* Urbandori= is a made-up name for a tree collected in an urban environment. And yes! This Juniperus media pfitzeriana Aurea Bonsai was named Cemetree and here is why?
Somewhere around the last years of the last century, I found this tree in the cemetery where my dear old Mother was buried. I visited every week and during one of these visits, I noticed the poor Juniper of this story. This poor little tree was dug up from the ground with an excavator when some of the older graves were emptied. It lay there above ground, almost completely bare-rooted and frozen solidly for weeks on end. So I went to the caretaker and asked him what was going to happen to this old tree? He told me that it would be destroyed with all the other scrubs that were pulled from the ground, as soon as the ice was gone from the ground so that they could use their trucks again. So I asked him if I could save the trees live to make a Bonsai out of it? Luckily he gave me permission! Then I happily even managed to lift it onto my shoulders as well! But getting it into my car was something else! Man, that place was like an ice rink and it looked more like skating than walking! But I made it to my car safely! Back home I immediately planted the tree in a training pot.And that is why she was called: The Cemetree! 😁
At home I planted the poor tree in the pot it still is in the picture below and from then on I gave it a lot of love and care. Some 8 years later the tree’s prickly foliage had completely turned into the normal soft non-stressed foliage! She was doing so well that in February 2008 I selected her as my demo tree at Marc Noelanders prestigious B.A.B Bonsai Club in Belgium.
Below:And this is how he looked after 2,5 hours of hard work!
Below: Cemetree (urbandori): Juniperus media pfitzeriana Aurea. Height 80/90cm. 40/50 years old. And this is how she looked a few years later in a new pot and just wired! I had no recollection of the existence of this picture or when I made it exactly ?! And found it by chance on the internet?! The bark was here just cleaned with brushes and water and was then oiled to give it protection and a nice shine (make sure not to go too deep when you do this!). The deadwood is treated with Lime Sulfur to protect and bleach it. It was a few years away from being show wordy. Shortly after I sold it to a dear Bonsai friend! I am actually very happy that after all these years I am finally able to show it here to you all! To prove that humble discarded material can become a Bonsai!
Urbandori: Height around 75/90 cm. 27/35 Inch. Pot: Japan.
And then now another (I hope) helpful tip! A lot of us use aquarium tubing (see the picture!) to prevent the wire from digging into the bark of the tree when we are bending thick branches toward each other with the help of a tension wire between those two branches!
See the example below: Imagine that the right side tubing is bent around a tree trunk or branch! And now we want to bend that left side tubing just like the right side around a trunk or branch, but then we have a problem because we can’t stick the wires through the tube to tighten them together (red arrow)?!
Below: Well here is the solution to that problem! With the help of a concave cutter (see the picture!) cut out a small bite off one side of the tub!
Below: So that you are left with a piece of tube that looks like this (see the picture!)!
Below: Now you do can run both ends of the wire through both ends of the tube en run them through the hole you just cut out! Slide the tube down the wire as tightly against the bark as possible and with a tong twist both ends of the wire as tight as necessary to bend and hold the two branches or two trunks in position!
here are some pictures and the text from the workshop that I gave on the 28 of April at my first Bonsai club “KOYA”. Text by: G. Schwagermann.
It took some surging to find the temporary location of the “Lijm en Cultuur” (glue and culture) building in Delft. But how nice it was that this old building is not yet demolished so that we all could enjoy Hans van Meer’s workshop in this “ART DECO” ambience. The workshop was fully booked with 10 Koya members, jong and old, beginners and advanced but above all, a group focused to learn. Dan Snipes did a short introduction that was followed by Hans presenting himself, he started once upon a time at Koya and now he is an internationally asked Bonsai teacher. Who is, as he said himself: now “back on base”. All trees that were brought in were discussed at length, with in between a lively discussion about the phenomena that brought us all together: Bonsai! After that, it was time to start working on the trees. Hans did his rounds and helped with advice and hands-on action, also there started a spontaneous interaction between different members, typical Koya! It was an instructive and entertaining afternoon that brought us a bit closer to the charm of Bonsai. Koya thanks you, Hans for participating in this workshop.
