Hi everybody,

last Tuesday evening on the 30th of January I drove all excited to Nieuwekerk aan den IJssel (NL) for the evening demonstration and meet and greet with the great Japanese Bonsai Master Kunio Kobayashi. My dear friend Teunis Jan Klein (the owner and the proprietor of Deshima Bonsai Studio) had managed to get this superstar of Japanese Bonsai to do an evening meet and greet and a spectacular evening demo on Tuesday. And on Wednesday and Thursday, a daytime workshop for 8 people under the guidance of the Master followed by an evening traditional Japanese Kaiseki dinner with the master and his charming wife in the top Japanese restaurant Yama Cuisine in beautiful Rotterdam (NL). Teunis Jan has managed to organize something truly special and unique in the Bonsai world! I was regretfully only able to attend the evening demo…but boy o boy what a top evening it turned out to be! And what an amazing specimen demo tree did Teunis reserved for master Kobayashi his demo! It was a large field-grown Pinus thunbergii that he bought over a decade ago when he was in China for his work as a purchaser for a large Bonsai importer. Over those years he skillfully managed to get tons of new foliage all over the branches so there was plenty to work with for this demo! The tree has amazing bark and beautiful movement and was well fit for even a master like Mister Kobayashi is! After Teunis gave the audience some explanation how he went about to organize this 3 days event he introduced  Satoko Takagi the translator who would translate every word mister Kobayashi would share with us into Dutch. And then he introduced the two skilful assistance that would help the master that evening, the first one Hugo Zamoraluna from Mexico came along with Mister Kobayashi from Japan and the second one Ralph Oduber a student of Teunis Jan that has studied at Mister Kobayashi his school Shunka En in the past. While Teunis Jan was doing this Mister Kobayashi was already very busy at work lifting the heavy tree in all kinds of different angles like it weighed nothing and if he is not almost 70 years old and not just of the plain from a long flight from Japan…amazing!!! It was funny to see that Teunis had to call him to order to stop for a minute so that he could introduce him properly to us all! He received a hearty applause from the Bonsai enthusiasts and then he was off again to what he does the best and while he was answering all kinds of questions and explaining what he was doing, he and his helpers tilted the tree in the desired position and secured it with wire to the turntable and then started to cut off all unnecessary foliage and branches.

Below: Because I was at the same time shooting a video I started to make photo’s when they were already a few minuted selecting the necessary branches and cutting off the unnecessary foliage and branches. And that was all don in an enormously fast tempo! If you just look at all the foliage on the floor at this point then you can clearly see just how far they already were when I shoot this first picture!

Below: and more and more was cut off leaving only the necessary foliage.

Below: 70 years old?! I wish that I could sit on my knees like that and I am only 57 ?! 😉

Below: the assistance started to pluck needles and wiring while the master was cutting off even more foliage!

Below: wiring the branches and foliage. On the right, you can see a picture of how the tree looked just after Teunis Jan had bought it in China all those years ago.

Below: look how he amazingly is working with tree cutters in his right hand?! And still managed to wire small branches??? But he has hat a lot of practice doing Bonsai for 15 hours a day over the last 45 years! 🙂

Below: with every wire that is applied and branches that are positioned more and more beauty is revealed…like magic!!! 

Below: the growth could not control their selfs any longer when the whole top section was bent forward with the help of a special Bonsai tool! It was bent until some cracks appeared and then secured in place with some heavy copper wire.

Below: and below the amazing end result after some 3 hours of work. What an amazingly quick transformation into a very promising Bonsai! What a talented and skilful visionary is this very sympathetic, humorous and modest master! It was so inspiring to watch his every move from so close by! Thanks for a very memorable evening mister Kobayashi and Teunis Jan Klein and all the volunteers that helped that night in DESHIMA BONSAI STUDIO for making this all possible for us all!  

The 2o minutes’ video of this whole stunning transformation is in the making and will be posted on my own youtube KARAMOTTO Bonsai channel in a few days time so watch this space!!! 

I hope you enjoyed this for me special post of a unique Bonsai experience?!


Hans van Meer.




Hi, everybody,

yesterday I did a Bonsai discussion at my first Bonsai club “KOYA” that is located in Rijswijk the Netherlands. I became a member there way back in 1991 and stayed there for 6 or 7 years. During those years there I organized with Farrand Blog en Rene Rooswinkel (now from BonsaiFocus) en many volunteers from KOYA one of the first big Bonsai exhibitions in Holland! And I was head of the activity committee for a while. And last but not least, I gave there my first and second demonstration ever! That first demo tree was a garden centre “Chamaecyparis nana” that a few years later won the “Dutch Bonsai days” and was later shown at the very first “Ginkgo Awards” and the “Crespy Cup”! I have fun memories of this club so it was great to go back there after all these years to help and teach the new and old club members with there questions and to give advice about maintenance and styling. I was welcomed at the door by a beautiful (portable) Tokonoma with a very mature delicate Holm (Quercus Ilex) that you don’t see that often as Bonsai in our part of the world. It was accompanieth by a nice scroll with a winter image and a suiseki. I had a great afternoon and the day was over before we knew it! The reactions were very positive and we agreed that I would come back early next year to give a workshop! After all the hearty goodbyes I drove back home…tired but very happy! Thanks to all the members of “KOYA” for their warm welcome and trust! I hope to see you all soon again?!


