A short “Crataegus” story.

 

Hi, everybody,

in November 2006, my dear friend Tony Tickle invited me to come to England to do the (now famous) all weekend “BURRS” workshop. I arrived a few days before all that fun would start because Tony would take me and Morten into the beautiful “Wells” mountains for a walk and to try to find some collectable “Crataegus” yamadori. Well, I got very lucky when I discovered a small one with a lot of potential! I have no pictures of the actual collecting of the tree, but this is the view from that same place where the “Hawthorn” of this story was found and without much trouble collected by me.

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She grew on a steep mountainside in soil, consisting of almost nothing else than small rocks and gravel, from which I could almost entirely collect her with nothing more than my bare hands (that looked and felt like they had been looking for a pin in a pin stack)! Never the less, she had managed to grow surprisingly good roots, with a lot of small feeder roots growing close the base of the trunk. So I could cut the to larch roots back without causing to much harm to the health of the tree. From experience, I know that next Spring the tree will react to this hard root and branch cut back, with much growth of small feeder roots, that will secure the health of the tree, during this time it is recovering from the stress caused by collecting it and potting it. As soon as the tree was lifted from the ground the bare roots were wrapped in wet sphagnum moss and then put into a plastic bin bag that was tightly wrapped with plastic tape. Early next day at the venue in “BURRS” my good friend Terry Foster helped me to plant the tree in a plastic training pot, making sure that the tree was firmly secured to the bottom with aluminium wires. The Hawthorn stayed in Tony’s care during that winter. He placed the tree in his greenhouse on a heating bed. In February the following year, Tony came, just like me and many others, to the “Noelanders trophy” in Belgium to show his Bonsai and to meet up with all our bonsai friends from all over Europe that come there every year as well. He kindly brought along my Hawthorns I collected and so after the show they finally came home with me to my little garden in Holland. The Hawthorns ( I collected two) were placed in my greenhouse for protection during the rest of that Winter. In Spring I was delighted to see that the trees literally burst out with new buds all over. I removed all the buds that were unnecessary for my design from the trunk, simply by rubbing them off with my fingers. Leaving unwanted buds to grow will take the strength away from other more important buds and will leave unwanted scares in your trunk. The tree was allowed to grow freely the next growing season, in a semi-shaded place in my garden. In the next picture from August that year, you can see that she was doing really well and I knew then that I could safely give it here first styling at the end of the winter before the buds start swelling.

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    And this is how the tree looked in February 2008 before the work started.

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OK, before I start to work: have a look at the next two pictures of the front and back of the tree and try to discover the future  design I discovered in this little “Hawthorn”

                                Have you found it? This is what I have in mind:

To reach this ideal profile or frame, I had to do some major branch cutting! Always trying to leave as little wounds as possible, where there was no room for some deadwood/Shari on the trunk.  

As you can see in the pictures below, the yellow cuts were not much of a problem to do, but the red cut was a bit harder to reach with cutters or normal saw!  

 

First, all the excess branches were cut off, so I could get a  good firm hold on the tree, while I was sawing away, without pricking myself a thousand times! Then, with the help of a very sharp small bladed woodcutters knife, that is used by foresters, I was able to remove the thick branch in one go.

 Then one by one and bit by bit all the other useless branches were cut back.

A  large branch cutter, like  I use here, is a priceless tool for this kind of work! It makes a clean cut in one go, without placing to much sideways force on the tree and roots, like a saw or power tool does. No matter how good you think you hold the tree in place!

Slowly, with every cut, the new shape of this tree is revealed! All wounds are worked over with concave cutters to promote better wound healing. So that in a few years,  the tree is left with large, but natural looking scares, that can be seen on every Hawthorn here on the coastline.