Workshop Hans van Meer Delft, 28 april 2018
Het was even zoeken naar de locatie van Lijm en Cultuur aan de Rotterdamseweg 272 in Delft. Maar wat fijn dat ze dit oude gebouw (nog) niet gesloopt hebben zodat wij nu in een sfeer van “Art-deco” de workshop van Hans van Meer mochten ervaren. De workshop was volgeboekt met 10 Koyanen, jong en oud, beginners en gevorderden maar bovenal een enthousiaste groep gefocust om te leren. Dan Snipes gaf een korte inleiding waarna Hans zich presenteerde, ooit begonnen bij Koya en nu een internationaal gevraagde bonsaimeester. Nu, zoals hij zelf zei “terug op honk”! Alle bomen werden met aandacht van de hele groep uitvoerig besproken met daar tussendoor een levendige discussie over het fenomeen wat ons samen brengt: Bonsai. Daarna was de tijd gekomen om aan de bomen te gaan werken. Hans deed de ronde en gaf raad en daad, ook ontstond er een spontane samenwerking van de leden, Koya eigen? Het was een leerzame en onderhoudende dag en zijn we weer een stukje dichterbij de bekoring van Bonsai. Hans bedankt, Koya bedankt voor het ter beschikking stellen van deelname hieraan.
Below: every single Bonsai is discussed with the owner and the rest of the group. Their plans, ideas, options, health, techniques, timing etc.
Below: many different varieties and styles are on offer and that is always a nice challenge, very interesting and informative for the students and me!
Below: some trees offer a real challenge.
Below: after the talk and discussions of all trees it is time to work.
Below: explaining and helping with an approach root craft to improve the Nebari (root base).
It was a fun day working together with the members of the Bonsai club where I once started my now 28 years old Bonsai adventure and I hope that we will do more of these in the future! Thanks, Koya for this article and the pictures it is highly appreciated!
Next up is my trip to Slovenia for a demo and a workshop and a lot of hiking and site seeing with my good friend Roland! So watch this space!
I had the good fortune to give some workshops these last months and there are more planned for the coming months here in Holland and abroad! And although I love to give a demo like the one planned in Slovenia in a few weeks’ time, workshops are still a bit more favourable to me! The interaction with the students and the shared pleasure of creating and working on those little trees is so fulfilling to me! Here are some pictures that Marijke made a week ago during my workshop in Poortugaal (NL).
It is also good to see that the material that is brought in these days to work on is much better and that means that my students and their trees are evolving, and that is a good thing to see and makes me proud and happy!
just one day back from my visit to my Friday workshop in beautiful Slovenia! My dear friend and kind host TOMAŽ KOVŠCA from the “TORA” International Bonsai School in Slovenia took me on an amazing two days sightseeing tour around Slovenia that left me even more in love with this breathtaking country and its super friendly people! Like I told him many times during that trip: I could happily live here and grow old with a smile on my face! Images and the story from that part of my visit to this wonderful place will follow soon! On Friday afternoon and evening there was a workshop planned in his great Bonsai studio that I would lead with the help of Tomaz himself and his talented student Gasper Gabrijel. Relaxing after our sightseeing trip before it all would start we were waiting in the sun enjoying a Turkish coffee and home-brewed vodka with Juniper berries in it that you could chew…it was absolutely heavenly and boy did it hit the spot! And the view of Tomaz’s beautiful Bonsai collection that surrounded us was not half bad either! Here are some images of his amazing collection that were shot (with a not-so-good old camera) by me before the students arrived.
Below: A view of just a section of Tomaz his beautiful collection.
Below: A wonderful self-collected and styled Spruce.
Below: One of his many amazing Sylvestris.
Below: A very stylish Juniper.
Below: A local Prunus mahaleb Yamadori.
Below: And another stunning Sylvestris Yamadori.
Below: And this is the one that I fell in love with a very promising Mugo Yamadori!!!
Below: In his studio, this beautiful self-built Tokonoma with a uniquely styled garden material Juniper Bonsai was welcoming me and the students.
Below: Before the actual work on the brought-in trees started I first discussed them all with the owners in front of all the students. So that everybody could learn from each and every tree! This is a very valuable part of the workshop for the student and very exciting for me to do! This Juniperus sabina Yamadori was after I discussed the possibilities styled by two Croatian students with the help of Tomaz himself and the end result is pretty impressive and promising indeed!
