Below: This is how I found him during my 2007 collecting trip with Tony Tickle in Wales. The large rock that you can see at the bottom of this picture originally covered most of the trunk right up to where the foliage starts! It took all my strength to lift it off of the poor tree! And freeing it from all the rocks it lived in for all those years took a long time indeed! But it was well worth it!!!!
Below: And this is how it looks after 15 years of training and good care! He is completely covered with new bright green buds! Pinching them all back took me a while and gave me a chance to overlook its progress over the last years. And I have to say that he is coming along faster than I could ever wish! There is hardly any wirer necessary to keep this basic shape and from now on it will mostly be refining detail work! I hope it to be show worthy by next season?! Height: 64 cm/ 25 inch. Pot Japan.
Below: Just so show you all that I practise what I preach! Here is a fast Cell phone picture that I shot from underneath the thumb-thick old Pine branch that I had just bent some 45 degrees with the help of a double protecting layer of cheap and easy-to-get Sisal rope and two 5mm aluminium wirers! The white arrow points at where the branch has bent the most! That tin red line to the right shows where the branch used to be before it was bent! Impressive yes?! And no mess or damage from using that clumsy wet Raffia!
Below: My Japanese black Pine “Pinus thunbergii” is with me since 1990 and was styled by me during a demonstration a year later. I remember the excited reaction of the students when I chopped off most of the top and turned the rest into a Jin (deadwood). It needed a repotting and some fresh soil to grow and strive in. Lifting it out of its pot was easy and that is a sure sign it needs to be repotted into fresh soil! All the long circling roots were shortened and a layer/ring of old soil and roots was removed working inwards and upward from the side leaving a hole in the middle for fresh soil. Pot by William Vlaanderen (NL). Height: 15-25 cm (Komono).
Below: The soil mount in between the exposed roots is left this time! water still penetrates it when I water so there is no problem for now! But next time that section needs more attention and fresh soil…but that’s for then!
Below: The tree basically grows over a month of soil, so when watering the water tends to run down fast and hard. So the chance that this fresh soil will be flushed away is imminent…so to prevent this I mixed some Kato with very fine Akadama and Akadama dust with some water to make it into a more malleable paste!
Below: That thick paste is then applied over the soil and pushed down to make a nice sloppy month where water can run down without taking the fresh soil along with it. I now only have to make sure that I water enough and have to check every time if the water runs through the hole in the bottom! In a month or so when the new soil is more settled the layer of Kato will be simply scraped away.
Below: I found the Yew/Taxus of this story in November 2007 on a mountain in Walles! She was mostly covered by a large flat boulder rock and only the foliage you see on top and on the right side ware growing from under it! I was on my own and lifting that heavy rock off her without damaging her was a serious task…but boy was it worth it!
Below: 31-3-2012. The first repotting after collecting her in 2007 in Walles! Just look how little foliage she has after 5 years of recovering!
Below: 31-3-2012. And just potted in her first real pot and a happy and younger and leaner me in the background!
Below: 27-4-2022. And this is how she looks today with all the new brightly green buds! I am proud of this one! Someone once told me a long time ago: you can’t make a windswept Yew Bonsai…well I beg to differ! 😉😇 I consider this tree one of my best designs and hope to show it at the next Trophy in Belgium!
The year is 1990 and I was doing Bonsai for not more than half a year or so when I visited the “China Bonsai centre” in Schiedam (Holland). This giant greenhouse was filled from top to bottom with many commercial Bonsai! But there were always a few better ones brought back from their trips to China! And one of them was the tucked-away big Chinese Pinus parviflora from this story! It cost us a whopping 1000 Gulden (450 Euro) and that was a lot of money those days and still is! Below: 7 years later and the year is 1997 when my Pine was shown in the third edition of the famous GINKGO AWARDS in Belgium.
Below: 23-4-2022 and 25 years later! Yesterday my Dear old Bonsai friend Teunis Jan Klein brought the pot that I bought from him and now it is time to finally free my pine from his cracked pot! With a hammer, the pot is broken so that the pieces can be removed by hand!
Below: Just look at how compact those roots and soil have become over the years!
Below: All that greyish mycorrhiza is a welcome sign of good health and o so necessary for any Pine to thrive and survive!
Below: With a hook and a chopstick the old soil is removed via the bottom working my way up!
Below: Then only carefully working with a chopstick the old soil was further removed from in between the roots!
Below: The bottom of the pot is filled with a layer of soil containing Akadama and Bims. The greyish/brown pieces you can see scattered around on top are the saved layers of mycorrhizal fungi from before! This way the pot will fill itself much quicker with healthy and very necessary mycorrhiza! Remember all Pine trees need mycorrhiza to feed!!!
