winter - workshops

Photo 20-01-2016, 11 10 47The snow from the weekend has melted, but the frost has set in this week, which is something I don’t mind at all if it doesn’t kill the echiums and the sun is shining…I love how the whites of snow and frost are actually often some sort of blue depending on the light…
Photo 20-01-2016, 08 35 53 (1) I cycled up to the Ditchling Beacon this morning and although I’ve done it loads of times this morning was so beautiful in it’s coldness…Photo 20-01-2016, 08 41 31 Photo 20-01-2016, 08 41 59 ( this is me looking like a Victorian postman on some sort of penny farthing! )Photo 20-01-2016, 08 42 45 Photo 20-01-2016, 08 43 48 Photo 20-01-2016, 08 35 36 I cycled on to Stanmer Park nearby as it was all too nice to rush back the normal route…Photo 20-01-2016, 09 08 18 Photo 20-01-2016, 09 08 32 Photo 20-01-2016, 09 08 50 (1) Photo 20-01-2016, 09 09 22 When I got back I felt really inspired by how I found it so beautiful even though there’s a lack of bright colour at the moment…just loads of twigs, blueness and a sense of structure…

So, it’s actually a perfect time of year for an Ikebana arrangement as there’s so much form and simplicity out there at the moment, with just those little pops of otherness…
Photo 20-01-2016, 09 45 29 Photo 20-01-2016, 09 45 49 Photo 20-01-2016, 09 46 50 Photo 20-01-2016, 09 47 15 I wanted the arrangement to reflect my bike ride in some way, so went into my garden to try and find things which I thought may be able to capture some sense of that…Photo 20-01-2016, 09 51 25 Photo 20-01-2016, 09 52 10 Photo 20-01-2016, 09 53 25 ( I also had a little black and white experiment inspired by Karl Blossfeld…this is a direct link, but if you Google him with ‘images’ you’ll get his incredible photos en masse! )Photo 20-01-2016, 09 54 48 Choosing the ikebana vessel is important…Holly Bell made me these 2 light ones for Christmas, and I wanted to use them, but I thought this arrangement would probably work better with a larger base…Photo 20-01-2016, 10 30 33 Photo 20-01-2016, 10 37 50 Photo 20-01-2016, 10 39 33 Photo 20-01-2016, 10 39 56 Photo 20-01-2016, 10 40 13 Photo 20-01-2016, 10 41 34 Photo 20-01-2016, 10 41 59 You have to start somewhere, and I love this common hogweed seed head which I’d picked even though it was the last one left…Photo 20-01-2016, 10 44 34 but it didn’t really work…

I wanted to reflect the landscape more…

Photo 20-01-2016, 08 44 27…so it disappeared!Photo 20-01-2016, 10 46 09 Photo 20-01-2016, 10 48 36 Photo 20-01-2016, 10 49 49 Photo 20-01-2016, 10 52 03 I wanted to create a sense of the cycling; the wind in my face, everything going past so quickly and glances into the hedgerows…Photo 20-01-2016, 11 06 32 …and I just added a hint of Spring as it was definitely lurking out there this morning even in an underground sort of way…Photo 20-01-2016, 11 08 51 …and these are the leftovers!Photo 20-01-2016, 11 12 21

I’ll be running a short Ikebana style workshop in a couple of weekends time at Arlo & Jacob in London, in which I’ll demonstrate and also give some firm ideas and starting points on how to create your own arrangements similar to this one…a sort of story telling though simplicity and the frugal sense of season, with a definite sense of place and relevance .

There’s more information about here and in a blog post here, and if you’d like to book a place you’ll be able to here.

I’ll be bringing all the ikebana ceramics, flowers and twigs, and there’ll be free coffee, cake… and popcorn ( I’m obsessed with popcorn at the moment! ) and we’ll be able to look at the photography aspect too once you’ve created your pieces.

( You can see a Steller story here which has lots of pictures of the space where the workshop will be held )

New Workshop Dates for 2016…( + a 25% shop discount! )

January 9, 2016

Filed Under : Art - ikebana - Shop Discounts - synaesthesia - workshops

Photo 29-06-2015 16 02 45Over the last week, I’ve been putting dates and ideas together for new workshops for 2016. I have 4 workshops now available at , 2 of them are my flat lay and colour based workshops, but I’ve also decided that I’ll start running a few synaesthesia painting workshops along with the more floral/photographic based ones, as painting is basically where I started ( you can see some of my work here ). The first one of these will be on 27th February.

