I kebana, the Japanese art of arranging flowers, has a fertile following in Asheville. The city’s chapter of Ikebana International boasts 60 members and will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year, but the celebration is starting early: In May, the chapter will host the organization’s North American Regional Conference, which is held only every five years.
“The art form of ikebana is one that is a reflection of life itself,” says conference chair Terri Ellis Todd. “These flowers will fade and die within days; if you miss it, you miss it. Practicing ikebana, or observing it, is a way of keeping present and in the moment.”
Ikebana is a centuries-old practice that has its roots in the Buddhist ritual of presenting daily flowers to deceased spirits. Seasonal blooms, such as spring tulips, cherry stems, summertime lilies, and pussy willow branches, are placed into vases in a triangular form. The symbolism of the shape reflects the connection between heaven, earth, and humanity.
At the conference in May, arrangements of ikebana, which means “living flowers,” won’t be judged, but they will be lovingly exhibited. More than 100 designers from across the United States will display their art at the Renaissance Asheville Hotel.
Patti Quinn Hill, the local chapter’s president, says it’s only natural that the conference would come to Asheville, where the chapter’s motto is “friendship through flowers.” “Lifelong friendships are made” through ikebana, she says, “at home and internationally.”
Ikebana Flower Exhibition
May 20 & 21
Renaissance Asheville Hotel, 31 Woodfin St.
10:30 a.m.-7 p.m.; $10