A Few More Kusamono

Some of the kusamono I made earlier this year really came out well.  It’s inspiring to see the really old ones here and every exhibition attended provides me with more insight into this very addictive, very important aspect of bonsai display.  While on the subject of kusamono, I was chastised by a kusamono aficionado last year at the Taikan-ten for calling them accent plants.  She told me “companion plant” is a much more accurate term if you aren’t using the term kusamono.  Message received and logged.  Accentuation is a grey area, but current bonsai display involving a kusamono has a companion plant that is smaller than the main tree, assists in communicating the message of the display, and doesn’t “steal the show” and draw the viewer’s eye too much.  When you get a chance, look through some old exhibition books and you will note often massive kusamono and over-sized stands (in relation to recent preferred proportions).  The two photos below are from Kokufu-ten 47, which was 1973 I believe.


People often talk about “traditional” bonsai display styles, but what exactly does that mean?  A subject for another post…..

This is a follow-up post to A FEW KUSAMONO.  Please look at that post now to get an idea of what a year or two can do for a kusamono project.  Starting one now (and waiting to use it for a while) will pay big dividends in the coming years.


After a full growing season these kusamono have filled out well. I’ve also made some new ones and decided to share a few others that have finally become worthy after filling out.  When making kokedama, using dried moss and growing from “scratch” gives a much better effect than simple application of the collected stuff.  

Camellia japonica ‘Robiraki’ Kokedama
Variegated Star Rush kokedama
A completely different feeling now that it has filled out.
A rabbit’s foot fern may be added with the other four ferns later.

The three containers surrounding this text are from Erin Ceramics in the UK.  While they have a heavy appearance in relation to many Japanese-made kusamono containers, these pots have a certain organic feel that I really like. I’ve found a number of pots with similar heavy glazes while in Japan and they’re coming home with me.




My favorite “Erin” pot and favorite new kusamono of the year.  The pot appears to float; especially with the glossy jita.

I’ve been asked what the big deal about kusamono is many times lately as this art form is often considered a “woman’s hobby” here in Japan.  Much like it takes a real man to wear a pastel pink shirt and not be self-conscious, making kusamono and enjoying your work can be just as fulfilling as chopping up trees with chainsaws no matter how prissy the art may come off.  Don’t get me wrong, I like pointless explosions, playing in the dirt, and bonsai enthusiasts from Korea………

When show time rolls around, do you want the quality companion plant, or the “mad dash to Home Depot” one?  Something to consider.  I’ll be based in America for 2013 planting seeds; both literally and figuratively.  Looking forward to meeting bonsai enthusiasts all over the world.  If you’d like to enlist my services, please contact me HERE.


Thanks for reading.