A Contemporary Display of Kusamono Accent Plants

I work on bonsai and penjing but my wife’s interest is in kusamono and miniature planting. That works out well since I can use her kusamono as companion plant when exhibiting bonsai in shows. Last year we attended our State bonsai convention, and she displayed a contemporary group of kusamono with a local backyard theme using a small picnic table,
accompanied by a kusamono group planting in a broken pot placed on top of a native pink granite. The display can be viewed as two individual groups or as one big group with the taller picnic table flowing downwards to the right broken pot group planting.

The feather rock group planting was placed on the picnic table with a mischievous Siamese cat climbing up the rock examining the plants. Another Siamese cat popped its head at the edge of the table looking at the plants or perhaps ready to jump. Though not conventional, having cats in a show display is a hit to cat lovers. The solitary purple flower in the feather rock is a perennial dianthus, grouped with creeping jennies, oxalis, dandelion and a very small pine seedling just next to the cat. The pine seedling just popped up by itself and she decided to keep it there. On the right of the feather rock is a wild strawberry planted in a sake cup. I drilled a hole in the cup for drainage.

Wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) is a weed in our garden. It has yellow flower which matures into small red fruit like a mini strawberry. The wild strawberry in the above display has a berry but it is very difficult to see it. Below is an individual planting in an oyster shell with a yellow flower and red berry.

On the bench, from left to right, are Cooper’s squill (Ledebouria cooperi), a miniature watering can, a pink knotweed (Polygonum capitatum), and a moss planting. Cooper’s squill is a flowering bulb native to South Africa, it flowers in February or early March in our zone with clusters of small purple flowers. The show was way past the flowering season. Even without the flowers, the lanceolate shape leaves with variegated veins are very attractive by themselves. Below is a Cooper’s squill in flower.
Pink knotweed (Polygonum capitatum) is native to the Himalayan region. It is a ground cover and is used as a diuretic herb in China. It spreads very fast as a ground cover and can pop up anywhere in the garden, so be careful when planting pink knotweed. However, this ground cover is very pretty especially during the fall when the leaves turn red with a lot of pink flowers.
Pink knotweed ground cover.
Pink knotweed turning red in the fall.

On the right of the picnic table, she planted Japanese blood grass, dandelion, creeping jenny, Cooper’s squill in a broken pot; the ground was covered with moss and a small pink polka dot plant was added to add accentuate the plantings. The pot was placed on top of a native rock called llanite. This pink granite has speckles of blue color quartz, found only in Llano, Texas.
Colin Lewis was one of the featured artists in this convention; he gave a critique session on the exhibits. He liked this group planting, and commented that the mixed plantings with a sloping green ground reminded him of English country side with wild flowers and plants.

The tips of Japanese blood grass (Imperata cylindrical) will turn red when the weather gets warm and when grown under full sun. The blood grass in this group planting had not yet turned red.
This is my wife’s Japanese blood grass in a duckling ornamental container found in a Dollar store. Again I just drilled a drainage hole to the pot.

Our good friends from the bonsai club, Clyde and Ruby Holt, gave us the empty snail shell from their water garden. My wife used it to plant a Drimiopsis maculata (Little White Soldier), a bulb related to Cooper’s squill. D. maculata has spotted leaves and a tall white flower stalk. The purple plant to the left is a new variety of Oxalis, plum crazy yellow, from Hort Couture. It has variegated leaves and gives petite yellow flowers. It is planted in a Japanese tea cup, the color complimented the purplish plants very well.

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