plants for bonsai
the traditional way of presenting Bonsai (Tokonoma) where heaven, earth
and man is symbolized, stands:
the scroll for heaven (or the spiritual goal)
- the accent plant for the earth
- and the bonsai for men (or the harmony between heaven and earth)
Tokonoma with larch from
the exhibition "SAKKA TEN" 2002
accent plant should be arranged in such a way that the bonsai will be
accentuated. - If you look at it from above a more dominating bonsai
will be less accentuated from a plant in the foreground. - When the
accent plant moves to the back, it accentuates the bonsai more if needed.
when the bonsai itself is presented on a higher table, a small table for
the accent plant is permissible, grass will be put on shallow slice of
a presentation of bonsai the accent plant gives an idea of the season as
well as harmony and balance.
plants represent the different seasons with conspicuous leaf colors,
flowers, fruits, seeds, Fall colors etc…
and accent plant shouldn't have the same foliage or the same flowers and
fruits. Fruiting and flowering bonsai should be put together with a
plain accent plant. Deciduous trees will be presented with flowering and
fruiting accent plants.
can use the wild forms of grass or perennials that can be collected in
nature (of course with care about laws for conservation and with the
permission of the landowner). On the other side more and more
interesting cultivated forms from perennial nurseries are used. - Every
bonsai and plant enthusiast can let his fantasy run wild!
several different plants one should have in mind that they come from the
same location, that they have the same origin.
the planting individual clay pots in different shapes, surface designs
and most different glazes are used. Even mats, plates, tiles, flat
stones, roots or pieces of wood can be used.
possibility to show accent plants without any pot is just permissible
with very mature plants, where the moss is grown all around. This is
called NE ARAI.
should use some peaty soil (a mixture out of peat and akadama is nice)
as planting medium, a good drainage in the pots is important.
plants should be watered regularly, sprayed occasional and fertilized
just a little (to prevent unbridled growth). Every year in spring
repotting is necessary with root cutting and the removing of dead parts
of the plants.
bonsai accent plants show their character and mature after years of good
care, only then they should be presented on exhibitions.
accent plant represent more than that, they give accents for the bonsai
presentation in your own garden and may become another passion for the
plant collector and enthusiast.
want to point out that the Hostas and some other dwarfed perennials are
not the classic accent plant in the traditional bonsai presentation in
Japan, but these plants will liven up the bonsai collection in your
garden and will adorn with their wonderful foliage and beautiful flowers.
Some perennials for accent planting:
more than 40 species of Hosta, which can be found in Asia, are so far
subdivided in more than 3500 different, registered varieties.
grow as tuftlike bushes with leaves coming out of the ground, which
differ in shape and colour: from slender to long and expanded,
heart-like or more rounded, in green, blue and also with yellow and
white stripes. The flowers used to grow high up from the bushes and
their colors are violet, blue or white.
love peaty and well draining soil and a place covered against wind in
halfshade. If they are watered regularly, they don't worry about a bit
special qualities are the wonderful leaves and the beautiful flowers,
and because of that they have been known in Japan as garden plants for
centuries and collected by enthusiasts, especially in the USA,
only real problem is that snails love Hostas. - But that shouldn't keep
you away from using this wonderful perennial in your garden.
be planted in accent pots the dwarfed varieties are more interesting:
fantastic varieties are (dwarfed and with colored leaves) 'Little Wonder',
'Catillian', 'Kabitan', 'Masquerade', 'Little White Lines', 'Ginko
Craig', Alan P. McConell', 'Green Eyes', 'Rheingold' etc. But some other
Varieties with leaves in one colour look good. -With green leaves there
are i.e. Hosta venusta, Hosta kikutti, 'Laura', Kifukurin', 'Japangirl',
'Maegi Kifukurin Akikaze', 'Japanboy' etc. - With yellow leaves there
are 'Hydon Sunset', Feather Boa', 'Laterna Magica'…… and with silver
leaves are 'Gray Beauty', 'Popo' ……'Snowflakes' shows wonderful,
pure white flowers.
about 6" high, brown-green , fine pinnated leaves and 8" to
10" high stem with white flowers. The soil should be peaty and damp
and the location in halfshade.
an interesting 'South African'!