1.Synaesthesia workshop 2016

My signature style workshops will happen at home in Brighton over the year, and the first two will take place in March, ( these March workshop tickets are now on sale ). There will also be some retreat workshops during the Summer and Autumn and which I will be able to release tickets for next month.

March Workshop 2016

The first workshop of the year though, will take place at the Arlo & Jacob showroom in London ( a fantastic former ice cream factory! ) on Saturday February 6th and will be a sort of taster of how we can create Japanese Ikebana style arrangements using seasonal flowers, sticks, ceramics as well as vintage props to help with the photographic element.

ikebana Workshop 2016

I visited Arlo & Jacob last year, so here are a few photos of the beautiful, light and very comfortable space…

IMG_5752 This will be a workshop where you’ll feel encouraged to play with shapes and space, but also take time to quietly reflect on how the process of arranging can be a grounding and meditative process…

( you can see my ikebana Pinterest board here )IMG_5758 IMG_5745 IMG_5764 IMG_5747 IMG_5733 IMG_5771 IMG_5750

I love the Japanese concept of wabi sabi, so I’ll be trying to encourage you to love and incorporate accidents, and work with what nature gives rather than what you want it to do…

( you can also have a look at my wabi sabi Pinterest board here )

I’m really looking forward to working within the Japanese style with people, as it’s something that is very important to me and my work…and also as my Granny qualified as an Ikebana practitioner in the 1960’s and we will be using some of her original ceramics.


You can find more details about my workshops here and please feel free to e-mail me at if you have any questions about anything…really looking forward to meeting more of you this year!
Photo 11-01-2016, 13 25 07Also I’m just starting a January sale in my shop, with Checkout code: 5FTINFJANSALE which will give you 25% off when you order 2 or more calendars. I don’t have a huge quantity of the calendars left, so this discount will run until they have all been sold.

Photo 07-01-2016, 10 28 57

Monday…with Workshop catch up

December 7, 2015

Filed Under : Arrangements - ikebana - My Home - Winter - workshops

Photo 07-12-2015, 11 51 24 I ran 2 Christmas workshops at my home in Brighton over the weekend, where we created Ikebana style arrangements in the morning and then after lunch Christmas wreaths…the pictures below show the arrangements which people created as well as moss-covered table workings of the wreath making…all overseen of course, by Cheeko who loved the attention he got!Photo 05-12-2015, 09 32 27 Photo 06-12-2015, 09 26 18 Photo 04-12-2015, 10 01 41 Photo 04-12-2015, 16 20 02 Photo 05-12-2015, 17 32 02 Photo 06-12-2015, 08 51 15 Photo 06-12-2015, 11 36 06 Photo 06-12-2015, 08 53 10 Photo 06-12-2015, 08 53 34 Photo 05-12-2015, 12 17 01 Photo 05-12-2015, 12 26 54 Photo 06-12-2015, 11 01 48 (1) Photo 06-12-2015, 12 10 28 Photo 06-12-2015, 12 14 15 Photo 06-12-2015, 12 16 29 Photo 06-12-2015, 12 20 39 Photo 06-12-2015, 11 55 08 Photo 05-12-2015, 13 28 52 Photo 05-12-2015, 15 00 50 Photo 05-12-2015, 15 28 47 Photo 06-12-2015, 12 09 24 Photo 06-12-2015, 14 14 27 Photo 06-12-2015, 14 14 47 Photo 06-12-2015, 14 15 06 Photo 06-12-2015, 14 15 16 Photo 06-12-2015, 15 11 57 Photo 06-12-2015, 15 22 21 Photo 06-12-2015, 15 46 37 (1) Photo 07-12-2015, 11 47 43 Photo 06-12-2015, 16 06 32 Photo 06-12-2015, 17 56 47 Photo 07-12-2015, 11 43 25

There’ll be more workshop dates for 2016 announced in the New Year, and there are a couple of places left at my wreath making workshop at The Queen of Hoxton next weekend ( you can book for that here if you fancy coming )

Thursday…with Niwaki and a Japanese aesthetic ( and giveaway! )

September 17, 2015

Filed Under : Autumn - collaborations - ikebana - short poem films - Summer

Photo 10-08-2015 18 17 41When I was asked by topiary expert Jake Hobson who is the owner of Niwaki; ( a company who imports amazing Japanese products into the UK ) , if I would take some shots of some of their beautiful products, I knew I’d love them before I’d seen any of them as the Japanese aesthetic is very close to my artistic heart, but I wasn’t quite expecting to fall in love with everything he sent me…including a hand forged axe and a golden spade!

