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Kusamono Display at the 2023 ABS Learning Seminars

By Samantha Holm

(All photos were taken by Samantha Holm)


2023 Kusamono Display in the Oak Grove at The Denver Botanic Gardens

The 2023 ABS Learning Seminars were hosted by The Rocky Mountain Bonsai Society (RMBS) and were located throughout the gorgeous Denver Botanic Gardens. The kusamono display was set up in the "Oak Grove" which, although was a bit off the beaten path, provided a lovely backdrop and the filtered shade that the plants enjoyed during the long weekend.


The show had 17 kusamonos and highlighted the artists in the RMBS and the Denver Branch of the Purple Pot Society. Interestingly, 59% of the kusamonos were created by female artists. In the ABS bonsai show that was staged concurrently in another section of the gardens there was one female (5%) and 20 male bonsai artists, compared to the seven female (64%) and four male kusamono artists.


In a first for the ABS Learning Seminars the registered kusamonos were juried and a judging committee awarded prizes for the top three. Judging was conducted by Young Choe, Carmen Leskoviansky, and Evan Pardue. The judges awarded "Best in Show" to Samantha Holm's kusamono (shown below at top left), and "Honorable Mention" to Mike Britten's (top right) and Lindsey Stewart's (bottom left) kusamonos.



The display was designed by RMBS member Samantha Holm, who also created all of the wooden display boards using the Japanese wood burning technique called Yakisugi. There will be an educational blog post in the future for PPS members about how to use the Yakisugi method to preserve wood.


The Purple Pot Society


Two of the featured kusamonos were created the year before by the Denver Branch of the Purple Pot Society during a workshop with Young Choe. The "Juniper Fence Post" Kusamono (shown below) was created on an old fence post Linda Paul collected from her father's property. Workshop participants created the kusamono using montane plants collected by Linda and other native plants purchased from a nursery.


Juniper Fence Post Kusamono created by the Purple Pot Society. Plants included: Little Bluebells, Field Pussytoes, Common Juniper, Ponderosa Pine, Yellow Yarrow, Penstemon, Western Red Columbine, Wild Strawberry, Sedum

"The Bog" Kusamono (shown below) was put together by Samantha Holm and Linda Paul with assistance by Young Choe during the workshop. It was planted in a 20 inch diameter ceramic tray without drain holes for the water-loving plants. The decaying stump in the center was collected by Linda.


Bog Kusamono created by the Purple Pot Society. Plants included: Porcupine Sedge, Swiss Willow, Juncus Blue Dart, Obedient Plant, Horsetail, Bee Balm, Fiber Optic Grass

Samantha Holm


This modern kusamono is comprised of three kokedama moss-balls and three spherical terrariums hanging from fishing wire from a four foot tall copper stand. It contains cold hardy perennials.

Artist: Samantha Holm. Plants included: Wooly Speedwell, Stonecrop ("Baby Tears"), Irish Moss, Veronica ("Crystal River"), Creeping Thyme ("Elfin"), Armeria ("Sweet Dreams"), Snow-in-Summer ("Yo Yo"), Blue Star Creeper, Mexican Feather Grass, Thrift ("Cotton Tail"), Ornamental Strawberry ("Lipstick"), Dianthus ("Tiny Rubies"), Greek Yarrow, Blue Fescue ("Elijah Blue")



Awarded Best in Show. Artist: Samantha Holm. Pot/dish created by David Fletcher. Plants included: Avens/Geum ("Pretticoats Peach"), Cranesbill ("Dark Reiter"), Toad Lily ("White Towers"), Coralbells ("Chiquita"), Faery Fern


Lindsey Stewart


Artist: Lindsey Stewart. Plants included: Clematis, Carpet Sedum, Creeping Stonecrop, Japanese Pachysandra


Awarded Honorable Mention. Artist: Lindsey Stewart. Plants included: Sweet Woodruff, Creeping Stonecrop, Lavender, Japanese Blood Grass


Linda Paul


Artist: Linda Paul. Pot by artist. Plants included: Juniper, pussytoes, Spanish Stonecrop, wild stonecrop, hens and chicks, moss


Christina Carfora Seaman


Artist: Christina Carfora Seaman. Plants included: Dwarf Sundrops, Native Blue Flax, Navajo Tea, Pine Leaf Beardtongue


Brie Stahnke


Artist: Brie Stahnke. Plants included: Sweet Woodruff, Sedum ‘Bertram Anderson’, Platt’s Black Brass Buttons


Kora Dalager - Denver Botanic Gardens


In 2021 Kora Dalager was hired by The Rocky Mountain Bonsai Society to perform several kusamono demonstrations during the club's annual show. The kusamono shown below was one of two that was created during a demonstration and donated to the Denver Botanic Gardens.

Artist: Kora Dalager. Plants included: Japanese Toad lily, Persian Cyclamen, Spike Moss

Mike Britten


Artist: Mike Britten. Plants included: American parsley fern, spotted saxifrage, spikemoss

Awarded Honorable Mention. Artist: Mike Britten. Plant included: Spotted saxifrage


Bart Hall


Artist: Bart Hall. Plants included: Red Columbine


Artist: Bart Hall. Plants included: Bugleweed


David Fletcher


Artist: David Fletcher. Pot by artist. Plants included: Resin Birch (with various plants collected with it)

Artist: David Fletcher. Pot by artist. Plants included: Sawleaf Bush Penstemon, White Sheep's bit, Red-leafed thrift


Graham Stahnke


Artist: Graham Stahnke. Plants included: Collected moss, grass and penstemon

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I love these, so beautiful!!

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