Below: Tomaz and his student Gasper Gabrijel working on the final touches.
Below: The beautiful end result of this first styling.
Below: A Yamadori Hawthorn before the work started.
Below: Almost finish after some drinks and lovely finger food!
Below: The end result is a Literati deciduous Bonsai.
Below: A local Yamadori Spruce with a unique but difficult root base.
Below: And the end result, a young but already elegant and natural-looking pre-Bonsai.
Below: Some were so into the work that they resisted the late-night cold before coming in!
Below: Later that evening inside that same tree, the owner is concentrated looking on while I make some adjustments and bring some of the branches in position.
Below: My old friend Roland Petek brought in two mindblowing Mugo Yamadori Pines with him! This one has amazing deadwood all along this side, but still, we selected to style it with the other side as its front. This site would always look like a Tanuki and that is not what you want for your Bonsai…especially a Mother like this one!!!
Below: Roland concentrated on applying a layer of raffia and then a layer of black plastic tape to protect the thick and old branches from cracking. And this is much-needed because we have to bend and reposition them severely!
Below: This is the very promising end result after its first styling. From this side, there is still more than enough deadwood to be seen, but now it is accompanied all along the trunk by the beautifully contrasting old flaky bark! The left-side hanging branch pushes the sloping tree back upwards and gives the whole composition an exciting balancing act. The foliage is basically a triangle that cuts through the upwards going lines of the trunk, leading the eyes to the left and back again on their way to the top of the tree and then down again! So this Bonsai has it all: balance, rhythm, movement, visual old age, a wide Nebari, Jin, Shari, life veins, and a very proud owner! Weldone Roland and thanks for trusting me!
Below: From another student came yet another beautiful Yamadori pine! And again with some problems to solve and big decisions to make! But I had no problems convincing the owner and the rest of the students how to proceed to solve them and to bring the best out of this, once again, beautiful and exciting Yamadori. That long downward Jin needed to go because it distracted the beauty of the abrupt movement of the trunk line in the top section! This was mostly caused because it protrudes from the inside of the curve in the trunk its top section and like with branches that grow from the inside of a curve in a trunk they almost always look misplaced and disturbing! Also two Jins on the lower section of the trunk needed to be reduced because they were distracting and other Jins and the Shari needed to be styled! Then the top main branch was protected by a layer of raffia and wired before everything could be put into place and that sounds easier than it actually was because the top section needed a lot of heavy bending!
Below: And here is the (for now) finished pre-Bonsai. I am discussing here at the end of the workshop what the happy student with some help from me has reached…and that is simply amazing! Because I really do think that this is a very exciting and promising result! And I do believe that in just 3 or 4 years time this will be an amazing Bonsai!
The above-shown trees are just a small selection of the 10 or 11 that were worked on and styled that day and more images can be seen in a very nice video that Tomaz made of it all and has posted on YouTube (link below)!
I would like to thank Tomaz and his lovely wife for taking so good care of me and for trusting me to do this workshop in his Bonsai School! And I would like to especially thank all his students for trusting me with their precious trees!
I can hardly wait to go back in May to Slovenia to do my workshop and demo at the
I will be posting soon pictures that I made during my trip with Tomaz through stunning Slovenia…so I hope to see you back here soon!
I am proud to announce that I will be giving a workshop on Friday the 6th of April in my dear Slovenian friend TOMAŽ KOVŠCA his International Bonsai School “TORA”.
Besides being really honoured I am also very happy to be reacquainted and working again with a lot of my Slovenian Bonsai friends! I have already heard that it is fully booked…but maybe there is still a place for my workshop a month later on 19 and 20 May 2018 at the VIII yearly international Bonsai exhibition of the Slovenian Bonsai Club?! Hope to see you there?!
I have the honour to announce that on 19 and 20 May 2018 I will be giving a demonstration and a workshop at the VIII yearly international Bonsai exhibition of the Slovenian Bonsai Club.
This is the club of some of my best Bonsai friends so I could not be happier to finally see, meet and work with them again! And to be in lovely Slovenia again where I had such great adventures in the past is just a wish come true!
