Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Branch, A Flower, A Book

The Saturday a month ago, I had system maintenance work in the morning, therefore, I was half hour late for my ikebana class. The materials for the day were quince branches, chrysanthemums and pines. There were only few quince branches left. Those branches were different from the ones I used before, there were lots of small side branches on the main branch. I love ikebana because its elegance. However, when I saw the branches, from the first sight, I thought about word “busy”.

I hold the branches one by one and slowly turned them to study. I did not like the busy small side branches, but I finally decided to keep them. Without the side branches, the branch would lost the characters. I was not satisfied with the finished arrangement. No matter I viewed it from which angle, it all reminded me “busy”. I originally planned to bring it to my office, but I changed my mind. I took it home since I thought it was not good enough to share with others.

Quince, chrysanthemum and pine are all long lasting materials. The arrangement survived three weeks at home and I had seen this same arrangement for three weeks everyday. In the beginning, it appeared busy to me, later, I changed my attitude and begun to accept the way of the branches, I enjoyed and appreciated the arrangement. A flower or a branch is a book of their life recordings. What they have experienced in their life are reflected as their characters (shape, color and so on). In an arrangement, each flower or branch tells its own individual stories and together they tell us their story. That we learn the stories is one way for us to appreciate an arrangement.

Enjoy the arrangement and Happy Monday!

In Friendship through Flowers,


Monday, February 16, 2009

It Is All In the Mind

The past Saturday is the Valentine’s Day. It is one of the three busy holidays in the flower business. The other two are Mother’s Day and Christmas-New Year. I knew that since it is not easy to get good floral materials in reasonable price in those holidays. Rose is the dominant flower for Valentine’s Day. The floral industrial did such good job to promote the roses – the more you love, the more roses you should give. I personally do not believe that. It is all in the mind when it comes to love.

Yesterday, a friend told me that she followed my recipe exactly to make eight treasures sweet rice cake (八宝饭), but the taste was not as good as the one made by me. “There must be a secret ingredient that you did not tell me.” She said. Yes, there is a secret ingredient - love, I told her when I gave her the recipe, but she did not believe me.

When I make eight treasures sweet rice cake, I am always in the happy and cheerful mood, I meditate with my best wishes for the people who will eat the cake and thank all the ingredients to help me make the best cake. This mind gets into the cake and make the cake tastes better. Try this in your cooking, you will see a difference yourself.

The flower arrangement I will share this Monday was arranged four years ago before Valentine’s Day. Enjoy it and make every day a Valentine’s Day with your loving mind.

Happy Monday!

In Friendship through Flowers,


Father and Daughter

My nephew emailed me the url of a short film "Father and Daughter". It is very moving:

Here is the background:



Saturday, February 14, 2009

I Like Your Smile

On my way to the office Monday morning, after I switched a lane, I noticed a large sticker posted on the rear bumper on the car in front of me. It reads “I like your smile”. After read it, I smiled. I followed this car before I make my turn, the smile remained on my face and I was in the happy mood whole day.



Chinese New Year is also called Spring Festival. Therefore the Chinese New Year celebration is also the celebration of spring. Few weeks ago, a friend emailed me a Chinese essay named “spring” that she found from Internet. There were 25 quotations of Chinese poetry in it and all related with spring. One of them is by Ye, Shaoweng (叶绍翁,“满园春色关不住”), which described the scenery of a spring garden. Read the poem, just like to see the scenery.

The morning of Chinese New Year eve, I went to buy Chinese New Year flowers. The colorful flowers at the shop reminded me the poem. To echo the scenery, I chose 9 flowers and greens (since 9 is the largest single digit, it means “more” or “many” in Chinese cultural). Pink larkspur is among them, it’s bright pink reminded me “girl’s dream”.

In the afternoon, I brought my girl friend few stems of pink larkspurs. I told her that the larkspur’s color is similar as “girl’s dream” and I wished her to realize her dreams in the new year.

At night, I arranged the flowers in a red cookie container in western style while I watched CCTV Chinese New Year celebration program. I named the arrangement as “spring”.

Monday morning, I received an email from my friend:

I put the flowers you gave me in a thin and tall bottle. They have revived after suffering the dryness and heat in my car trunk Saturday and are doing well. The remarkable bending and curving of one branch in particular came from its original limping -- I felt sorry that I miscalculated and didn't give it enough water the first night -- the hardship it went through gave it great character.

Along with the email text, she attached the picture.

Looking at the picture, the larkspur reminded me a lot. It is actually the winter, which made the spring more beautiful and more enjoyable.

I hope “spring” deliver the spring message to you. Enjoy the flower pictures and Happy Monday.

In Friendship through Flowers,


Monday, February 9, 2009

Yuan-Xiao Festival

The Yuan-Xiao Festival celebration was started more than 2000 years ago. When word yuan (元) used for month, it means the first month (元月). Xiao (宵) means the night. Therefore, the holiday is at the first full moon night in the first lunar calendar month.