Below: Wiggling with a chopstick carefully working the soil into every open space between those roots. And then he is watered over and over again until the water that runs out of the holes in the pot is clear! I hope he recovers well from it all and that he may bring me pleasure for many more decades to come!
Yesterday was a perfect warm sunny day and I had a very welcome visit from my oldest Bonsai friend Teunis Jan Klein (NL) who runs the well-known Bonsai centre “DESHIMA” in Nieuwe kerk aan de ijsel (NL). And is a great award-winning artist and teacher! So I created a simple welcomes display in my living room on my high work table. In the background is a print of a picture that I made of the famous Red maple in the amazing Japanese garden in Portland Oregon. I worked this picture over with my paint program so that it looks like it was painted on canvas. The tree is one of my Hawthorns Yamadori (collected tree) that I found in Wales with Tony and Terry in the middle nineties. It has been in several shows over the years and she turned into a grand old lady that lives in a very special Dan Barton pot that he gave to me as a gift during one of my very memorable stays in his and Mom’s lovely place in the (U.K). I miss those days of being able to travel and meet all those different Bonsai friends! ( I will make a better shot of that special pot and post it!) ( If I don’t forget that is…?) (FORGET WHAT????).
Below: It was unusually hot that day and Teunis drove all day when he arrived…so I duck up a Japanese handmade wooden coaster and a bronze water basin with a gold-painted frog and blossom branch. To make it a real cooling composition I filled it half with water and plucked some little weed leaves that grow under my tables to float on the water.
Teunis was pleasantly surprised and we then spend a long good old friend’s time among my trees. Discussing and showing my work to a great artist is always an honour and a pleasure for me!
Below: This feminine slender sylvestris that I collected in 2012 with my dear Slovenian friend on my first visit to their beautiful country. It was growing and hanging on for dear life on the very edge of a shifting sandy hill! I had to tippy-toe and work above my head to be able to free her from her place of birth and doom! And now 10 years later she has already become one of my favourite designs! She is so unconventional feminal elegant and yet showing the struggle of her mountain life through her flaky bark, Shari, Jin and strong Nebari (roots) that cling on for dear life! Now starts the hunt for a nice elegant crescent-shaped rock-like pot!
Below: All pictures that I shot in the sun with my proper camera were overexposed from the reflecting light from all those delicate white flowers. So later this day when the sun was filtered by some light clouds I made some shots with 2 different cell phones. And two of those I would like to share with you all!
Below: He deserves a cool light azure blue-green pot to emphasise those white flowers and light green foliage! I hope I can find one in the future?!
I hope you enjoyed these pictures as much as I loved making them! Cheers, Hans van Meer.
Yes, you read it right! My Yamadori Mugo Pine from Italy is back budding all over on older up to pinkie thick bare branches! There goes the “Mugo Pine not budding back where there is no old needles” theory! But Big Ron is that famous exception to that rule! He is an old from top to bottom hollowed-out Italian Mugo Yamadori that does not follow those rules! Just look below at all those buds!
Below: Everywhere enough new growth so that in the future I can shorten the eventually too-long branches back to all that new growth! Keeping them full and much shorter to the mainframe!
Today was a weird Bonsai day, to say the least! Because most of it was spent removing with long tweezers and a small chisel the completely rotten wood from Big Ron’s underground deadwood section! And then filled those deep holes that were left with a coarse hard soil mix so that in the future new roots can grow fast and all excess water can run out of the pot away from all that buried deadwood! Why and how did this happen you might ask? Well, during his long life somewhere high on a mountainside in Italy he has grown a very solid base! But during the many passing years, somehow those firm base roots were covered with a layer of shifting soil, rocks and dead vegetation! And that made that “Big Ron” created higher up his trunk new secondary roots on that new soil level and that took probably many decennia to get to this big as they are now! The now completely buried old roots started to rot away over the many decades until they finally completely turned into powder! Later the dead right and back side of the tree turned over many decades into completely hollowed-out deadwood that makes this old Mugo so special! Bud decay is still going on as we speak so the priceless deadwood needs permanent protection in the form of impregnating it completely with a commercial wood hardener for the hole hollow inside parts and commercial super glue for the more visual outside Jins and Shari! But before all this: all the deadwood needs to be bleached with Limesulfer+ashes+water in different shades of greyish whites!
Below: That mount of wood dust came out of that large hole and is all that is left of a large dead and completely rotten away root!
Below: The hollow trunk and the hole in the ground as seen from the right side.
Below: That same hole filled with a midsized soil mixture so that new roots can grow fast!
Below: The backside hole is also filled up. Now the roots can feed, grow and fill those two large holes with healthy useful roots again!
Now I have to clean that pot…but that is a whole other story…pppfffff!💨💨