This is my wife, Soon’s landscape kusamono. It was shown in the 2014 Houston Chinese Bonsai Society show. Our friend, Shaulin Hon, an architect turned professional photographer, took these photos.
Soon likes to create a mixed planting of herbaceous plants and weeds, the end result is a kusamono that looks like a natural meadow juxtaposed with plants of different colors and textures. I am not surprised there are more than ten species of plants on this lace rock.
She named this landscape planting: “A World Beyond the Cave“ (别有洞天).
This landscape kusamono is an allegory to a Chinese fable, the Peach Blossom Spring (桃花源记), written by Tao Yuanming (陶渊明) in 421 about a fisherman who came upon a grove of blossoming peach trees growing along the river banks. He was captured by the beautiful peach blossoms and kept rowing until the river ended at a spring. There was a cave on the hill side of the spring, he ventured into it and after passing through a narrow opening he emerged and saw a scenic village with cultivated fields and fine houses. The villagers were living happily and in harmony with each other. They produced everything they needed. The villagers told him their ancestors settled in this secluded place after escaping ravages of war during the Qin dynasty (around 200 BCE). For hundreds of years they lived in peace without outside contacts. After spending several days there, the fisherman left and marked his route so he could find his way back, however, the villagers erased all traces of the markings and the fisherman could not find this Shangri la again.
Don’t we all wish we could find our Peach Blossom Spring village on the other side of the tunnel?
The fisherman found a cave.
Coming out the other end of the cave and finding an Utopian village.
Photo taken November, 2016. An overgrown Ilysanthes floribunda nearly covers up the cave entrance.
The Artisans Cup has many powerful and beautiful bonsai. As a visitor, some of them appealed to me more than the others. I enjoyed them all, perhaps some trees related to something I had previously experienced, or the whole composition appealed to me more than just an individual tree. I like Greg Breden’s Southwestern White Pine, it looks rugged, clinging precariously on a beautiful and rough textured pot. Doug Paul’s Douglas Fir also appealed to me. It has very natural looking shari and twisted live veins, which look very similar to a tree I saw during a hike in a British Colombia mountain. Not sure of the species but could be a Douglas Fir Pondorosa Pine (At the recent Texas State Bonsai Show, Todd Hang of Dallas told me this tree is a pine, more likely a Pondorosa Pine because of the exposed brownish-red border between the shari and live bark. Someone from Canada familiar with plant distribution said it is not a Pondorosa Pine based on the location where this tree was photographed. It is more likely a Lodgepole Pine). Here is the tree I saw in nature:
The shari created by rain, wind, snow and all natural elements. Unsurpassed by any human carving.
This is Doug Paul’s Douglas Fir:
A similar looking shari with flaky slivers, and live barks. The planting in a rock crevice simulates its natural growing environment.
My wife is an avid gardener. She tends to away from bonsai (most of the time). To quote her words: “I let my husband works on big trees, I stick to the small stuffs like kusamono and anything palm-size.” Here are some of her small stuffs:
She might not call this flowering jasmine a bonsai, but to me it is a bunjin shohin. The fragrance filled our kitchen when she brought it indoors.
This cabbage is a kitchen left-over. After stripping off all the leaves for food, she planted the stem in a cup filled with expanded shale and water. It rooted and grew into a small cabbage ball with curly leaves. Eventually the regrown cabbage will be eaten, and perhaps the stem will be regrown. She has other kitchen left overs, such as potato eye, yam, onion etc., grown into what I called, kitchen-scrap bonsai.