Last pictures of my Fagus sylvatica Yamadori 5 trunk raft.

The still pre-Bonsai of this story was in 2012 collected by me and my dear Slovenian friends in the mountains of Slovenia. It was growing underneath a low hanging branch of a very old and massive Beech. The leg of sunlight and the constant defoliation of the foliage and the young branches by deer and other grassers kept it this small! I can only guess how old it is?! During this past decade, I worked to get it to bud back lower on the trunk and branches to make it more compact and tree-like! It needs a nice shallow pot or even better: a slab and a few more years of fun work to get it to show worthy! But that now lies in the hands of my Bonsai friend Diederick who is buying it from me to at it to his own amazing Bonsai collection!

Above: Impressive close up of the massive fust inner section of the raft!

Above: 5 trunk raft ( Ikadabuki). Hight: 70cm / 27,5 Inch. Wide: 110cm / 43,5 Inch.

Hope you enjoyed this little story?!


Hans van Meer.

Some better pictures of my favourite Prunus mahaleb.

My earlier post about my favourite Prunus was so well-read that I thought she and the readers of my blog deserve better and sharper pictures! So when yesterday the sun finally broke through the clouds I shot a few dozens of pictures with my (real) camera by hand! I hope you all will enjoy them.
Hans van Meer.

Above: The deadwood of this young top section neats more work and ageing, but that’s for later! I will start work on it early next growing season in the warm sun! Around that same time, I will start the ageing project on that still jong looking bark…I have a cunning plan to help that on the way…mmwwaaahhahaha!

Above: Close up of the natural deadwood! Besides being photographed and worked on here in my makeshift photo studio, she is also sheltered from the rain! So that all the deadwood can become dry! Then I can impregnate it to protect it from rotting away! The still too young bark on the upwards stump needs some more ageing of course! But who cares?! I am pretty happy so far with the fast progress of this tree…this little tree makes me happy!

Above: The deadwood on the left was worked on some more with a hammer and chisels. The rest was cleaned with tweezers and different brushes until all that was clearly rotten and not saveable was removed. In the top section, some of the living bark on the left side was cut away to break up that straight lifeline between the alive and dead section some more to make it look more natural. Some cut paste was applied to protect the wound!

Above: And there she is (for now) in all her glory! Colouring orange in the setting sun! To prevent further rotting she will spend the next couple of wet and cold months here underneath the shelter of this my makeshift photo studio! During that time I will start further styling the deadwood on that straight section with power tools and hand tools! I will make sure to take pix of that process and post them as soon as possible! Oh, how I wished I had a good pot for this one?! I hope you enjoyed these somewhat better pictures?!
Hans van Meer.

My favourite Years-long project is this Slovenian Prunus mahaleb Yamadori!

because of some physical problems (I spare you the details) I can only work for so long in one go these days! So during the past 2 years or so I had to divide my time over the project that needed it the most! And the (below) Prunus mahaleb Yamadori from Slovenia was and still is one of my absolute favourites to work on!

Below: 31-3-2012. Back in my garden and very late at night! I just got back from my very first solo long weekend road trip to Slovenia where I have been sightseeing and collecting with my new Slovenian friends. But I have to admit that almost all collecting and lifting was done by them for me! These amazing new friends knew of my back problems so they insisted that they would do all the hard work! The straight trunk stump on the right side of my thumb used to be almost 2 meters high and was shortened on the collecting side! The left trunk section with amazing deadwood was years later successfully air layered by me and was years later given to my dear friend Tony Tickle (GB) when he visited us here! He turned it into a rare beautiful flowering Literati Prunus Bonsai with amazing deadwood all over! Note: that there are no mature branches whatsoever on the right side of this tree! And that straight upright stump on the right side sticks out like a sore thumb!

Below: 29-4-2016. 4 years later and all over full with new branches! This was made just before the left Yellow side was air layered! The right Red section is the tree of this story!

Below: A few hours later! The air layering or marcot was successfully made! And after just 3 months the new Bonsai was successfully separated from the Mother tree and planted in a prepared pot with lots of Anker points to safely tighten the tree to the pot!

