just one day back from my visit to and my Friday workshop in beautiful Slovenia! My dear friend and kind host TOMAŽ KOVŠCA from the “TORA” International Bonsai School in Slovenia took me on an amazing two days sightseeing tour around Slovenia that left me even more in love with this breathtaking country and its super friendly people! Like I told him many times during that trip: I could happily live here and grow old with a smile on my face! Images and the story from that part of my visit to this wonderful place will follow soon! On Friday afternoon and evening there was a workshop planned in his great Bonsai studio that I would lead with the help of Tomaz himself and his talented student Gasper Gabrijel. Relaxing after our sightseeing trip before it all would start we were waiting in the sun enjoying a Turkish coffee and home-brewed vodka with Juniper berries in it that you could chew…it was absolutely heavenly and boy did it hit the spot! And the view of Tomaz beautiful Bonsai collection that surrounded us was not half bad either! Here are some images of his amazing collection that were shot (with a not so good old camera) by me before the students arrived.
Below: A view of just a section of Tomaz his beautiful collection.
Below: A wonderful self-collected and styled Spruce.
Below: One of his many amazing Sylvestris.
Below: A very stylish Juniper.
Below: A local Prunus mahaleb Yamadori.
Below: And another stunning Sylvestris Yamadori.
Below: And this is the one that I fell in love with a very promising Mugo Yamadori!!!
Below: In his studio, this beautiful self-build Tokonoma with a uniquely styled garden material Juniper Bonsai was welcoming me and the students.
Below: Before the actual work on the brought in trees started I discussed them all with the owners in front of all the students. So that everybody could learn from each and every tree! This is a very valuable part of the workshop for the student and very excited for me to do! This Juniperus sabina Yamadori was after I discussed the possibilities styled by two Croatian students with the help of Tomaz himself and the end result is pretty impressive and promising indeed!
Below: Tomaz and his student Gasper Gabrijel working on the final touches.
Below: The beautiful end result of this first styling.
Below: A Yamadori Hawthorn before the work started.
Below: Almost finish after some drinks and lovely finger food!
Below: And the end result a Literati deciduous Bonsai.
Below: A local Yamadori Spruce with a unique but difficult root base.
Below: And the end result, a young but already elegant and natural looking pre-Bonsai.
Below: Some were so into the work that they resisted the late night cold before coming in!
Below: Later that evening inside with that same tree, the owner is concentrated looking on while I make some adjustments and bring some of the branches in position.
Below: My old friend Roland Petek brought in two mindblowing Mugo Yamadori Pines with him! This one has amazing deadwood all along this side, but still, we selected to style it with the other side as its front. This side would always look like a Tanuki and that is not what you want for your Bonsai…especially a Mother like this one!!!
Below: Roland concentrated applying a layer of raffia and then a layer of black plastic tape to protect the thick and old branches from cracking. And this is much-needed because we have to bend and reposition them severely!
Below: And this is the very promising end result after its first styling. From this side, there is still more than enough deadwood to be seen, but now it is accompanied all along the trunk by the beautifully contrasting old flaky bark! The left side hanging branch pushes the sloping tree back upwards and gives the whole composition an exciting balancing act. The foliage is basically a triangle that cuts through the upwards going lines of the trunk, leading the eyes to the left and back again on there way to the top of the tree and then down again! So this Bonsai has it all: balance, rhythm, movement, visual old age, a wide Nebari, Jin, Shari, life veins, and a very proud owner! Weldone Roland and thanks for trusting me!
Below: From another student came yet another beautiful Yamadori pine! And again with some problems to solve and big decisions to make! But I had no problems convincing the owner and the rest of the students how to proceed to solve them and to bring the best out of this, once again, beautiful and exciting Yamadori. The long downward Jin needed to go because it distracted the beauty of the abrupt movement of the trunk line in the top section! This was mostly caused because it protrudes from the inside of the curve in the trunk its top section and like with branches that grow from the inside of a curve in a trunk they almost always look misplaced and disturbing! Also two Jins on the lower section of the trunk needed to be reduced because they were distracting and other Jins and the Shari needed to be styled! Then the top main branch was protected by a layer of raffia and wired before everything could be put into place and that sounds easier than it actually was because the top section needed a lot of heavy bending!
Below: And here is the (for now) finished pre-Bonsai. I am discussing here at the end of the workshop what the happy student with some help from me has reached…and that is simply amazing! Because I really do think that this is a very exciting and promising result! And I do believe that in just 3 or 4 years time this will be an amazing Bonsai!
The above-shown trees are just a small selection of the 10 or 11 that were worked on and styled that day and more images can be seen in a very nice video that Tomaz made of it all and has posted on YouTube (link below)!
I would like to thank Tomaz and his lovely wife for taking so good care of me and for trusting me to do this workshop in his Bonsai School! And I would like to especially thank all his students for trusting me with their precious trees!
I can hardly wait to go back in May to Slovenia to do my workshop and demo at the
I will be posting soon pictures that I made during my trip with Tomaz through stunning Slovenia…so I hope to see you back here soon!
Hans van Meer.