Juniperus sabina Yamadori first styling.

Below: April 2018. Here is a picture of how I bought this 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.

White pine picture “candles & apple”.

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!

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

Bending a thick Pine branch with cheap Sisal rope protection!

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!

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

My Japanese black Pine with exposed roots repotted.

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 in to 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: Because the tree basically grows over a month of soil, so when watering the water tens to run down fast and hard and the change of that 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 off without taking the soil along. 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 time when the new soil is more settled the layer of Kato will be scraped away.

More later on this little tree!

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

Repotting my old Pinus parviflora.

The year is 1990 and I was doing Bonsai for not more than half a year or so when I visited “China Bonsai centre” in Schiedam (Holland). This giant greenhouse was filled from top to bottom with many commercial Bonsai! But there were always a few better ones brought back from their trips to China! And one of them was the tucked away big Chinese Pinus parviflora from this story! It costed us a whopping 1000 Gulden (450 Euro) and that was a lot of money those days and still is!
Below: 7 years later and the year is 1997 when my Pine whas shown in the third edition of the famous GINKGO AWARDS in Belgium.

Below: 23-4-2022 and 25 years later! Yesterday my Dear old Bonsai friend Teunis Jan Klein brought the pot that I bought from him and now it is time to finally free my pine from his cracked pot! With a hammer the pot is broken so that the pieces can be removed by hand!

Below: Just look how compact those roots and soil have become over the years!

Below: All that greyish mycorizza is a welcome sign of good health and o so necessary for any Pine to trive and survive!

Below: With a hook and a chopstick the old soil is removed via the bottom working my way up!

Below: Than only carfully working with a chopstick the soil is further removed from in between the roots!

Below: The bottom of the pot is filled with a layer of soil containing of Akadama and Bims. The grayish / brown pieces you can see scattered around on top are the saved layers miccoriza from before! This way the pot will fill itself mutch quicker with healthy and very nessesary miccoriza! Remember a Pine needs miccoriza to feed!!!

Below: Wiggeling with a chopstick carfully working the soil into every open space between those roots. And then he is waterred over and over again until the water that runs out of the holes in the pot is clear! I hope he recovers well from it all and that he may bring me plessier for many more decades to come!

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

Mugo Pine back budding on old wood!

Yes, you read it right! My Yamadori Mugo Pine from Italy is back budding all over on older up to pinkie thick bare branches! There goes the “Mugo Pine not budding back where there are no old needles” theory! But Big Ron is that famous exception to that rule! He is an old from top to bottom hollowed Italian Mugo Yamadori that does not follow those rules! Just look below at all those buds!

Below: Everywhere enough new growth so that in the future I can shorten the eventually too long branches back to all that new growth! Keeping them full and much shorter to the mainframe!

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

Removing rotten roots wood from my Mugo pine (Big Ron).

Today was a weird Bonsai day, to say the least! Because most of it was spent removing with long tweezers and a small chisel the completely rotten wood from Big Ron’s underground deadwood section! And then filled those deep holes that were left with a coarse hard soil mix so that in the future new roots can grow fast and all excess water can run out of the pot away from all that buried deadwood! Why and how did this happen you might ask? Well, during his long life somewhere high on a mountainside in Italy he has grown a very solid base! But during the many passing years, somehow those firm base roots were covered with a layer of shifting soil, rocks and dead vegetation! And that made that “Big Ron” created higher up his trunk new secondary roots on that new soil level and that took probably many decennia to get to this big as they are now! The now completely buried old roots started to rot away over the many decades until they finally completely turned into powder! Later the dead right and backside of the tree turned over many decades into completely hollowed out deadwood that makes this old Mugo so special! Bud decay is still going on as we speak so the priceless deadwood needs permanent protection in the form of impregnating it completely with a commercial wood hardener for the hole hollow inside parts and commercial super glue for the more visual outside Jins and Shari! But before all this: all the deadwood needs to be bleached with Limesulfer+ashes+water in different shades of greyish whites!

Below: that mount of wooddust came out of that large hole and is all that is left of a large root!

Below: The hollow trunk and the hole seen from the right side.

Below: That same hole filled with a midsized hard soil mixture

Below: And the backside hole is also filled up. Now the roots can feed, grow and fill those holes with healthy useful roots again!

Now I have to clean that pot…but that is a whole other story…pppfffff!💨💨

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

My old Mugo Pine (Z) needs a haircut!

The problem with Mugo pines is that they almost always bud back at the base of last year’s needles or even older ones! That is good and bad news for us! Good news: because as long as there are still strong older needles on a not too thick branch then in early spring we can cut it right back in between those needles as long as there are sufficient needles left to promote new buds from! Bad news: because it means that for a Mugo branch to back bud, we have to live with a rough and unrealistic looking Bonsai with branches filled with needles from base to the tip! Now we can decide to pluck them off and leave a bunch of them in places where we would like buds to appear! But that simply looks ridiculous and would make wiring difficult! So what to do? Well every now and then we have to style or restyle our Bonsai and need to wire the branches of our Bonsai…imagine doing that with all those needles still on there! So we pluck them off leaving just enough to with the help of wire create our famous pine Bonsai branch tips that we all know so well! So that is what I did all those years ago before I restyled Z my Mugo Pine Yamadori for the second time when she had branches with short internodes and beautiful short needles. But first a bit of history:

Below: In March 2002 I was invited by Mark Noelanders to do a demonstration at his then Bonsai club B.A.B in Belgium! So I had to find something special to entertain all his knowledgeable students! After visiting all the Bonsai dealers in the Netherlands I ended up at a Bonsai centre deep in Belgium where I found the, to say the least, weird France Yamadori of this story! This tree was a real challenge and risky… so perfect for this evening’s demo! But the guy who sold it to me was clearly surprised that I even looked at this tree! And was clearly happy that I bought it from him!

