There will be very many more examples in the Exhibition on 27th May 2012
Shitakusa, in Europe, are usually small plants grown to fill a small pot. They can be ferns, grasses or other plants that have no flowers or plants that are full of flowers at certain times of the year. Growing plants for autumn colour is also popular. Single plants are common in Europe but it is often the case in Japan that mixed plantings are used as long as they are low and simple.
If you are growing these plants to use as Shitakusa to accompany your bonsai remember they are not meant to be the dominant feature of your display but rather, it is a plant material to complement the presentation of your Bonsai (or may be a Suiseki).
When you look at a Bonsai or Suiseki display, you should never have the first impression “wow! what a fabulous shitakusa”. It should enhance the display to form a complete impression to make you imagine that it is Winter or Spring or that you are in the woods, or that the bonsai is high up in the mountains. It should not be a dominant focus of attention
The pots for shitakusa can be formal or informal, and often brighter colours are used to complement the plant or flowers on the plant(s).
It is important to remember that the Shitakusa should be a low planting, or at least should not really be taller than the table the Bonsai or Suiseki is displayed on. There are some exceptions, but this is a good general guideline. The other guideline that should be followed is to not repeat themes so, do not use a plant in flower with a tree in flower.
© Ritta Cooper 2011