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 in Milan. This road trip by small bus was organized by Farrand Blog en Rene Rooswinkel (Bonsai Focus Magazine) and the 6 of us had quite the adventure! Seeing this giant of Bonsai demonstrating was a dream come through for me…but spending the evening with him and a handful of other Bonsai heroes was truly amazing! It was this night that Mister Kimura said to me: you guys have so much more imagination than our students! You all have learned 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 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 of 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 than what we could buy in and around Holland! So after a long search through 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 too 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 into 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 bent 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. On Saturday a demo and on 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 from my adventure in Slovenia. I was so happy after finishing potting this massive collected Prunus mahaleb! Here in the below picture, 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 that now separated left part 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 in full bloom! So watch this space!!!
Hans van Meer.