Some better pictures of my favourite Prunus mahaleb.

My earlier post about my favourite Prunus was so well-read that I thought she and the readers of my blog deserve better and sharper pictures! So when yesterday the sun finally broke through the clouds I shot a few dozens of pictures with my (real) camera by hand! I hope you all will enjoy them.
Cheers,
Hans van Meer.

Above: The deadwood of this young top section neats more work and ageing, but that’s for later! I will start work on it early next growing season in the warm sun! Around that same time, I will start the ageing project on that still jong looking bark…I have a cunning plan to help that on the way…mmwwaaahhahaha!

Above: Close up of the natural deadwood! Besides being photographed and worked on here in my makeshift photo studio, she is also sheltered from the rain! So that all the deadwood can become dry! Then I can impregnate it to protect it from rotting away! The still too young bark on the upwards stump needs some more ageing of course! But who cares?! I am pretty happy so far with the fast progress of this tree…this little tree makes me happy!

Above: The deadwood on the left was worked on some more with a hammer and chisels. The rest was cleaned with tweezers and different brushes until all that was clearly rotten and not saveable was removed. In the top section, some of the living bark on the left side was cut away to break up that straight lifeline between the alive and dead section some more to make it look more natural. Some cut paste was applied to protect the wound!

Above: And there she is (for now) in all her glory! Colouring orange in the setting sun! To prevent further rotting she will spend the next couple of wet and cold months here underneath the shelter of this my makeshift photo studio! During that time I will start further styling the deadwood on that straight section with power tools and hand tools! I will make sure to take pix of that process and post them as soon as possible! Oh, how I wished I had a good pot for this one?! I hope you enjoyed these somewhat better pictures?!
Cheers,
Hans van Meer.

Old pictures that I found of my Juniperus *Urbandori that I named: Cemetree.

* 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 Juni of this story. The little tree was dug up from the ground with an excavator when some of the older graves were emptied. It laid 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 he 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 to 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 he 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 shown 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.

Cheers and stay safe,

Hans van Meer.

Hawthorn with 2 great posible fronts!

Below: Remember the post before this one about this Dutch Hawthorn and its amazing deadwood?

Below: Well as you can see, it has another great possible front with lots of natural deadwood (Shari) all along the massive trunk and great roots (Nebari)! The middle section of the top trunk section needs more side branches, but that is just a matter of time! But those roots, Shari and Jin make this side as the front a very promising possibility!

Below: The wide base with the star-like shaped massive roots are spectacular from this side! And all that deadwood isn’t too bad either!

Above and Below: Massive roots all around the base of the trunk!

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

The natural-looking deadwood on my Dutch Hawthorn Bonsai in progress.

The below Dutch Hawthorn (crataegus monogyna) Yamadori was collected by me in the early nighties in a seaside wed dune forest not far from where I live. Over the decades the wind coming in from the very nearby beach/coastline of the North Sea brought in fine sand in the place where the Bonsai of this story lived and in some places, it looks more like a Dunn than an actual forest! That and animals and walkers had covered her half! She had to grow fast and straight upwards through the sand for decades to stay above the ever-growing soil line! In the end after who knows how long only the (now much shorter and Jined) right side straight trunk was sticking some 60 cm/24 inch out above the actual soil (sand) level when I found her! At the end/top of this straight old trunk, it only had just a few very short but old branches, because for years it was used by the big black highland buffalo and ponies that live here as a scratching pole! The top section was all deadwood ending in a Jin that was nicely polished from all the scratching! I witnessed that scratching ritual someday and that brought her to my intention! But it was surely strange when I found out that I had to dig so deep to reach her original base! This old above ground periscope trunk section was later successfully air-layered and removed. The 15 cm/6 Inch that was left on purpose on the tree, was turned with some hand and power tools into natural-looking deadwood (Jin).

Above: Not the best of pictures, I know…but she looked so pretty in her Autumn dress! Height: 42 cm/ 16.5 Inch. The beautiful pot is by my friend John Pitt (U.K).

