#AtoZBlogChallenge: I is for Ikebana

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I love flowers. I mean I love flowers. Going to the Philadelphia Flower show is like my Super Bowl. The Keukenhof in Holland? My mecca. 

My passion stems - no pun intended - from my mother. Growing up she took us to countless gardens, flower shows, and nature hikes. My favorites were also the big happy flowers - the hydrangea, the sunflowers, the sprawling rose bushes.  To me, such varieties looked like "plants gone wild." I'll take a messy English cottage garden any day over a carefully constructed, groomed arrangement.

As our passion for flowers grew, my mom began exploring flower arranging. She took over as head of the Church Flower Guild and every few  months I get the call - "We're a hand short for this Sunday. It's time to arrange!"  I live for this call.

Through the years we've explored different floral arranging styles but try as I might my arrangements always look the same - big and happy. One day we got a request for an ikebana arrangement. "A what?" I said. "It's minimalist flower arranging" my mother said. I knew I was in trouble. 

In ikebana only a few flowers are used to highlight the form, color, and accent of each petal. Ikebana is graceful, purposeful, and above all restrained.

I tried, I really did but the more I worked, the larger my arrangement grew. It was untamed, vibrant, joyous. Just the way I liked.





My mother looked over - horrified at what I had created. "Jenny," she lamented, "That's no where near ikebana."

I got kicked off the Church Flower Guild that week. My arrangement just didn't fit in. I didn't really have a place for such a large creation in my small apartment, so instead I took my flowers around the corner. As I entered through the doors of the retirement home the head nurse broke into a beaming smile. "They're so happy!" she exclaimed. "Our residents will just love them."

My heart soared.