In the early 50 of the last century, growers in the little famous village “Boskoop” in Holland started to grow on a larch scale among others Chamaecyparis obtusa nana gracilis or Hinoki cypress. This species proved to be very hard to grow from cuttings so they started to graft them onto the much stronger and faster-growing Chamaecyparis lawsoniana. The survival rate was much higher and the plant has a higher survival rate. But because of that, the bottom root section/base of this new plant grew much faster than the top section and that is why we now still will almost always find older Chamaecyparis with overly large ugly bulging root bases! A second big problem with Chamaecyparis lawsoniana as a root base is that it is highly susceptible to the Phytophthora cinnamomi mould (root rot) and many invested fields needed to be destroyed because of this! But I am digressing! Anyhow…somewhere in the middle nighties I was visiting one of the literally hundreds of growers smack right in the middle of famous Boskoop. Where I started a conversation with the grower after he had been watching me for a while on my knees in the dirt looking under the bottom branches of a mighty original Chamaecyparis obtusa nana gracilis. He asked me why I was so interested in just this field full of old Hinoki’s? I explained enthusiastically just why I loved them and why I wanted to use them if I had one! And then he told me the story of how he as a jong boy in the 50ties had planted this, then much larger field, together with his father! And that since then over the last 40+ years literary thousand cuttings were taken from these so-called “Mother” plants and grafted onto stronger roots to be later shipped all over the world! I was over the moon that I was exclusively allowed to dig up 3 of these ungrafted and on their own original root base old beauties! And because all those constant cuttings were taken/cut off for so many years, all the foliage was growing still relatively close to the trunks and very usable for my future styling plans.
Below: And this is number one of those three Hinoki’s that I would collect that happy day! This one is about 110 cm high in this photo that was made when I proudly showed it in the 2009 prestigious Noelanders Trophy X. I sold it some two years ago to my student and dear friend Diederick who is now proudly the new caretaker and artist to take care of it.
The second one I collected that day in Boskoop, I later styled for the first time during my second demonstration ever at my then Bonsai club “KOYA” in Rijswijk (Holland). Later I entered the photos of this first styling into the national Bonsai styling competition to decide who would enter the Europian jong Bonsai talent competition that year. But I was excluded because they wrongly accused me of being a professional?! Many many years later it was sold to old student Ed van der Reek who brought this Hinoki to great heights and even won a nomination with it in the Noelanders Trophy!
Below: Oktober 2006 and still in my garden. It always was a special tree!
And this is the story of the third and biggest Hinoki that I collected that day.
In 1998 I was invited to demonstrate at the 1999 E.B.A convention in Stratford Upon Avon and I immediately thought of my number 3 Chamaecyparis for my demo tree! It would be a big job to finish it in time, but I just had to try to style this so unique tree! Luckily my old friend Carlos van der Vaart helpt me (in amazing hot temperatures) to wire all those branches! My other old friend inventor of the “SAMURAI” carving tool William Vlaanderen was so kind as to bring this large tree with him on his bus. He had wrapped it tightly with plastic foil for the trip, but it had been so hot during his long trip that the poor tree had started evaporating enormously! So much so that all small branches had turned brittle and breakable! So extra care was necessary…but I made it in time!
Below: Carlos and I sweating away for many hours! 🥵😅
And because of this amazing tree, I had the privilege to meet two big names in the world of Bonsai: the very friendly Hinoki lovers Chase Rosade and his lovely late wife Solita from the USA! And they were really impressed with my Hinoki and the story behind it! Both are a bit of an expert in this field and had never seen anything like mine! And that made me even more proud of this tree and his legacy!😊
Below: And after a lot of hard work a warm but very proud me with the final result.
Note: the top of the foliage ends in this 1999 picture about 30 cm/12 inches under that Jin top! When I started to work on it again just a few weeks ago the top was 25 cm/10 inches cm above that same Jin! That is more or less 55cm/22 inches of growth in 20 years!!! And the trunk base has almost doubled in size without (of course) any swelling!
Back at home, it was planted with no problems in a large proper pot! This was as expected because the groundwater level in Boskoop is very high all year round and rootballs are ones every year cut to size with a spade and are because of that always compact and never thirsty! Since then it has been repotted only once into a new better brown-coloured pot and it is still very happy in that one today!
Below: Last year I shorted two thick branches that were growing at the top and just last month I cut off about half of all the too-long branches to open up the inner part of the smaller branches and foliage to re-direct sunlight so that they could gain in strength! Backbudding is always an issue with Hinoki’s and it is a constant struggle to not lose growing power on the inner parts of the tree! Light is a must and cutting back new growth with fine and sharp scissors (never pinch!!!) is a very important task! New growth on older branches is very rare so you don’t want to loos what you got!!!
Below: The amazing flakey trunk base with an old root Jin. Perimeter: 56cm / 22inch.
Below: Finally, the whole beautiful old trunk line can be seen again! And when it is recovered well from this whole operation then it will be wired again and repotted with new soil into this same pot again!
The backside of this tree was always facing the wall so always in the shadow side and that meant that this Jin was always longer wet on the backside for 2 decades-long and that means that the front sunny side is still as it was when it was just stript off its bark…but the backside was so rotten on the outside that I could shape it with my bare fingers and a steel brush. Peeling it away until the stunning natural-looking unrotten wood was revealed! Looks better than any power or hand tool could ever do! 😍 So from now on the front side of this Jin will be kept moist as much as possible to create the same stunning effect on the frontside deadwood as on the backside!
Below: All needly trimmed and opened up and now fingers crossed for lots of back budding and inner growth.
I hope you all enjoyed this short story about these 3 amazing old Dutch Urban Yamadori Hinoki?!
Cheers and stay safe,
Hans van Meer.
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