Below: After 2 hours of hard work the birth of Z is finished.

Below: 10 years later in 2012, I restyled her again completely! She then looked at her best with those short needles and clear foliage peds! Pot: Brian Albright (UK). It truly is a big transformation and one of those trees that I am really proud of! Back then I should have entered her in an exhibition!

Below: And fast forward another 10 years to the present day 10-2-2022. O what a tangled web we weave! Z desperately needs a serious haircut where usable foliage baring branches are cut back as far as possible to where there is healthy and strong secondary new growth. And unusable branches (too weak, too long and/or too thick etc.) will also be removed. She is healthy and her needles are still short though and that’s a real good thing!

Below: 30-3-2022. This is how she looks after most too long and bare branches are removed or shortened to where there is healthy new growth. That bottom left-side hanging too long branch most probably will be cut back or turned into a Jin?!

Now she will be wired completely so that she can be restyled. During that styling, some more useless branches will be shortened or removed to give her back her looks! So watch this space for the outcome!
Cheers,
Hans van Meer.

Some more Spring repoting! part II

Here are some more cellphone pictures of the repoting that I did during the last couple of days. I kept it at doing only 2 trees a day to keep the amount of …well discomfort doable for me. It is also a safeguard to keep it enjoyable for the future! So here we go! Below is a tip: this is how I bend my little wire hooks! In this way, there is no change of roots lifting up the mash that covers the hole! So make sure to save those little leftover pieces of wire that are always there after a wire session and use them to make these hooks! Below: prepping the pot to be reunited with his buddy: my Ulmus parviflora. This old Lady is my third Bonsai and now 32 years my girlfriend. She has grown from a skinny jong teenager into a beautiful natural old looking “Grand dame”!

Below: Just look at that old colourful base and roots (Nebari).

Below: How is that for a firm grip?! It’s has grown into a big small tree! Just look at that flaky colourful old bark and roots. Beauty comes with age!

Below: This Taxus/Yew is with me since ’96 or ’97 and was a gift from my main man: Tony Tickle when he visited our house back then. There was a lot of joking around when I noticed that the tree had a reverse taper underneath the soil line! But you should never look a Giffen horse up the ass (we are Dutch and talk dirty a lot!) and fit it against a beautiful white Hardrock stone from Indonesia that had been lying for years on the gravel floor in my garden being pretty! And would you know: it was a perfect match!!! And they have been living together for almost 25 years now! On the bottom left side of the picture, you can see the stone!

Below: Back in its pot in fresh soil and leaning again on its Hardrock buddy!

More will follow soon!

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

The emergency repotting of my 5 trunk raft Winterberry “Ilex verticillata” in a special way!

A few days ago I happily started to give my 5 trunk raft Winterberry or Ilex verticillata 5 trunk raft its yearly springs haircut when I noticed to my horror that many small and some ticker branches had died during last year’s reasonable mild winter?! So I had no other choice than to get him out of its beautiful “Isabelia” pot to look if something was wrong with the roots?! And what I discovered was that a lot of the older soil was not all removed during its last repotting and had become compact and socky underneath the large base! Many other roots that did have room had become long, leggy and without much feeder roots circulated the whole pot!

Below: Jan. 2018. The tree in better times during the yearly “New Years” toast at “DESHIMA” Bonsai centre (NL). I was also very proud that he was selected to shine in the prestigious Noelanders Trophy (B) later that same year!

My handmade “air pruning” plastic pot.
Some months ago I discovered to my surprise that for no apparent reason a lot of the smaller and even some thicker branches had died back on my 5 trunk Winter Berry (Ilex verticillate) raft. So I took it out of its pot and discovered that the very compact rootball had a lot of very strong fleshy long ones growing around the outside and dos smothering the smaller important feeder roots and blocking the holes in the bottom of the pot! I had noticed a few of these long useless thick roots before during an earlier repotting and simply removed them! He was doing just fine back then and showed no ill effects after the removal of those roots?! So to get the tree back to that former so obvious good health I must stop these useless killer roots from coming back! So I decided to make my own special homemade “air pruning pot” for it to grow in for a season or two!
Because, when plants/trees are growing in a pot that allows the air to penetrate through the holes in its walls, like in the makeshift plastic mash pot that I made, then roots will never grow to that length and or thickness. Why do you ask? Because as they grow and reach the bottom and the sides of the pot, they are naturally pruned (dried up) by the air, which forces the plant/tree and Bonsai to sprout new, fresh roots that in turn penetrate deep into the depths of the soil. I had an old open structure plastic food/fruit crate that has just the right sizes! I covered the inside with the famous black gauze we use to cover the holes in our pots with! 1 mm wirers were used to hold it in place. Below: The finished makeshift open-air Bonsai container!

Below: The new air pot and behind it the poor Ilex and in the background two other trees waiting for their turn.

Below: In its new pot just after watering until the water that runs through was clear.

I placed her in a warm and sunny spot and hope that she will recover back to her former health! More repot stories will follow soon!

“DESHIMA” Bonsai Centre: Ir Lelystraat 44 2912 CH Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel. The Netherlands.

teunisjan@deshimabonsai.nl  https://www.deshimabonsai.nl/ https://bonsaishop.nl/