NO, NO!!! Don’t worry! Picture of my tinny Pine!😎 I am just fine, believe me!🤣
Like I wrote earlier in THIS post: in the early Nineties, the 6 of us went on a long route trip to Milan Italie to see among others Mr Kimura his demo an amazing Bonsai event and a very long visit to the world-famous Crespi Bonsai Center that is located just outside off Milan. And during our long visit to Crespi, I fell in love with a really tiny and weird-looking Japanese thunbergii corticosa that from memory was about 15 or 16cm high and because of its plates-like bark that grew wider upwards to the top and created that way a reverse taper! And then the very few tiny branches with just a few too long needles on the end! The small collection of Shohin were displayed on a few shelves behind chicken wire against one of the sides of the enormous greenhouse filled with mouthwatering Bonsai! Especially for us then still a couple of newbies! So I just had to buy it to see if I could realise what I saw in this little unique gem?! I simply broke off the too-long top bark-plates and allowed the smaller bottom once to extense. A few years later it was ready to be planted in this very small Tokoname pot that where he lived happily in for many years! That little pot fitted in the palm of my hand!It was shown in several shows. Later on, it was sold or given as a present to a Bonsai friend? Getting old and stuff and too many Bonsai memories to remember all! 😇 Cheers, Hans van Meer.
Why? Because then you will also remove all the Mycorrhizae Fungi that your Pine needs so hard to survive! Why this warning? Well, a few weeks ago I came across a Bonsai care video on YouTube by a very popular online Bonsai amateur who advocated and then showed how he with a water hose removed all the soil together with the O SO valuable Mycorrhizae from his Mugo Pine?! Giving a lot of newbies that watch his channel completely the wrong and harmful information!
What are mycorrhizae and how do they work and help our Bonsai to grow healthy?
Mycorrhizae are actually a fungus. They exist as very tiny, almost or even entirely microscopic, threads called hyphae. The hyphae are all interconnected into a net-like web called a mycelium, which measures hundreds or thousands of miles—all packed into a tiny area around the plant. 99.9 percent of all plants live together with Mycorrhizae and benefits from it!
In nature mycelium of a single Mycorrhiza, in turn, can extend outward, connect multiple plants (even plants of different species!), and even connect with other Mycorrhizae to form a Frankenstein-like underground mash-up called a common Mycorrhizal network.
In a common Mycorrhizal network, it’s hard to tell where one mycorrhiza ends and another begins. Because of this vast network, a single plant can be connected to a completely different species of plant halfway across a forest!
Mycorrhizae actually connect to plants in two ways. One form, called ectomycorrhizae, simply surrounds the outside of the roots (e.g., Pines). Another form, called endomycorrhizae, actually grows inside of the plant—their hyphae squeeze in between the cell wall and the cell membranes of the roots (sort of like wedging themselves in between a bicycle tire and the inner tube).
Under normal conditions, you’re not likely to see Mycorrhizae because they’re so small. But every once in a while, something amazing happens: the Mycorrhizae will reproduce and send up fruiting bodies that produce spores—we call them mushrooms and they can some times even be seen growing in our Bonsai pot next to a Pine! Some of these mushrooms are even edible, like truffles or chanterelles.
Below: This pretty Picture from late September 2009 shows some beautiful harmless mushrooms growing between the roots of my old Chinees Pinus parviflora (white pine)! They can’t do any harm as long as they don’t grow from in-between the live bark or on your deadwood! This old friend has not been repotted for some 7 or 8 years now!
How do plants help Mycorrhizae?
Plants make great gardeners. Just like we fertilize our gardens, plants feed their own Mycorrhizae. Plants will take excess sugar produced in the leaves through photosynthesis and send it to the roots. From here, the mycorrhizae are able to absorb it to sustain themselves. There is very little sunlight underground, and even if there was, the Mycorrhizae wouldn’t be able to harvest it like plants because they don’t have the equipment needed for photosynthesis. The sugar from the plants literally keeps the Mycorrhizae fed and alive.
How do Mycorrhizae help plants?
