I got in a short time 3 comments and questions from 3 different people about the roots (Nebari) on my 3 Larch Yamadori Bonsai that I posted that I would like to address.
O life would be so simple if all collected evergreens and Larch trees had great surface roots (Nebari)…well they hardly ever do! GOOD BONSAI DON’T GROW ON TREES YOU KNOW!? Those that mean they are inferior or useless?! Or could not become beautiful or interesting Bonsai?! Quite the opposite in my opinion! Like it was and is the case with my windswept/slenting/ Literati style Larch Bonsai. 😉
I bought this, then still two trunk Yamadori Larch on a club auction somewhere in ’92 or ’93 because of its young but already nice 70% circling surface roots (see picture). One of the trucks grew/slanted away from these roots, making it look like if those roots were holding him in place preventing him from falling over and slowly sliding down the hill! Looking at this Lil’ tree the left prevailing winds can almost be felt! So the left (beautiful) trunk was sawed off leaving that short Jin in the picture. From then those roots were promoted and all foliage was over the period of almost 3 decades styled to mimic a wind-battered Larch in nature. To make it, even more, look like it is close to tumbling and or sliding down the hill, I asked my dear old potter friend Brian Albright to make the slanting pot it still is in today! This pot is less high on the right side creating and enhancing that sliding/balancing feeling as if the ground is slowly eroded away over the years! The high table it’s always displayed on enhances this feeling of a battered mountain Larch that is proudly holding on the edge of a mountainside. So these maybe not so perfect? surface roots/Nebari where and are the base behind this creation.
Below:The 4 white arrows point at the 4 well established and old roots. The Yellow arrow points in the visual movement of the slanting mountainside. As you can see that the pot is perfectly matched with that direction! The Green arrow points at the general directing (slightly towards) the viewer. That and the hight of the table creates a feeling that the tree is towering over and towards you! I think that there is a lot of visual speed in this Lil’ tree and a nice story! So maybe not perfect… but “There is a lot of beauty in imperfection”!
All my “Dutch” and “Wales” Yamadori Hawthorns had an abundance of fragrant flowers this year as if they wanted to bring some much-needed joy in these troublesome times! But none so much as my Dutch Hawthorn in the “Mother and Child” style! Her coming into full flower was over the last 6 weeks daily filmed and photographed to try to make a time-laps video for YouTube! Dutch Hawthorn Yamadori are rare and the ones with deadwood are even rarer! This originally some 2 meters high one that I collected in a wet-dune forest close to my house was used by the buffalos as a scratching pole leaving a long Shari/deadwood running along the whole trunk section! And now some 2 decades later she shows maturity and all these flowers and tells a story of a Japanese Mother in Kimono hanging into the storm protecting here child under her arm.
Below: an explaining drawing that I made years ago.
Below: And this is how they looked a few days ago I am really proud of this one!Height: 75 cm/30 Inch.Pot: Japan.
Below: Bonsai peace and joy in scary times! Stay safe everybody!!!
How happy and lucky we were with the incredible and unusually warm weather we had during these lockdown weeks full of crisis and fear so that we could at least spend most of our time in the warm safety of our enclosed garden! During those weeks I took the opportunity to work and take pictures of some of my Bonsai in my makeshift garden studio that I would like to share with you all. Below: I bought this untouched Yamadori Larch at my first club auction somewhere in early ’92. Being just 2 years into Bonsai it was one of the first Yamadori or any tree that I bought and styled! It was originally a double trunk and cutting off that one trunk without any hesitation proved to be a real stepping stone for my future way of working! It has always been one of my favourites with its old bark and fast and exciting movement to the right! It is 40 cm high and the wonderful matching pot is custom made for it by old Bonsai potter friend Brian Allbright (UK).
Below: This Japanese import Juniperus Chinensis was bought by me in the early ’90ties during a Bonsai road trip to see Kimura perform in Italie and to visit Crespi Bonsai. This road trip by small bus was organized by Farrand Blog en Rene Rooswinkel (Bonsai Focus Magazine) and the 6 of us hat quite the adventure! Seeing this giant of Bonsai demonstrating was a dream come through for me…but spending the evening with him and a hand full other Bonsai heroes was truly amazing! It was this night that Mister Kimura sad to me: you guys have so much more imagination than our students! You all have learned yourself to make a Bonsai out of something that our students only would use to sweep the floor with! 👌We all got a bit drunk that night and I made Mister Kimura turn blue and cough after I rolled for him a cigarette with (very strong) Dutch tobacco in it! 😂 Next morning at breakfast in the way over the top Italian all marble dining room I saw him stumbling past the food section, with his back toward me…so I grabbed one of the large silver serving plates and sneaked up on him from behind and dropped it just behind him! The BANG was way wurst then I could have hoped for and I must say he jumped pretty high for an old guy!!!🤣 Everyone was holding their breath scared for his reaction but he waved his finger at me and laughed! And whenever I saw him in later years he always smiled at me and waved that finger! 👌😉 Part of that same trip was a visit to the famous Crespi Bonsai centrum in Milaan and for someone like me so fresh into Bonsai that was soooooo overwhelming and an eye-opener! Their amazing material was so much better then what we could buy in and around Holland! So after long searching trough the many many hundreds of top Bonsai I discovered among others the Juniper from this story. But I was unlucky that my choice had been the demo tree from Master Keneko when he did a demo here earlier…so I paid way to much! In my blinding enthusiasm, I overlooked the obvious flows of this tree, but I guess that every bonsai addict has to go through this phase in his or her Bonsai journey!!! This Juni was very poor twice during its life with me when ants dug a whole nest in between its roots almost killing it! And every time it took me many years to get it into good health again! So a few weeks ago when I thought it was safe again to restyle it again I made some big decisions to get it in to shape again! I don’t like overly styled Junipers as much as in the early days and I would not even buy a Juniper like that anymore! So I tried to style this Juni in my way …going along without any plans! I needed the help of 2 iron bars to raise the whole top section some 8 cm/3 Inch and several thick branches were heavily bend into their new positions!
