Hi, everybody

Because of my lower back troubles, the wiring of this tree was stretched out over much of last week. I had to do most of the work sitting down, simply because I can’t stand upright for very long at one time and I just hate to work like that, it is so clumsy! But yesterday I finally could start repositioning the branches and it took me 4 hours to do. I had to rethink the way I styled the tree in the first place all those years ago, not so much the feel or image of the tree, but the way the small branches had to be placed. Japanese With Pines hardly bud back on old wood in my climate and so most of the smaller branches had grown out a bit too long to style the tree as compact as I prefer to do in my styling. I could have made the image of the foliage pads more dense, bud that would have meant that I have to curl and twirl the branches to bring them closer in, and that is something I will always try to avoid in my designs. I planted this (then 5 trunks) Pine on this piece of petrified wood to create a coastal rock image, somewhat in the middle of a more classical Japanese style and the once I used to see and play on as a child on the French Riviera during our vacation there. The outcome of that demonstration, back then, was pretty compact because the foliage pads could be build up in the traditional way, making the tree look full, in the more traditional way. But now, with the usable foliage growing much further away from the main branches, I had to rethink my design and try to get a more or less same feeling, but build in a different way. This time around the tree would look much more open, more like the battered Pines that I have seen growing along the coasts and the beaches in southern Europe, showing more open space between the small branches that now play an intricate part of the design, instead of covering them up with dense foliage layers. This way of placing the thin long branches reminds me of some of the techniques that the Japanese artists use to style literati Japanese White and especially Red Pines, were the open light branch structure becomes the main focal point of the image of the tree.

                                                 Below: Front before styling.

                                                Below: Left side before styling.

Below: Detail of the backside before styling. You can see the mesh that holds all the ground into place because all the Kato (river muck) has fallen off from this side, this Kato will be replaced later and will then be covered with moss.

                                            Below: Backside before styling.

                          Below: Wiring, sitting down like this, takes forever.

                                   Below: The cascading front branch wired.

                             Below: Too long branches were removed as well.

Below: Useless long branches with hardly any foliage on them were removed.

Below: Here the basic shape is brought in to that same centre front cascading branch.

                                             Below: And some more shape.

Below: And the other branches are being slowly brought into their desired position.

Below: Close up of the two branches that rest on the ground, like the one I remember did, on those coastal Pines from my childhood. A piece of wood is just to raise the one in the back to create depth.

      Below: Left side after styling. And the same goes for this view of the tree.

Below: Right side after styling. In this view of the tree, you can appreciate the dept/distance between the front branch and the back branch. 


The picture above: So this is how the tree looks after this long restyling. But sadly, because of the poor lighting conditions when this picture was made, it appears to have not much depth to it from this front side! It looks Rather flat and without much separation between the different layers of foliage. As soon as the rest of the work is don and the lightning is better, I will make some new once to show the end result a bit better! Now the (bottom) sides, were the ground has fallen off, needs to be re-plastered with fresh Cato (Japanese clay) and powdered Akadama mixed in water. After this messy job is don, It will be covered, like the rest of the ground surface, with all kinds of mosses. But that is a nice job for later this winter! first, as long as the weather permits it to work outside for a long period of time, I will wire another tree that needs to be restyled.

Hope you like it so far?

Hans van Meer.





My first styling job of this season: A “Pinus sylvestris” Yamadori from Sweden.

Hi, everybody,

Last week we had a spell of lovely weather, so although my back is making it hard to work for very long, I enjoyed every minute I worked on this old Yamadori, Sylvestris Pine!

Below: I scanned a before and after photograph, they were shot during the demo I did on this same Pine in Denmark in May 2000, together with the rest of the “former “Tsunami” gang. This tree was a few years earlier styled by Farrand Bloch.

                                          Below: After that demonstration.

              And here are some pictures I made of the styling work today.

Below: Because of my lower back problems I had to sit a lot during the wiring, something I normally never do. But he, the sun was shining so who is complaining!

Below: Branches that took many years to grow, had to be sacrificed, to open up the dens foliage mass a bit more.

Below: for many years this tree had been, more or less, allowed to grow freely and received nothing more than a sunny spot and a lot of T.L.C. During that time, my work was mostly focused on getting more and better ramification and foliage in the right places. Because of all this time-consuming work, I was now able to cut off some badly placed thick branches and replace them with the better placed new branches with foliage closer to the trunk. Making the tree more compact, but less full.