Above: 3 days later! She is built up with only 5 branches that after collecting luckily sprouted lower down on the section that used to be buried under the sand/ground! I wanted her to look just like the mature Hawthorns that live where she was found. They almost all live in mostly poor sandy ground and so close to the sea it storms a lot and because of all the sand in the Summers, it can get very hot and that’s why they grow sparsely and are very gnarly/spooky branched!

Above: Close up of the uniquely natural split trunk and the roots/nebari. The left section of the trunk feeds the left branch and the right section the right and top branch. Beggars can’t be choosers…so I take those two opposing bottom branches for what it is! Those are Bonsai rules and I gladly take/see her as just a small Hawthorn tree in a pot…because that is just what I was/am after! A believable but small old Dutch Hawthorn tree!

Above: Close up of what is left of the former live top part that grew above the sand! I am really happy how natural it looks after all those years since I created this deadwood top/Ten Jin! Especially the natural whiteish colour of the cracked wood is priceless!

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

Trident maple “Acer buergerianum” in full fall colours.

The last two days this Trident maple was trying hard to hold on to it’s leaf’s, while I was waiting for some sunlight to make a decent picture! And this afternoon there finally was just enough natural light to shoot some quick shots of this amazing coloured foliage! And just in time because now, just a few hours later, the wind has blow off a lot of the orange/red leaves! I hope you enjoy this picture of this colourful messenger of coming winter?!

Below: The fast sinking sun creates surreal colours!

Below: After two nights of low temperatures almost all leaves dropped off , creating a different scene and feeling!

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

Deadwood spiral on my old Hawthorn.

Now that I cant work for long on my trees anymore and have to sit down for a while when my knees and back give inn again! I find that I have much more time to really, really look at my trees and try to enjoy them as if I would see them for the very first time! More annalistic and aware! I most often do that while making pictures and then end up completely overlooking all details and the whole some of those details, the Bonsai! Doing so I got stroked again by the upwards twirling old deadwood (Shari) and the beautiful aged bark with all it cracks! The Shari in the right top of this picture was made over 25 years ago and was during that time bleached several times with Lime sulphur with a few drupes black inked added to leave more of a greyish white after it did it’s bleaching work! But it still those not have the right greyish/white colour that the twirling old natural Shari has! So I shell have to bleach it again and again until it has the right colour !

Below: That’s how old Hawthorn bark and deadwood (Shari) looks!

Below: She looks a bit top heavy with all those red berries and the old cell phone those not help much in this case either! 😉

Cheers,

Hope you enjoyed these quickly made pictures of my baby and forgive me for the poor quality?!

Hans van Meer.

Today: (I finally) finished wiring my Chinese White Pine (Pinus parviflora).

Here are after many small sessions of wiring some quickly made cell phone pictures of the almost finished result of my Old White Pine that was imported from China some 32 years ago and was one of the first Bonsai I ever bought! Her height is 87 cm so getting her to were she stands in this picture by my self to wirer her proved to be a back breaker for my bad back indeed! And that I had to stand on a small stool the whole time to reach the higher branches to wire them did not make things any easier for my poor back!! The wiring it self took me (in short sessions) more then one week! Below: Some big decisions were made to shorten or remove some otherwise good branches!

So after finally finishing wiring, lifting her to the place were I usually take my pictures was out of the question for me at this moment (sigh!) So this below pictures of her are shoot with my cell phone at the place were she was wired! She is on its way to her older glory and needs just a few more years to back bud some more and hopefully double her foliage! And a new pot because the one it is in now is precariously cracked on opposite sides (frost proof my ass!) ! The now more then 30 years she has lived with us have aged her so well and she has become a part of our family!

Below: A close up picture of the amazing mature bark on the trunk! And when I cleaned up and removed the top layer of old soil around the base, I discovered that the roots had widened a lot and almost doubled in size! The fled large root on the left bottom side and everything else below were that moss line stops on the lower trunk is all new to me O joy!!!

Now I have to find a nice new pot for here, because after more then a decade it is time to repot here in some fresh soil in a new home! I hope you like my old Pine?!

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

Bending a thick pine branch with cheap and easy to use sisal rope!