Japanese gardens are landscapes; microcosms of nature, and the trees are all shaped to fit into those landscapes. The name Niwaki (ni-whacky) means ‘garden tree’, but as ever within Japanese culture, it implies far more than just that, which is the very reason behind the company’s name…it implies more than one thing…

Jake spent time working in Japan and is married to Keiko who is Japanese, so unsurprisingly virtually everything on their site has been put to practical purpose by both of them at some point, and that’s basically how their range has organically grown. Jake was given a pair of Okatsune garden scissors on his first day of pruning in Japan, and is still using them today, ( and apparently everyone in Japan who gardens has a pair of Okatsune secateurs too! ).

So you can probably gauge by now how exciting it was to discover and investigate everything I was going to shoot…
Photo 10-08-2015 18 24 43I’m a very practical person, and live in a sort of indoor/outdoor way at home…inside the house I always have to feel connected to the outside, so ( much to the chagrin of my partner when he comes round ), I have to have the back door open from the moment I get up to the moment I go to bed….whatever the season ( which doesn’t impress the cat in Winter! ).

I love popping out to the garden whenever I feel like it which often leads to impromptu pruning, digging, snipping ( often in my pyjamas ), and as I have a lifelong love of design the combination of very practical and very beautiful is my ideal…it makes the whole process of existing so much more pleasant…

My father was employed by a Japanese company most of his working life, and I was always fascinated by the gifts he was given when he came back from a trip, and the things he brought back for us…

It all seemed so different from anything you’d pick up in a cynical tourist spot over here…such care and precision had been put into every part of the product, the packaging, even the wrapping. I remember beautiful boxes containing delicate sweets and exquisite scarves for my mum, but with an aesthetic which I couldn’t quite get my head round…the designs were so alien to me ( I was heavily into Laura Ashley at the time! ), but I couldn’t ignore the quality, even aged 13…the quality of all the Japanese gifts my Dad brought back was exquisite…
Photo 10-08-2015 18 05 19So, for this shoot I wanted to echo the beauty of the hand made, the practical, the homely, and then combine it with my own style and a sense of the Japanese aesthetic… ( you can have a look at my Wabi Sabi board on Pinterest here )

Niwaki started off with just gardening tools but then extended their range to incorporate beautiful products for around the home…so below you can see what I came up with bearing all this in mind…Photo 10-08-2015 18 22 25Above: Okatsune-ikenobo scissors 

Below: Hontane scissors…Photo 10-08-2015 18 23 30Photo 10-08-2015 18 21 05Above: Okatsune-ikenobo scissors 

Below: Hontane scissors…Photo 10-08-2015 18 31 57Photo 31-08-2015 18 39 32Above: Okatsune Koryu Scissors 

Below: Japanese Wakasaya-bonsai Scissors
Photo 31-08-2015 18 40 56Photo 31-08-2015 18 41 07below: Japanese Saitaro Tailor’s shears
Photo 31-08-2015 19 08 55Photo 05-08-2015 17 19 22above: Japanese Fabric Snips
below: Japanese Hand Forged Tweezers
Photo 13-08-2015 11 31 45
Photo 13-08-2015 11 40 47Photo 06-08-2015 16 41 28Above and below: Japanese Yoshihide pencil sharpener
Photo 06-08-2015 16 42 18Photo 06-08-2015 16 45 26Above and below: Japanese Ikeuchi Craft Knife
Photo 06-08-2015 16 48 56Photo 13-08-2015 11 20 51Above: Kanekoma Higonokami folding knife