Below: This is how she looked a few years later. These days she lives in my dear friends Tony Tickle’s (GB) Bonsai garden!

Below: After the (above) air-layered top section was successfully removed one young and tiny branch that grew on the left-over stump was allowed to lengthen and thicken until it was almost a meter long and thick enough to be shortened to the desired lenght. The left red arrow points at the craft that I made first on the inside of that thick branch. The right one shows the second one on the outside of that branch, which is like the first one tight down securely with the help of a tie-wrap and then is sealed with cut paste to prevent drying out!

Below: 19-4-2020. In full bloom and ramification that is getting better and better!

Below: 12-1-2022. Close up picture of the natural deadwood! Besides being photographed and worked on here in my makeshift photo studio, she is also sheltered from the rain! So that all the deadwood can become dry! Then I can impregnate it to protect it from rotting away! The still too young bark on the upwards stump needs some more ageing of course! But who cares?! I am pretty happy so far with the fast progress of this tree…this little tree makes me happy!

Below: Close up of the still young top section. With all these new and fast-growing branches the still young bark aged fast during the last couple of years. But obviously still need some more years to age! But I am considering using some tricks to fasten that progress! The deadwood was worked on some more with a hammer and chisels and the living bark on the left (top) side was cut away some more to make it look more natural. Some cut paste was applied to protect the wound!

Below: 15-1-2022.

Old pictures that I found of my Juniperus *Urbandori that I named: Cemetree.

* Urbandori= is a made-up name for a tree collected in an urban environment. And yes! This Juniperus media pfitzeriana Aurea Bonsai was named Cemetree and here is why?

Somewhere around the last years of the last century, I found this tree in the cemetery where my dear old Mother was buried. I visited every week and during one of these visits, I noticed the poor Juni of this story. The little tree was dug up from the ground with an excavator when some of the older graves were emptied. It laid there above ground, almost completely bare-rooted and frozen solidly for weeks on end. So I went to the caretaker and asked him what was going to happen to this old tree? He told me that it would be destroyed with all the other scrubs that were pulled from the ground, as soon as the ice was gone from the ground so that they could use their trucks again. So I asked him if I could save the trees live to make a Bonsai out of it? Luckily he gave me permission! Then I happily even managed to lift it onto my shoulders as well! But getting it into my car was something else! Man, that place was like an ice rink and it looked more like skating than walking! But I made it to my car safely! Back home I immediately planted the tree in a training pot. And that is why he was called: The Cemetree! 😁

At home I planted the poor tree in the pot it still is in the picture below and from then on I gave it a lot of love and care. Some 8 years later the tree’s prickly foliage had completely turned to the normal soft non-stressed foliage! She was doing so well that in February 2008 I selected her as my demo tree at Marc Noelanders prestigious B.A.B Bonsai Club in Belgium. 

Below: And this is how he looked after 2,5 hours of hard work!

Below: Cemetree (urbandori): Juniperus media pfitzeriana Aurea. Height 80/90cm. 40/50 years old. And this is how he looked a few years later in a new pot and just wired! I had no recollection of the existence of this picture or when I made it exactly ?! And found it by chance on the internet?! The bark was here just cleaned with brushes and water and was then oiled to give it protection and a nice shine (make sure not to go too deep when you do this!). The deadwood is treated with Lime Sulfur to protect and bleach it. It was a few years away from being shown wordy. Shortly after I sold it to a dear Bonsai friend! I am actually very happy that after all these years I am finally able to show it here to you all! To prove that humble discarded material can become a Bonsai!

Urbandori: Height around 75/90 cm. 27/35 Inch. Pot: Japan.

Cheers and stay safe,

Hans van Meer.

