my workshop weekend at “BURRS” (UK) 10 & 11 November 2007
For the second year running, I was invited by my dear friend Tony Tickle to do a weekend-long workshop in his (the now already legendary) “BURRS” Bonsai Residency Workshops in the UK. Together with Enrico Savini and his student Ivo from (Italy) and my good friend Terry Foster we worked with almost 30 bonsai friends from all parts of Europe, with wonderful material. The bunkhouse where this bonsai weekend takes place is situated in a park with nothing else but a pub across the road….how lucky can you get? And on Saturday night there was wonderful food and later, all kind of whisky was there to sample, while Enrico and Ivo gave a demo on a magnificent Pine and I worked on a “one branch” Yew from my mate Terry. Again it was a great success for all, I had a wonderful time with my old friends and made some new once this time! And November 2008, Enrico, Ivo, Terry and me will be back for more and so is everybody else that was there, because it was fully booked, the minute this last one ended! I hope you enjoy the images of this, yet another, great “BURRS” Bonsai weekend!
I arrived early Thursday night “Very relieved” at John Lennon airport Liverpool. I took off from Amsterdam in the middle of a heavy storm! Just after the bumpy take-off, the plane just fall down for a (long) couple of seconds! Everybody screamed and the sleeping guy next to me crept hold of my leg. Then there was an enormous bang when the plain got hold of some air again! It scared the living shit out of me and I had to re-swallow most of my meal for the second time. So In a panic, I tried to take an anti-air sickness pill, but I had nothing to drink with me on board (thanks to you know who?), so I tried to swallow the thing without any water! Trying to swallow a pill the size of a small golf ball, with a dry mouth from fear, is simply impossible! And so the damn thing started to melt on my tong, so I had to spit it out! After that, it took several hours before I finally could speak again without a lisp! But until this day, I still not got my normal taste back in my mouth! After a bouncy landing, my humour got quickly better, when I met up with Tony, who brought me to his car where Enrico and Ivo were already waiting. Along the way to my house of Terry, where I would stay during the weekend, we had an animated talk about… well stuff!! 😉 They dropped me off at Terry and Charlot’s place, just in time for a lovely home-cooked big and juicy pepper steak, fresh from the Hill’s (I’m drooling on my keyboard again)! Then some beer and a film on his wall-size television and then (around 2) off to bed, for a short night. Early in the next morning while, Terry was making a large breakfast, I had a chance to wander through his amazing collection of bonsai. I admire Terry’s delegate style and I would like to share some of his lovely Bonsai that I saw that cold morning. Enjoy!
Bellow: Terry’s garden.
Bellow: One of my favourites: A lovely small “Hawthorn” on a piece of rock that seems to be made for this tree. Terry him self-found this rock as well.
Bellow: A great “Yew” on another wonderful rock and another of Terry’s famous “Hawthorns”.
Below: Later that morning we were joined by Tony, Enrico and Ivo. Under the pleasure of warm coffee and croissants, Enrico and Ivo had a long look at Terry’s trees, Especially this old and very twisted “Yew” had their intention!
Below: Then Tony drove Enrico, Ivo and me, up North, to a magical place. I have been there before, but Enrico and Ivo saw this wondrous place for the first time. You can find there very ancient trees, like this beautiful “Yew” tree. You only have to stick it into a pot and voila! But any collecting here is out of the question!
Below: Then we had some typical English lunch in a lovely old tavern in a very small village!
Below: After this lunch, we drove further up North to look for “Yamadori”. Tony drove his 4 wheel drive right up to the top of a small mountain. It was wonderful up there.
Below: Look what I found buried under a massive rock!
It took some work to free this amazing Yew from under that large rock that you can still see on the left of the tree. And because this old “Yew” grew on a large piece of flat rock its roots spread is awesome!
Below: Happy me, with a beautiful “Shohin” sized Yamadori “Yew”.
Below: Ivo guarding our newly found treasures!
Below: Picture with a Press release. As posted on the IBC NEWS forum:
BBC News London.
Today, late in the afternoon, high on the south side of the mount “Glenn Morecock”, after a tip received from a Dutch backpacker, 3 odd looking persons were caught in the middle of some sort of strange and suspicious ritual.