In early 2012 I was for the first time invited by my dear friends from Slovenia to do a Bonsai weekend with on Saturday a demo and Sunday a workshop and to make things even better a few days of collecting stunningly good Yamadori with my new best Bonsai friends!😁
Below: !This was shot late at night after the long drive home. I was so happy after finishing potting this massive collected Prunus mahaleb! Here it is still a double trunk tree, but a few years later I successfully air layered the left trunk and was left with an extra very promising Literati with a lot of Shari and Jin! A few years ago I gave it to my Dear Friend Tony Tickle for all the good things he has done for me in the past and it now lives in the UK! 🙏👍
Below: 8 years later and in full bloom! I am really amazed by its quick progress in such a short time and I can’t wait to plant it in a nice pot in a year or two! The base of this Mother is 70 cm and it is 76 cm high.
I hope you all are safe, healthy and holding on and I will post in a few days some stunning pictures of my Hawthorn’s in full bloom! So watch this space!!! Cheers, Hans van Meer.
First a short history recap: Way back in 2004 I discovered and collected this little old Mugo Pine on a high mountainside in Austria. I only had to cut a few roots and then could literary scoop it off of the giant rock it had grown on for so long!
Below: 2007: With the progressive styling story of this same tree, that covers the complete progress right from me collecting it, right up to its first styling, I won the first AoB professional online styling competition back in 2007.
Above: 19-3-2015 Here the root visually still looked alright…but I knew that it was dying back slowly or already dead! So my initial front slowly lost its main attraction! Meanwhile, the tree was allowed to vigorously grow out of shape and to produce many new small branches and foliage pads for me to use! And the more I looked at it, the more I realist that a big change was needed for my new future plan!
Above: And this will become the new front side! It will be planted sloping to the left like it is struggling to hold on to the mountainside it is growing on! This way the dead root/trunk enhances the story of its struggle. All (eye) movement in branches and foliage will be pointing to the left, creating a lot of visual speed and a feeling of a tree that is proudly holding on for dear life above a lot of open space. It will be styled in a natural-looking way enhancing the beauty of its years-long struggle! Hopefully more like a Lil’ Tree than an overly styled looking Bonsai?!
Above: Branch to the right of that white line and a few back branches need to be removed! I really love how its cascading branches will be hanging above all that empty space beneath it in the future in a yet to be found/made pot! PS: it has been in this pot for 13 years now…yes without repotting it once! We repot our evergreens way too much!
This restyling will be don in a few weeks and will be filmed and photographed for my YouTube channel and Blog! So watch this space! Cheers and stay safe and healthy, Hans van Meer.
Hi everybody, yesterday the last day of January was the warmest on record en today it was even warmer here in Holland! There is something seriously wrong with Mother nature of late…but that does not mean that there is something wrong with doing some wiring work in the warm sun! So after a long walk on the dyke along the sea just a few minutes away from my home, I was refreshed to start wiring and reposition my big larch named XL in the warm Winter sun! Good Times indeed!!!
I will post the end result in a few days if the weather stays this nice?!
This little Hawthorn was collected by me in 2007 in Wales. Below: Here are two before and after pictures from 2008 when I had just cut of all but four branches in its first styling
Below: And this is the picture that I shot this afternoon in the makeshift foto studio in my living room. The custom made pot is by my dear friend: John Pitt. Height: 43cm
Why am I so proud of this little Hawthorn? Wel not only because it has turned into a well established Bonsai in such a short time, but more because of its amazing ramification! I have several collected older Hawthorns from the same Wales aria in my collection and they are treated and pampered just like this one but none of them comes even close ramification wise?! Hawthorns are notoriously slow branch growers, so this little one is probably that famous one in a million! And I am not complaining! I hope you like the picture as much as I do?! Cheers, Hans van Meer.
The last couple of days were cold but with some sunny weather so I made some good use of this opportunity to rewire and reposition the branches on my Big Larch! So dressed warmly and with plenty of strong hot coffee, it took me off and on some 2 days!
I have to admit that I am a bit proud of the ramification on this Bonsai! It has nice tapering and hardly any cut scares. The way how Larch grows and profoundly back buds make this possible and make them such ideal material for Bonsai!
It is not the most flattering of pictures, but I do hope that is shows just how mature the foliage and Bonsai look by now! I cant wait to see how it will look in a few months with its new fresh green foliage and I so hope to be able to show it in a big Bonsai show this Sumner…but that is for later I hope?! Cheers, Hans van Meer.