Preparing my little Prunus spinosa for the Deshima Bonsai studio New years Bonsai exhibition.

My Little Prunus spinosa will be shown together with my Hawthorn in one composition. It’s show ready and pretty unique because it is still covered with it summer bleu berries! Normally they would have been long eaten by birds, but my garden is covered with netting so they are still on there and the contrast between the bare black branches and bark and the grey American pot is simply amazing! The only thing that was still missing to compleat the whole picture was nice moss on the soil surface and I know just the place to collect it! Just a 5 minutes walk away from our house there are meters high and kilometres long dykes to keep out the sea and on the rocks and boulders that make up this dyke, there is growing two perfect kinds of moss!

Miles and miles of endless dykes that protect the people that live in the lowlands meters below sea level called The Netherlands or like we say Holland!
Here grow just the perfect mos for Bonsai! It is not too thick/high and stays good for years and years!
Everything ready to start the fun work of puzzling the pieces of moss together into a natural-looking carpet!
Make sure that the soil and moss are moist so that it will stick to the surface!
The moss with tinny stems with tinny seed pots on top is placed to the left and right behind the base of the Bonsai near the back of the pot. This creates a sense of dept, especially in pictures!

I am really happy with the outcome and how she looks! Now I still have to select a company plant and search among my several wooden handmade Tanzaku holders for the best one! And then go through my collection of Tanzaku (small painting on paper or silk) for a nice wintery painting to compleat the whole composition…but that is for tomorrow! I love this part of the Bonsai hobby! I will post some pictures right after the show so watch this space!

Happy New Year everybody!

New picture of my old Yamadori Blackthorn

Hi everybody,
it must have been some 20 years ago that my dear old English friend Terry Foster gave me as a gift the even then old Yamadori Blackthorn from this story. I cultivated and trained this small beauty for many years as a small 25 cm Moyogi but I was always disappointed that the natural Shari/deadwood was hidden on the back of the tree and that there was an obvious reverse taper at the base!

Here she is still styled as a Moyogi.

And with beautiful flowers.

And then some 8 years ago I got a brave idea to turn her around! That meant that I had to cut off a major branch and rearrange most of the existing branches!

This is the drawing that I made of my plan.
Just look at that amazing natural Shari/deadwood!
Red arrow points at the twisted Nebari/roots.

Red arrow points at the branch that needs to be removed leaving a small Jin. This will create together with the new planting angle movement to the left and an image of a wind-battered tree!

Cutting that beautiful but unwanted branch!
Sometimes you have to be brave!
Red arrow: this thick root will be cut right back to the Yellow arrow!
May 2012 in its new American? pot!
Oktober 2019. And this is how she looks today! Covered with berries and looking just how I had hoped for! I hope you like her as much as we do?!

I promise to post some more soon so watch this space! In the meanwhile, you can watch my two latest videos on YouTube!


Hans van Meer.

Hans van Meer.


Hi everybody,

here are some pictures I made a few weeks ago when I repotted my old Chinese Ulmus parvifolia that I have been training and styling for some 27 years now. Most of that time was spent on first building a solid and old looking basic branch structure and that meant letting grow a lot to thicken and then cut. That took at least a full decade to accomplish and then it was more working combined with creating the secondary branch and later even tertiary branch structure! Letting grow and cutting back and sometimes cutting back hard or compleat or partly defoliation everything was don during all those years to create a natural and old looking branch structure that was best seen during the dormancy winter time! And of course, during all those years I worked on the roots and base of the tree! It started with not many roots at all and what was there was to fat or tiny and grew from the back side of the tree! So after a few years growing as soon as there were new but tinny roots showing I started to wire them carefully into the desired position and from there kept on guiding and coaching them for all those years until I was left with great old looking roots and a firm root base! Years of cutting back every root that grew downwards made it possible to stay in the same shallow pot that it grew in for the better part of its Bonsai live in my garden and that is great because I really think that this pot suits this Bonsai in colour, shape and size! This species is really a bit looked down upon because to are still associated with indoor and Mall Bonsai (mallsai) and that is a shame in my opinion because the can be shaped relatively easy into very believable Bonsai! They have amazing flaky bark and grow stunning root base and branch structure! They are winter and summer hardy up to a point and tolerate hard pruning or defoliation without any problem. They are not easily receptive to insects or fungi and grow in almost anything! This little Bonsai was some 10 years ago even proudly shown in the prestigious “Noelanders Trophy”…so it can be done! So my advise: if you can find a nice promising one..give it a try! And I promise you that you will be surprised just how suited they are to a life as a Bonsai and just how pretty the can become over time!!!