I just want to let you all know that I posted the video that I made at Teunis Jan Klein’s “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 crack 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?!
last Tuesday evening on the 30th of January I drove all excited to Nieuwekerk aan den IJssel (NL) for the evening demonstration and meet and greet with the great Japanese Bonsai Master Kunio Kobayashi. My dear friend Teunis Jan Klein (the owner and the proprietor of the Deshima Bonsai Studio managed to get this superstar of Japanese Bonsai to do an evening meet and greet and a spectacular evening demo on Tuesday. And on Wednesday and Thursday, a daytime workshop for 8 people under the guidance of the Master followed by an evening traditional Japanese Kaiseki dinner with the master and his charming wife in the top Japanese restaurant Yama Cuisine in beautiful Rotterdam (NL). Teunis Jan has managed to organize something truly special and unique in the Bonsai world! I was regretfully only able to attend the evening demo…but boy oh boy what a top evening it turned out to be! And what an amazing specimen demo tree Teunis reserved for master Kobayashi his demo! It was a large field-grown Pinus thunbergii that he bought over a decade ago when he was in China for his work as a purchaser for a large Bonsai importer. Over those years he skillfully managed to get tons of new foliage all over the branches so there was plenty to work with for this demo! The tree has amazing bark and beautiful movement and was well fit for even a master like Mister Kobayashi! After Teunis gave the audience some explanation of how he went about organizing this 3 days event he introduced Satoko Takagi the translator who would translate every word mister Kobayashi would share with us into Dutch. And then he introduced the two skilful assistants that would help the master that evening, the first one Hugo Zamoraluna from Mexico came along with Mister Kobayashi from Japan and the second one was Ralph Oduber a student of Teunis Jan that has studied at Mister Kobayashi his school Shunka En in the past. While Teunis Jan was doing this Mister Kobayashi was already very busy at work lifting the heavy tree in all kinds of different angles like it weighed nothing and if he is not almost 70 years old and not just of the plane from a long flight from Japan…amazing!!! It was funny to see that Teunis had to call him to order to stop for a minute so that he could introduce him properly to us all! He received hearty applause from the Bonsai enthusiasts and then he was off again to what he does best while he was answering all kinds of questions and explaining what he was doing, he and his helpers tilted the tree in the desired position and secured it with wire to the turntable and then started to cut off all unnecessary foliage and branches.
Below: Because I was at the same time shooting a video I started to make photos when they were already a few minutes selecting the necessary branches and cutting off the unnecessary foliage and branches. And that was all done at an enormously fast tempo! If you just look at all the foliage on the floor at this point then you can clearly see just how far they already were when I shoot this first picture!
Below: more and more was cut off leaving only the necessary foliage.
Below: 70 years old?! I wish that I could sit on my knees like that and I am only 57 ?! 😁
Below: the assistant started to pluck needles and wiring while the master was cutting off even more foliage!
Below: wiring the branches and foliage. On the right, you can see a picture of how the tree looked just after Teunis Jan had bought it in China all those years ago.
Below: look how he amazingly is working with tree cutters in his right hand?! And still, managed to wire small branches??? But he has had a lot of practice doing Bonsai for 15 hours a day over the last 45 years! 🙂
Below: with every wire that is applied and branches that are positioned more and more beauty is revealed…like magic!!!
Below: the growth could not control their selves any longer when the whole top section was bent forward with the help of a special Bonsai tool! It was bent until some cracks appeared and then secured in place with some heavy copper wire.
Below: below is the amazing end result after some 3 hours of work. What an amazingly quick transformation into a very promising Bonsai! What a talented and skilful visionary this very sympathetic, humorous and modest master! It was so inspiring to watch his every move from so close by! Thanks for a very memorable evening mister Kobayashi and Teunis Jan Klein and all the volunteers that helped that night in DESHIMA BONSAI STUDIO for making this all possible for us all!
The 20-minute video of this whole stunning transformation is in the making and will be posted on my own youtube KARAMOTTO Bonsai channel in a few days’ time so watch this space!!!
I hope you enjoyed this for me special post about a unique Bonsai experience?!
I would like to share with you all this LINK to Ryan Neal’s 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 enthusiasts alike! Ryan takes us along to a nursery to find with us a potted Christmas 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!