Pati O’furniture, the mountain ranger who apprehended the suspicious man said: It must have been around Sunset when I finally stumbled on this 3 weird behaving man! I caught them on camera, just in the middle of some sort of bizarre offering! The man on the left, stood there with a silly grin on his face, holding, what seemed to be a bare rooted Yew. While the man in the middle kept repeating with an obvious foreign accent the same lines over and over again: I am only the translator, where is the pub?! A little further up the hill the third man, kept mumbling: Damn those cheap contact lenses!
All three persons were taken down the mountain, during which several telephone calls were made by the man in the middle to his wife. After further investigations, everything seemed to be a misunderstanding based on a falls tip! The three-man were immediately released, with apologies. The Dutch backpacker was last seen driving on the road to Liverpool, with a trunk full of small trees and a big grin on his face!!!!
Below: Sorry for the poor quality of the next 3 pictures, bud it was very stormy and I was very cold! LOL. The 3 “Yews” were left soaking in water overnight, so their roots could fill up with water. Then early next morning, Terry and I planted them in suitable plastic containers (look at the amazing roots), in a mixture of Akadama and Biosorb (cat litre). Terry is an expert in these little gems, so I let him do most of the work. LOL. The trees were firmly attached in their containers so that there would be no change of root damage when moved.
Then it was high time to leave for “Burrs” were people were already hard at work!
The next pictures are made by several participants, but I know they don’t mind me sharing them here with you all!
Below: This is what bonsai heaven looks like from the inside! A Saturday and Sunday of pure FUN!
Below: Mick, working on a “Yamadori” common Juniper, came together with Morea, over a very stormy sea all the way from Holland.
Below: Less concentrated at work.
Below: Me bending Daves “Juniper” and Ian is waiting for it to snap! The branch was hollowed out and filled with lengths of aluminium wire, then raffia and tape to protect it from breaking.
Below: Ivo and Enrico discussing John’s “Itoigawa Juniper” and me on the right ears dropping.
Below: Discussing trees helps! Here is the finished tree of John.
Below: The design for Bob’s Pine.
Below: Happy Bob with his finished tree!
Below: Dave and Terry working hard on Dave’s “Yew”.
Below: The lovely end result!
Below: Chris worked very hard for two days preparing his big “Scots Pine” for styling.
Below: Terry and me helping Chris with his tree.
Below: A too low-end picture of the finished result.
Picture 30: Enrico and Ivo splitting a “Juniper”.
Below: Some people kept on working, way past their bedtime!
On Saturday evening, after a hard day’s work, followed by a great meal, it was time for the boys and girls to sit back and relax while enjoying a wide ranch of alcoholic drinks, and snacks and watching an informal evening demonstration by Tony, Enrico & Ivo and me.
The “Burrs” Saturday evening demonstrations.
Tony planted a beautiful small “Yew” on a very heavy stone he earlier prepared. I still don’t understand how he managed to get that big hole in that hard rock.
Enrico and Ivo demonstrated on Tony’s Big Yamadori “Scots Pine”. It was an enormous transformation, made possible by Enrico’s great technical knowledge and beautiful style. Some extreme heavy bending was done by these two, and it was great fun for me to throw a heavy metal oven tray on the floor behind them, while they were very concentrated bending the thickest branch! Boy, can those Italians jump high! LOL :). The outcome of their hard work was absolutely amazing!
My demonstration was on an elegant, “one branch” Yamadori “Yew” from Terry. The deadwood whirls around the whole length of the slim trunk, so I decided to go along with the character of this tree. I made the one life branch dance around the back of the tree, towards the front again, in harmony with the gentle movement of the tree. The opening that you see between the branch (in raffia) and the trunk, looks much less obvious in real life. Breaking the rules about not crossing branches? But that was on purpose and necessary because of … hé if it works…who cares?!
Below: Sitting down to draw my design for the tree and to take off the weight of my back, was absolutely killing me!
Below: And this is what was waiting for use on the Sunday morning before the last day started.
And after the last day of intense and hard but fun work, it all came to an end way too soon! I enjoyed myself immensely and found it a great privilege to work with such enthusiastic Bonsai fanatics, who trusted us enough, to work with them on their loved and valuable trees, without any hesitations! Well, Enrico, Ivo, Terry and me are invited to do it all over again in November 2008, and I have heard it is already fully booked again! I can’t wait!
I hoped you enjoyed this “Burrs” story?
Hans van Meer.