Hans van Meer. 


Hallo allemaal,

gisteren heb ik een Boom bespreking gehouden bij mijn eerste Bonsai vereniging “KOYA” in Rijswijk. Ik ben daar lid geworden in de begin jaren negentig en ben er zo’n 6 a 7 jaar gebleven. Gedurende die tijd heb ik met Farrand Bloch en Rene Rooswinkel (van BonsaiFocus) en veel vrijwilligers van KOYA een van de eerste grote Nederelandse Bonsai shows georganiseerd. Tevens was ik een tijd hoofd van de activiteiten commisie en ik gaf er mijn eerste en tweede domonstratie ooit! Die eerste demo boom een tuin centrum “Chamaecyparis nana” won een paar jaar later de land dagen en heeft nog op de “Ginkgo Awards” en de “Crespy Cup” gestaan. Onnodig om te zegen dat ik leuke herrineringen heb aan mijn tijd by KOYA, dus het was fijn om eindelijk weer eens terug te kunnen gaan om de leden te helpen met al hun vragen over de verzorging en het stijlen van hun Bonsai. Ik werd bij de ingang verwelkomt door een hele mooie portable “Tokonoma” met een hele mooie en volwassen Steeneik (Quercus Ilex) en een prachtige scroll met een winter motief en een goed bij passende Suiseki. Ik had een fantastische dag en hij was voorbij voor dat we er erg in hadden! De reacties waren erg positief en we zijn overeen gekomen dat ik begin volgend jaar terug kom om een workshop te geven. Na een erg hartelijk afscheid ging ik moe maar voldaan weer op huis aan. Bedankt “KOYA” voor jullie vertrouwen en warm welkom en hopenlijk tot volgend jaar maar weer?! 

Bonsai club “KOYA” Tokonoma.


Hans van Meer.




I just posted “The ten-years story of an Itoigawa Tanuki Bonsai” on YouTube.

Hi, everybody.

I just posted my latest video “The ten-years story of an Itoigawa Tanuki Bonsai” on YouTube!!! It is a video in pictures and words and shows the story of a found beautiful piece of Yew deadwood and a 3 years old small Itoigawa cutting that fused together over a period of ten years became a promising pre Bonsai! Go have a look if you are interested and let me know what you think?!


Hans van Meer.



GREAT NEWS!!! 26 May 2018. Second edition “KEI BONSAI KAI” ten and ten “DANNY USE & FRIENDS” in “GINKGO” Bonsai center in Laarne Belgium!!!

GREAT NEWS!!! On Saturday 26 May 2018 Danny & Ingrid Use from Bonsai center “GINKGO” in Laarne Belgium will stage the second edition of the amazing “KEI BONSAI KAI” TEN and TEN “DANNY USE & FRIENDS” in Laarne Belgium!!! First of all there is Danny’s huge world class private collection to see and like in the first very amazing edition in 2016 Danny his loyal students from “KEI BONSAI KAI” will show literally hundreds of there best Bonsai in amazing arrangements through out the whole “Ginkgo” Bonsai center! And like if that would be not enough?! Just like before Danny also invited many of his old Bonsai friends from the famous and legendary “GINKGO BONSAI AWARDS” series  to show there best work!!! And I am once again very honored and proud to say that I am one of them! 🙂 This great news was told to me last week when after a to long time I finally was able to visit my old and dear friends Danny and Ingrid again in their wonderful Bonsai center!

As always we were warmly welcomed as lost friends and during a cordial conversation and coffee Danny told me about his plans for the new Show and invited me to be a part of it again. Well I wholeheartedly sad YES!!! I WOULD LOVE TO!!! Even if this upcoming edition is half the success and the fun of the first one…well than I would still love to be a part of it all!!! If you love Bonsai? Well than you simply cant afford to miss out on this opportunity to visit this amazing “GINKGO” Bonsai center were everything you ever need or want in Bonsai is for sale + the change to see hundreds of some of the best Bonsai in Europe!!! Ow and did  I mentioned that there is a hug indoors rebuild wooden american roadhouse bar for drinks and snacks!!! 😉  I hope to see and meet you all there!