Plants don’t give up their valuable sugar resources just for the fun of growing fungus gardens. They get a lot of things in return from the mycorrhizae, mostly in the form of nutrients.
Most plants are able to get nutrients themselves through their fine roots, but they have a limited ability to do so. Their roots need to be in direct contact with the soil to absorb the nutrients, and plant roots only grow so small. Fungi, on the other hand, can get much smaller. Fungal hyphae can wedge in between individual bits of soil to cover almost every available cubic millimeter of soil. This increases the total surface/feeding/drinking area enormously and allows the plants much greater access to nutrients than they could ever get by themselves. For many plants living under difficult conditions, they wouldn’t be able to survive at all without mycorrhizae. BUT! And here gomes the important part for every Bonsai grower: Some desidius trees and all CONIFERS dont have those all importand fine roots and are there for tottaly dependent on Mycorrhiza for there survivel!!!
What those Mycorrhizae do for its host? Wel it absorbs nutrients such as phosphorus and magnesium and brings it directly to the plant roots. Here, they exchange the nutrients they’ve collected for some sugar. It’s a fair trade, and both sides benefit greathly from it for many millions of years now. The Mycorrhiza treads can absorb even the finest water particles in the soil and deliver them to the fine tree roots! These absorption tree roots can only absorb water trough osmosis (pressure differences). With too little water, those fine roots just cant do their job! But the Mycorrhiza can and there for are the best stress manigers for all plants, they help to deal with large variations in temperature, soil conditions and therefore also dehydration!
Additionally, the Mycorrhizae help plants out in a whole bunch of other ways. Mycorrhizae hardence and helps to protect their plants against diseases, salt and toxins. Mycorrhizae can also serve as a sugar delivery service when plants shuttle sugar back and forth to different plants connected to the same common Mycorrhizal network. Perhaps most bizarrely of all, the common Mycorrhizal network can also serve as a means for plants to “talk” to each other—an Internet made out of fungus!
Putting it all together!
Mycorrhizae forms an invaluable part of ecosystems around the world, and can be found in some form or another in just about any ecosystem. In many places, whole forests and ecosystems wouldn’t exist at all without their mycorrhizal friends!!!
Tip: When you repot your Pine make sure to collect as many of the very recognisable white Mycorrhizae threads from the root ball and pot that into the rootball in the fresh new soil! This will help the making of a new healthy roots environment enormously!
In short: to all newbies Bonsai friends who read this article: Don’t take just one person’s word or video for the Bonsai truth! Because the number of video views doesn’t show if anyone is a knowledgeable Bonsai authority or not! But their Bonsai/work often dos! Look things up in books and online or watch video from people that truly know what they are talking about! Join a Bonsai Club and talk, ask and learn there from the people with experience and Bonsai that clearly show that they understand Bonsai!
Cheers and stay safe,
Hans van Meer.
Note: that for me to get it all just right and in proper understandable words I used parts of it from free to use sources! If I can find the right info, so can you! 😉
The Little Bonsai from this story was a wonderful gift from my dear British friend Terry Foster when I stayed at his home many many years ago! He pointed out some, especially in those early days, amazing Yamadori Blackthorns and said: pick one!🥳 So, of course, I went for the odd one out! This little wonder of nature must have been suffering from prevailing winds from the sea and that forced him to grow upwards in a spiral-like way like one of those old barber pools from yesteryear! And above that, it had amazing old wrinkled bark and deadwood that makes his crown look like an Ant Queens head! So my choice was made! This Blackthorn in this small pot is a slow grower and it took a very long time to create these branches and foliage but it is slowly getting there!Heigt: 30cm/12inch.
During my last week search trough, thousands of foto’s I came across some forgotten foto’s I made of the first styling of a Yamadori Juniperus sabina I did way back in 2004. This tree was a gift from my old Bonsai friend and highly regarded college Serge Clement from Switzerland. He gave it to me right after that years Noelanders Trophy and it was if I remember it well used as a demo tree by one of the other demonstrators that year?!
Below: At home the next day I removed all the copper wire and then this Sabina is basically needly cleaned virgin material again! It now was pretty basic material with a nice Shari running along its trunk.
