Hi, everybody,

the second workshop I gave was in  San Antonio Texas in the amazing atelier of brilliant artist Donna Dobberfuhl. I remember that I was overwhelmed by her artwork and the immense heat that day! Even with the largest ventilator that I had ever seen at full speed, it was almost unbearable for me! The students smiled a little and sad: and it is not even summer?! I must have drunk 5 litres of water during that day!

Above: This magnificent statue stood in the entrance of Donna’s studio to greet us.

Above: The original moult of the famous John Naka bust she made. One of the two copies that were ever made was standing right next to the bed I was sleeping in at my hosts Irene (MOM) house. It was nice that the old master was watching out over me!

Above: And a large poster of a stunning Murial, also from here talented hands.

Above: One of the several live size bronze cattle, Donna made for the “Red Bird” range.

Above: Discussing the possibility of this large yamadori Boxwood that Trent brought along.

Above picture: Working on the deadwood of Donna’s Kidneywood. Look at the colour of my face!

Above left picture: Donna and Terry listening to me babbling!  The great thing about these workshops is, that all people can join in, to hear an explanation!

Above picture: Irene’s “Hubby” Terry brought a Juniperus Chinensis along to work on.

           Above: Explaining how to safely bend a thick Yew branch. First an in water soaked raffia. Than two lengthwise placed wires. 

                                    Above; Then a second layer of wet raffia. 

                                              Above: Then apply normal wire.

                                 Above: Then carefully bent the branch.

                                    Above: Until it is in its desired position.   

             Above: Still not convinced about the big branch that needs to go?!

Above: We had a great lunch in the famous “PIG STAND” restaurant. This place serves good food since 1921. Their onion rings were as big as tiaras! MMMMM!!!! 🙂

                                                 Above: Trend’s “Boxwood”.

                                         Above: Discussing every possibility.

                   Above: Everybody concentrated at work in their own zone!

                             Above: Laughing about the size of his Bud! :0

We all had a lovely Bonsai day at Donna’s studio and I was shattered when we finally arrived back at Irene’s place!

Above picture: I took this picture, right after I collapsed, tired and warm, on the steps leading into  Irene’s house. The only place around with some shadow! I was so glad to take a load off and get a breather and some cold water into me!  But  immediately after the first  small refreshing drink I took I looked down,  alarmed as I was,  by  that  small warning bell in my head, that got stuck forever  in the back of  our minds,  since ones long ago some  guy with thick eyebrows, saw his confused grandfather trying to path an innocent looking “Sabretooth on the head”!  Suddenly, there in front of me,  out of nowhere, sat  “BRUN” (short for “BRUNO”),  the oversized alpha male of the “Irene’s cats clan”  who is well known to tackle deer and wrestling moose! Which, he then often leaves on Irene’s and Terry’s front porch as a token of his affection for them!  “BRUN”  is contemplating here, without blinking, if he would eat me, or just play with me a bit…before eating me anyway!  

But to be honest, after I told “BRUN”  in a soft voice while avoiding any sudden movements, that  I was good people, and too tired to move anyway! He gave me some gentle pussycat head buds on my knees, that rattled the teeth in my mouth!  So I  thought it would be safe to give him a nice scratch behind his battered ears. Not too long though! I found out that disturbing pictures of Sigfried and Roy, do seem to pop up into once mind, during these pressure moments! Than “BRUN” curled up beside me on the footboard and started to wash. I thanked him for the use of his afternoon shadow spot and took another drink. “BRUN” was right,  this was a cool spot to hang out! And there was more than enough room for the both of use! Thank God!!!


Hans van Meer.



Donna L. Dobberfuhl, MFA, NSS

Sculptural Designs Atelier

1514 Broadway

San Antonio TX 78215

(210) 224-0220

(210) 326-0862



Hi, everybody,

Very early in the morning, my friendly giant host Jason loading up the Pick up with some nice local yamadori material! Then it is off for the 1-hour drive to the state of Washington for my workshop at the workshop in the Tsugawas nursery in Woodland.

           Below: One of the many beautiful views at the Tsugawas Nursery!

Here I am posing along with the “Hemlock” that Tony discovered between the abundance of material here at the “Tsugawas” nursery. Tony and I searched hard and then found a lovely little tree hiding some were in all those branches.



                 Below: Tony and I posing happily with the result of his work! 

                     Below: Ed Imholte working hard on his Ponderosa Pine.

                                                    Below: Beautiful Baby KOI.

                                      Joyce’s Ponderosa Pine before and after.                                                            


       Below: My host for the weekend Jason did good on his Pine, so I rewarded                                                        him in the proper way! 🙂

                I had an unforgettable great time at the TSUGAWAS nursery!