Now I know that I wrote before about using 5mm thick household sisal rope instead of raffia or burlap to protect the branch that you want to bend from breaking! Well, they say: the proof is in the pudding! So here we go: I had to wire a mature thumb thick branch on my old White Pine (Pinus parviflora) from China and then bend it a lot! So I had to protect it from cracking, but I was oud off Raffia?! But I did find half a ball of sisal rope more than enough to protect that branch with two tightly wind layers of sisal on top of each other. Then that now with sisal protected right branch was wired with 4 mm aluminium wire and then slowly bent pretty severely to become almost a back branch! All without any trouble whatsoever! So my advice: always have some sisal 5 mm rope around as a backup!
Cheers and stay safe everybody,
Hans.

P.S.: Below is a link to the YouTube channel of “Love Bonsai” where I for the first time saw a lovely and strong Chinees female Bonsai artist protect the thickest of branches with sisal rope and then wire them with aluminium wire! And boy those she bent them and never brakes one!!! Go have a look!!!👍👍👍

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkCqvi9lTv3_yVE4ctvDYPA/videos

Trident maple “Acer buergerianum” in early fall colours.

A few days ago it was such a sunny day that made my colour changing Trident maple from Japan almost glow… so I just had to shoot some quick photo’s of her. It proved to be a race for time because the sun was on her right side quickly sinking behind my house! It proved to be a great year for my two maples (the above one and a Acer palmatum deshojo) that I both have under my care for some 26 years orzo! This unique pot (that I like a lot) is by Isabella.

Cheers and stay safe,

Hans van Meer.

Some pics and stories.

Below: This Acer buergerianum on a rock is one of my earliest Bonsai and I wanted to show it to you because it has such amazing fall colours despite the record-breaking hot Summer that we had this year!

Below: This amazing Prunus mahaleb Yamadori that was collected in March 2012 in Slovenia used to be a twin trunk and is a bit of a wonder because the first Spring after collecting the left somewhat boring thick trunk made a ton of new buds more or less everywhere, but the right trunk that was interesting all over with beautiful old deadwood did absolutely nothing?! Two years later in the Summer of 2014, I was just about to saw it off to turn it into a long Jin when I suddenly discovered two very tiny green buds on it!!! The first one some 40cm above the soil line and the second one almost in the top. I could not believe my eyes and luck and it is needless to say that I did not turn it into a Jin! During the next years, those two tinny buds grew like crazy, so in early 2017 I decided to air layer the lesser of the two trunks and just a few mounts later it was already safe to separate this lesser trunk from the very unique trunk full of deadwood! Wich, you can all see HERE on my YouTube channel! The stump that was left was styled with power and hand tools to mimic the beautiful natural deadwood that runs all along the trunk from bottom to top. In the picture below from the backside of the tree, you can see what is left of this stump and the amazing new roots that grew over it!

Below: close up of the new deadwood that mimics the old natural deadwood (Shari) above it. Nothing reminds anymore of the trunk that was separated from it!

Below: Front side. It is truly amazing to see just how many branches have grown from those two tinny buds! There is still a lot of growing and styling to be don over the next years, but I believe that this will be a very special tree in the nearby future! 

Somewhere in the late 19ties, I was lucky enough to buy 3 Itoigawa Juniper starters from Danny User at his “Gingko Bonsai Centre” in Belgium. They were all very straight 30 cm high cuttings that he had specially imported from Japan to craft on his trees.

Above and Below: Since then over the years, I must have taken at least 100 or so cuttings off of them, from some of them I successfully made several Tanuki Bonsai that I when finished sold to my students.

Above and below: Both of these were Phoenix grafted onto very hard and rot- resistant Yew deadwood and now life happily in my students garden!

Below: The rest was allowed to grow fast and freely and some of them were later wired to give them all the shape of a basic starter and mostly sold to colleges and my students. And a hand full older onces were sold to my students complete with a design that I had drown for them.

Below: But now and then when I hold one of the older ones in my hands I get the urge to style it, like the one below that I made a few weeks ago so that the eventual buyer has a good base to start from!

I hope you enjoyed this little post?! Stay safe everybody and keep them small!

Cheers, Hans van Meer.