Wabi sabi magic or just ugly?

Do we have some wabi sabi magic here or is it just ugly? I kind of like it and plan to plant a japanese black pine in it in the coming weeks. What front do you prefer?

There is a video with the instagram post (the mirai forum doesn’t allow to upload videos…)


How do you plan to keep the soil from coming out through the gaps? I presume using screen and then growing moss on it.

I like seeing the copper tie wires, but the side the shows 2 is very open.


Hi Marty, I will use long fibre sphagnum moss to build a wall. In a similar manner as Ryan uses it in slab or rock plantings and cover it with living moss. I already did one of these with a smaller gap for a juniper. the result is in the picture below and the process in the video. I think it may look really cool. I could use screen mesh but I didn’t feel I needed so far. If I were to use screen mesh, I would hot glue it to container on the inside leaving a margin of about 1/4" to use to grab the sides of the living moss sheet.


Looks good to me…

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I like the first picture as the front. I find that the wires make the pot. The gap does seem big, but the video you posted makes it look more manageable than I would have thought. How has the pot that the Juniper is in done? I can’t get moss to survive. It looks like you can.


Hey Rafi,

Cool pot, I also like the wires to be seen, I think that gives it the interesting look. Maybe try an angle in between the two you showed? I can’t tell if its a square or odd shaped. If it’s a square then I prefer the 1st one. Make sure you re-visit that copper wire with some sand paper to keep the copper from oxidizing and loosing that color :slight_smile:

Hi @moon, It is very easy. I am just about to finish potting a Japanese Red pine using this pot, and yes I used the smiley crocodile front instead of the captain underpants one. The moss is doing fine. I haven’t looked at it recently but I am about to revisit that tree for the final 10% work on the styling and will update you.

Hey @ThomasUrban, cool, yes it is rectangular so the front is smiley crocodile. Good tip on revisiting the wire, will check how it looks as it gets patina.

I love the copper but I think it will look even better as it develops patina, particularly when it evolves into verdigris. Should be a great complement to the red orange undertones in the bark.

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Here is the vide where repot a japanese red pine into the pot.


Thanks for a great video!
The pot is very BladeRunner. Do you anticipate that the moss will spread across the surface of the pot as it matures?
I vote for allowing the wires to develop a verdigris patina.

I’m sorry @rafi but I’m not a fan. Maybe though when the tree’s potted up I might change my mind. If you don’t use screening what happens if a bird pinches the moss? Just a thought…

Hey Keith, a Japanese red pine has been in this pot for about 2 months, birds didn’t attack yet… :slight_smile: it would be an issue if they did although they’d have to go through aa layer of sphagnum moss wall under the live moss. In that sense, any composition with a sphagnum moss wall is at the perils of pesky birds…

Hi Rafi, glad the birds didn’t attack it. Any chance of a photo now the tree has settled in? I’m more of a traditionalist at the moment. Though it’s one of the reasons I signed up for Mirai to help me get out of doing the same thing, time and again.

Hey Keith,

Here is the tree yesterday after I decandled it. The pull of traditional design is very strong. We see images of finished trees designed in a trtaaditionally Japanese style all the time. It is undeniably beautiful but not the only way. Mirai style is proof of that. The bottom line is that you should like your trees and have fun with bonsai. For some people viewing bonsai as a craft and mastering the techniques that produce a reliably beautiful traditional bonsai is all that they need. One of the main reasons I arrived at bonsai is my attraction and curiosity for the unusual. Although I like Japanese culture, bonsai to me has never been a subset of it. So as my aesthetic sensibilities in bonsai evolved, naturally it takes more and more away from seeing bonsai as a craft and more as an art and a source of experimentation. All positions in between are accepted too. There is no right or wrong in terms of aesthetics. Treat it as art or craft. Do crazy stuff or cookie cutter trees. Love the S shape or hate it. Love the scalene triangle or hate it. Invent a story of how this is what this species looks in nature, or how a thunder hit the tree, or how it grows in a cliff - or don’t. As long as the result pleases the viewer. It also depends to what extent one derives satisfaction from others liking the results of your bonsai work. None of this really matters. Funny, also in terms of technique the same is true in many more ways that people like to accept, trees are tough. Anyway. Long ramble, here is the picture. In the fall I plan to cut to internal growth on these largely elongated branches. Funny enough after all the long ramble and despite the experimental pot, I envision this tree rather traditional-looking.

Take care and bonsai on.

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Hi Rafi, you are right about bonsai being a personal thing. We all view and appreciate things differently. I am slowly evolving (it’s only taken me 25 yrs) and I am now more relaxed and enjoying it all far more than I have for a long time. One of the big influences for the change is being a member of Mirai. Virtually any shape tree is acceptable as long as it is well executed. Oh the freedom! One of the biggest shocks, but yet, pleasing moments when I first joined was seeing Ryan work on trees that are as raw as most of mine.
Nice tree. Is it possible that it is getting more oxygen through the moss than it would through a normal ceramic? It does look a healthy dark green. Thank you for sharing. Have fun with it and keep us posted…

Thanks Keith, I believe that this concept of lateral aeration for a pot is more functional than traditional bottom aeration as it has the same function as a root air-pruning bag. I expect that in a few years when I decide to repot this tree I will not find circling roots as one normally does in a traditional pot.

I agree. Maybe at some time in the future you may even see the odd root poking out through the moss. That would be a real bonus and could accelerate the growth rate.