Recently the Susquehanna Bonsai club had a presentation on how to make kusamono and kokedama. The club was honored to have Young Choe as the presenter. Young Choe has studied extensively on these subjects and travels all around the world teaching the arts of kusamono and kokedama. Young studied kusamono in Japan under master Kusamono artist, Keiko Yamane, a former student of Saburo Kato. Please enjoy reading the below notes from our latest club newsletter (editor – Ross Adams) written by club member Darlene Tyler. Thanks for the article Darlene!
By Darlene Tyler
Kusamono are potted arrangements of wild grasses and flowers in unique pots or trays selected to suggest a season or place where they grow. There are three basic styles of Kusamono: moss-ball ( Kokedama), out-of-pot, and container.
Many meadow and woodland plants are suitable for Kusamono compositions including blue stem grass, flowering onion, Japanese anemone, goldenrod, Iris cristata, Virginia strawberry, shining sumac, ferns, lily of the valley, Epimedium, chrysanthemum, Canada mayflower, red columbine, American wintergreen, narrow leaf mountain mint, Solomon’s seal, cobra lily, culver’s root, hawkweed and Japanese blood red.
Young chose a naturalistic tray-like container for her first composition. Think about the color of the plants and flowers and the container. Choose the front of the container first and add a layer of potting soil (Buffalo Organic Potting Soil or fine grain Kanuma and charcoal). The pH of the soil should be about 6.5. Next add the rocks on top of the soil. The rocks were chosen and carefully arranged on the tray. Use 1, 3, or 5 rocks and leave space in front and place rocks slightly to the middle-side of the container. Be happy with each step of the process. After the arrangement was pleasing to Young, she chose a woodland aster as the first plant (the tallest plant is placed first). Loosen up the roots of the plant but don’t cut too many roots in the summer. The wood aster is placed with its face facing forward between the rocks and more soil is added. Golden rod, Chrysanthemum crispum( a small flower and white edged leaves), a spring flower (Oenothera) and Campanula were added. Be sure there is soil between the rocks and the plants. A fine moss was added to finish the composition. Use chopsticks to push the moss into the soil. Water with a fine spray and keep it in shade for two weeks before introducing it to part shade. Do not allow the plants to dry out.
KOKEDAMA (moss ball)
Muck soil is used to create moss balls. Add enough muck to the soil so that the ball will maintain its shape. The ball is created on top of a tile or screen which has four wires protruding to attach the ball. Start selecting a combination of plants that seen to relate to each other place the tallest plant first than the supporting plants adding more muck tot the ball as needed. Finish off by applying moss to the composition. Press the moss into the soil and affix it to the ball with fine black thread. Oat grass, golden rod, penstemon, and chrysanthemum were used for one of the balls.
When the composition no longer absorbs water, it is time to separate and re-pot a kusamono.
Thanks for reading and for more info about Young Choe, please check out her website provided below.
Young’s website is http://www.kusamonochoe.com for more information about Kusamono.