Like most of the Chinese holiday, there always a special food associated with the holiday. Yuanxiao is the food for Yuan-Xiao festival. Yuanxiao is steamed sweet rice flour ball with sweet feelings. On the holiday night, the whole family gets together, people light lanterns, set off the firecrackers, eat yuanxiao, go out to see the lanterns, and playing lantern-riddles. In Song dynasty, the celebration was 3 days long and 10 days in Ming dynasty. It is a very happy traditional holiday in China.

There is a special cultural meaning that the yuanxiao is in round shape as the moon cake. Round completes since the ends meet. When the yin and yan are together and form the Tai-Jin circle, or the round, that is when they are complete and in harmony. Importantly, round shape is easier to be contained and easier to contain other shapes.

At 2005 Ilebana International Flower Show, I made an arrangement using a set of 5 balls, now I remembered it and it fits the mood.

I hope you like the picture. I wish your life just like the yuanxiao, complete and sweet.

Happy Monday and Happy Yuan-Xiao Festival.

In Friendship through Flowers,


Monday, February 2, 2009

New Year, New Window

As a habit, by the end of each year, I review my year and make my New Year resolutions. Since I have been thinking about windows a lot this year, I ordered the branches of flowering quince from my ikebana teacher to go with my “window” ceramic vase.

A “window” is an opportunity and a hope. Reviewing the year that has just passed, I feel thankful for all the windows that have opened up in my life; looking forward, I am excited for the new windows that the New Year may bring.

"Window" is my best wish to all of you for the New Year.

Happy Monday!

In friendship through flowers,


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Double Happy New Year!

I made a new year arrangement before I got new materials and made another one. So you get special, a double happy new year.

New Year (1)

When I saw the materials last Saturday at my ikebana class, I thought to make a New Year arrangement.

When I am looking forward to the coming New Year, I noticed that I had different perspective than before. I spent time looking back, reviewing the year past. In the recent few years, I changed the way of seeing my past. With deep gratitude and appreciation, I treasure my past life experience, I benefit from it on my way advance.

In this New Year arrangement. I used agapantus branches for the frame, their leafless branches reminded me the past. There were paracanta berries in the bottom, those were fruits of the life, my treasures. My favorite torch flowers were the focal point in the middle to show the bright future. It is not my best arrangement, but it was what in my mind at that time.

I asked my teacher to critique. “I do not like your arrangement, why didn’t you use all of the materials I gave you?” She questioned. I took a picture of the arrangement first before started to add materials to the arrangement here and there, I had to redo it twice to finally satisfy her.

When I stepped back and looked at the arrangement, I sensed festiveness, which was not in the first one.

To spend time reviewing the past when looking forward to the coming New Year and celebrate, I wish harmony and happiness with you in the new year.

Happy New Year! Happy Monday!

In Friendship through Flowers,

New Year (2)

For a traditional New Year arrangement, there are always three important elements – pine, bamboo, and plum (松、竹、梅 – 岁寒三友). There are important meanings of them in Chinese cultural, which were inherited by Japanese later and used in Ikebana.

Pine is evergreen, it is the symbol of longevity. Bamboo is the fastest growing plant in the world (some type of bamboo increases 40cm in height per day), it also spreads very fast through its root. In winter, when the big storm comes, it would bend, but later they bounce back. Bamboo is the symbol of strong life. Plum (also called Japanese Ume since it was first introduced to western world from Japan although it was original in China) is the flower of winter. It’s cold resistant, not like most of other flowers, it blooms more and better when it is cold. In Mao’s famous poem (毛泽东《卜算子咏梅》:俏也不争春,只把春来报), plum flower reports coming of Spring.

In this New Year arrangement, I used pine, bamboo, and plum. The bamboo is a very special one from my teacher’s garden. The edges of the leaves are in gold color. It gets more gold color on the edge when it is colder. I got the bamboo with root. I tried to preserve the root for planting, so the bamboo looked a little bit taller in proportion. Root is the support of the life. In the arrangement I emphasized roots. This was particularly to meet my own New Year’s perspective. At this year end, I am reviewing my past while looking forward to the future. Where I am and where I will go are related with my past, and how far and how fast I can go forward are related with my root. I added a torch flower to the center to bring in the mood of celebration, two beautiful calla lily leaves joined the cheers.

So far, I had made five New Year arrangements for this New Year and each was with different perspective. I will make more for my friends and co-workers tomorrow. This arrangement has been the best to tell what’s in my mind toward the coming new year.

Best wishes to all.

Happy New Year! Happy Monday!

In Friendship through Flowers,


A Refreshing New Start

When I first saw the materials at my Ikebana class this Saturday, the word came to my mind was “refreshing”.

Around Christmas and New Year time, we used lots of materials in red to get the holiday spirit. In this arrangement, the color of the orchids gave me the refreshing feeling, or, the change of the color tune gave me the refreshing feeling.

Wish this arrangement brought you refreshing spirit for the New Year. Happy Monday!

In friendship through flowers,