Below: Kotoh Folding Knife with Quince handle
Photo 20-07-2015 19 00 39Photo 21-07-2015 12 36 00above and below: Japanese Fruit Knife
Photo 21-07-2015 12 31 34Photo 05-08-2015 13 19 07Above and below: Japanese Kotodo Cans
…all these canisters are contained in the largest one; such a great example of economic and useful designPhoto 05-08-2015 13 08 43Photo 05-08-2015 13 03 50Below: Cray-Pas Colouring Crayons
Photo 05-08-2015 19 30 11One of my absolute favourite things of the whole shoot was this extraordinary Colour Encyclopaedia below, which consists of 9 different volumes of colour…( 90 artist’s pencils in total ), and which have the most poetical names and unbelievably beautiful colours like ’Sea Fog’ and ‘Pigeon Grey’ …they are undoubtably the most beautiful set of coloured pencils I have ever seen, and I keep opening them like I would a precious jewellery box. I could look at them for hours and just feel happy…to be honest I’m not sure if I could actually bring myself to use them; they’re such an exquisite piece of art themselves! 
51314181927Photo 05-08-2015 16 51 04Above: Tangerine HankcachiPhoto 05-08-2015 17 24 27Above and below: Tengui Face Towels ( cherry blossom ) ( rain )  Photo 05-08-2015 17 30 55Below: Japanese Tobisho secateurs
Photo 13-08-2015 09 46 00Photo 13-08-2015 09 54 05Above: Genzo Snips

Below:  Okatsune fruit snips
Photo 13-08-2015 10 24 51Photo 13-08-2015 09 44 10Above: Japanese Tobisho secateursPhoto 13-08-2015 12 15 02Above: Japanese Sugi Tape ( bottom left )Garden Coir Twine ( centre ) and

Below: Black Japanese Shuronawa garden twine  with Red Choki scissors with Red Choki scissors ( by the way ‘choki’ in Japanese means the sound scissors make when cutting! )Photo 13-08-2015 12 08 07Photo 13-08-2015 12 01 05Photo 21-08-2015 12 54 39Photo 20-07-2015 18 25 31Above and below: Japanese Splitting Hatchet
Photo 20-07-2015 18 28 22Below: Mamiya Hand Forged Large Trowel 21-08-2015 13 00 24Photo 21-08-2015 13 20 38Photo 21-08-2015 13 02 10Below: Japanese Weeding Hoe
Photo 21-08-2015 13 28 23Photo 31-08-2015 17 17 10And last but not least one of the best spades ever…this Japanese ‘golden’ spade
Photo 31-08-2015 17 16 27
…but now briefly back to the snips, because here’s a chance to win this beautiful pair of Wakasaya garden scissors…

All you have to do is follow @niwakijake on Instagram, repost this image below from either the Niwaki account or my account over the next week ( last day for entering is next Thursday 24th September ), tagging it with @niwakijake and @5ftinf and use the hashtag #niwakiscissorsgiveaway

( You can also leave a comment here on my blog saying that you’d like to enter )Photo 16-09-2015 15 18 45

…and here they are in action!

I was so, so impressed by the quality of everything I photographed for Niwaki, and I strongly urge you to have a look at all the stuff over on Jake’s website here as a lot of the things would make the most perfect Christmas presents ( that axe for example…who wouldn’t want that in their stocking!! ), There is also a Pinterest board here with more of my images, as well as a Steller story here.

AND… Niwaki are also offereing a 10% discount on orders this month if you use the code: 5ftinfniwaki


Wednesday…with Buddleia

August 12, 2015

Filed Under : ikebana - My Garden - Summer

imageI love buddleia, but it really involves a lot of pruning if you want to keep it flowering well throughout the summer…and today it had it’s first haircutimage image I absolutely can’t bear the brown flower heads on the bush, so I take down a lot of branches, but always save the stems which are still in flower…image I also strip a few of the longer branches as I’ll use them in the garden at some point to prop plants up…image …so I had an enormous bunch to utiliseimage ( below, is my garden plant pet hate… )image …and the 3 stages the buddleia goes through before my snippers come out…image I chose a few vessels…image …and filled them!imageimage…I also added a few bits from other fading arrangements inside the house for the ikebana vessels…
image image …and then cleared up a lot of messimage …simplified the tableimage …and poured an evening beer!image