Note: Before you read the following serious health warning! Please know that I will still work with Sabina Junipers or any other poisonous Junipers for that matter!!! But I will do so with more care from now on! So this is by no means mend to scare you! But to warn you please be careful with Male Sabina Junipers around the month of May! Or whenever yours has the below Male pollen cones (strobila) in jour part of the world!!!
Below: Male Juniperus Sabina with still tiny jong Male pollen cones (strobilus).
Below: A more mature Male Juniperus Sabina cone with pollen (strobilus).
Above: May 2022. The Juniperus Sabina from this warning! It was shot just before I inhaled the pollen cloud while working on it! In the left bottom corner of that large brown wooden plate, just below that cut-off branch, you can see a few of the tinny brown pollen pods that made me so sick!
Juniperus Sabina health warning! I thought hard and long about posting my warning about working on and with a male Juniperus Sabina during the period that they have very tiny male brown pollen cones or strobila at the tips of their foliage! On my Sabina that’s from the south of Europe dose then still tinny brightly green male flowers start to grow around the middle of September on the tips of its typical soft Sabina foliage. And the following year around the month of May, they had grown just a little and had turned into a light brown colour! And seemed to be dried out! And by then ( as I found out later ) were ready to disperse their powdery pollen content! And that was precisely the time that I decided to work on it, not knowing what would or could happen next?! During this wiring, it was inevitable to touch the foliage and while bending a branch a cloud of brown powder-like pollen was disparaged into the air right into my face and eyes! I un avoidable inhaled a large portion of this cloud and immediately started coughing like crazy! This went on for several minutes and then the gag reflexes started and I ended up on my knees on the ground contorting with every painful cough and gag! And this went on for at least ten painful minutes before I was able to stand up and painfully breathe a little without coughing and gagging! The pain in my chest was excruciating, so much so that the next day I had to visit my Dockter! After he examined my ribs and lungs, he told me I had several bruised ribs on both sides of my chest! Today as I write this warning, it is the end of September and four months after my misfortune and my ribs and longs are still very painful with every breath! So much so that next week I have to go to a long specialist for tests and a further examination to find out if my longs are damaged?! So please be very careful if you work on a Juniperus Sabina around May when you see those tiny light brown male pollen pods at the tips of the foliage! Or better still: do your styling or maintenance work earlier when they are still brightly green or later when those pods are empty and dried up!!! And if you do have to handle them during that risky period, well, then make sure to wear a mask and protecting classes and wash your hands when you finish! Believe me, you don’t want to inhale it or get it in your eyes!!! In the Netherlands, we have a saying:
A warned person counts for two!!! Cheers and stay safe, Hans van Meer.
Below: 30-9-2022. The same Sabina of this story is now already full of still jong and tinny yellowish-green male pollen pots!
A few weeks ago I had a long-awaited visit from my friend and student Diederick and his wife Miek Bovenlander. I spent a warm afternoon making sure that my trees were displayed as good as possible in the little space that I have in my small city garden! And I made a quick welcome display in my living room with (this time) one of my mid-sized Hawthorns and a pool stone that I found during my visit to Denmark. The background poster I had made of a picture that I shot during my visit to the amazing Japanese hill garden in Portland Oregon. I worked it over with my paint program to make it look like an oil painting! On the right side, you can see the famous Dutch pink cakes!👌 They liked the welcome and it proved to be a proper start to a fun and fruitful Bonsai day with friends!
It is near the end of August and my cascade Pinus sylvestris has grown well this Summer! And the foliage peds look more mature now! It still needs some light wiring but most branches are already fixed in their places! Mean while I am on the lookout for a lovely handmade pot that is more or less the shape/idear of this plastic makeschift one!
Below: it must have been 3 or 4 years ago that I noticed a small fern-like weed that was growing in between the gravel stones hidden underneath a long table full of Bonsai! So I carefully duck it up and planted it in the pot where it still lives today. And then this Spring a very thin stem started to grow and grow and bundles of small white buds started to form around the top of that still-growing stem! And even strong winds that battered it could not break or even bend it?! And then after a few weeks, all the flowers opened and an amazing perfume filled my working/foto aria! So I looked up some stuff to make this quick composition with…why you might ask? Well because I like to do this… it is a quick creating fix! The water stone on the left I found some 20 years ago on a beach in Denmark when I was there to do a demo and a workshop.
Below: This is a poor Cell phone picture and I just could not get the brightness of the reflecting flower petals down enough! I removed the plant identifier from my phone so I don’t have a clue what this little weed/plant name is?! So if anybody out there knows it! Then please let me know?!
I hope you liked this little post about the silly things that make me happy?! Ow…and a weed is just a plant that nobody wants!