Below: close up of the Ulmus back side Nebari.

Below: back side.

Below: close up of the front side Nebari.

Below: And the front side of my Ulmus. Height 56 cm.

Hope you enjoyed this little Ulmus story?!


Hans van Meer.




Hi, everybody,

two weeks ago we had some record-breakingly warm weather so it was a great opportunity to do some wiring and deadwood work on one of my favourite Prunus Mahaleb Yamadori’s from Slovenia. This pre-Bonsai is full of naturally burned and sun-bleached deadwood and I want to recreate that in the Jin and Shari where I am going to work on. Almost all of the branches of this tree are newly grown by me and need more fine branching and ageing, but I am not in a hurry! I was a bit laid with wiring it almost completely and had to take great care not to break off any of the new growth that was emerging fast because of the sudden warm weather of the last few days! We went from frost in the night to almost 30 degrees during the daytime in one week time…really crazy weather!!! After I finished the wiring and styling it, for now, I started to work on the front Jin and Shari with a power tool. The main focus was on reducing the Jin and Shari because there is a reverse taper and bulging section on it that needs to be reduced and shaped as natural as possible so that it will fit in with the rest of all the natural deadwood on the tree!

Below: The Prunus Mahaleb after I just finished the wiring. Height 67 cm. I kept it as natural looking as possible and preserved the second small trunk on the left bottom side of my design! I allowed it to grow freely to create a for now still young looking small secondary tree to accompany the larger tree on the right! I guess you could call it a Mother and child design?!

Below; the red arrow points at the deadwood part that is thicker than the section below it. The Jin is to thick and the section below it is somewhat bulging and forms a reverse taper!

Below: Taking my time and enjoying it while I am tacking away excess wood and shaping at the same time. I love this faster creating and result part of doing Bonsai!

Below: The result is that the Jin is less bulky now and looks like the remainings of a large branch/trunk that has been torn off by a storm that created a long wound that runs down through the bark below it. In that way, the reverse taper or bulge is less obvious! Now the fresh deadwood needs to be scorched with a small burner to mimic the crackly image of the originally burned deadwood on this tree.

Below: after carefully burning the fresh deadwood it looks just like the original deadwood of this tree. I will not brush it to preserve the cracks that look just like the ones on the natural deadwood on the right side of it! There is a forecast of rain for the next couple of days so I will bleach it with diluted Lime sulfur to mimic the original lightly bleached deadwood! I will post pictures of it later.

Hope you enjoyed this little story?!


Hans van Meer.



LINK TO: Decandling black pine bonsai – an in-depth guide by JONAS DUPUICH.

Hi everybody,

I just finished reading a great article on the BONSAI TONIGHT FORUM by Jonas Dupuich about “DECANDLING BLACK PINE BONSAI” and it is so well written, easy to understand and all you need to know that I would like to share it with you all! HERE is the link and thanks to Jonas Dupuich for writing this very helpful article!!!


Hans van Meer.





Hi everybody,

this is the story about the repotting of one Yamadori Sabina that will end up with two?! I bought this nice mid-sized Yamadori a year ago and let it untouched all this time to make sure that it was enough settled and strong enough to repot safely. I acquired it because of its stunning movement with a lot of deadwood and because there was (maybe) the possibility to separate it into two beautiful small trees! Buth early this year I started to see a decline in this little tree health and I decided that I would take it out of its plastic container because I wanted to see what caused this?! And now looking back, I am glad that I did because it was planted after collecting in some sort of very compact sticky muddy soil with not much-draining capability?! So with a lot of frightened anticipation, I took it out of its container to find what I was afraid of…poor soil! So even though it was not in a good condition I had to act before the tree would suffer even more, so I decided to free it from all this bad soil and plant it in a proper Bonsai soil mixture in which it could recuperate to become healthy and happy again!

Below: the two trunks Sabina Yamadori.

