Narcissus is one of the major flowers used in Ikebana. Since time immemorial, Japanese give high regard to this flower especially in winter and spring. For them, Narcissus reflects delicate beauty and resilience at the same time. When most of the fresh materials especially flowers are rare in winter, this small perennial can survive the cold weather. And when spring comes, it is the first to bloom elegantly.
Narcissus or Suisen Arrangements Following the Ikebana Principles
In traditional Ikebana arrangement, there are rules to follow when using this plant. The Japanese Narcissus or Suisen has a white sheath that covers the root part of the stem, in Japanese “Hakama”. First, this sheath is removed from the main stem. To do this, you need to rub and press the root portion of the stem before pulling the flower stem and leaves from out of white sheath. Then, the leaves and flowers are cut and rearranged before putting them back in the hakama. This method is called Hagumi. For this arrangement, the beautiful lines of the Narcissus are equally highlighted with the flowers. The length of the flower stems and leaves vary depending on the season. In winter, the leaves are taller than the flowers. And in spring, the flowers are taller than the leaves. For the orthodox practice of Ikebana, the number of leaves are also strictly observed.
My first encounter with Narcissus as our main material was in January 2015. Our sensei taught us the Hagumi method and how to arrangement the flowers in the vase.
During my afternoon special lesson, I tried to do it again but more focused on having a winter arrangement. For this arrangement, I added some fine stems of Buttercup Winter Hazel. I also cut the flower stems a little shorter than the leaves. I arranged the stems and the Suisen plants in one straight line. From a far, the whole arrangement looked like just one plant.
Playing with Narcissus Leaves
In the latest textbook published by Sogetsu School (Book 5: Technique and Creation), there is a separate section solely for Narcissus arrangements. But instead of focusing on the traditional method of arranging this plant material, the book gives more emphasis on highlighting Suisen in different styles. As a practice, I tried to play with the leaves without losing focus on beauty of the flowers.