I went hydrangea-mad the other day and filled the house with hydrangeas! And it felt so wonderful, having such a wealth of flowers in my arms and bringing them into the house quickly and into a big pan (one in which I boil spaghetti or simmer soup in, as it so happens) to rest up to their ears in cold water. Then once they were refreshed, I cut an inch off their stems on the slant and another one right in the center for greater water uptake, and into tall vases they went. Not sophisticated arrangements at all – just threw them all in. And they have lasted weeks, just with the occasional top-up of water. What is fascinating is how their colours are so diverse, despite coming from two shrubs that had blue flowers when I bought them. I had wanted them to remain blue, but I rather prefer them now with this interesting variation in colour.
Nageire arrangements (“throw in” in Japanese) are hardly taken literally, as proper nageire still has rules. No, these were as simple as could be – no deliberating, no aesthetic contemplating, just doing!
This precious time spent with hydrangeas in their glory – slowly looking all around the plants, taking time to observe each bunch, selecting which ones to cut, and then putting them in a vase, even if they were not deliberate floral arrangements as such – was truly calming.
And it occurred to me that the end result of calm and serenity that the process gave me underlines the wisdom of kado, “the way of flowers” or Japanese flower arrangement, even though these arrangements were not at all Ikebana. There is more to kado or Ikebana than just arranging flowers.
It seemed to me too that in the process time had slowed down — while losing myself among the flowers, time had gotten somehow stretched. It may be time to practise Ikebana regularly again.