two weeks ago we had some record-breaking warm weather so it was a great opportunity to do some wiring and deadwood work on one of my favourite Prunus Mahaleb Yamadori’s from Slovenia. This pre-Bonsai is full of naturally burned and sun-bleached deadwood and I want to recreate that in the Jin and Shari where I am going to work. Almost all of the branches of this tree are newly grown by me and need more fine branching and ageing, but I am not in a hurry! I was a bit laid with wiring it almost completely and had to take great care not to break off any of the new growth that was emerging fast because of the sudden warm weather of the last few days! We went from frost in the night to almost 30 degrees during the daytime in one week’s time…really crazy weather!!! After I finished the wiring and styling it, for now, I started to work on the front Jin and Shari with a power tool. The main focus was on reducing the Jin and Shari because there is a reverse taper and bulging section on it that needs to be reduced and shaped as naturally as possible so that it will fit in with the rest of all the natural deadwood on the tree!
Below: The Prunus Mahaleb after I just finished the wiring. Height 67 cm. I kept it as natural looking as possible and preserved the second small trunk on the left bottom side of my design! I allowed it to grow freely to create a for now still young-looking small secondary tree to accompany the larger tree on the right! I guess you could call it a Mother and child design?!
Below; the red arrow points at the deadwood part that is thicker than the section below it. The Jin is too thick and the section below it is somewhat bulging and forms a reverse taper!
Below: Taking my time and enjoying it while I am taking away excess wood and shaping at the same time. I love this fast creating-a-result part of doing Bonsai!
Below: The result is that the Jin is less bulky now and looks like the remains of a large branch/trunk that has been torn off by a storm that created a long wound that runs down through the bark below it. In that way, the reverse taper or bulge is less obvious! Now the fresh deadwood needs to be scorched with a small burner to mimic the crackly image of the originally burned deadwood on this tree.
Below: after carefully burning the fresh deadwood it looks just like the original deadwood of this tree. I will not brush it to preserve the cracks that look just like the ones on the natural deadwood on the right side of it! There is a forecast of rain for the next couple of days so I will bleach it with diluted Lime sulfur to mimic the original lightly bleached deadwood! I will post pictures of it later.
Here is again a link to a post by Jonas Dupuich on his great educational BONSAI TONIGHT website!!! This time it is a link to his post about his trip to the Sierra Nevada desert where he made some of the most breathtaking pictures of some of the most beautiful trees in existence!!! I discovered this post in the middle of the night and I was literally blown away for a while and moved emotionally by what he had captured so well in his pictures!!! These ancient trees full of unbelievable deadwood are so humbling and exemplary of what we want to create in our Bonsai!!! So I had to reblog the link here so that everybody could enjoy them! I hope you all are impressed by them as I am…I can’t stop looking at them and shake my head in amazement!!! And there are much more articles and pictures to find on his amazing blog so do go and have a long look!!!
Bellow: Jonas Dupuich the author and photographer of the article on one of the mind-boggling Sierra junipers in his amazing article that you must see on his BONSAI TONIGHT website and blog!!!
I had the good fortune to give some workshops these last months and there are more planned for the coming months here in Holland and abroad! And although I love to give a demo like the one planned in Slovenia in a few weeks’ time, workshops are still a bit more favourable to me! The interaction with the students and the shared pleasure of creating and working on those little trees is so fulfilling to me! Here are some pictures that Marijke made a week ago during my workshop in Poortugaal (NL).