After all the wounds were cut back sufficiently, they were sealed with cut paste. The large wound on the left of the tree (middle picture) is cut back to about 2,5 cm/1 inch of the truck. In the future, this stump will be worked into a small Jin + Shari or maybe only a   Shari? But this work is left for the future! Because doing it now and then leaving such a large open scare, right on the trunk line, could cause die back in the trunk! Every large wound that is left exposed to the elements; will dry/die back,    interrupting the sap flow between roots and branches! Which could kill your branches and roots or even your whole tree! Because I left the bark on this little stump, it will stay alive for a long time, preventing the possibility of trunk die/dry back!  The tree will probably even throw out a bunch of strong shouts along the rim of the wound, the tree’s own bandage! A sign the tree’s sap stream is pumping along the wound. Only after the tree has shown these signs of full recovery, will I start to take that stump away, bit by bit.

Below: Now only the top needs to be shortened right above the second right                              small branch leaving some room for the die/dry back! 

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For now, I’m really pleased with the outcome of this little Hawthorn, I love it’s movement and bark texture. I am really looking forward, to next season to see where all the buds will appear! If I’m lucky they will grow just about where I need them.  And if not….who cares? Together, we will think of something.

I hope you liked what I did so far? And I will keep you all posted on this little tree’s progress.

Regards,

Hans van Meer.

Info: karamottobonsai@hotmail.com

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ONE OF THOSE DAY’S!!!

Today I started to style a  Yamadori Larch in the warm February sun.

PPPPFFFFFF! There must be a better way to spend your day?! LOL!!!

Updates on this styling will follow here soon!

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

Info: karamottobonsai@hotmail.com

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MY DEMO AT THE B.A.B CLUB MEATING.

Hi, everybody,

On Wednesday 6 February    I was invited to do a (short) demo at the monthly evening club meeting of the B.A.B (Bonsai Association Belgium). This great club, that was founded by Bonsai master Mark Noelanders is responsible for staging the now famous yearly “Noelanders trophy”  in Zolder Belgium. That’s why I know most of their members for many years now and I enjoyed my self immensely in this home away from home for me (and I like their beer).

I demonstrated on a Juniperus “media Phitzeriana Aurea” that I have been preparing for this first major styling for many years now! I found this tree in a cemetery I visit every week.  The small tree was duck up from the ground with an excavator, when some of the older graves were relocated. 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 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  on to my shoulders as well! But getting it into my car was something else! Man the place was like a ice rink and it looked more like skating than walking, but I made it to my car safely! I planted the tree in the pot it still is in now and from then on I gave it a lot of love and care. All the 8 or 9 years up to this demo were  used to get the foliage  to grow closer to the trunk and to get the same type of mature soft foliage on the whole of the trees foliage. Because the tree was so severely cut back when it was removed from the ground it had made a lot of inmature and prickly foliage on the lower branches, it took me a lot of time to correct that stress  response. This more than 60 years old tree is of a strange variety that reacts very poorly to the normal techniques I have used on other juniperus Phitzeriana  trees. Even the bark is of a strange grayish/light brown color that even after cleaning won’t turn the usual red color. So this tree was well prepared for this demo and was doable in the 3 hours I was supposed to have for my demo, but after Mark was through with the introductions and stuff, I was left with just 2 and a half hours! So I explained to the audience that this would be the first real styling of a  prepared tree and than started to wire the tree like a mad man.  During my work I explained how the tree was prepared to  reach  this point. I even managed to get some important deadwood work don to enhance the movement of the trunk and than quickly brought the main shape into the branches. I ended just in time and was happy that I was able to show this first stage in this future bonsai in this short time. Because there was no time to do fine wiring, the final image looks  still rough, but you can see clearly where this tree is going in the future. I did a demo 5 years earlier here at this club on a yamadory Pine (last small picture). I made a drawing then to show how I was going to try to style this tree and how it would look in the future. I brought this same demo Pine tree I made then to this demo, together with the original design drawing. It was  good to see and hear the positive reactions from the people when they saw that it is possible to make a future bonsai  at a demonstration! I promised to show this Juniper at there club in about 5 years. But I hope to be back sooner here in this friendly club,   

 


 

                           Above: The tree before the 2,5-hour demo started.

