Western style arrangements typically consist of a free form assemblage of flowers in a container. In contrast, Ikebana is more of a disciplined form of art, governed by well_defined rules, principles and techniques. For example, certain precepts regulate elements like the light and the shadows. There is also what is known as the three points of balance _ shin_fuku_tai in Japanese _ which symbolize man, heaven and earth, respectively, and that have to be in harmonious equilibrium in order to give true life to an Ikebana flower arrangement. This and the fact that stems and branches are used in addition to flowers, are perhaps the most obvious differences with western_style flower arrangement.
My parents house was a traditional home that had the typical Japanese garden in the back with various different trees, plants and many seasonal flowers. I grew up playing around our Japanese black pine, Japanese plum, loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) and pomegranate trees, all the while enjoying the azaleas, camellias and many other flowers that my father nurtured with so much love and dedication. I also remember that we had flowers that were originally introduced in Japan from foreign countries, such as Amaryllis (Belladonna Lily), roses, daisies, and dahlias. So while our garden was very Japanese in style, I can now see how it was more like a display of universal nature.