From The Blog



Kusamono of Taikan-ten 2011

After moving back to America in a few months back, life has been chaotic and wonderful.  I’ve already met a ton of great people and had the opportunity to style some excellent bonsai while on the road.  As I sort through the thousands of photos from my time as a bonsai monk thus-far, this group of kusamono photos from the Taikan-ten in 2011 stuck out as something worthy of posting.  Please forgive the photo quality as my IPod had no flash or good zoom…….

The content of the photos is worth a look though as it can be difficult to match species or combinations of species with suitable containers.  Matching a kusamono with a given bonsai is another difficult task, so it’s a good idea to consult someone in the know.

Bjorn Bjorholm and Peter Tea took some high quality pics of the bonsai at this exhibition so check their blogs if interested.

I threw in a few photos of excellent bonsai and some show the kusamono paired with the main tree.  In some cases an overhead shot is provided to help identify plants used in more complex designs.  The gallery below is almost every single Shitakusa (meaning “under grass”) in the show.  Many of my favorite plants such as Ardesia japonica, Pyrossia spp. (especially the crested ones), Selaginella, and Crytomium falcatum were used.  Extra brownie points for anyone who can identify the dwarf holly fern cultivar below as I really need to find one : ).

*Update*  Special thanks goes to the staff at the U.S. National Arboretum for identification of the fern below as Cyrtomium falcatum var. maritimum.  

I’ll be teaching classes and doing presentations on the art of kusamono along with the normal bonsai events.  If interested in having a workshop or presentation on the subject, feel free to contact me.




  1. Ian - March 31, 2013 7:56 am

    Hi Owen great post. What always strikes me about Japanese accents is the maturity of the plantings compared to most in the west. I keep splitting mine to allow sharing with friends lol. Going to have to leave a few alone for a while.

    Do you know the proper name for the yellow/golden fern used in many of the plantings. I have managed to get my hands on some this year.

    And also what is this one?, love it :-)

    • Owen - October 23, 2013 12:07 am

      Yes, the maturity of kusamono in Japan is amazing. The key is to make some and keep them going for a few years before exhibiting. Defoliation and proper media selection also help.

      I’ll find out the cultivar or species for the golden selaginella shortly. I have some in production. The other plant (IMG_6779) is a Pyrossia. Likely Pyrossia lingua. Hard to find in America at times but available at Plant Delights Nursery and Nurseries Caroliniana among others.

  2. Pingback: Kusamono Links | Bonsai Eejit

  3. ko ko naing - April 1, 2013 6:12 am

    i need to some books for bonsai

  4. salva - April 4, 2013 9:43 am

    Hi , the second plant in this page, it’s a ferm i think is it, cyrtonium falcatum, variety
    ‘rochfordianum’….??????, in a little pot it’s leaves become small.


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