WORKSHOP AT MY FIRST BONSAI CLUB “KOYA”. WORKSHOP BIJ MIJN EERSTE BONSAI CLUB “KOYA”.

Hi everybody,

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 international asked Bonsai teacher. Who as he sad himself now was “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. 

G. Schwagermann

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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.

G. Schwagermann

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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 were 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 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!

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

Info: karamottobonsai@hotmail.com

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THE DARK SIDE OF BONSAI.

Hi everybody,

this is a sad post concerning a darker side of our great Bonsai hobby, namely the death of one of our beloved and cherished little trees. And when it one time unavoidably happens it makes me, even more, realize that I am working and dealing with living beings that totally depend on me to stay healthy and alive…after all, Bonsai don’t commit suicide! They get sick or even die for a reason and they need us to help them when necessary! But sometimes as in this sad case, I just can’t figure out what happened or went wrong with this precious little Yamadori Japanese black Pine cascade Bonsai of mine?! It has been under my care for almost 25 years and was one of my most precious little Bonsai in my collection! Not only was it rare and beautiful, it was also an (especial for these early day’s) unique and very expensive birthday present from my beloved mother in law and that makes it even more painful! I can only guess what might have gone wrong to make it die so fast in such a short period of time?! So there is not even a lesson learned from it?! Yes, maybe one thing…and that is the realisation that Bonsai are very precious to me and mean much more than just a little tree in a pot! And that it is, although in this case painful, also a very enriching feeling and that makes it even more special than it already was to me!!!

Like I sad just a few weeks ago to my dear friend Tomaz in Slovenia:

                                                  “Little trees cause big things!”

 

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

Info: karamottobonsai@hotmail.com

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REPOTTING MY ULMUS PARVIFOLIA WITH GREAT 27 YEARS IN THE MAKING NEBARI.

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?!

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

Info: karamottobonsai@hotmail.com

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DEADWOOD AND WIRING WORK ON MY OLD YAMADORI PRUNUS MAHALEB FROM SLOVENIA.

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?!

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

Info: karamottobonsai@hotmail.com

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REPOTTING ONE SABINA INTO TWO PRE-BONSAI!

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?!

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

Info: karamottobonsai@hotmail.com.

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PICTURES AND A VIDEO OF MY WORKSHOP AT THE “TORA” INTERNATIONAL BONSAI SCHOOL IN BEAUTIFUL SLOVENIA.

Hi everybody,

just one day back from my visit to and 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 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-build 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 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 excited 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: And the end result 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 with 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 side 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 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: And 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 there 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. The 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!

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

Info: karamottobonsai@hotmail.com

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REPOTTING SESSION AFTER THE FROST HAS FINALLY GONE!

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?!

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

Info: karamottobonsai@hotmail.com

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