Need help getting started with accent plantings, please.

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Need help getting started with accent plantings, please.

Post  Gentleman G. on Thu Jun 23, 2011 7:25 am

Hello, everybody. I've always enjoyed looking at pictures of kusamono and accent plantings, here on the forum and elsewhere. That being said, I've recently purchased several small pots for another project of mine. I intentionally bought more than I need so I could have nice selection. I plan on filling some with shohin/mame, and the others I'd like to use for accent plantings. I live in zone 9 so obviously there are many "traditional" accents that I can't grow down here... I think??? I'm looking for any suggestions as to what types of plants I can grow down here, as well as info on soil makeup and general care/placement (on a bench with my trees, or a seperate location, not display placement). Basically, anything you would want to tell a newbie Very Happy As always, any and all info is greatly appreciated.


G

Gentleman G.
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Re: Need help getting started with accent plantings, please.

Post  Dave Martin on Thu Jun 23, 2011 8:37 am

I couldn't think of one more appropriate for you than the Star Grass, Dichromena colorata.

It is one used by the Japanese a lot in their Shitaksa displays I believe it is a native in your location.

I have included a link www.horticopia.com/hortpix/html/diccol000.htm

It is a bog plant so will need to be kept wet.

Hope this helps. It is a fantastic looking plant in flower, like a shooting star.

Dave Martin
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Re: Need help getting started with accent plantings, please.

Post  Gentleman G. on Thu Jun 23, 2011 1:16 pm

Thank you, Dave! I think that is a perfect start. I'll have to see if I can find any around here! As far as soil mix for accent plantings, would I use a bonsai mix (I would think well draining potting soil would be appropriate)??? And, would different accent plants require different soil makeups as bonsai do??? It just doesn't make sense to me that bonsai mix would be suitable for such plants.

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Re: Need help getting started with accent plantings, please.

Post  Russell Coker on Thu Jun 23, 2011 2:55 pm

Gentleman G. wrote:Hello, everybody. I've always enjoyed looking at pictures of kusamono and accent plantings, here on the forum and elsewhere. That being said, I've recently purchased several small pots for another project of mine. I intentionally bought more than I need so I could have nice selection. I plan on filling some with shohin/mame, and the others I'd like to use for accent plantings. I live in zone 9 so obviously there are many "traditional" accents that I can't grow down here... I think??? I'm looking for any suggestions as to what types of plants I can grow down here, as well as info on soil makeup and general care/placement (on a bench with my trees, or a seperate location, not display placement). Basically, anything you would want to tell a newbie Very Happy As always, any and all info is greatly appreciated.


G

Actually, G, a lot of the "traditional" plants DO work here on the coast - if you know what you're doing.

First thing to do when you're out and about is look DOWN. You'll be amazed at the variety of sedges, grasses, moss and "weeds" free for the taking. Pay attention to what plants are growing together, that's the key to happiness in a pot. I have a thread here, swamp gems, that is a combination of pitcher plants and other things including orchids that I collected in an area of about 20 square feet. Obviously, I'm not going to be adding a hosta to it.

Part of the beauty of a mixed planting kusamono is seasonality. You are basically creating a microcosm in a pot. Spring ephemerals do their thing then disappear as the summer plants take center stage. As they fade into the background the autumn grasses and wildflowers show off - an so on. This is one of the reason kusamono is so popular in Japan (completely independent of bonsai) - even if you live in the city you can have a little piece of the country or grandma's house on the balcony. These are usually simple and common plants, not exotics, but plants that are special in the hearts and souls of the Japanese. I tried to capture that same feeling with my swamp plants, plants that are special to me growing up on the coast and part of my childhood here.

Back to you. You'll notice that in a lot of the posts here you see a single specimen type plant in a pot. That's fine too. Remember that when displaying with bonsai, sometimes less really is more. The hostas work great this way, so do sedums. I bought a beautiful little 'blue mouse ear' dwarf hosta at Walmart for 2.50, and some wonderful sedums at Home Depot for about the same amount. At HD and Lowes I've also seen Platycodon, blue balloon flower, one of the classic summer wildflowers of Japan. You'll also find Miscanthus grass, usually gracillimus, that dwarfs well and is the tall autumn blooming grass you see in Japanese kusamono (not gracillimus, but another variety). In late summer some interesting asters show up, I've even seen nipponicum and pacificum, both popular in Japan (they do fine here too). Watch those perennial and groundcover tables, you'll be surprised what turns up.

As for soil, use a fine version of whatever you're using, like what you'd use for mame or shohin. You may need to add a little more weight to it so it holds more moisture. Sometimes I leave them in that soil that's in the pot they came in, but sometimes it's too peaty. You'll just have to experiment. Obviously, bog plants are going to need a different soil than plants from a dry hillside.

There are some good Japanese kusamono books. Keiko Yamane is the queen of kusamono in Japan. I have one of her books that I bought from Bill Valavanis years ago. Can't read a word of it but it's full of pictures and "how to" stuff, easy enough to follow. Bill may still carry some of these book/magazines.

Good luck and HAVE FUN!!





Last edited by Russell Coker on Thu Jun 23, 2011 3:25 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : added thought)

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Re: Need help getting started with accent plantings, please.

Post  Gentleman G. on Thu Jun 23, 2011 4:02 pm

Hey, Russel. I am familiar with "swamp gems" and have referred to it a few times actually. I appreciate the info! I plan on going to Lowe's at some point this week for some concrete/mortar mix/sand among other ingredients for making my own slab, maybe I'll look at some plants while I'm there Twisted Evil I've also got permission to use my stepmother's kiln whenever I visit, so I may try to make some accent pots while I'm at it! Thanks again for the tips, I'll keep my eyes peeled for some of the specific plants you mentioned. Guess it's a good thing I've been saving all my fines (soil fines, not tickets)!

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Re: Need help getting started with accent plantings, please.

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