Tsugawas Nursery


Hans van Meer.













Hi, everybody,

on my second day in blistering Texas my host, Irene and Tom took me to visit the “LOST MAPLES” and “GARNER STATE PARK”.

Above picture: One of the amazing views on the way to the “lost Maples” park. This is a  section of some one’s garden, SIGH!!


The picture above: Amazing deadwood on one of the many Junipers I saw! Who said they do not exist in Texas?

                    Above picture: I am keeping my eye on you, you might trip!

                                 Above: NEBARI, NEBARI AND NEBARI!

                 Above picture: Little fish, cleaning of the top layer of my skin!

 Above picture: Oh, did I tell you it was warm that day? The only shade around!

                                       Above picture: How great is this tree?!

                             Above picture: A cool spot in a very warm place!



Above picture: This is all that is left of the last foreigner that past a long this way!

The story that goes along with these pics will be posted soon, together with more of my own shots and pictures shot by Irene B.  (Mom).

I hope you like it so far,

Hans van Meer.




Hi, everybody,

here are some pictures that I made when Jason my host took me to visit the amazing Japanese garden in beautiful Portland. You cant get that from the pictures, but this garden is created against a steep mountainside with the entrance at the top! The adventure immediately starts when you are slowly driven up there with a small open train and your mouth drops open as soon as you pass the entrance gate…it was one of the most stunning man-made creations I have ever seen in my life! I really hope that these pictures I made convey that feeling I had that day to you?!  

                        Above: The entrance to the Portland Japanese garden.






Above: Picture by Jason Gambi.









I hope you enjoyed these pictures of my wonderful day in the breathtaking Japanese garden in Portland Oregon. 


Hans van Meer.





Hi, everybody,

Wow, have I got a lot to tell you all! Thursday, 01-05-’08: I left home 5 o’clock in the morning for the 2 hours drive to the airport (Schiphol) in Amsterdam. And after all the security checks I entered my plain that left 10.15, right on time for the 10 hours flight to Portland Oregon. I never flew any longer than 3 hours, so I was a bit nervous for this long flight, but I have to say that the friendly people on board of this Northwest aeroplane took good care of me. There was reasonable food and enough to drink and I saw 3 movies to pass the time. We had a tailwind and arrived 20 minutes earlier than expected at Portland airport, were we than had to wait for 20 minutes in the aeroplane, because a German plain arrived just in front of us. GGGRR!!! Because of this the lines to get to true customs were about a mile long and it took almost an hour to finally get to the friendly officer, that must have heart off me because he wanted to make a picture of me and have my autograph.😁 All my luggage was already waiting for me, so I could walk right out, where my host Jason was waiting for me. I was so pleased to finally meet him, not in the last place, because he took me right up to the bar for 2 fast pints off there locale beer, that after this long trip really hit the spot! Then we drove in his big ram truck to his house in Saint Helens.  I am a big  American car lover, and along the way,  I felt like I was in car haven. All those old and new trucks I saw, were simply amazing. After a hours drive, we arrived at Jason’s lovely home.

More to come, when I figured out how to upload pictures! First I am going to have some breakfast!

Well, it turned out to be a very long breakfast, indeed! I was just not able to update my blog while I was there, too tired most of the time or too late in the night or being in a plain for 7 hours again or….well you know? To busy!

So I will try to tell you some story’s to go along with all the pictures I shoot during the many highlights I had, during this, my first trip to the U.S.

Jason took me to Randy’s Knight place (owner of Oregon bonsai), his house had an almost magical appearance to me, this light blue painted house, with its beautiful in moss covered gnarly old fruit trees in full bloom, growing in front of it! OH…..And did I mentioned that there were some high-quality yamadori trees….well everywhere? No?! And there were some high-quality yamadori trees….well everywhere! Some of the material there was of unbelievable quality! (see picture above!) Randy was in Canada during my visit to his place, so he was not there to meet me, but I met his beautiful wife and his very funny dog! Randy had emailed me a few days before I left to the U.S and asked me to work on one of his yamadori while I stayed at Jason’s place. He had poet aside about 6 trees for me to choose from. I selected the Pinus ponderosa that we are working on in the next couple of pictures.  This small tree had the most interesting movement for me to work with and about the size, that I like to create, although the only sparsely placed long needles foliage on the end of long thin branches  (natural on this species) would not make it any easier for me!  This small tree also has a beautiful, but awkwardly placed root on the right side.  This bulky root had an old Shari on it and it gives the tree some extra movement, so I wanted to save that character feature of this old tree, but it was a challenge to incorporate it into my design and into a future pot!

           Above: Me and a future Shohin “Ponderosa” in front of Randy’s place.

                Below: Back in Jason’s garden. The tree from different sides.

            Below: And this the future front. The foliage is sparse but it is what it is!

    Below: The tree is tilted into its future desired angle so work could begin.

                                     Below: Jason did his fair share of work!

                                                 Below: The finished pre-Bonsai.

   Below: Happy with the first tree I styled in the USA!  This was just after I was scared shitless from a close encounter with my first hummingbird ever!   

Randy kindly had left some money for my work so I used it to pay for a nice dinner for Jason and his lovely wife who had welcomed me so friendly into their lovely home and took so great care of me! That night Jason took me to see a mud race close to his house where we did not hat to pay an entrance fee when they found out that I was from Holland! 🙂 And a day later after the workshop, I was invited by his neighbours for my very first pinata birthday party for their little boy! My first impressions of America were so wonderful!!!

                     Below: The sweat little Ponderosa Pine in his new home.

                    Below: The second day I did another Pine tree for Randy.

                                Above: No, I was not! I was concentrating!😴😁                                                                                                                  


                            THE STORY OF THE “TIN FOIL” TREE.

When Jason, on the first day I stayed at his place, showed me this mountain Hemlock he collected himself, he told me a story about what happened one day when he showed it to a professional Bonsai college ( I don’t know who?) that visit his garden not too long ago. He had looked at this old tree and told Jason: that his Japanese master rated the quality and potential of Bonsai material by awarding it with metal, the best-being Gold of course! He then told Jason that his “Mountain Hemlock” would be rated “TIN FOIL”! In other words: useless and a waste of time! Hearing this story blow me away and reminded me of some of the arrogance I come across on the European Bonsai scene and forums, unbelievable! But this being my first day in the states and in Jason’s place, I  had to bite my tong, for now! The next day, when we finished Randy’s Pine and had some beers to break the ice, I told Jason (to his surprise) let’s do your “TIN FOIL” tree now! 

                 The “THIN FOIL” Mountain Hemlock before we started work.


First, the tree was cleaned up.  all useless and unwanted foliage and branches were removed to get a clearer view of the tree and its branches. And then with the help of a power tool, Jason removed the bulge just below the top that caused a reverse taper. He connected that new piece of deadwood with the beautiful old deadwood on the top, so now, no one would even knottiest there was a “TIN FOIL” mistake there before! In this picture (below) you can see the freshly carved section.

Some branches, especially the one that would become the future top, needed to be bend severely! So they were protected within water soaked raffia and heavy copper wire.


Wiring the main branches and still removing unwanted branches while we moved along the whole tree.

                                     Here the new top is almost into place.


With the help of a heavy branch bender, the last branch is brought into its place and then secured with a copper wire.  To make up for the lack of trunk movement,  the tree is tilted to the left to give it more movement and make it more dynamic and interesting.

The final image of the “THIN FOIL” Mountain Hemlock. I wonder if we should change its name?!


         Below: Close up of the amazing deadwood on Jason’s big Juniper!

More to come!!!


Hans van Meer.




Boy am I exited, in less than 24 hours I will take off for my first Bonsai trip in the U.S.A.! First I will fly to Portland Oregon to finally meet up with my friend Jason!  He is the initiative taker and organizer of this tour and without whom none of this all would be happening! On May 3th, I will be doing a workshop there and on the other days I will be working with the help of Jason on some of the best material I have ever seen at Randy Knight’s place “OREGON BONSAI”! Jason will also take me up in the mountains (if the weather allows it) to enjoy the wonderful nature of this area.  I will be a guest at  Jason’s family  place until the May 6th. Then I will make the long flight to San Antonio Texas, to meet up with my Internet MOM, Irene B. I will be a guest at her place until May 9th. I will do a workshop there on  May 7th and the next day Irene and her Hubby will take me up to  “LOST MAPLES” and “GARNER STATE PARK” to enjoy  some of the  most beautiful places in Texas!  On the 9th of May,  I will fly up to Baltimore Maryland,  to meet  Up with my friend Tom from “SHADY SIDE BONSAI”. I will do 2 workshops there and I might do an evening demo during the BBQ (if there is enough beer of course). Tom will show me some nice aria’s of his state on the days left and I might even ride on one of his horses (poor horse!). I will be flying back home again on the 13th of may. During my stay in the U.S. I will be taking tons of pictures, that, together with  some short story’s I will try to post here on my blog on a daily basis.  So If you are interested  in my U.S. Bonsai adventurers, check out  this blog in the coming 2 weeks! I am so looking forward to meet up and work with my new overseas friends!!!

See you all soon,

Hans van Meer.