Below: close up of two separate trunks. One all twisted and turned with a long twisted Jin and the other one slanting more straight and gently twisting with a foliage crown at the end.

Below: viewed from another angle.

Below: released from its plastic container.

Below: Carefully and anxiously combing out the roots hoping for plenty healthy roots and for roots on both trunks so that they could be separated from each other without any danger or problems?!

Below: looks promising with plenty roots!

Below: look at all those roots on the left and the right trunk…but is it enough so that the two trunks can be separated?!

Below: red arrow points to roots growing from the curly trunk. Green arrow points at a thick root that grows to the right from the curly trunk. Blue arrow points to roots that grow from this thick root…so there are more than enough roots to keep the curly trunk alive and healthy when it could be separated from the second straight trunk! The white arrows point at the root mass that grows from that second straight trunk! The yellow line in the middle of the picture shows the spot where the two trunks could be separated from each other!

Below: seen from the other side. Red arrow point at the roots that grow from the end of that thick root that grows from the curly trunk. The yellow line shows the spot where the two trunks will be separated.

Below: the cut will be made from this side right across that yellow line.

Below: carefully cutting with the help of a power saw.

Below: mission accomplished! The two trunks are separated successfully! The straight trunk on the left has more than enough roots. And the right side curly trunks roots are spread out on the plastic green surface and look more than enough…so I am relieved and very happy! Now I have to keep the exposed roots moist of one of them while I plant the other into its new home away from his brother or sister?!

Below: this repotting and separation even reviled an more than welcome unexpected wide rootbase on the curly tree!!! Making it even better than it already was!!! And this provided a better anchor point to secure it to the pot with wires!

Below: with the help of a chopstick the soil mixture containing Akadama, Kiryu and Bims is pushed in between all the roots, making sure that now are pockets are left!

Below: then the tree is watered thoroughly until the water that runs out of the pot is clear of any dust!

Below: next the straight trunk is prepared to go in its new home. Here a long thick death root is cut off so that it will fit easier in its pot.

Below: the tree placed on the bottom layer of large particles soil for extra drainage. Just look at all those roots that fill almost the whole pot!

Below: two wooden blocks are placed under the right side to support the tree into its new desired position and then it is firmly anchored to the pot with thick wires.

Below: carefully bringing in the soil.

Below: then watering it like before. In the next couple of weeks, the trees will be kept in a warm spot with filtered sunlight and their foliage will be misted a couple of times a day to help them safely through this period

Below: separated but still together they stand here at their start as two future Bonsai.

I hope you enjoyed this little story of one Sabina Yamadori that became two pre-Bonsai with hopefully a bright future ahead of them?!


Hans van Meer.




Hi everybody,

last week I had finally two repotting sessions after the long abnormal frost period we had for a few weeks and that was about time for most trees that I had to do because the buds on some of them were already opening! First up was my easy to repot old Hawthorn Yamadori ( Crataegus monogyna) in his beautiful Dan Barton pot.

Below: Everything that I could possibly need for this repotting is in place and my old Hawthorn is patiently waiting for his haircut and fresh soil.

Below: Out of his pot and ready to remove as much of the old soil from in between the roots as possible and safe! My objective is to remove all downwards growing roots so that I can replant him even lower in its pot!

Below: A layer of my soil mix containing Akadama, Kiryu and Bims is spread out over the bottom of the pot. 

Below: Then a small pile of the same soil mix is made more or less in the middle of the pot on which the tree is pushed down with a turning motion. This way all the cavities in the bottom of the rootball are automatically filled with the soil! Stop with the downwards turning motion when the tree has reached the acquired hight in the pot and stands in the right direction and angle etc. 

Below: Then the wires are tightened loosely so that were necessary soil can still be brought in under need the roots with chopsticks. 

Below: When that is successfully done the wires are tightened some more to secure the tree firmly in the pot!

Below: Next is this rare Dutch Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) that I collected many many years ago in a wet dune forest close to the beach and not far from where we live. It was chopped and all branches and the top that you see in this picture are all later grown completely new. It stands now about 75cm high and it is time to release it from the plastic training pot where it grew happily for the last 6 years! The top will be shortened by some 10cm after the repotting!

