Every so often, the advances by scientists and engineers come together in a enchanting way. That's the joy behind these floating miniature bonsai plants, now something you can actually purchase from a new Kickstarter campaign: Hoshinchu Air Bonsai Garden.
The Japanese workshop, or atelier, is based on the country's southern island of Kyushu. The floating plants grow out of a ball of moss, which the workshop calls a "little star." In Japanese, the moss-wrapped ball of soil used to nurture a plant is called a kokedama or Air Bonsai and is apparently a new craze, which opens up many new possibilities for creative gardeners.
How does it work? Magnets, of course. The "little star" has an embedded magnet that enable it to float two centimeters above the base, which in turn carries its own magnet, powered by an AC adapter.
The basic kit includes an elegant, simple base and a fabric cushion in addition to the "little star" moss ball. Hand-crafted porcelain bases come at a higher price. Since live plants run into exportation issues, the sets that will be sent out of the country cannot include Japan-grown bonsai. The workshop is partnering with plant growers in the states to supply locally-sourced pine trees, Emily Reynolds reports for Wired.co.uk.
Though seemingly magic, these little floating plants aren't without their challenges, points out James Vincent at The Verge. Watering will be a challenge (the creators recommend removing the plant from its mid-air perch for the operation) and the magnetic base needs to be plugged in to work.
Of course, the real challenge with these alluring displays will be keeping the plant alive. Bonsai plants are notoriously tricky to grow, requiring precise application of techniques like pruning, wiring, defoliation and grafting.
The Kickstarter campaign ends on March 1, but already they've gathered more than $200,000 in pledges, beating their $80,000 goal by a landslide. These floating little plants may may be the next craze to hit the gardening industry.