Here you can see two video’s that I shot during the first edition in 2016:


Hans van Meer.


Cutting back new growt on all my Yamadori Yews and how and why (with before and afters).

Hi, everybody,

last week it was time to cut back all the strong new growth on all my Yamadori Taxus baccata’s that I collected many, many years ago in Wales with my dear friends Tony Tickle, Terry Foster and Mike Sullivan. Last year they were all heavily fed and allowed to grow freely to build up their strength and that resulted this year in strong growth all over all of them! So like I mentioned before, last week it was the right time to cut back all the new strong growth! How do you know when the right time has arrived? Easy, when the new growth has become harderstiffer to the touch and has become a darker colour green! Then it is time to cut back into that new growth with a very sharp and clean scissors, leaving 3 pairs of needles on a strong shoot and 4 or 5 pairs of the weaker ones! But IMPORTANT: you don’t cut back the new growth on branches that are weak or the ones that you want to thicken or to extend!!!  But even on branches that need to grow, you should remove some/most of the old needles to promote back budding!!! After all, this is done, you give the trees at least a week time to recover from the stress and to close all the wounds from cutting them! Then you carefully pick/pull off the old needles from last season, making sure that you pull in the direction they grow! This reduces the chance of damage to the often thin branches! After all, this is don and all goes well than many new strong buds will start to appear at the end of this season, and for sure in the next growing season! The other advantage is that because most branches are now without needles sunlight can reach all areas better and it has become much easier to select and wire them all! All this will result in healthy and strong growth closer to the trunk and main branches and the fuller appearance that we seek in Yew Bonsai and Bonsai in general!

Here are my own Yew Bonsai as an example for how it is don.

Below: The first one that I like to show to you is a Yamadori baccata that was given to me as a present by Tony Tickle when he visited my house almost 20 years ago now! He had collected it himself a few years earlier and I remember him smiling when he gave it to me and said: “let see what you can make out of this”?! When I later took it out off its plastic training pot, I understood exactly what he meant when he said this! Underneath the wide base of the tree grew a 15 cm long thick root with only roots at the end….it looked like a lollypop! It took me the better part of 4 years to force the tree to make roots higher and closer to the trunk base so that I could finally shorten that long root and plant the tree in a more normal pot! But during those years I had already started to style the tree and found a solution to make good use of that bulging trunk section and the Jin that emerged from it on the left! And that solution was all the time lying on my garden floor! It was a viewing stone from Indonesia which, when I held them together, fitted like a clove! The small base of the tree fell exactly into a cavity in the stone and the Jin rested on top of it, like a big branch that had died back many years ago….amazing! 🙂 Then in February 2007, the Bonsai made it through the tough pre-selection of the prestigious “Noelanders Trophy” in Heusden/Zolder Belgium. The lollypop Yew had become a Bonsai! 🙂

Height 55 cm/22 Inch. Table, scroll and Shikishi Japan.

Below: The same tree 10 years later! Healthy…but in need of a haircut and compleat wiring!

Below: Side view

Below: After shortening all the healthy shoots! Next, on the agenda is pinching most of the old needles and then rewire the whole tree and cleaning the live section and the deadwood section and applying lime sulphur.

Below: Side view. Out of model….but he looks healthy enough!

Below: The second one that I like to show was in 1999 given to me (again) as a gift of Tony Tickle, when we said ower goodbyes at the end of the historic second “Ginkgo Awards” in Belgium. This next year picture was taken in my garden just after I repotted it. The left arrow points at the large Jin that you can see on the left in the second picture below. The bottom arrow points at the large branch that I removed completely so that I would be able to create a more compact middle size Bonsai (Chuhin)! The large Jin/Shari section that you can see in the middle of the trunk in that same second picture is all that remains of this large branch!

Below: September 2007. The same tree, but now as a Bonsai! It was earlier also shown in one of the “Noelanders trophies” together with another small size Yew that I will show you next! Height: 35 cm/14 Inch. Pot: Klika & Kuratkova  Table: CHR furniture (B)

Below: The same tree before cutting the new shoots. The right bottom branch has lost some thicker branches on the backside that need to be replacedfilled with new young branches in the next seasons! The ones growing from there are left alone to thicken and extend, so no cutting or pinching! The rest of the tree will be treated as explained before!

Below: Right side view of the tree. Note how the top leans towards the front…like in most my Bonsai designs!

Below: After cutting the new shoots. The length of the branches is like in the first tree too long and the desired silhouette is lost! But after the new buds that will appear have opened and grown enough, well then all these too long branches will be cut back so that the proper silhouette will return!