It is also good to see that the material that is brought in these days to work on is much better and that means that my students and their trees are evolving, and that is a good thing to see and makes me proud and happy!
just one day back from my visit to my Friday workshop in beautiful Slovenia! My dear friend and kind host TOMAŽ KOVŠCA from the “TORA” International Bonsai School in Slovenia took me on an amazing two days sightseeing tour around Slovenia that left me even more in love with this breathtaking country and its super friendly people! Like I told him many times during that trip: I could happily live here and grow old with a smile on my face! Images and the story from that part of my visit to this wonderful place will follow soon! On Friday afternoon and evening there was a workshop planned in his great Bonsai studio that I would lead with the help of Tomaz himself and his talented student Gasper Gabrijel. Relaxing after our sightseeing trip before it all would start we were waiting in the sun enjoying a Turkish coffee and home-brewed vodka with Juniper berries in it that you could chew…it was absolutely heavenly and boy did it hit the spot! And the view of Tomaz’s beautiful Bonsai collection that surrounded us was not half bad either! Here are some images of his amazing collection that were shot (with a not-so-good old camera) by me before the students arrived.
Below: A view of just a section of Tomaz his beautiful collection.
Below: A wonderful self-collected and styled Spruce.
Below: One of his many amazing Sylvestris.
Below: A very stylish Juniper.
Below: A local Prunus mahaleb Yamadori.
Below: And another stunning Sylvestris Yamadori.
Below: And this is the one that I fell in love with a very promising Mugo Yamadori!!!
Below: In his studio, this beautiful self-built Tokonoma with a uniquely styled garden material Juniper Bonsai was welcoming me and the students.
Below: Before the actual work on the brought-in trees started I first discussed them all with the owners in front of all the students. So that everybody could learn from each and every tree! This is a very valuable part of the workshop for the student and very exciting for me to do! This Juniperus sabina Yamadori was after I discussed the possibilities styled by two Croatian students with the help of Tomaz himself and the end result is pretty impressive and promising indeed!
Below: Tomaz and his student Gasper Gabrijel working on the final touches.
Below: The beautiful end result of this first styling.
Below: A Yamadori Hawthorn before the work started.
Below: Almost finish after some drinks and lovely finger food!
Below: The end result is a Literati deciduous Bonsai.
Below: A local Yamadori Spruce with a unique but difficult root base.
Below: And the end result, a young but already elegant and natural-looking pre-Bonsai.
Below: Some were so into the work that they resisted the late-night cold before coming in!
Below: Later that evening inside that same tree, the owner is concentrated looking on while I make some adjustments and bring some of the branches in position.
Below: My old friend Roland Petek brought in two mindblowing Mugo Yamadori Pines with him! This one has amazing deadwood all along this side, but still, we selected to style it with the other side as its front. This site would always look like a Tanuki and that is not what you want for your Bonsai…especially a Mother like this one!!!
Below: Roland concentrated on applying a layer of raffia and then a layer of black plastic tape to protect the thick and old branches from cracking. And this is much-needed because we have to bend and reposition them severely!
Below: This is the very promising end result after its first styling. From this side, there is still more than enough deadwood to be seen, but now it is accompanied all along the trunk by the beautifully contrasting old flaky bark! The left-side hanging branch pushes the sloping tree back upwards and gives the whole composition an exciting balancing act. The foliage is basically a triangle that cuts through the upwards going lines of the trunk, leading the eyes to the left and back again on their way to the top of the tree and then down again! So this Bonsai has it all: balance, rhythm, movement, visual old age, a wide Nebari, Jin, Shari, life veins, and a very proud owner! Weldone Roland and thanks for trusting me!
Below: From another student came yet another beautiful Yamadori pine! And again with some problems to solve and big decisions to make! But I had no problems convincing the owner and the rest of the students how to proceed to solve them and to bring the best out of this, once again, beautiful and exciting Yamadori. That long downward Jin needed to go because it distracted the beauty of the abrupt movement of the trunk line in the top section! This was mostly caused because it protrudes from the inside of the curve in the trunk its top section and like with branches that grow from the inside of a curve in a trunk they almost always look misplaced and disturbing! Also two Jins on the lower section of the trunk needed to be reduced because they were distracting and other Jins and the Shari needed to be styled! Then the top main branch was protected by a layer of raffia and wired before everything could be put into place and that sounds easier than it actually was because the top section needed a lot of heavy bending!
