Wow, have I got a lot to tell you all! Thursday, 01-05-’08: I left home 5 o’clock in the morning for the 2 hours drive to the airport (Schiphol) in Amsterdam. And after all the security checks I entered my plain that left 10.15, right on time for the 10 hours flight to Portland Oregon. I never flew any longer than 3 hours, so I was a bit nervous for this long flight, but I have to say that the friendly people on board of this Northwest aeroplane took good care of me. There was reasonable food and enough to drink and I saw 3 movies to pass the time. We had a tailwind and arrived 20 minutes earlier than expected at Portland airport, were we than had to wait for 20 minutes in the aeroplane, because a German plain arrived just in front of us. GGGRR!!! Because of this the lines to get to true customs were about a mile long and it took almost an hour to finally get to the friendly officer, that must have heart off me because he wanted to make a picture of me and have my autograph. All my luggage was already waiting for me, so I could walk right out, where my host Jason was waiting for me. I was so pleased to finally meet him, not in the last place, because he took me right up to the bar for 2 fast pints off there locale beer, that after this long trip really hit the spot! Then we drove in his big ram truck to his house in Saint Helens. I am a big American car lover, and along the way, I felt like I was in car haven. All those old and new trucks I saw, were simply amazing. After a hours drive, we arrived at Jason’s lovely home.
More to come, when I figured out how to upload pictures! First I am going to have some breakfast!
Well, it turned out to be a very long breakfast, indeed! I was just not able to update my blog while I was there, too tired most of the time or too late in the night or being in a plain for 7 hours again or….well you know? To busy!
So I will try to tell you some story’s to go along with all the pictures I shoot during the many highlights I had, during this, my first trip to the U.S.
Jason took me to Randy’s Knight place (owner of Oregon bonsai), his house had an almost magical appearance to me, this light blue painted house, with its beautiful in moss covered gnarly old fruit trees in full bloom, growing in front of it! OH…..And did I mentioned that there were some high-quality yamadori trees….well everywhere? No?! And there were some high-quality yamadori trees….well everywhere! Some of the material there was of unbelievable quality! (see picture above!) Randy was in Canada during my visit to his place, so he was not there to meet me, but I met his beautiful wife and his very funny dog! Randy had emailed me a few days before I left to the U.S and asked me to work on one of his yamadori while I stayed at Jason’s place. He had poet aside about 6 trees for me to choose from. I selected the Pinus ponderosa that we are working on in the next couple of pictures. This small tree had the most interesting movement for me to work with and about the size, that I like to create, although the only sparsely placed long needles foliage on the end of long thin branches (natural on this species) would not make it any easier for me! This small tree also has a beautiful, but awkwardly placed root on the right side. This bulky root had an old Shari on it and it gives the tree some extra movement, so I wanted to save that character feature of this old tree, but it was a challenge to incorporate it into my design and into a future pot!
A future Shohin “Ponderosa” in front of Randy’s place.
Below: Back in Jason’s garden. The tree from different sides.
Below: And this the future front. The foliage is sparse but it is what it is!
Below: The tree is tilted into its future desired angle so work could begin.
Below: The finished pre-Bonsai.
Below: Happy with the first tree I styled in the USA! This was just after I was scared shitless from a close encounter with my first hummingbird ever!
Randy kindly had left some money for my work so I used it to pay for a nice dinner for Jason and his lovely wife who had welcomed me so friendly into their lovely home and took so great care of me! That night Jason took me to see a mud race close to his house where we did not hat to pay an entrance fee when they found out that I was from Holland! 🙂 And a day later after the workshop, I was invited by his neighbours for my very first pinata birthday party for their little boy! My first impressions of America were so wonderful!!!
Below: The sweat little Ponderosa Pine in his new home.
Below: The second day I did another Pine tree for Randy.
Above: No, I was not! I was concentrating!
THE STORY OF THE “TIN FOIL” TREE.
When Jason, on the first day I stayed at his place, showed me this mountain Hemlock he collected himself, he told me a story about what happened one day when he showed it to a professional Bonsai college ( I don’t know who?) that visit his garden not too long ago. He had looked at this old tree and told Jason: that his Japanese master rated the quality and potential of bonsai material by awarding it with metal, the best-being Gold of course! He then told Jason that his “Mountain Hemlock” would be rated “TIN FOIL”! In other words: useless and a waste of time! Hearing this story blow me away and reminded me of some of the arrogance I come across on the European bonsai scene and forums, unbelievable! But this being my first day in the states and in Jason’s place, I had to bite my tong, for now! The next day, when we finished Randy’s Pine and had some beers to break the ice, I told Jason (to his surprise) let’s do your “TIN FOIL” tree now!
The “THIN FOIL” Mountain Hemlock before we started work.
First, the tree was cleaned up. all useless and unwanted foliage and branches were removed to get a clearer view of the tree and its branches. And then with the help of a power tool, Jason removed the bulge just below the top that caused a reverse taper. He connected that new piece of deadwood with the beautiful old deadwood on the top, so now, no one would even knottiest there was a “TIN FOIL” mistake there before! In this picture (below) you can see the freshly carved section.
Some branches, especially the one that would become the future top, needed to be bend severely! So they were protected within water soaked raffia and heavy copper wire.
Wiring the main branches and still removing unwanted branches while we moved along the whole tree.
Here the new top is almost into place.
With the help of a heavy branch bender, the last branch is brought into its place and then secured with a copper wire. To make up for the lack of trunk movement, the tree is tilted to the left to give it more movement and make it more dynamic and interesting.
The final image of the “THIN FOIL” Mountain Hemlock. I wonder if we should change its name?!
Below: Close up of the amazing deadwood on Jason’s big Juniper!
More to come!!!
Hans van Meer.