I Like Big Ikebana and I Can Not Lie…. The Philly Series

This Ikebana is so big you’d think it was in Texas. But as you all know, this Philly series is dedicated to all that’s Philadelphia. Philly has gotten a lot of attention within the last week but that isn’t what this blog is about, so I’m not going to talk about it here. (Or anywhere else actually) Most of ya’ll come around here to look at pretty pictures and read a thing or two about places and cultures you love or would love to love, or would love to visit. SO, here goes. I’ve covered the details of Ikebana before here

As a refresher, Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arranging. And if you’re like me, the first thought that came to mind after reading the definition was “what else is there to read?”  I’m sure many of you clicked out at the mere mention of flowers. I too prefer hobbies that either have a high probability of  injury or me coming home drunk. So I’ll admit, I wasn’t naturally attracted to Ikebana.

As a way of getting to know my new home, I’ve spent the last six months or so doing all things Philly. High on the list (well, everyone else’s list)  is a place called Longwood Gardens. (See more here) Well that’s not true. It’s about an hour or so outside of Philadelphia. Located in Kennet Square, started by Pierre S. duPont, Longwood Gardens is famous for the expansive and elaborate gardens that change pretty regularly. After seeing this Ikebana display, it makes me wonder how they are able to make these installations every six weeks or so. Elves? Fairies? Witches? Michael Jordan? I’m going to start hanging out at their garbage dumpster before my next party. Seriously. It might be more shabby chic by the time it gets here but I bet it’ll look better than my current installation titled “NADA.”

The picture below is what I’m used to seeing in the Zen category of Ikebana:

But this is what they had at Longwood Gardens:


To get a better idea of scale, here’s a video.



Of course, the first thing that crosses one’s mind when seeing something like that is, “I bet you could climb that thing….”

This Dynamic Duo of horticultural virtuosos and Ikebana sensei at LG thought ahead. They were also smart. They made a Giant Ikebana tunnel large enough to walk through and climb upon. Except the spikes they installed on the outside could have stopped three ship loads of invading Vikings.


It’s been a long week. If you’re like me, you may be in need of some blog pablum. So, I’ll shut up and let the pictures do the wowing.




Here are a couple of great articles on Ikebana. The second will have you building a giant Ikebana jungle gym in no time.

Thanks everyone for stopping in. Until next time when the Philly series continues….

The artisans who designed and built the installations pictured: The Making of Blooms and Bamboo

The Rise Of Ikebana, The New York Times

My Modern Met, Ikebana:The Art of Japanese Flower Arranging and How to Make Your Own by Jessica Stewart, Feb 2019

Longwood Gardens “Art For Anyone: Sogetsu Ikebana”

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19 Responses to I Like Big Ikebana and I Can Not Lie…. The Philly Series

  1. Ooh, great pictures! But I couldn’t help chuckling at your description of ikebana (which is a good thing: I haven’t chuckled much lately). I had similar feelings about the craft, especially as my mother was “classically trained” in Japan and used to harp at me to take it up. “You’re so unlady like, no one will ever marry you,” she used to hiss while butchering flowers into contorted shapes. As life turned out, I did find someone who was perfectly happy to marry me, and I didn’t have to arrange a single flower. However, I did enjoy gardening and Japanese art; I went to a lot of garden shows and several Asian art museums which displayed ikebana next to their main exhibits. Finally, I became friends with a woman who taught flower arranging, and she strong-armed me into taking one of her classes. I still can’t say I love doing ikebana, but now that I know more about it, I find it more interesting, enough that I can appreciate it. Not that I would climb a fire ladder to make an arrangement as big as the one in your photo. I can see myself getting cut by all those bamboo strips!


    • This made me laugh! I do love the look of it. My favorite are the giant displays in hotel lobbies in Japan. They’re so over the top. Which of course this giant sized Ikebana is as well. Ikebana people are very….. enthusiastic…..so not surprised you felt a fair amount of pressure! I got harangued to do Ikebana and Taiko drumming. How’s everything in your neck of the woods?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for asking! Because my county is still seeing an increase in Covid cases and deaths, we’re still under lockdown for everything but the most basic services, grocery shopping, drugstores, takeout restaurants and cafes. There’s no requirement for wearing masks however, which I think is inconsiderate of all the essential workers who can’t stay home and work remotely. The crazy thing is that the more rural counties next door are allowing bars, restaurants, barbershops and hair salons to open for business. They’re now seeing a spike in infections, but that doesn’t stop people living in my county from going to those counties to shop, eat out and get their hair cut. It makes me want to lock myself in a closet until a vaccination is actually available!

        But what’s really sad is that my younger daughter, the fluent Japanese speaker in my family, and I were planning to visit Japan this year. We were supposed to leave in April, but of course, almost every airline shut down that month: we were lucky our fares were refunded. Now, with Japan under lockdown, there’s not much hope of flying out there, even in the fall (when they think we’ll see another wave of infections). Maybe next year? Though I refuse to go in the humid summer during the Olympics, if they have them at all. Take care!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. librown50 says:

    I have followed you from the time we lived in Japan for three months. You taught me all things Japanese, especially their toilets! We saw Ikebana when we were there, but “normal-sized” Ikebana. These are amazing! My husband who is a born and bred Philly boy, didn’t appreciate some of your Philly insights in the last blog. His sister and I loved them. All too true. Keep writing. I look forward to your blog and really enjoy your take on things.


    • It didn’t sit well with many of the Philly folk! It was really a love letter. Really.
      Glad you and sis in law got a kick out of it. Thanks for sticking with me! I do miss Japan a lot! Thanks librown50!


  3. Claudia Estrin says:

    Miss LG, Philly & you. Maybe when flights reopen I’ll fly in and we can go drink at Parc.


  4. These are beautiful. We would like to feature you for whisking us away in our upcoming issue of “This Just In… Travelers Inc.”


  5. Dannette says:

    Just what I needed. Thank you for posting!


  6. Paul Gannan says:

    G’day Emily. A fascinating set of pictures. Your stories, as usual, give me pleasure and another insight to a part of the world that l never really took much notice of. Keep up the good work.


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