Below: The biggest problem that I faced was that the long base of the tree that was growing from the front of this container to the back of the container where it finally decided to grow upwards, but still away from us, and it would take some heavy bending to make it more compact and interesting!Basically, that top needs to be placed above that section were the trunk appears from the soil!
First, the whole top was tightly wrapped with a layer of in water-soaked Raffia and then lengths of aluminium wire were placed lengthwise on the outside of the to make heavy bend. Then the other layer of wet raffia was applied over it all and only then was I able to slowly and safely but with great force bring the whole top section in its new place!
Now fast-forward some 8 years to the year 2012 at the last edition of dear friend Tony Tickles famous/infamous Burrs Bonsai weekend experience where I was once again one off the lucky teachers. My friend Mickey from the UK who the year before became the new care tacker of this tree was also there and had brought along the Sabina of this story to further improve it. A college teacher had told the disappointed owner Mickey (bellow) that it would be difficult to bend the thick and old trunk that fare. So realy motivated we first tightly applied a layer of in water-soaked Raffia and then a few lengthwise placed 4 mm copper wires on the outsides of the curve and then another layer of Raffia and then normal wiring on top of that. And then we together slowly bended the whole top section from the back side (see picture) to the front side of that trunk without any trouble. Micky had the time of his live! 😊 I wonder how they both are doing and I hope fine and healthy! 👍😊
Above: before bending with owner Micky. I am so excited!!!😬😁
Above: Sucses! The whole top is compleatly on this (front) side of the trunk now!But because of all the heavy bending, the fine wiring would be done later when the tree shows she is healthy and without any ill effects or weakness from what we have don! Patience is an important basic tool we all need in this hobby/art form!The deadwood was treated with Lime Sulfur to bleach it and to protect it.
The leaves and crown are a bit big because of an accidental fertilizer overdose 2x 🙄 and some smaller branches need to be wired so it looks a bit fluffy…but I wanted to share it anyway! So I hope you like it ?! The pot was custom made by Brian Albright.
Today we had the first day or afternoon of rain since the crisis started! All this time we were scared as shit…but with lovely weather! So many Bonsai tasks where don during the last months while getting a nice tan! Among others cutting/pinching back the spring growth off my 4 Taxus baccata Yamadori. As well as some branch trimming, wiring and checking for those damn scale insect!
The little Shohin Yew of this story was a wonderful Yamadori gift from my dear old friend and super talented college Terry Foster when I visited his house in 1999. Now more then 2 decades on it is still a tiny Bonsai of just 21 cm in height in a custom made Bonsai pot by my old friend Brian Allbright (UK). Say HELLO TO MY LITTLE FRIEND!!! 👋😉
Stay safe and healthy everybody! Cheers, Hans van Meer.
The main reason in my opinion why the large wound treatment that I now and then use is not so popular is that it has just a very small percentage of success and that is perfectly understandable! But remember that it is used in situations were otherwise large branches or roots would have been completely cut off leaving large wounds on our Bonsai, that in most cases never heal leaving ugly large scars…so what is there to lose?! And if it those work…well then there is everything to gain! But judge for yourself!
This little Hawthorn was collected by me during a collecting trip in Wales way back in ’98 or ’99 with Tony Tickle and Terry Foster. During that collecting of this beauty, I had to cut through a massive root to be able to collect it!
Below:Just a few years later during it’s first repotting I saw that lots of tinny new roots were growing from everywhere including the sides of that thick and massive root so I decided to shorten it even further to stimulate new roots to grow even closer to the trunk!
And another few years later when enough healthy side roots were growing from closer to the trunkline that still massive root was shortened even more and with my Dremel I carved coming in from the cut side a wedge shape out off over the length of that root making sure not to wound the bark! And then I carefully folded the saved bark back over the V-shaped wood and secured them in place with some pines. Cracked bark on the newly created (now) two roots were protected with Cutpaste. I figured out that nothing was lost trying this and if it would not work…well then I could always cut it off and live with another large wound on such a small tree?!
Below: Skip over to November 2012 and this is how those now 2 roots look! The bark has already aged a lot and is growing in almost all places needly around the created root shape!