The Bonsai that blew my mind! (Part I)

What is this, you might ask? Well, it’s a new gallery for truly amazing Bonsai created by amazing Bonsai artists from all around the world and, and this is a criterion for this gallery, that I was lucky enough to see and admire all these Bonsai in question in real life! And that they all have one thing in common: they all blew my mind when I did!
The first stunning Bonsai is by Gabriel Romero Aguade from Spain. I saw it for the first time at the “GINKGO BONSAI AWARDS” where it was beautifully displayed in one of their Tokonoma*. These 6 or 7 typical Japanese viewing alcoves were all saved for the very best Bonsai in the contest! All these lucky few were rightly so selected by my dear old friend Danny Use the owner of GINKGO BONSAI CENTER in Belgium. I vividly remember how I walked past it looking for where in the show I had to display my own Bonsai. And how I nearly dropped my Bonsai when I laid my eyes on this unique Masterpiece! This Pinus sylvestris Yamadori was then and still is a perfect example of a natural-looking Bonsai that has a great story to tell! And today after all these years I still truly believe that this jaw-dropping small big tree was and still is a benchmark in modern European Bonsai! There is absolutely nothing artificial-looking or hand made about this tree! It looks just like an old wind-battered pine tree that you can find somewhere high up in the Alps! Each branch is different from the others and together they tell a believable story of a strong by wind and seasonal storms battered old Pine! Every little detail is just right and stunningly beautiful! It is all so natural looking! And nothing seems overly styled, forced or created by hand! It is a true and rare thing of beauty! Bravo Gabriel, your Pine made my day all those years ago, and its natural tree-like beauty today still is a benchmark to strive for to me and others!
Hans van Meer.

Above: Around 1990. The humble Yamadori Pinus sylvestris of this story before any styling! Keep this image in mind and then slowly look/scroll down!

Above and below: Beautifully styled foliage pads with small needles!

Below: And here she is in all her majestic glory!

Below: In a tokonoma with a well-selected accent plant!

Below: In another Tokonoma with a scroll. (El Bonsai y yo) = The Bonsai and me.

Below: The rightful proud creator Gabriel Romero Aguade (ES) together with his amazing Masterpiece! Bravo Gabriel! For me, one of the very best Bonsai I have ever seen!

Tokonoma* = alcove in a Japanese room that is used for the display of Bonsai, scrolls, pottery, flower arrangements, and other forms of art.

Footnote: The pictures that I used for this tribute to Bonsai are found by me when I googled the artist name on the open internet. I could not find out who shot them so that I could have given them the credits for this?! If anyone knows who I can give credit for that or has problems with me using them?! Then please let me know and I will credit them directly or remove them promptly!
Hans van Meer.

Image of a Dutch sunset.

Yesterday late afternoon I decided to take a long walk along the “Haringvliet” river and follow the long “Zee Dijk” (sea dyke) that runs along with it! This river is the last link between melting snow in the Alps and the North Sea (NL). While climbing up the stairs up that dyke, I was pleasantly surprised by a beautiful multicolour sunset! Luckily I had my old cellphone with me to take some pictures of some distant people that were running their dogs before dinner. They were all standing still to stare at that constantly changing colourful spectacle! I hope that this picture can convey that feeling that I had to you ?!

Cheers and stay safe,

Hans van Meer.

Hawthorn with 2 great posible fronts!

Below: Remember the post before this one about this Dutch Hawthorn and its amazing deadwood?

Below: Well as you can see, it has another great possible front with lots of natural deadwood (Shari) all along the massive trunk and great roots (Nebari)! The middle section of the top trunk section needs more side branches, but that is just a matter of time! But those roots, Shari and Jin make this side as the front a very promising possibility!

Below: The wide base with the star-like shaped massive roots are spectacular from this side! And all that deadwood isn’t too bad either!

Above and Below: Massive roots all around the base of the trunk!


Hans van Meer.

The story of my old Celtis sinensis.

This 111 cm high Chinese Hackberry (Celtis Sinensis) that was imported from China came into my lucky possession in 1993 when I won/bought it for only 875 guilders/ 350 Euro in a foreclosure Bonsai auction nearby Rotterdam in Holland! I could not have been happier to have won this amazing 111cm/43.4 Inch high Tree-like Bonsai! The only problem was that it had to be out of there right after the auction…and I drove a very small fiat these days?! Luckily a befriended Bonsai trader (Ed de Groot) transported it in his large truck to his EDO Bonsai centre in Blijswijk (NL) where he kindly offered to keep it in his warmed greenhouse during the upcoming winter period! Later in Spring, I rented a truck to transport her to my house. Getting it into my garden was a difficult adventure and I had to remove my garden door to get her inside!