Above: Waiting anxiously for Mark (on the right) to stop talking so that I could begin my introduction talk and stylings work!

Above: Yes finally and now it is wiring like a madman to get finished in time!

             Above: close inspection from the knowledgeable club members! 😉

                     Above: Only the main branches were wired to safe time!

Above: Than Jin and Shari were reworked or created, especially the straight right Jin needed work to give it movement!

Above: Then wiring the last few branches so that I could start the actual styling of the whole image!

Above: Bringing all the branches and foliage into the desired position.

                     Above: And then a well deserved very cold Belgium beer!

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Above: The end result for now. Note that no fine wiring was don so I was actually very pleased with how the tree looked despite that! And note the optical trick I did to give that completely straight Jin some visual movement! Not bad for only 2,5-hour!

Above: On the right the drawing that I made 5 years ago for the first styling of this Mugo Pine Yamadori that I did here at this club and on the left how this Bonsai (named Z)look to date. Looks pretty close to the original design…he said a bit proud! 🙂 I enjoyed my self immensely again at Mark’s very friendly club and I hope to be invited again in the future?!                 

Cheers,                 

Hans van Meer.                 

Info: karamottobonsai@hotmail.com

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A “LARCH ” PROJECT PART 2.


HI everybody,

last week we had a spell of unusually warm and sunny weather over here, so I decided it was about time to do the first major styling I have planned for several of my trees for this year. The large Yamadori “Larch” in this story was ready for its second branch structure styling.

Check out: “THE STORY OF XL PART I” on my YOUTUBE channel!

I really took my time, working on this tree. Enjoying every minute of that relaxed and zone like feeling that comes over me when I’m guiding the branches of the tree as closely, as safely as possible, to their envisioned future shape. Overcoming or incorporating little problems, that I came across while working, without giving it any real thoughts. Sometimes things just fall together when I am working on an old tree like this one, when instinct takes over, with the sun in your face….MMMMMM! 🙂

Remember it is only the second structure styling, the top will fill out and thicken quickly in the next couple of years and there is about an Inch more trunk hidden behind the rime of that plastic container, as you can see in one of the pictures! In real life, the tree is taller and the base is wider and the whole tree is looking more balanced.

The first picture is taken when I just started to work.

In a few months, after all the Spring work is don, I will start working on the deadwood.

I hope you enjoy this little story,

Hans van Meer.

Info: karamottobonsai@hotmail.com

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Marry X-MAS and a very happy New Year!

Dear Bonsai friends,

thank you all for visiting my Blog so often. I am honoured by your interest in my work and it inspires me to go on in the direction I have chosen for my Bonsai. I have high hopes for 2008,   I am already asked to do workshops and demo’s in Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Norway, England and a long visit to the USA in May is in the making!  To do so much travelling to show what I like to do so much is like a dream come true!  To see so many new countries and places to meet many new Bonsai friends….I can hardly wait for the New Year to begin! And, only in just a few weeks, it is off to Belgium for the annual Noellanders Trophy. I will be showing 3 Bonsai in the show and more important will have 2 days of fun with all my Bonsai mates that come every year to this very friendly event,  from every corner of  Europe!

 And some of my Yamadori are up for there second and third styling, so that is exciting to for me. I will take lots of pictures and post them first here on my blog as soon as possible! You are welcome anytime here to visit my blog or my YOUTUBE channel, where you can find lots of videos of my work and progressive stories of my Bonsai.  https://youtu.be/hjp1tfEPJB0

Thanks for visiting, it is highly appreciated!

Hans van Meer.

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Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

Info: karamottobonsai@hotmail.com

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A “ULMUS” WINTER CREATING.


