Japanese Gardening Inspiration: Kokedama

I was wandering around the blogosphere scrolling through a few of my weekly reads, when I came across the first photo above, taken on the streets of Japan. It reminded me of a post I wrote for Apartment Therapy a few years back titled Suspended String Gardens. It was quite a hit — with jaw-dropping photographs — and now I've been seeing the same images popping up on Pinterest as well as other blogs.String gardens or moss balls are a japanese gardening technique called kokedama. It's a form of bonsai grown in a ball form covered with moss and not grown in a container. According to this bonsai website, it's said the "idea originated from Nearai, which was a popular bonsai style during the Edo era in Japan, and is a bonsai grown first in a pot and taken out of the pot and set on a stand to enjoy without a pot. In the Nearai style, the bonsai was grown so fully and tightly in the pot that the root and soil would maintain its shape when taken out of the pot."

When I first saw the suspended string garden installation by Fedor, I was blown away. I'm an avid gardener, and suddenly I had images of my backyard being filled with suspended moss balls swaying in the breeze. But I also like to think I'm somewhat practical, so while these are gorgeous, I knew plants grown in this fashion would not be easy to maintain during the sweltering summer months. But with more pictures floating around from amateurs trying their hand at these cute Japanese balls, and having now made — and been successful — growing one of these, I'm ready to give it a go.

A few tips I'm going to adhere to going forth are to choose native, drought tolerant perennials or shade-loving perennials that will be suspended from under my porch and out of direct sun. Or, if you have a large umbrella in your yard, I can picture these making quite a statement hanging under its canopy.

For those interested in learning this Japanese gardening method, here is a great tutorial. If you try this or have already experimented with this gardening form, please share with the rest of us in the comments. I will be sure to update you with my own tips and photos once my string garden starts taking shape. Happy planting!

MORE KOKEDAMA ON APARTMENT THERAPY:
Suspended String Gardens
String Gardens for Summer
Kokedama String Garden

(Images: 1, Bethany Mayer via Surf Collective NYC; 2, Craftzine; 3-5, ii-ne-kore; 6-7, inhabitat)

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