Below: Repotting it later on my own from its massive Chinese pot into her new beautiful huge Walsall pot was a pleasant challenge, to say the least!

Below: Quiz: Can you tell why I named her the “LION CRUSHER”? 😊

Below: In 1999 I entered the ”LION CRUSHER” into the second famous and now legendary “Ginkgo Awards” in Belgium. Where she received a lot of praise!

Below: Jan. 2001. In the specially made for her makeshift winter shelter in my small town garden! But she was so worth it!

A few years later because she was so difficult to handle by myself and took up so much space in my very small garden, I brought her all the way back to the “Ginkgo Bonsai Centre” in Belgium to swap it or sell to my dear friend the owner/Bonsai artist Dany User! Danny was kind enough to swap her with me for a mid-sized Juniperus itoigawa fresh from Japan. It hat a promising trunk with a large Shari and Jin (deadwood) and tons of new short unworked foliage all over the place. Later I took it for days with me to our record store that we then run in Rotterdam (Holland) and styled it in a few days on the counter there!

Below: Not much later I entered her in the famous “Noelanders Trophy” in Belgium where she earned a nomination! 🙏🤞👍

Now looking back, it is funny how these Bonsai things can go?!


Hans van Meer.

Kara Motto Bonsai.

The natural-looking deadwood on my Dutch Hawthorn Bonsai in progress.

The below Dutch Hawthorn (crataegus monogyna) Yamadori was collected by me in the early nighties in a seaside wed dune forest not far from where I live. Over the decades the wind coming in from the very nearby beach/coastline of the North Sea brought in fine sand in the place where the Bonsai of this story lived and in some places, it looks more like a Dunn than an actual forest! That and animals and walkers had covered her half! She had to grow fast and straight upwards through the sand for decades to stay above the ever-growing soil line! In the end after who knows how long only the (now much shorter and Jined) right side straight trunk was sticking some 60 cm/24 inch out above the actual soil (sand) level when I found her! At the end/top of this straight old trunk, it only had just a few very short but old branches, because for years it was used by the big black highland buffalo and ponies that live here as a scratching pole! The top section was all deadwood ending in a Jin that was nicely polished from all the scratching! I witnessed that scratching ritual someday and that brought her to my intention! But it was surely strange when I found out that I had to dig so deep to reach her original base! This old above ground periscope trunk section was later successfully air-layered and removed. The 15 cm/6 Inch that was left on purpose on the tree, was turned with some hand and power tools into natural-looking deadwood (Jin).

Above: Not the best of pictures, I know…but she looked so pretty in her Autumn dress! Height: 42 cm/ 16.5 Inch. The beautiful pot is by my friend John Pitt (U.K).

Above: 3 days later! She is built up with only 5 branches that after collecting luckily sprouted lower down on the section that used to be buried under the sand/ground! I wanted her to look just like the mature Hawthorns that live where she was found. They almost all live in mostly poor sandy ground and so close to the sea it storms a lot and because of all the sand in the Summers, it can get very hot and that’s why they grow sparsely and are very gnarly/spooky branched!

Above: Close up of the uniquely natural split trunk and the roots/nebari. The left section of the trunk feeds the left branch and the right section the right and top branch. Beggars can’t be choosers…so I take those two opposing bottom branches for what it is! Those are Bonsai rules and I gladly take/see her as just a small Hawthorn tree in a pot…because that is just what I was/am after! A believable but small old Dutch Hawthorn tree!

Above: Close up of what is left of the former live top part that grew above the sand! I am really happy how natural it looks after all those years since I created this deadwood top/Ten Jin! Especially the natural whiteish colour of the cracked wood is priceless!


Hans van Meer.