Hi, everybody,

we are going through a period of cold weather here, and as usual, I am too late preparing the winter shelter for my trees. So this afternoon, in freezing gold weather, I had to do some last work on it. BBRRRRR! When I was bringing my last trees into the winter shelter, I noticed how beautiful the winter colours on my “Ulmus” looked. So I made a quick photo set up in the fading pale winter sun light and with the shivers, I shoot the picture below. This is one of my earliest bonsai and one of my favourites. Because of the millions of “Ulmus” malsai that have been sold in Europe over the last 20 years, they got stigmatized as inferior bonsai material. In my opinion that could not be further from the truth! I think that “Ulmus parvifolia” are wonderful to work with and very affordable, available and forgiving ( this one is frozen solid for 3 days now). And I think they look pretty amazing in these bright winter colours! I hope you like the Picture?

Regards,

Hans van Meer.

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                                              A “ULMUS” WINTER CREATING.

Info: karamottobonsai@hotmail.com

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“MOM’S YEW” PRE WINTER MANTAINANCE

Hi, everybody,

I Must admit that Irene mailed here pictures a will ago, but I have been very busy and to be honest, there is not that much to do on here “Yew” except for some branch shortening. As you can see in the pictures, Irene’s tree is very healthy and has plenty new growth. So now it is safe to shorten them to long and too thick branches, that are of no use in any future design. Try to do this half an Inch above a healthy side shoot. You can cut the thick branch  (in the third picture) just above the “Yellow” line. Seal the wound with  “cut-paste”. This will promote a lot of new growth along those cut branches and hopefully lower down the now bare branches. We just need to have a bit more foliage, for me to choose the best design for this “Yew”, this means that we have to start practising the most important task in bonsai…..being patience! I have made some red lines on the pictures for help. If there is enough foliage next season we might start the first styling. Time and Irene’s good care will tell!

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

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THE “BURRS” Bonsai Residency Workshops 2007.

 

 

Hi, everybody,

my workshop weekend at “BURRS” (UK)  10 & 11 November 2007

For the second year running, I was invited by my dear friend Tony Tickle to do a weekend-long workshop in his (the now already legendary)   “BURRS” Bonsai Residency Workshops in the UK. Together with Enrico Savini and his student Ivo from (Italy) and my good friend Terry Foster we worked with almost 30 bonsai friends from all parts of Europe, with wonderful material.  The bunkhouse where this bonsai weekend takes place is situated in a park with nothing else but a pub across the road….how lucky can you get?  And on Saturday night there was wonderful food and later, all kind of whisky was there to sample, while Enrico and Ivo gave a demo on a magnificent Pine and I worked on a “one branch” Yew from my mate Terry.  Again it was a great success to all, I had a wonderful time with my old friends and made some new once this time! And November 2008, Enrico, Ivo, Terry and me will be back for more and so is everybody else that was there, because it was fully booked, the minute this last one ended! I hope you enjoy the images of this, yet another, great “BURRS” Bonsai weekend!

 I arrived early Thursday night “Very relieved” at John Lennon airport Liverpool. I took off from Amsterdam in the middle of a heavy storm! Just after the bumpy take off, the plain just fall down for a (long) couple of seconds! Everybody screamed and the sleeping guy next to me crept hold of my leg. Then there was an enormous bang when the plain got hold of some air again! It scared the living shit out of me and I had to re-swallow most of my meal for the second time. So In a panic, I tried to take an anti-air sickness pill, but I had nothing to drink with me on board (thanks to you know who?), so I tried to swallow the thing without any water! Trying to swallow a pill the size of a small golf ball, with a dry mouth from fear, is simply impossible! And so the damn thing started to melt on my tong, so I had to spit it out! After that, it took several hours before I finally could speak again without a lisp! But until this day, I still not got my normal taste back in my mouth! After a bouncy landing, my humour got quickly better, when I met up with Tony, who brought me to his car were Enrico and Ivo were already waiting. Along the way to the house of Terry, where I would stay during the weekend, we had an animated talk about… well stuff!! 😉 They dropped me off at Terry and Charlot’s place, just in time for a lovely home cooked big and juicy pepper steak, fresh from the Hill’s (I’m drooling on my keyboard again)! Then some beer and a film on his wall-size television and then (around 2) off to bed, for a short night. Early in the next morning while, Terry was making a large breakfast, I had a chance to wander through his amazing collection of bonsai.   I admire Terry’s delegate style and I would like to share some of his lovely Bonsai that I saw that cold morning. Enjoy!

