Photography by Jessie Bell

Ikebana has been practised in Japan for more than 600 years, infinitely refined into an art form but losing none of its significance over the centuries.

Born of the Buddhist ritual of offering flowers to the spirits of the dead, ikebana was originally the turf of priests. By the middle of the fifteenth century, however, it had become an art form in its own right. Although no longer a religious practice, ikebana retains its symbolic and philosophical overtones, and its strict adherence to rules.

– A kenzan – find one at antique stores, have one specially imported from Japan or buy one through Amazon. Also called a spiky frog, a kenzan is a heavy metal plate with erect brass needles on to which the stipes are fixed.
– A shallow vessel – a bowl with a flat base will work. Choose your vessel carefully; it needs to work well with the material you choose in colour, texture and shape.
– Various plant materials – at least three different kinds.

ELLE Deco SA - Ikebana

– In the arrangement you will need a longer stem or branch – the subject. This is the main branch of the arrangement, which draws the eye upwards or outwards.
– Secondly, you need a main flower or leaf – the object. This is typically anchored lower in the arrangement and leans 45˚ towards the view. It draws in the views and is a focal point from which the other materials rise.
– Lastly, you will need filler material, which can be flowers, branches or leaves. You must have at least one thing that is green. These are used to compliment the subject and object, and often follow the lines created by them.


1. Place the kenzan in the vessel and fill it with enough water to just cover the kenzan.

2. First place your subject, either at an exaggerated angle or at a more upright angle. This usually depends on the branch or material you have chosen. Be guided by how it would have grown in nature, the way the leaves face or the way the stem bends.

3. Place the object lower in the vase at a 45˚ angle towards the view. Make sure the face of the flower is looking towards the sun to get the best view.

4. Fill the spaces with your fillers following the line of the subject and emphasising the beauty of the object. Be careful not to add too much; keep simplicity in mind. A leaf or branch must fall over the lip of the bowl to cover the kenzan. This is usually your green material.

ELLE Deco SA - Storm Ross

For ikebana lessons contact Belinda Soboil from Bella Flowers

Instagram: @bella.passionforflowers

Post by Storm Ross from The Holloway Shop

Instagram: @holloway_za

For More Design Inspiration

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram