Hi, everybody

here at “SHADY SIDE BONSAI” in Glen Roch Pennsylvania starts the third stop of my demo and workshop tour around the USA. 


Saturday, May 10.

Day 1:

Below: Early in the morning and the first students for the demo and workshop arrive. Tom’s “SHADY SIDE BONSAI” is so big that he (on the left) and Rich (on the right) had to load Rich his BIG Yew onto the back of a small tractor to bring it up the hill, to his outdoor working area.

Below: Here I am checking out the possibilities for this lovely but difficult two trunk Yew Tom provided me with for my morning demo. 

                                   Below: Looking how and where to start.

Below: Although the weather was letting us down a bid, people were still waiting with anticipation.

                     Below: Discussing all the possibilities with the students.

Below: First the tree was cleaned of all unwanted branches to get a better view of the frame of the tree. Then because the base of the left trunk was too thick in comparison with the right trunk, the too large pies of deadwood on the left trunk was reduced, to open up the empty space between the two trunks.

Below: After most of that excess wood was reduced and the trunks looked better in balance with its other I was able to make my design for this mother and child Yew. This is the drawing of the design I came up with. I almost always make these sketches of my designs. It helps me to remember my first thought, like a blueprint, before I start to think too much about thinks! Because of the lake of time and the health of the tree that should be protected at all times, most first styling during these demo’s are a bit rough and unfinished and don’t always show clearly what the end result of the future bonsai will be in a few years. These drawings are also pretty handy to show people what your future plans are with your tree! It makes explaining why I am using certain techniques to get to a certain point a lot easier if those people have a clear view of where I am working towards!


Below: After lunch, we had a great afternoon workshop and lovely weather!

                                                  Below: Before and after.

                                                          Sunday, May 11.

                                                                 Day 2.


THE STORY OF THE “H.O.G” (or, how Richy saw the light! Used the force and fell asleep)!!!

You might ask: why is this story in a section of its own? Well because this is a story about courage, stubbornness, hesitation, and overcoming to be rewarded! In short: creating a very promising pre-bonsai!

Everybody else walked past this enormous Yew when they were collecting, simply because it was too big! But no, not Richy! Even when everybody said, don’t Rich! It is too big, too heavy and too hard to collect, leave it! This only fired him up to do it anyway. I came to find out that Rich is a bit stubborn sometimes and what he lakes in height, he easily makes up with courage! So he went for it! All alone and for many hours! If you look at the next picture and compare the height of the tree to that of the shovel,  you can fully understand the enormous task he had to perform to get this monster Yew out!


 The above picture is titled:   Yew in front of its new home. Or: How Richy scared the neighbours!

Richy, (with the help of a water jet stream) managed to clean off all of the hardened old soil of the massive roots! But, by doing this, he created a  bit of a mud stream, that because of the sloping street, quickly grew into an all-engulfing mudslide! Twiggels, the cat from Misses Brown, from down the street, is still missing! And even further downtown, many a toilet got clocked up for weeks!

 Saturday, day one. THE PRELUDE.

After discussing with him about how and what to do with the massive amount of deadwood on this Mother of a tree, he bravely started to freestyle with a courage you would not expect from someone who never had handled such a large power tool or created much deadwood before! Every now and then he asked for help or advice and then bravely went on with this huge task!

                                   Below: All geared up for the task ahead! 

        Below: Richy concentrated at work on the massive deadwood section                                             Below: With markers, lines were drawn on as a guideline for what Richy should remove and what not! Creating the rough shapes that later on (much later) would be refined into stunning Jin and Shari sections! 

Below: Every now and then I would jump in to refine certain arias and to give Richy a well-deserved break!

After a long day of hard work we allowed our selfs a short break for a nice dinner and then it was back to our waiting Bonsai work and fun! It was raining, storming and freezing that whole evening and the early night…but nothing could stop us…we were in the zone!!!

                                         Below: Richy wiring the branches.

Below: Me carving away and refining while Richy takes a break and looks on and learns.

   Below: Cold but concentrated at work, I love freestyle deadwood styling!!!

              Below: Then back to wiring again while I help the other students.

Below: Despite all the cold and tiredness everybody was still hard at work and enjoying the moment!

                   Below: After many hours, slowly but steadily getting there!

Below: The end result after a long day of hard work! I believe that this monster pre-Bonsai has a great future ahead of it and that Richy should be very proud of his work and his eagerness to learn and work hard! And for those who wondered about the name H.O.G for this tree? Look at the right top Jin, Richy said after I had finished it: it looks like the Hand Of God.. H.O.G!!!

Below: One of my proudest moments! Me happy, Richy happy and a whopper of a tree to boost!!! Later indoors while looking at the pictures we made with a whisky in our hand, poor Richy fell asleep…with a big smile on his face! 🙏😁

Below: Next morning after a short night sleep, the H.O.G. looks even better in the daylight and we are still happy! Two new friends that shared an amazing experience together! I love Bonsai!!!!

                                                 Above:  THE “H.O.G.” SQUAT.

                       Below: Two amazing people my host Tom and Richy.


I had a great time at “SHADY SIDE BONSAI” And would like to thank Tom and his lovely wife for there hospitality and for giving me the opportunity to work in the USA.


Hans van Meer.



More pictures can be found on this next link to “SHADY SIDE BONSAI”.