                                                   Bellow: Terry’s garden.

Bellow: One-off my favourites: A lovely small “Hawthorn” on a piece of rock that seems to be made for this tree. Terry him self-found this rock as well.

Bellow: A great “Yew” on another wonderful rock and another of Terry’s famous “Hawthorns”.

Below: Later that morning we were joined by Tony, Enrico and Ivo. Under the pleasure of warm coffee and croissants, Enrico and Ivo had a long look at Terry’s trees, Especially this old and very twisted “Yew” had there intention!

Below: Then Tony drove Enrico, Ivo and me, up North, to a magical place. I have been there before, but Enrico and Ivo saw this wondrous place for the first time. You can find there very ancient trees, like this beautiful “Yew” tree. You only have to stick it into a pot and voila! But any collecting here is out of the question!

Below: Than we had some typical English lunch in a lovely old tavern in a very small village!

Below: After this lunch, we drove further up North to look for “Yamadori”. Tony drove his 4 wheel drive right up to the top of a small mountain. Is was wonderful up there.

                       Below: Look what I found buried under a massive rock!

It took some work to free this amazing Yew from under that large rock that you can still see on the left off the tree. And because this old “Yew” grew on a large piece of flat rock its roots spread is awesome!

Below: Happy me, with a beautiful “Shohin” sized Yamadori “Yew”.

                               Below: Ivo guarding our newly found treasures!

Below:  Picture with a Press release. As posted on the IBC NEWS forum:

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BBC News London.

Northern England:

Today, late in the afternoon, high on the south side of mount “Glenn Morecock”, after a tip received from a Dutch backpacker, 3 odd looking persons were caught in the middle of some sort of strange and suspicious ritual.

Pati O’furniture, the mountain ranger who apprehended the suspicious man said: It must have been around Sunset when I finally stumbled on this 3 weird behaving man!  I caught them on camera,  just in the middle of some sort of bizarre offering! The man on the left, stood there with a silly grin on his face, holding, what seemed to be a bare rooted Yew. While the man in the middle kept repeating with an obvious foreign accent the same lines over and over again: I am only the translator, where is the pub?! A little further up the hill the third man, kept mumbling: Damn those cheap contact lenses!

All three persons were taken down the mountain, during which several telephone calls were made by the man in the middle to his wife. After further investigations, everything seemed to be a misunderstanding based on a falls tip! The three-man were immediately released, with apologies. The Dutch backpacker was last seen driving on the road to Liverpool, with a trunk full of small trees and a big grin on his face!!!! Grin Grin

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Below: Sorry for the poor quality of the next 3 pictures, bud it was very stormy and I was very cold! LOL. The 3 “Yews” were left soaking in water overnight, so their roots could fill up with water. Then early next morning, Terry and I planted them in suitable plastic containers (look at the amazing roots), in a mixture of Akadama and Biosorb (cat litre). Terry is an expert in these little gems, so I let him do most of the work. LOL. The trees were firmly attached in there containers so that there would be no change of root damage when moved.

Then it was high time to leave for “Burrs” were people were already hard at work!

The next pictures are made by several participants, but I know they don’t mind me sharing them here with you all!

Below: This is how bonsai heaven looks like from the inside! A Saturday and Sunday of pure FUN!

Below: Mick, working on a “Yamadori” common Juniper, came together with Morea, over a very stormy sea all the way from Holland.

                                          Below: Less concentrated at work.

Below: Me bending Daves “Juniper” and Ian is waiting for it to snap! The branch was hollowed out and filled with lengths of aluminium wire, than raffia and tape to protect it from breaking.

Below: Ivo and Enrico discussing John’s “Itoigawa Juniper” and me on the right ears dropping.

