Experiments with extravagant pots

One interesting aspect of cultivating grass bonsai is the ability to experiment with pots of different shapes. There are no rules to be followed. It is surely easier to plant fancy pots with grass bonsai than finding trees suitable for them. On these pages, Masako Esaka makes compositions with grasses in pots created by Japanese master potters.

Dominant plants for strong pots


Esaka found this pot in an exhibition for bonsai pots. It's a ceramic with a vivid glaze titled "Nostalgic Reminiscence".

To prevent the pot with its strong colours from dominating the composition, a daylily (Hemerocallis) with brilliant yellow flowers is chosen, which is to be combined with a Meehania variegata.

The prepared soil is a mixture of Akadama (70%) and Lava (30%) in three particle sizes.

The drainage hole is covered with a mesh.

The bottom of the pot is filled with a drainage layer of coarse particles.

A layer of medium-sized particles is put onto the drainage layer.

The lily is removed from its pot.

The pot proves too large for one plant, therefore a third element is added: A hosta, which is prepared for potting by removing a part of the soil.

To determine the position in the pot, the visual impression of the yellow flowers and the leaves has to be evaluated. The lily's flowers, as well as the buds of the hosta, should point to the front of the composition.

To underline the special character of the pot, the Meehania's position is crucial.

If the Meehania with its soft, elegant lines is positioned on the front like this, the role of the pot as a focus point is reduced.

Perhaps the Meehania should be put on the left and the lily turned a bit?

The front can be changed as well. Perhaps this is a better front.

Once the position of every element is decided, the remaining spaces are filled with substrate.

If the composition should be exhibited, the surface of the substrate needs some refinement. Given the blue-greenish colour of the pot, moss would repeat this colour in a slightly boring way. A layer of fine lava granules has a nice and restrained effect.

After finishing, the composition is presented on a special table.

A different vessel, purchased on the same exhibition: A triangular pot with a striking glaze.

Testing the visual effect of a grass (Miscanthus).

Something seems to be missing from the composition, so the artist decides to add a bluebeard (Caryopteris variegata).

The bluebeard is split into two part.

The more dense part is positioned in the front, the other part on the back.

But now the composition looks to monotonous. The part in the back is removed again.

Mossing the surface.

The drippings of the red glaze look different on each side. The side with the lightest effect is chosen as front. On this picture you can see a side where the glaze looks too heavy.

The finished composition. The rectangular tablet is deployed to great effect. The calligraphy in the background is an invitation to guests to get comfortable and have a tea.

This article was kindly provided by BONSAI ART.