Below: (here the tree is seen from the back) The frond branch (A) needed to be pulled backwards considerably, but because I did not want to damage the old bark, I could not put heavy wiring on it to do the job. So I needed to use a copper wire to pull the thick branch backwards, but there was no place where I could secure the copper wire too! The only place, with the right angle, to pool the branch back from, was the corner of the pot (C). But that meant that the beautiful old bark of the trunk would get damaged by the wire at point (B) and that should be avoided at all cost, even on the backside of the tree! So I placed a long piece of metal along the back side of the tree that only makes contact with the bark at point (D) and (E), but it protects the bark from damaging at point (B). Sometimes you have to be inventive, to be creative! 🙂

                  Below: Finished ( for now) front side, after 8 years of work. 

                      Below: Backside. Notice the “Komodo dragon” on top  🙂

Much more work needs to be done in the future to get the tree to were I want it to be, but for now, I am pleased with the result. The tree received heavy doses of fertilizer in the later part of this growing season, to promote strong growth for next season. Most of the then hopefully strongly grown new candles, will be removed next year to promote back budding so that the tree can fill out the new canopies I created during this styling session. Yet another step in the life of this tree on its way to becoming a Bonsai.


Hans van Meer.




Hi everybody,

today I spend most of, probably one of the last real sunny days, shooting pictures of my Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) Literati. The tree is in early full Fall colours this year and the leafs seem to reflect the sun in bright yellow light.

I used a standard Kodak easy share camera on a tripod, on ISO 200, between f 3.6 and f 5.0, and between 1/125 and 1/250 to get this intense yellow reflection from the foliage. Direct sunlight, that hits the tree from the right, was filtered and 2 reflecting white hard boards were use to reflect light on the Bonsai. One from the left side and the other one from below/front of the tree. An umbrella above the camera to avoid direct sunlight hitting my lens and then I shoot more than a hundred pictures! The intensity of the bright yellow reflection seemed to increase every minute, as the sun moved through the sky. I love making pictures like this, that show the contrast between the rough old bark and the soft lines of the yellow leaves. I hope you like them too?!


Hans van Meer.

                                           It sure was a nice day, today!


Hans van Meer.



Some Lazy Sunday Work On A Acer Buergerianum.

Hi, everybody,

I did a lot of joy full Bonsai work on this unexpected Sunny Sunday afternoon. Just little things, here and there. Some cutting, some bending, some cleaning of old needles and leafs, just the fun Bonsai stuff on a perfect lazy afternoon. One of the trees I worked on today was the Acer buergerianum in the picture below. This tree is more than 12 years under my care now and during that long time, it was always one of my favourite projects that came along nicely. When I bought the tree, it had just a few little and ugly placed and deformed branches. And a lot of ugly scares from bad wound treatment! So I worked all those years towards better ramification and everything looked very promising until 3 years ago! During that winter, the tree lost 1 important branch and most of it smaller ramification! So its image was destroyed!

But with a lot of love and care, the tree recovered and today again shows a lot of healthy growth! It those needs some more small branches and finer ramification to get to the image I have in mind. But I am already very happy to see that the tree is willing to give me a second chance, it made me smile! I hope you like it?


Hans van Meer.




Hi, everybody,

27 July 2008

Above picture: The last major work that was done on this old Pine dates back to its first styling in *2004! All this time up to now, the tree was pampered to encourage back budding as close as possible to the trunk line. Well, as you can see, I got more than enough new foliage and buds to give the tree it second major styling in late fall this year! But there were some major decisions to be made right now as well!

In the first styling, 2 back branches were used to build up the lower left front section, so I could visualise and check my vision of the future bonsai. But now, because of all this incredible growth, I have so much more better-placed branches and foliage to replace them with, that they have become unnecessary. In the above picture, where I raise this frond branch, you can see just how much beautiful deadwood was hidden from view!

Above picture: Left side view of the tree, you can see just how much deadwood is blocked from view.

Above picture: Lifting up the heavier frond branch makes a big improvement. You can see the other branch that has to go, on the left of my fingertips.

Above picture: Here you can see the second branch better. It is blocking out all the empty backspace, that you need to see from the front side.

Above picture: Here you can clearly see the difference it makes when I lift it up!


Above picture: This is the thick branch I need to remove first. Under need it, you can see the second one that needs to go.

                            Above picture: Judging were to cut that branch.