Below: April 2018. Here is a picture of how I bought the Dubbel trunk, Juniper Sabina of this little story! Both trunks are connected underneath the soil line and I took a big gamble that I could separate them to get two very nice Yamadori for the price of one!
Below: After I first had made sure that the divided roots would be enough for both sides to survive on their own, I separated them with a power saw!
Below: And that is how one Juni became two!
Below: Next to each other in their new homes after dust removing shower!
Below: fast forward to: 17-5-2022. Before the work begins a quick picture! The tree is healthy with tons of foliage and more than enough (small) branches to choose from! But there is a problem! From this really only possible angle there is just one live line to see on the left bottom side and along the whole top section that is now all still hiding behind the lush foliage!
Below: Overview of my very professional working aria/foto studio!🤣😇
Below: Brach selection is always an exciting part of styling that needs to be done with confidence! I remember what the famous John Naka once set during a demonstration when he was about to cut off a major brach: “Let’s cut it off for now!” 😉
Below: More branches are removed or shortened until just the ones that are or could be useful are left!
Below: The all-important first styling work is done and now the tree needs some time to recover! But I can work on the deadwood and bleach it and with an old toothbrush carefully clean the life vain from its outer dirty skin layer to reveal its dark brown colour!
I hope that you like what I have done with this elegant Juni?! Cheers, Hans van Meer.
Below: I just wanted to share this cell phone picture that I made of 4 small candles hugging an apple on my old Pinus parviflora. She responds very well after her repotting and is covered with bright green candles! The 2 most minor will be removed in favour of the 2 stronger ones! Always leave maximal 2 end buds at the end of each Pine branch so that they will not become too coarse in the future!
Below: This is how I found him during my 2007 collecting trip with Tony Tickle in Wales. The large rock that you can see at the bottom of this picture originally covered most of the trunk right up to where the foliage starts! It took all my strength to lift it off of the poor tree! And freeing it from all the rocks it lived in for all those years took a long time indeed! But it was well worth it!!!!
Below: And this is how it looks after 15 years of training and good care! He is compleatly covered with new bright green buds! Pinching them all back took me a while and gave me a chance to overlook its progress over the last years. And I have to say that he is coming along faster than I could ever wish for! There is hardly any wirer necessary to keep this basic shape and from now on it will mostly be refining detail work! I hope it to be show worthy by next season?! Height: 64 cm/ 25 inch. Pot Japan.
Below: Just so show you all that I practise what I preach! Here is a fast Cell phone picture that I shot from underneath the thumb thick old Pine branch that I had just bent some 45 degrees with the help of a double protecting layer of cheap and easy to get Sisal rope and two 5mm aluminium wirers! The white arrow points at where the branch has bend the most! That red line that goes to the right shows where the branch used to grow! Impressive hee?! And no mess or damage from using that clumsy wet Raffia!
Below: My Japanese black Pine “Pinus thunbergii” is with me since 1990 and was styled by me during a demonstration a year later. I remember the excited reaction of the students when I chopped off most of the top and turned the rest into a Jin (deadwood). It needed a repotting and some fresh soil to grow and strive in. Lifting it out of its pot was easy and that is a sure sign it needs to be repotted into fresh soil! All the long circling roots were shortened and a layer/ring of old soil and roots was removed working inwards and upward from the side leaving a hole in the middle for fresh soil. Pot by William Vlaanderen (NL). Height: 15-25 cm (Komono).
Below: The soil mount in between the exposed roots is left this time! water still penetrates it when I water so there is no problem for now! But next time that section needs more attention and fresh soil…but that’s for then!
Below: The tree basically grows over a month of soil, so when watering the water tends to run down fast and hard. So the chance that this fresh soil will be flushed away is imminent…so to prevent this I mixed some Kato with very fine Akadama and Akadama dust with some water to make it into a more malleable paste!
Below: That thick paste is then applied over the soil and pushed down to make a nice sloppy month where water can run down without taking the fresh soil along with it. I now only have to make sure that I water enough and have to check every time if the water runs through the hole in the bottom! In a month or so when the new soil is more settled the layer of Kato will be simply scraped away.
Below: I found the Yew/Taxus of this story in November 2007 on a mountain in Walles! She was mostly covered by a large flat boulder rock and only the foliage you see on top and on the right side ware growing from under it! I was on my own and lifting that heavy rock off her without damaging her was a serious task…but boy was it worth it!
Below: 31-3-2012. The first repotting after collecting her in 2007 in Walles! Just look how little foliage she has after 5 years of recovering!
Below: 31-3-2012. And just potted in her first real pot and a happy and younger and leaner me in the background!
Below: 27-4-2022. And this is how she looks today with all the new brightly green buds! I am proud of this one! Someone once told me a long time ago: you can’t make a windswept Yew Bonsai…well I beg to differ! 😉😇 I consider this tree as one of my best designs and hope to show it at the next Trophy in Belgium!