With its strange flowers (more than 1", blooming from June to
August) fine stems and the grasslike leaves it flowers over several
months. It is not too winterhardy, so you better put it in a basement or
an unheated stairwell, cold and dry just like cactus.
baurii 'Fred Broome'
with rose-pink flowers (like little roses), R. baurii 'Douglas'
with dark red flowers and
R. baurii var. platypetala with white, in the middle light pink
flowers are usually used.
perennial (21 species), found from the Mediteranean region to the east
of Asia, shows small pinnate leaves. The flowers, mostly with a spur,
are white, yellow, red or violet and stand together in a raceme.
Mediterranean species like warm, bright and dry places, whereas the
Asian species prefer fresh and cool areas.
(from western China) grows very slowly in tufts. Its height becomes
8" and it gets bright violet flowers of 1".
X youngianum 'Niveum'
(pure white flowers) and E.X youngianum 'Roseum' (pink-violet)
are particularly charming species.
accent pots they thrive with enough watering and regular organic
fertilizing and they have wonderful orange-brown Fall colors. - But the
flowers are absolutely outstanding!
up to 5" growing grass from Japan with jet-black
foliage, crème-colored flowers and black fruits, really exotic for the
bonsai garden, available also in green and dwarfed.
This low Orchids (15 species), that are growing on the
ground, come from the Himalaja, China and Taiwan and grow delicate
leaves out of 'pseudobulbs' and considerable, mostly solitary flowers.
The only more or less hardy specie is Pleione limprichtii (sy. P.
bulbocodioides). In April/May it flowers with beautiful, up to 3"
wide viloet-pink flowers and is able to stay outside with some shelter
(no wet feet) during the winter. - When the Pleione is in a accent pot,
you better overwinter it without frost and cold in a basement or a
and other small grasses
small growing species of Carex are very nice; also ....
Molinia caerulea 'Variegata'
with white stripes, up to 8".
Koeleria glauca a blue colored, drought resistant small grass.
are 30 species in the mountains of Europe, northern Africa and western
Asia. This perennial, growing in cushions with thick, fleshy leaves that
stand together in rosettes sprouts yellow, red and white flowers in the
summer. There are numerous shapes and colors for this rosettes, many of
them are natural hybrids. Plus many hybrids developed in gardens.
Apparently there are some thousand different species.
is particularly delicate with cushions of rounded rosettes which are
covered with tiny hairs like spider nets. The flowers are pink.
Sempervivum are very modest and can bear full sun or some days without
water. - So said the cactus of Europe…..
group of plants should not be missed in any garden. It shows a wide
variety of use and is very modest. There are some hundreds of different
species to cover the ground or as perennials in the border. Some smaller
and dense growing species make nice accent plants:
Geranium dalmaticum with pink flowers and colored foliage in
Geranium cinereum 'Ballerina' with violet-pink veined flowers.
Geranium cinereum var. subcaulescens 'Guiseppi' dark red flowers
with a black eye.
Geranium renardii with white flowers, and leaves like crepe paper.
group of plants consists of more than 30 species, found from the
Himalayas to Japan and in the Atlantic side of North America. They like
a sunny location or maybe halfshade and rich, peaty, dump soil. -
Dwarfed species are:
Astilbe X crispa 'Perkeo' with violet-pink flowers and wrinkled
Astilbe glaberima var. saxatile with light pink flowers and
Astilbe glaberima 'Sprite' with white flowers.
Not every perennial that's useable for accent plants
is mentioned here, of course. Every Bonsai enthusiast can let his
imagination run wild, - and will recognize, that's it might be as
interesting as collecting bonsai!
a lot of fun with accent plants!