Below: The wholes of the new pot are covered by mesh and I am just applying the first layer with large sized soil mix to the pot when I notice yet another scratch on my hands from one of those ####ing sharp Hawthorn needles that will turn in another inflammation…gggrrr!!!! 😉

Below: First large particles mix applied.

Below: Second finer soil layer applied.

Below: The Hawthorn freed off its old training pot.

Below: The roots freed from most of the old soil and the long roots are shortened right up to where finer roots grow from them! Red arrow points at a thick root that was preventing the tree from being potted lower in its new pot so it was removed!

Below: Downwards growing thick roots were also removed.

Below: Even larger ones were cut back to create a flatter root system (Nebari)!

Below: The tree can now already stands on its own with his new flat roots base and that is just what I was aiming for the last 10 years or so!

Below: With the help of a chopstick soil is brought carefully into the roots making sure no air pockets are left behind! Roots that pop up to high are pushed/held down with little upside down U shaped pieces of wire to hold them in place.

Below: The final top layer is carefully brought in and is then taped even more in with the palm of my hand so that the last cavities are filled with soil!

Below: Close up of the root base. The tree is just thoroughly watered until the water that runs out is transparent and free of dust! 

Below: The tree in his new home and I happy how it looks in it! The top will be shortened soon and then I will make some more pictures to share here on my blog.

I will post tomorrow the massive repotting of “XL” my big Yamadori Larch so watch this space! I hoped you liked this little post about a long-awaited repotting session?!


Hans van Meer.




Hi everybody,

just to let you all know that I just posted the video that I made at Teunis Jan Klein “DESHIMA” Bonsai Studio (NL) of the amazing demo from Bonsai Master Kunio Kobayashi-san !!! He transforms a big field grown Pinus thunbergii from China into a wonderful Bonsai! You just got to see it too believe it, just how fast this almost 70 years old Master works with most of the time 3 scissors in one hand?! And still finds time to explain everything and to constantly cracking jokes! The quality of the sound and film is sometimes a little bit of…but I still hope you will enjoy this amazing master and the amazing transformation?!


Hans van Meer.


Hi, everybody,

I would like to share with you all this LINK to Ryan Neal super video “HOW TO MAKE A BONSAI”!!!  It is by far the best tutorial Bonsai video that I have come across on the internet and a must-see for all beginners and intermediate Bonsai enthusiast alike! Ryan takes us along to a nursery to find with us a potted Chrismas tree that he can use to create an amazing Bonsai! He then shows us what to look for in nursery material, how to find the front, the inclination of the trunk, what branches to choose, how and why to prune, how to wire and how to bring all branches into place etc. etc. !!! He is by far the best online Bonsai teacher I know of and he truly inspired me to go that extra mile with my own student group! Bravo and thank you, Ryan, and everybody else from “MIRAI” for all your good work for the worldwide Bonsai community! And a happy New Year from me to you all!


Hans van Meer.





Hi, everybody,

last week I did some delate indoor wiring and Winter pruning. Late because of having to look for and buy new furniture for the living room and when that was finally don having to paint it twice! And indoor because it has been snowing like crazy here for the last couple of days! I just got in covered with snow because I had to remove the piled up snow from the birds netting that covers my small garden! It started sagging under the all the weight and I had to remove it by pushing the net upwards with broom…so needles to say that most of the snow ended up in my naked neck BBRRRR!!! But first, some pictures that I made of some deadwood and Jin work that I did on my big Prunus mahaleb Yamadori the sunny day before the snow started to fall. 

Below: The too long Jin that needs to be shortened and shaped.

Below: The long old natural Jin is shortened.

Below: The remaining stump.

Below: Breaking off pieces of wood with concave cutters to get a natural looking result.

Below: I love to do this creative work without much thinking or planning… just going with the flow!

Below: The end result for now.

Below: This is the stump that was left after the air layering was removed two years ago. It has been worked a little before with hand tools to reduce it, but it is still too bulky and massive for my liking so time to remove some more! The branch you can see on the left grows from the back of this deadwood and will be shortened in the future when it is thick enough, leaving a cascading branch appearing from behind that deadwood.! The 4 small branches that you can see growing upwards from it are crafted on to it last year, they will create in the future a small grown just above this deadwood 

Below: Still not their yet, but looking much better all ready!