Above right: Heavy cutters were used to cut off that branch in one go.

                                Above picture: So, the first one is removed!

                            Above picture: Looks better already from the front.

Above picture: You can see clearly here, that when we now stand in front of the tree, there is almost a clear pathway under need the foliage, for the eye to wander off into the distance.

Above two pictures: Yes, that branch definitely has to go to!

                             Above two pictures: Right and backside view.

                                                 Above picture: Backside view.

Above picture: The yellow dots show how long this branch really is. Because of the constant cutting back into new growth and pinching back that I did in the seasons after it’s first styling, the 3 small branches, just above the red line, have grown enough to now be used as the new branch tips of the future first branch.

                           Above picture: Close up of those 3 small branches.

Above picture: The branch is cut leaving a small stump so that there is enough room for it to dry back naturally, without harming those all important small branches.


                       Above picture: The wounds are sealed with cut paste.

                                  Above pictures show the removed branches.

Above pictures show, that by just removing those two branches the beautiful deadwood is more open. The open space that now is created, provides the necessary see trough, that creates dept and open space under need this future first branch.

Above picture: With the help of 2 wooden blocks, some branches were lifted, so that light and air can better reach the inner buds and smaller branches that I need for my second styling.

Above picture: These blocks created new height in the foliage and a new image!

Below picture: So that triggered me, to make a quick drawing of a possible design. Having done this, I realise that the foliage is too high in this new idea and that the tree image should be more compact. So this drawing helped me to decide to stick to the original plan I made when I started to style this tree.

Now the tree is left alone until I will start the second styling in early Winter. I can hardly wait for that time to arrive!


Hans van Meer.




22 Juli.

Hi, everybody,

although it is not much of a summer right now here in Holland, it has been raining for weeks on end, this is usually a slow period in bonsai. But still, important tasks have to be done regularly, like checking all your trees, to make sure that the wire is not digging into the bark. My Larch “THE ELEPHANT” has been wired in late winter, but has grown really a lot, so the wire was starting to cut in, especially in the fast-growing top section. Some off the ticker wire that was holding the top up in place, was already cut off a month ago, that’s why it looks a bit collapsed in this picture. Yesterday my student/friend Ed came over to help me lift this monster to a place where I can remove all the wire more easily! Today it is lovely weather so I don’t mind doing that at all. I shot this picture 2 days ago and I hope you like the progress of “THE ELEPHANT” so fare? I am off to cut some wires now!


Hans van Meer.




Hi, everybody,

 Here is a close up of the natural deadwood on my Dutch Yamadori Hawthorn that I shot on 20 Juli. Dutch Hawthorn Yamadori Bonsai are rare and even rarer are Dutch Hawthorn Bonsai with natural deadwood! Our circumstances are just not suitable for creating deadwood! This is probably one of the few ones with deadwood that is collected below sea level…making it even more unique! 😉




Hi, everybody,

this Larch lost a lot of its branches during an unusually long period of extremely hot weather in early Summer 2 seasons ago. So last year I repotted it in a (to) large pot, so it could regain its strength and it did. I left the dead branches on the tree because they actually tell the story that I was meaning to show in this creation from the start. An image of an old tree high on the mountain, bettered by strong winds, snow and dry head during the short summers. Almost falling into the debts below it, but still clinging on to the rock’s, not willing to give in!

I hope you like it,








Hi, everybody,

I would like to share the picture I made this afternoon of my small 35cm/14inch  Pinus sylvestris, that I found and collected In Austria in May 2004. Well, that I found, is not completely true! My wife actually drew my intention to this tree first! We were taking a well-deserved rest after a long climb up one of the many beautiful mountains surrounding the cabin where we stayed that week. And while my wife was enjoying the magnificent views, I  took the opportunity  to get rid off some excess water that  I had drunk so much off along the long way up (if you know what I mean?) I was just taking my position, when my wife said “you might want to lift your left foot” ?! I looked down to discover that I was standing on a small Pine, that I totally had  not knottiest,  because of  the high grass it grew in. So now you know why it is called “PEE PINE”! I collected the tree without any problem and it has been growing well ever since.This small tree has wonderful old bark, for such a small tree and a beautiful old “Shari” running along most off its trunk. Off course,  this tree needs more years, for the branches to mature and to reduce the needle size, bud I am already pretty pleased with the image this small tree suggests. I hope you like it?

Hans van Meer.


                                                                 “PEE PINE”