Below: And here is the (for now) finished pre-Bonsai. I am discussing here at the end of the workshop what the happy student with some help from me has reached…and that is simply amazing! Because I really do think that this is a very exciting and promising result! And I do believe that in just 3 or 4 years time this will be an amazing Bonsai!
The above-shown trees are just a small selection of the 10 or 11 that were worked on and styled that day and more images can be seen in a very nice video that Tomaz made of it all and has posted on YouTube (link below)!
I would like to thank Tomaz and his lovely wife for taking so good care of me and for trusting me to do this workshop in his Bonsai School! And I would like to especially thank all his students for trusting me with their precious trees!
I can hardly wait to go back in May to Slovenia to do my workshop and demo at the
I will be posting soon pictures that I made during my trip with Tomaz through stunning Slovenia…so I hope to see you back here soon!
I have made a start to improve and/or adjust 7 of my Bonsai videos on youtube. Some were shakey and others had copyright issues and that bothered me so I bought a much better professional video editing program and have just reposted the first two remastered Bonsai videos back on youtube! It is the “KEI BONSAI KAI” Bonsai exhibition video Part I and II that I shot in May 2016 in the famous Bonsai centre “GINKGO” in Laarne Belgium. Don’t forget to visit the second edition of this amazing Bonsai extravaganza on the 26th of May this year!!! Believe me that you won’t be disappointed, so I hope to see you all there?! More improved and/or adjusted videos will be reposted during the next couple of days, so watch this space!!!
I am proud to announce that I will be giving a workshop on Friday the 6th of April in my dear Slovenian friend TOMAŽ KOVŠCA his International Bonsai School “TORA”.
Besides being really honoured I am also very happy to be reacquainted and working again with a lot of my Slovenian Bonsai friends! I have already heard that it is fully booked…but maybe there is still a place for my workshop a month later on 19 and 20 May 2018 at the VIII yearly international Bonsai exhibition of the Slovenian Bonsai Club?! Hope to see you there?!
last week we had record-breaking low temperatures here in Holland and young and old grabbed this unique chance and went ice skating where and whenever they could! Typical Dutch fun…no wonder we won most of the ice speed skating medals at the Olympics!!! This was pretty precarious because I already hadrepotted several of my Bonsai the week before all this arctic weather started. The below pictures were made on the 4th of March.
I hope you enjoyed these unexpected Winter images?!
the Monday after this year’s Noelanders Trophy weekend my old and dear friends Tony Tickle and Terry Foster visited my garden before they would get on the boot from Europoort to England. This visit from Tony has become a real annual tradition this last decade or so and it is always something that we all look forward to. But this time was even more special because this time I had a special present waiting for Tony to thank him for all that he has done for me in the past. It was the now well-established air layer that I took 2 years ago from my big old Prunus mahaleb Yamadori. It has wonderful deadwood running all along its trunk and I am sure that Tony will make a stunning Bonsai out of it! It made me feel good to return the pleasure this time and I wish them both a happy future!
I just to let you all know that I just posted the short video that I made of me bringing in my Ilex verticillata into the XIX 2018 edition of the prestigious Noelanders edition! In it, you can see how my Bonsai is photographed for the commemorative book and how I build up my composition in the almost still completely empty enormous exposition hall on the Thursday before the show…to go short: things you don’t often see about a big Bonsai show like this is! So have a look and forgive me for the not-so-good quality of the film…the lighting was still very poor then and I was very tired! But I still hope you like it?!
my dear old Bonsai friends Tony Tickle and Terry Foster (UK) came last Monday straight from the Noelanders Trophy to visit my house, and garden and for some light refreshments and a dinner and a lot of small and of course Bonsai talk! And although it was really freezing that day we still spend a lot of time looking at and discussing my Bonsai. Especially Terry was really interested in the (in his words) amazing ramification on my Yamadori Hawthorn named “LITTLE TONY”! And while we both were discussing it Tony was making a short impression video of some of my trees in the garden. It turned out nicely so I would like to share the link with you all so that you can get some sort of idea about my work and my tinny Bonsai garden. 🙂 I hope you enjoy it?!