Below: Then the snow started to fall and I moved indoors were I first finished the wiring of this old Pinus thunbergii (Japanese black pine) that has been in my collection almost right from the start of my life in Bonsai…I guess since 1991 0r 1992?! Back then it was still a thin Shohin, but I still decided to shorten it and replace the too thick top with a more suitable and thinner side branch! Now all those years later it has become a 44 cm/17.6 Inch high mid-size Bonsai! The needles are a bit too long, but that is to thicken the higher place branches some more! After all those years is has beautiful flaky bark and a mature overall appearance. It is one of many of my Bonsai that I will let go and is for sale at next Noelanders trophy!


Below: This Fat Boy Acer buergerianum has been in my collection and care since 1997! Then it was just a trunk with a few too thick roots on just one side and a few very thin misplaced branches and a lot of ugly and poorly health scares all along the trunk! Since then it has grown almost twice in size with a completely new top and branches! The Nebari is much much better now and looks amazingly strong and in balance with the whole tree! And now it is time to bring back the balance in all the branches so that I can steer and regulate the growth of the whole tree! 

Below: This branch that grows from behind the planed top section was allowed to grow straight and thick to thicken the whole top section! That is more than enough by now so it needs to be cut back to the suitable small side branch that you can see on the right bottom side of it! 

Below: My finger point at another example of a branch that was allowed to lengthened to thicken the whole branch! Now it will be shortened right to its base so that the branch under my finger will become the new branch tip, restabilising proper branch tapering!  

Below: The cut-off branch thickening machine!

Below: A close up of the top section showing just how much is shortened and removed.

Below: The end result for now. Other branches were cut or shortened to improve tapper or branch structure. After all that the overall image and balance of the whole Bonsai are restored. The two bottom branches are wired back into their places. These last two were the last couple of years allowed to grow in thickness and now they need to grow side branches and a proper branch structure!

Below: This roots over rock Acer buergerianum from Japan has been in my collection for some 20 years now. When I bought it all those years ago it had a few short and thin branches without any structure and a really short top section! Now after all these years the basic branch structure is getting better and is it about time to do some more branch refinement and selection to improve the overall image and to promote better energy distribution throughout every section of the tree! This way sunlight will reach all parts of the tree and that will tricker more back budding and that will lead to better ramification, foliage and overall health of the tree! 

Below: An example of how this works. The arrow points at a too thick and strong branch that is also placed in the armpit of two better-suited branches…so it needs to be removed completely!

Below: The too thick former top removed! The wound will, of course, be sealed with cut paste.

Below: After it is removed I am left with on the left a short slightly thicker side branch and on the right with a perfectly tapering top… and some nice movement as well!

Below: The red arrow points at a branch that is too fat, straight and long! The branch is at the hight of that arrow just as thick as just above that pink piece of my finger at the bottom of this picturer…so now taper!!! So I will cut it off just above that first strong right side branch below the arrow.

Below: Cut off, creating instant taper to that branch!

Below: Another branch that is removed and sealed with cut paste, creating instant taper to that branch!

Below: Another one that needs to go in favour of the one that is in between my fingers. That last one will then be shortened to just above a strong bud.

Below: This branch is well shaped and with good taper…but it growing straight upwards and looks like a second apex…so you guess what? It has to go too!

Below: The cut-off branch.

Below: Arrow points at another to long branch with not enough taper. It will be cut back to the nice side branch, just left below the arrow.

Below: That branch cut off.

Below: This branch grows just below were two others originated from, in time that will turn into a nasty bulging section on the trunk! I need those branches above this branch in my design…so it needs to go to prevent something that is hard to fix when it is too late! 

Below: Close up of the almost finished top section. A lot has improved and the future is promising again for this tree. These actions will over the next couple of years bring it closer to the desired outcome, a Bonsai with good mature and beautiful ramification. And that is a great part of a successful deciduous Bonsai…a part that is so often forgotten in modern Bonsai!

Below: Not the best of pictures but I hope it shows enough of how the ramification looks after all the work?! From here it will be more working towards improving the finer ramification and structure of all the branches. I am happy to see that this long partnership is getting closer to the image of a mature Bonsai…I can’t wait to see how it looks in a few more seasons time!

I hope you enjoyed this little post?!


Hans van Meer.