              Below: Discussing trees helps! Here is the finished tree of John.

Below: The design for Bob’s  Pine.

Below: Happy Bob with his finished tree!

Below: Dave and Terry working hard on Dave’s “Yew”.

Below: The lovely end result!

Below: Chris worked very hard for two days preparing his big “Scots Pine” for styling.

                            Below: Terry and me helping Chris with his tree.

                         Below: A too low-end picture of the finished result.

                             Picture 30: Enrico and Ivo splitting a “Juniper”.

                Below: Some people kept on working, way past there bedtime!

 On Saturday evening, after a hard days work, followed by a  great meal, it was time for the boys and girl to sit back and relax while enjoying a wide ranch of alcoholic drinks, snacks and watching an informal evening demonstration by Tony, Enrico & Ivo and me.

                             The “Burrs” Saturday evening demonstrations.

Tony planted a beautiful small “Yew” on a very heavy stone he earlier prepared. I still don’t understand how he managed to get that big hole in that hard rock.

                 

Enrico and Ivo demonstrated on Tony’s Big Yamadori “Scots Pine”. It was an enormous transformation, made possible by  Enrico’s great technical knowledge and beautiful style. Some extreme heavy bending was don by these two, and it was great fun for me to throw a heavy metal oven tray on the floor behind them, while they were very concentrated bending the thickest branch! Boy, can those Italians jump high! LOL :). The outcome of their hard work was absolutely amazing!

My demonstration was on an elegant, “one branch” Yamadori “Yew” from Terry. The deadwood whirls around the whole length of the slim trunk, so I decided to go along with this character of this tree.  I  made the one life branch dance around the back of the tree, towards the front again, in harmony with the gentle movement of the tree. The opening that you see between the branch (in raffia) and the trunk, looks much less obvious in real life. Breaking the rules about not crossing branches? But that was on purpose and necessary because of … hé if it works…who cares?!

Below: Sitting down to draw my design for the tree and to take off the weight of my back, that was absolutely killing me!

Below: And this is what was waiting for use on the Sunday morning before the last day started.

And after the last day of intense and hard but fun work, it all came to an end way too soon! I enjoyed my self immensely and found it a great privilege to work with such enthusiastic Bonsai fanatics, who trusted us enough, to work with them on there loved and valuable trees, without any hesitation’s! Well, Enrico, Ivo, Terry and me are invited to do it all over again in November 2008, and I have heart it is already fully booked again! I can’t wait!

I hoped you enjoyed this “Burrs” story?

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

Info: karamottobonsai@hotmail.com

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MY DEMO AT THE LAST “GINKGO AWARD” 2007.

Hi, everybody,

I can clearly remember the day that Danny User asked me to demonstrate at his 2007 “Ginkgo award”! He called me (which he never those) at work and asked if I had something to do in September next year? And if not, would I like to demonstrate at his next and last “Ginkgo awards”? He knocked me right off my feed and I accepted full-hearted YES!!! The “Ginkgo award” holds a special place in my heard and to demonstrate there is and was a dream come true for me, so I could not be any happier!

Two days before the event I drove to Danny and Ingrid Bonsai Centre “Ginkgo” in Belgium to bring in my 4 bonsai that were selected for the show, and to find a suitable tree for me to demonstrate on among the literary many hundreds of raw material that you can find there. After I brought my Bonsai to where they were photographed for the commemorative “best Bonsai in Europe” book, I headed outside to look among the many hundreds of trees to find an inspiring tree. But even with this many choices, finding a tree among the many that Danny has in his enormous place is not as easy as it might seem! I searched for the right tree as if I was buying it for my own collection. The tree had to appeal to my taste of Bonsai and tickle my imagination at the same time. My demonstration trees always reflect where I’m at that moment in Bonsai and it must always end up looking the same as when I had styled it in my own garden as a future Bonsai for my private collection! A big part of my Bonsai collection today, still consists of my former demo trees. After a long search, I ended up with two possible candidates! Both Yamadori “Yews” from Japan. One with a lot of fantastic deadwood to work on with heavy machines, but almost now foliage to work with. And one with a lot of problems to solve, but enough foliage to work with. They both had a good possibility to demonstrate on and to become a good pre-Bonsai that reflecting my approach, taste and style. Because working on the first tree mend, that I had to be doing wood carving for most of the two-day demonstration, making a lot of noise with my power tools, bothering the other demonstrators and the stand workers that were all in the same big greenhouse with me! So I chose the second tree, it was more challenging for me anyway, with a lot more nice Yamadori problems to solve or incorporate into the design that I envisioned when I first looked at this lovely tree. The tree gave me lots of good Bonsai vibes!

