Accent Plants What are they?


What are they? What is their use in Bonsai? What are the traditions? And what are the plants that can be used?

These were just a few of the questions I was asking myself as a newcomer to the subject.

As my intrigue and fascination with these diminutive plants grew I delved deeper and deeper into the subject, gaining as much information as I could from sources such as the internet, books, friends, and forums.

Once I had gained more information and armed myself with a basic knowledge, I decided it was time to actually take the leap of faith and visit a specialist nursery that stocked the plants. While written and verbal words can teach you much – I’m the type of person who needs to get in there “hands on.”

After a quick search on the internet, it turned out as luck would have it that there was one such specialist nursery on my door step !!!! How lucky was I ?

The location I had discovered is called Bowden Hostas. They are situated in a small village on the edge of Dartmoor, Devon. (Details of address and contact info at foot of article, inc opening times). Link is above.

The business came into being in the early 90’s after Ann and Roger Bowden began enjoying Hosta plants as a hobby. Things quickly took off, and in 1992 they won a silver medal for their display at the Devon County Show. However their real success came in 1999 when they won their first gold medal at the famous Chelsea Flower Show. Since then they have gone on to win many more gold’s at Chelsea.

In 2004 they sold the business to their Daughter Ruth and Son-In-Law Tim, who continue to run the business to this day.

After a quick phone call to Tim I arranged a visit to the nursery last week 18th March 2011. The nursery is well sign posted on brown tourist information signs, as people do travel from all over the country to visit.

On arrival I was met by Tim who was frantically working away packing mail order requests he had recently received. Nothing was too much trouble for Tim, who has a wonderful laid back approach, with a fantastic sense of humour and an incredibly likeable customer service approach.

I was presented with a catalogue of the species they presently have in stock, and the selection was simply mesmerising. As an addition to the Hosta plants they are so famous for, the nursery also now stocks Ferns due to customer demand. This has turned out to be a real bonus for them and their customers.

Having been shown around the large poly tunnels containing the plants, I then left without any pressure to look around and see if I wanted to make a purchase or three.

Well … I was like a child in a sweet shop! I decided in the end on the following Hosta plants;

1) Teeny- weeny- bikini.

2) Iced lemon.

3) Cracker crumbs.

4) Lemon Delight

All of the above


classified as miniature Hosta, and are perfect examples of Bonsai Accent plants. There really are many other species to select (too many to name here) but this was a good selection to start my collection off.


As for the Ferns, well I ended up with two of those as well;

1) “Red Beauty” Japanese Fern.

2) Maidenhair spleenwort.



Again both of these are classified as miniature – and are perfect examples of Bonsai Accent plants.

I will in time continue to add to my Accent plant collection, not just the Hosta’s and Fern, but others such as Alpines, Succulents and Grasses also.

The World of Accent plants is truly fascinating and inspiring. For me – they are a wonderful addition that compliment my Bonsai interest perfectly. I do believe that they will make anyone’s Bonsai collection more intriguing and I sincerely hope more people will take to them as I have.

Certainly you could not go far wrong by visiting Bowden Hosta’s and taking advantage of the incredible knowledge from Ruth and Tim.

Enjoy your journey with Accent plants.

Martin P.