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To Try: Kokedama with Kids

Kokedama with kids at How we Montessori

"There is something intrinsically inviting and soothing about the form of kokedama, through the juxtaposition of its controlled and wild aspects. It is a manifestation of wabi-sabi, or the Japanse art of finding beauty in imperfection." -  Hanging Kokedama.

Kokedama = moss ball. It is a Japanese form of bonsai. The plant is potted in a ball of bonsai soil and peat moss, then wrapped in moss. The moss is tied to keep the plant and soil together. 

I love indoor gardening and feel it's important to share our passions and our knowledge with our children. I find the concept of wabi-sabi hugely inspiring. Gardening is grounding but it's also a process, we get dirty and make a mess, then we create something really beautiful. Gardening with children doesn't get any better than making kokedama!

Otis making kokedama at How we Montessori

First, we select the plants we want to use. I had a couple of asparagus ferns and philodendron plants that needed repotting and I know these both work really well in kokedama. It's always a good idea to trim away any dead or discoloured leaves and ensure the plant is really healthy before starting. We take the plant out of its pot and gently knock out and remove most of the soil attached to the roots. 

In a large bowl we mix our kokedama soil mix, this will differ from plant to plant, here we have used 7 parts peat moss to 3 parts bonsai soil. We mix the peat moss and bonsai soil together with our fingers and add water. We add enough water so that we can make a ball with the soil mix. 

We make a large ball with the soil mix, larger than the root system of the plant. We open the ball in half and put the plant in the middle of the ball. Then we use water and our hands to put the ball back together, so we have the soil ball with the plant in the middle. 

We soak our fresh sphagnum moss and then squeeze out the water and lie it flat on the table in a rough circular shape. We put our soil ball and plant in the middle of the sphagnum moss.

Kokedama with kids at How we Montessori

We lift the sphagnum moss up and wrap it around the soil ball. While Otis does this I tie a piece of twine tightly around the moss to keep it in place.

Kokedama with kids at How we Montessori

Then with one hand holding the plant we tightly wrap the moss ball with the twine. There is a rough technique to it but remember the concept of wabi-sabi - the art of finding beauty in imperfection.

Kokedama with kids at How we Montessori

"As more people choose to see the beauty in the roughness of nature, the room in their lives for meaningless clutter diminishes. As a hobby, the art of making kokedama is as rewarding as it gets. The act of putting our hands in direct contact with natural materials literally grounds us. The wrapping process is very meditative, the action requires bilateral coordination - that is, to use both hands simultaneously and independently. And because both hands are required to wrap, and each must perform separate and independent actions, it is very difficult to think about anything else. One becomes completely present in the moment." - Hanging Kokedama.

Kokedama with kids at How we Montessori

Then we secure the end of the twine with a knot. Magically the whole ball stays together! Otis did this independently and it wasn't as tight as it could be, but it has stayed together and I think it looks fabulous! You can also try to reshape your ball a little at this point, we squish it gently to get the moss ball nice and round.

Kokedama with kids at How we Montessori

Then with his little bonsai scissors Otis trims ball to remove any hanging roots or moss. We wanted to hang our kokedama so we use more twine to hang them in our window. It is important to know your plants, some plants wouldn't like this much light or would dry out too quickly. In Australia (like Brisbane) the sunlight through the window would be too strong for plants but here (UK) it works perfectly. 

Otis with kokedama at How we Montessori

To water them you can mist the plants or soak the moss ball in water. We have been pouring just a little bit of water at the top of the kokedama and it works fine. 

Otis with kokedama at How we Montessori

I could fill my whole house up with these! They are so versatile and it is totally doable by children! 

Otis' kokedama at How we Montessori   in window

You don't have to hang your kokedama, you can also place them in a bowl! We bought this one below and it is expected to flower in 3-4 weeks.

Otis with kokedama at How we Montessori

For lots of kokedama directions, inspiration and ideas we love Hanging Kokedama

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