                                 Picture 1: shows the chosen front of the tree.

                    Picture 2: shows me when I just discovered my demo tree.

 Picture 3: shows the very hot demonstration airier. Some big names with on the fare right, U can just see  William “Bill” Valavanis from the USA, next to him Udu Fisher from Germany, next to him Sandro Signeri from Italy and I’m the one on the left and I’m from Holland.

 Picture 4,5,6: The start of my demo, Here I am cleaning and plucking the branches to prepare them for wiring.

Picture 7: here you can see me removing the too long and to highly placed top branches. Leaving some stumps that might be useful later, when I start working on the deadwood design!

Picture 8: Here I am looking where the all-important live lines of the tree are running. I do this with a small sharp chisel, peeling away the bark until I reach the live parts. In this case that was quite difficult to determent, because of the little difference in colour between the life and the dead part. So needless to say: I had to be very careful.

Picture 9: After I was really sure where it was safe to work, I could start working freely, without any fear for the health of the tree in the back of my mind. All I just had to do, was stay in between the lines! I worked with both power tools and hand tools to first remove all the rotted wood and other unwanted parts. Then I just started to free flow, taking bits away, discovering a point of interest or beauty, a Little creating or revealing. But always working very carefully, following the grain of the wood. Gradually I worked towards the point were smaller bits were necessary on my power tool, to create, or reveal more detail in the deadwood. It is advisable to always wear Eye protection and always use a mask! The dust from working on a Yew with power tools is irritating to your eyes and can give you a bad chest pain and cough for days! BELIEVE ME!!! I know what I’m talking about! (ugh ugh) :).

Picture 10, 11,12: My good old friend William van Vlaandre (inventor of the “SAMURAI” power tool bit), gave me one of his specially made power tools, loaded with his biggest “Samurai”, to use on the bigger parts of deadwood at the top of the tree. And it went like a warm knife through butter! Amazing you could make a small canoe out of a big tree in half an hour with this monster! Even the otherwise almost unworkable fresh and therefore wet wood, was no problem! It left a smooth surface! And with some care it was even possible to create more subtle details as well, it worked great! Only both my arms would disagree with these statements, they looked like I had been carrying 3 hedgehogs on fire! LOL! 😬😊

                            Picture 13: More detailed carving on the top “JIN”.

                                  Picture 14: View on the demonstrating area.

Picture 15: The three top branches that would make up the whole top part of the tree, we’re way too thick to be bent with just wire! So they first had to be protected with tight applied layers of in water-soaked Raffia. Than 4 strings of copper wire was placed lengthwise along the part of the branch that needed to be bend. Then another layer of wet Raffia was applied and then some more normal wiring with thick copper wire on top of that layer. Now I was sure that I could bend the branches with minimal risk of harming the tree. It would only need great force!

Picture 16, 17, 18: Now I could safely start, to gradually bend the very tough branches into their desired positions. Taking my time, piece by piece, until I could secure them with the help of some thin copper wire attached to a couple of Jins and one small screw.

