Completely Restyling My Big Old Mugo Pine Named ‘BIG RON’.

The story of “BIG RON” started some were in November 2000, when my friends: Teunis-Jan Klein, Carlos van de Vaart and I made the long drive all the way to Milan (Italy) to look for some Yamadori material. After visiting some Bonsai friends gardens in Milan, we arrived at NIPPON EN bonsai garden. There were some amazing Bonsai on display and for sale and the Yamadori material they had there was of very high quality! Some poor trees were lost among all this super Yamadori material and it is there where I discovered the very old “Mugo Pine” othis story.

Pic. 1: In this picture, which is a still shot from a poor video, you can see this amazing “Hawk” like roots of this Pine, that looks as if it is lifting the earth. I fell in love immediately, but was scared of the leg of workable foliage on these almost “Octopus” like long branches with only a little foliage on the end!

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Pic.2: Here you can see the backside of the tree. There is not much to work with here either! Only those few long branches you see in picture 1.

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Pic.3: I could not resist the challenge of this massive tree and bought it from the owner of NIPON EN. He told me that it was one of the first yamadori he ever collected. He himself had found it literally on the top of a very high mountain in the Italian Alps. And it stood in his gardens for many years, without much work done to it. And nobody seemed to be interested in buying it, because of the leg of foliage and age on those few branches. As there was no room for this big tree in the car that we came in and I did not have that much money with me as well, I had to drive all the way back again to Milan Italy in May the next year to finally collect it! And I was very excited when I made that long trip again with another old friend in my own (bigger) car. The former owner of this pine asked me to take care of it and I promised him, that I would try my best to make it beautiful! When I finally had the tree in my own garden I made this first drawing of the idea I had in mind for its future. Although (than) I had no idea how to reach it, this is what I saw.

Pic.4: And now just over 6 years later, this is the result. This tree made a big transformation in a very short time, with only one real scare during that whole time. A few years ago the tree lost its beautiful bark on the right side of the tree. I peeled the bark away and my heart almost stopped when I found out that the whole backside of the tree had died. I could easily remove all of the old bark of the already dry wood! I literally burst into tears, because I thought the tree might die and most certainly would never be like I hoped for it to be! After the first shock was over I tried to see what caused this dieback. I discovered then that the whole tree was hollowed out by “Wasps”, all the way true this thick tree, right up the live bark on the bottom of this tree! I removed all the rotted deadwood with power tools treated the remaining deadwood with Jinseal and then Wrapped the whole trunk of the tree with a screening cloth to keep the constant returning wasps out for 3 long years. But the tree remained healthy and strong! And looks actually much better with this great looking piece of deadwood, as if Mother nature had the brilliant idea to help me with styling! I was tremendously proud to be able to show this old survivor I named “Big Ron” in this last “Ginkgo Awards Show”!

I think this Bonsai came a long way in a short time and I am glad I can finally show it to my friends here on my blog. The complete story of   “BIG RON” can be seen on my website in the near future.

I hope you like it?

Hans van Meer.

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Big Ron way back in 2007 just before I proudly showed it in the last “Ginkgo Awards”.
“Big Ron” just a few weeks ago in April 2019! It has outgrown its silhouette completely and needs a serious restyling to secure its health and future as a Bonsai!
The red arrow points at the stump that is left from removing the large back branch. This branch was bent over forward in a U shape to create the old top section with. You can immediately see how much more space for the light to reach the inner section is created!
This is the top front branch that needs to go as well…big decisions indeed!
The top section is seen from the back side. In the bottom of this picture, you can see the stump that left from removing the back/top branch.
Front vieuw before removing.
And here is the top section removed…pretty weird experience!

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