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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VERY OLD “MUGO UNCINATA”.

Hi everybody,

I would like to share a picture with you I shot this afternoon of my old “Mugo Uncinata”.

In 2001 my wife and I travelled all the way to Switzerland to buy this and another Pine Yamadori from a well-known bonsai pro. After a few months in the growing season, the Pine still did not show any signs of growth! So I decided to check out the condition of the roots. I did not like the soil it was planted in after it was collected, it was some sort of grey gravel that stayed wet far too long and was really compressed. Carefully digging for some roots, my worst fears came true! There were no roots what so ever to find! Only a small peas of tap root (4/5 inches) covered in clay was all that was left on the tree, all the other roots were simply cut off with a saw. You got to love those provisional collectors, don’t you?!

Broken hearted I repotted the tree into my own soil recipe and placed the tree in a protected spot in my garden, where I could monitor everything from Sunlight to water! And then I waited and hoped!

Well to make a long story even longer….this amazing old survivor recovered and today is thriving. It is still secured to the pot with its deadwood on the right, to support it until the whole pot is full of roots! Than this deadwood will be shortened up to the red line. Then the root base will measure 56 CM/22 INCH. With the length of this Pine being 58CM/23 INCH this is very impressive! There is only one live line on the left of the tree alive, twirling around the back of the tree, coming back into sight on the right of the tree, feeding the only branch left on it. From this branch, I created the whole image of this pre-bonsai. A few years ago I cut off an old branch from the left part of the root base. I grinded the wood with fine sandpaper, so I could count the year rings. I could not count them all because they were simply too thin! But the ones I could count, went way over the 300 years mark! Last year I removed pieces of dead wood from the back and top and did the same, and was really amazed to count way more than 400 rings! This might just be one of the oldest living trees in Holland! And still, it managed to survive without any roots for all that time!

I still have a long way to go with this amazing piece of history, but I’m not complaining!

I hope you like it so far?

regards,

Hans van Meer.

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Info: karamottobonsai@hotmail.com    

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“MOM’S YEW” DESIGN VIEWS. PART 2

So let’s look at another design option for Irene’s Yew. Again I start with the same drawing of the frame of the tree, without the branches.  

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So now I want to try and see if I can get any movement in this straight tree. I plane to use the right branch, it grows at a nice angle from the trunk and has a nice secondary branch growing on an interesting place. So now I will virtual tilt the tree to the left to create some movement and angles to the tree trunk.

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It’s a start, but still not enough movement for my liking!

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Now we are talking! I like to create angles in my designs, and I like to have branches, foliage or Jin’s emphasising the movement these angles create. Let me try to explain: the arrow on the left points at the future corner in my trunk design. This is a point were your eye, when you follow the line of the trunk upwards, turns from going left, to going right. If you emphasize this important point with a branch,  foliage or Jin, you will create a place for the eye to stop at, before it travels further upwards. (second arrow)

Those two thick trunks on the left are too straight and without any interest (in this design!). So they must be converted into deadwood,  so they are used to benefit the design.

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Here you can see how I might shape the Shari and Jins to emphasize that part where the tree changes direction. I also converted the back branches into Jins. Now I’m going to place the foliage in such a way that brings balance to the overall design. But also in a way that again enhances the movements of the tree!

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It is not easy to draw a picture with my mouse, but something like this is what I mean. Now the same tree is transformed in a typical bonsai style. That evokes a completely different feeling than the early-er formal broom style I made.

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First, the movement of the tree goes to the left and then where it changes to the right, I created an eye catcher in the form of that Jin. A place for the eyes to stop on there way up the tree and to enhance the change in trunk direction. It also divides the, otherwise to big,    empty space on the left side of the tree, preventing that the tree is being pushed too much to the right and looking unbalanced.

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The first branch on the right leans nicely on the empty space that is trapped under-need it (dotted line).  Supporting the tree imaginary, holding it up, and therefore keeping the tree in balance. Empty spaces are one of the most important features for a successful design but are often neglected or misunderstood.

So there you have it, another vision and possibility for “Mom’s Yew”. I will have another idea ready in a few days. We have a lot to think about and a lot of decisions to make! But that is the fun in designing a bonsai.

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

Info: karamottobonsai@hotmail.com    

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“MOM’S YEW” DESIGN VIEWS.

Irene removed the branch I recommended and mailed the Pictures from the angle I asked for.                                   (see pictures below)

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OK, for now, lets use this side as the front.

From this side, the too large root is on the backside and will be (after some reduction), not so much in your face “anymore. The placement of the main branches show possibility’s from this side and there is a nice see through between them, to see the back branches. Creating dept to this broom like tree.

I  think that Irene likes here bonsai to look natural, so I will discuss that option first.

If you look at pictures of old Yews in the wild in Europe, you will see that the most often grow in an almost deciduous tree looking broom style.

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And often with stunning deadwood on there massive trunks.

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This next perfect drawing of an English yew, by an unknown artist,  next to the perfect example of an old and free growing broom-style Yew.  Shoot by my wife nearby the town of Santander, North Spain.

Look at the amazing small lifelines on this bettered old survivor.

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Looking at this fine drawing and picture; I believe that this natural broom style is a  logical and possible option for Irene’s Yew!

Here Tree has the typical straight trunk, that splits up at a certain height into several trunks that grow almost straight up, just like in the drawing.

In the drawing, U can also clearly see the long and thin branches that grow from these multiple trunks.  In there search for light, they bend down under there own weight and length, creating the broom-like appearance.  To create this on Irene’s Yew, we must first stimulate the tree into new growth lower on the trunks. But that’s for later. First, lets look at one of the possibilities I see to create Irene’s  tree into a believable broom style bonsai. Using Irene’s last picture (see below), I made a drawing. I only just the outlines of the bare trunk to show you what could be done to create this style.

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In the first drawing (dotted line), you can see where the two thick branches were cut and made into a Jin and Shari. This point depends of course on where the new growth will appear, but this is only an example of how I think when looking at a tree and what I might do to style it. I drew the tree with more or less (not too good I must admit) bonsai like foliage layers, so you might get an idea of how it could look as a bonsai. In the real live bonsai, the foliage layers would be closer together and heavier than in my drawing. But it is just to show you that this tree in this style, could be nice and believable as bonsai. And even more important, doable.

I’ll Be back with more soon!

Hans.

Info: karamottobonsai@hotmail.com    

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MORE YEW WORK

 

 Hi, everybody, 

Last weekend I did some more refinement work on one of my Yews in preparation for the Ginkgo Award.

Picture 1: Shows the small Shohin Yew before I worked on the ground coverage.

Picture 2: Shows the tree after different fresh mosses were added.

Picture 3: Shows that the second branches on both sides are growing from the same height on the trunk. The branch on the left side was always meant to be removed but was left on the tree to fill the big empty space between the bottom left branch and the top until the branch right above it would have grown enough in length to replace it. Especially on a bonsai this size these obvious folds are an eyesore and should be avoided or solved before you enter the bonsai in any show.

Picture 4: Here the branch is already removed and a small jin is left as a reminder. The branch above the one that is removed is brought down to more or less replace it.

Hans.

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Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

Info: karamottobonsai@hotmail.com    

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                             A close up picture of my old Mugo Pine  “Big Ron”.

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Welcome to my bonsai blog!

Here I will keep you updated with my bonsai work, my yamadori trips, my demo’s and workshop and everything else that has something to do with bonsai I come across!    

Have fun,

Hans van Meer.  

Info: karamottobonsai@hotmail.com     

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