Picture 19: After a wild long night playing snooker (pool) with my Bonsai friends and only 4 hours of sleep, I started with the detail wiring of the tree. Trying to keep in pace with the marching band in my head!🥴

Picture 20: Finally the real fun part of styling a tree hat arrived. When I am bringing all the branches into position, I am totally in the zone, I love it, it is magical to almost paint with foliage until I feel it looks good. Trying to create something I like and find beautiful in Bonsai, within the boundaries of what each tree has to offer to me, is always a wonderful experience. To do it on this stage with this valuable material Danny entrusted me with, made it even more elevating and meaningful to me!

Picture 21: Close up of the basic first deadwood on the back part of the tree and the branches.

Picture 19, 20: Some last detail works on the deadwood using a very hard plastic brush, that left a grain-like texture on the still soft fresh part on the top.

Picture 21: YES! Finished and drained, but happy with the result and the beer that was waiting on the other side of the camera!

Picture 22: The final result. I hope you liked this little demo story and the final image of this pre-bonsai? It was, as I said before, a great honour to do! Especially because this was the last “Ginkgo award”! It was a very happy and a bit melancholic experience!

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                               My “Ginkgo Award 2007” demonstration tree.

                                A “Taxus cuspidata   Yamadori from Japan.

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

Info: karamottobonsai@hotmail.com

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THE STORY OF “BIG RON”.

The story of “BIG RON”.

Some were in November 2000, my friends: Teunis-Jan Klein, Carlos van de Vaart and I made the long drive all the way to Milan (Italy) to look for some Yamadori material. After visiting some bonsai friends gardens in Milan, we arrived at NIPPON EN bonsai garden. There were some amazing bonsai on display and for sale and the yamadori material the had there was of very high quality! Some were lost among all this super yamadori I discovered the very old “Mugo Pine” of this story.

Pic. 1: In this picture, that is a still shot from a poor video, you can see this amazing “Hawk” like roots of this Pine, that looks if it is lifting the earth. I fell in love immediately, but was scared of the leg of workable foliage on these almost “Octopus” like long branches with only some scares foliage on the end!

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Pic.2: Here you can see the backside of the tree. There is not much to work with here either! Only those few long branches you see in picture 1.

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Pic.3: I could not resist the challenge of this massive tree and bought it from the owner of NIPON EN. He told me that it was one of the first yamadori he ever collected. He found it literally on the top of a very high mountain in the Italian Alps. And it stood in his gardens for many years, without much work don to it. And nobody seemed to be interested in buying it, because of the leg of foliage and age on those few branches. As there was no room for this big tree in the car that we came in and I did not have that much money with me as well, so I had to drive all the way back again to Milan Italy in May the next year to collect it! And I was very excited when I made that long trip again with another old friend in my own (bigger) car. The former owner of this pine asked me to take care of it and I promised him, that I would try my best to make it beautiful! When I finally had the tree in my own garden I made this first drawing of the idea I had in mind for its future. Although (than) I had no idea how to reach it, this is what I saw.

 

Pic.4: And now just over 6 years later, this is the result. This tree made a big transformation in a very short time, with only one real scare during that whole time. A few years ago the tree lost its beautiful bark on the right side of the tree. I pealed the bark away and my hearth almost stopped when I found out that the whole backside of the tree had died. I could easily remove all of the old bark of the already dry wood! I literally burst into tears, because I thought the tree might die and most certainly would never be like I hoped for it to be! After the first shock was over I tried to see what caused this die back. I discovered than that the whole tree was hollowed out by “Wasps”, all the way true this thick tree, right up the the live bark on the bottom of this tree! I removed all the rotted dead wood with power tools and treated the remaining deadwood with Jinseal and then Wrapped the hole trunk of the tree with screening cloth to keep the constant returning wasps out for 3 long years. But the tree remained healthy and strong! And looks actually much better with this great looking peas of deadwood, as if Mother nature had the brilliant idea to help me with styling! I was tremendesly proud to be able to show this old survivor I named “Big Ron” in this last “Ginkgo Awards Show”!

I think this Bonsai came a long way in a short time and I am glad I can finally show it to my friends here on my blog. The compleet story of   “BIG RON” can be seen on my website in the near future.

I hope you like it?

Hans van Meer.

 

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