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Meet Nisha Bhimaiah Whose Kokedamas Will Definitely Bring The Tranquility Your Garden Needs!

Posted: December 30, 2019

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When the author met Nisha Bhimaiah, she was left awestruck by her kokedama garden. What’s kokedama? Here’s everything you need to know about it!

I learnt a new word – Kokedama (pronounced ko kay da ma)

It was at life skills trainer Nisha Bhimaiah’s residence (where she grows beautiful ornamental plants out of moss balls) that I learnt about this wonderful Japanese technique of propagating and growing houseplants. Loosely translated, ‘koke’ means moss and ‘dama’ means ball.

I interacted with Nisha on social media because of our common love for hand-woven and handcrafted textiles. And I anticipated a multi-faceted woman since her interests varied from theatre to jewellery making and clamp dyeing fabric.

In addition, Nisha is also a qualified life skills trainer from Mangalore University. But it was her social media page, called Nirvana Garden Concepts that intrigued me.

So what is a Kokedama?

Kokedama is a style of Japanese bonsai where a plant’s root system is enclosed in a ball of growing medium like soil. This is then wrapped in moss instead a pot and then bound with string.

Kokedamas can be placed either outdoors or indoors depending on the nature of the plant. It can be hung with a string or simply placed on a plate or bowl and is a brilliant way to enhance house decor using natural material. Nisha’s cosy balcony houses several kokedamas with ferns, anthuriums, various succulents and also cacti. The entire area exudes tranquillity.

How do you make kokedamas?

Using coco-peat, peat moss and bonsai soil in equal measure and mixing it with water, Nisha creates the substratum and makes a ball out of it. The peat moss helps in retaining moisture.

For the next step, the plant is taken with the roots exposed and placed in between the ball that is partially split and then pressed together. One can add more soil at this stage to make it more stable. The ball is then placed on a lawn of moss that is wrapped around the sphere and pressed together to make it more compact.

Its base can be flattened so that it can sit on a table if required. A string tied near the junction of the ball and the plant makes the Kokedama secure. And the last step is to wrap the string any way till you feel that the ball is secure. The highlight of this technique is that you can create a garden or even a forest in the smallest available space.

Though Nisha conducts life-skills classes in schools, she is now undertaking more gardening projects and also delivers Kokedamas out of Bangalore.

“I completely credit my mother for my skills in gardening and couldn’t have come this far without her support,” says Nisha. Not for any reason that they say that Kodavas have farming in their blood.

A version of this was first published here.

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Sangeeta Venkatesh is the co-author of 'The Waste Issue' - an interactive workbook for school

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