Below:And then skip forward some 8 years to see how the roots look today! Still alive and looking pretty convincing in my humble opinion! Only the right one has a tinny strip of deadwood on the inside..but that makes it only more convincing and in style with the image of this battered old Lil’ tree! And be honest, this looks so much better than another gaping big scare on such a little tree?! So when possible give it a try…you never know?! And you can always cut it off later! Cheers and stay safe, Hans van Meer.
In the early 50 of the last century, growers in the little famous village “Boskoop” inHolland 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 on to 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 root base is that it is highly susceptible to the Phytophthora cinnamomi mold (root rot) and many field needed to be destroyed because of this! But I am digressing! Any how…somewere in the middle nighties I was visiting one of the literary 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 for what 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, than mutch larger field, together with his father! And that since then over the last 40+ years literary thousand of 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 foto’s 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 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 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 the 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 a bit of an expert in this field 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 ones into a new beter brown collored pot and it lifes still very happy in that one today!
Last year I shorted two thick branches that were growing in the top and just last month I cut off about half of all the too long branches to open up the inner part ofthe 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 the 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’s?! Cheers and stay safe, Hans van Meer.
I got in a short time 3 comments and questions from 3 different people about the roots (Nebari) on my 3 Larch Yamadori Bonsai that I posted that I would like to address.
O life would be so simple if all collected evergreens and Larch trees had great surface roots (Nebari)…well they hardly ever do! GOOD BONSAI DON’T GROW ON TREES YOU KNOW!? Those that mean they are inferior or useless?! Or could not become beautiful or interesting Bonsai?! Quite the opposite in my opinion! Like it was and is the case with my windswept/slenting/ Literati style Larch Bonsai. 😉
I bought this, then still two trunk Yamadori Larch on a club auction somewhere in ’92 or ’93 because of its young but already nice 70% circling surface roots (see picture). One of the trucks grew/slanted away from these roots, making it look like if those roots were holding him in place preventing him from falling over and slowly sliding down the hill! Looking at this Lil’ tree the left prevailing winds can almost be felt! So the left (beautiful) trunk was sawed off leaving that short Jin in the picture. From then those roots were promoted and all foliage was over the period of almost 3 decades styled to mimic a wind-battered Larch in nature. To make it, even more, look like it is close to tumbling and or sliding down the hill, I asked my dear old potter friend Brian Albright to make the slanting pot it still is in today! This pot is less high on the right side creating and enhancing that sliding/balancing feeling as if the ground is slowly eroded away over the years! The high table it’s always displayed on enhances this feeling of a battered mountain Larch that is proudly holding on the edge of a mountainside. So these maybe not so perfect? surface roots/Nebari where and are the base behind this creation.
Below:The 4 white arrows point at the 4 well established and old roots. The Yellow arrow points in the visual movement of the slanting mountainside. As you can see that the pot is perfectly matched with that direction! The Green arrow points at the general directing (slightly towards) the viewer. That and the hight of the table creates a feeling that the tree is towering over and towards you! I think that there is a lot of visual speed in this Lil’ tree and a nice story! So maybe not perfect… but “There is a lot of beauty in imperfection”!
All my “Dutch” and “Wales” Yamadori Hawthorns had an abundance of fragrant flowers this year as if they wanted to bring some much-needed joy in these troublesome times! But none so much as my Dutch Hawthorn in the “Mother and Child” style! Her coming into full flower was over the last 6 weeks daily filmed and photographed to try to make a time-laps video for YouTube! Dutch Hawthorn Yamadori are rare and the ones with deadwood are even rarer! This originally some 2 meters high one that I collected in a wet-dune forest close to my house was used by the buffalos as a scratching pole leaving a long Shari/deadwood running along the whole trunk section! And now some 2 decades later she shows maturity and all these flowers and tells a story of a Japanese Mother in Kimono hanging into the storm protecting here child under her arm.
Below: an explaining drawing that I made years ago.
Below: And this is how they looked a few days ago I am really proud of this one!Height: 75 cm/30 Inch.Pot: Japan.
Below: Bonsai peace and joy in scary times! Stay safe everybody!!!