Below: 1999. Me and my dear old friend Tony Tickle on a collecting trip in Wales…good times! 🙂

Below: The third example. Here is one that I collected my self during one of those exciting trips late last century with Tony, Terry and friends!

Below: And this is how it looked in September 2007. In a custom-made pot by old friend Brian Allbright (UK) and another table custom-made by CHR furniture  (B). Height 28 cm/11.2 Inch. This Bonsai was shown together with the one before this in the Noelanders trophy.

Below: And this is how it looked before pruning began. It has outgrown its beautiful Tokename pot, where it has been growing in for almost a decade! So I have to start looking for a new beautiful and more spacious one!

Below: Right side view.

Below: After cutting the new shoots. It is obvious that the left side of the top needs to be wired and repositioned!

Below: In this left side shot it is even more obvious that the left side of that top needs to be filled up by lowering the branch above that big gap! This open space arose when a major branch died back!

Below: Collecting one of the Yews from this post!

Below: The fourth example. This one was collected by my myself during one of the collecting trips I made with Tony and friends during the late nineties in Wales. As soon as I got home it was planted in a hard plastic Bonsai container and then left alone to recover!

Below: After the first signs of recovery I removed all the useless growth of those long branches so that all the energy would go to the foliage that matters! And then the tree was left alone again to get stronger for its first real styling!

Below: The tree consist of a left and right sections with a strip of deadwood running in between from top to bottom.  A year later, when the tree was looking very vigorous, I decided that it was safe to perform a drastic pruning! So I cut off all the foliage and branches from the left section of the tree, leaving the stumps so that they could be turned into Jins. And I removed all the bark from that left section, creating a nice contrast between live (brown) section and the deadwood (white) section! The branches that were useful for my design were wired and then the tree was left alone (as long as it needed) to recover from it all!

Below: A year later it was doing just fine so I planted it in a proper Bonsai pot.

Below: And this is how that same Bonsai looked in September 2007. That same year it was proudly exhibited in the fifth and last edition of the now legendaries “Ginkgo Awards” in Belgium. I like the contrast of colours in this tree and the circular design! Almost like yin yang…live and dead! But what I like most is that I created a design with an otherwise big no no….the right bottom branch that grows directly out of the inside of that curve! And still, it works and makes you look twice because it is so unconventional! And that was just what I hoped to achieve with this design!

Height: 35 cm/ 14 Inch. Pot: Tokoname. Table: CHR furniture (B)

Below: The tree before shortening most of the new growth. And after that, it is time to rewire and restyle the whole tree again!

Below: Left side view showing the deadwood/Shari and Jins.

Below: After cutting most of the new shoots.

Below: It is thinned out a lot! Now it is time to remove most of the older needles from the strong branches so that light can reach in and new buds can appear!

Below: The fifth and last example. This Yew was actually the first tree that I ever collected and yes it was Tony Tickle again who made that possible for me! I met Tony for the first time in 1997 at the first-ever “Ginkgo Bonsai show” in Belgium and we have been great friends ever since and had some amazing Bonsai adventures together since then! It was during that first meeting that Tony invited me to come collecting with him in the UK! I could not believe my luck and sure enough in early 1998, I drove all the way to the north of England! And the next day, the first tree I ever collected, was the Yew that I am next going to show and discuss!

Below: Happy me with my first collected Yamadori ever!!! This Yew marks an all-important turning point in my Bonsai live….sins then on I decided that this was what I wanted to do Bonsai! And sins then I have nearly always worked exclusively on raw unstyled material that I often found and collected myself! I wanted to have all the excitement from the beginning to the end….I choose the long way…but my way! And this Yew started that all of, so you can imagine that it holds a warm spot in my heart! 🙂

Below: In my garden, it lost the whole top section, but luckily the bottom foliage survived!

Below: A not so good picture made inside my house in 2003.  As you can see that half of the dead top section was removed right up to the red arrow in the above picture, only a small Jin remains! The large upwards going Jin you see in the below picture is the dead upwards going branch that starts just above that red arrow in the above picture!

Below: September 2007. Just rewired, repositioned, live wood cleaned and Jins and Shari’s treated with lime sulphur. Table: CHR furniture (B)

Below: Early 2008 in its present pot. From here on it was all keeping it very happy, healthy with the main focus on fuller and better branch structure! Growing, cutting, pinching and wiring etc. ect…..ect. 🙂

Below: Just look how full the tree is today! Now there is more than enough foliage to work with and to bring the Bonsai further and closer to end image that I had in mind all those years ago when I gave it it’s first styling! This pot is by now a bit too small, but is in the style that I would like to use when the Bonsai is finally ready to show…so the search is on! And the tree needs to be tilted more to the right when it is repotted back in this or in its new pot!

Below: After cutting and pinching. The copper wire in the top of that Jin is there to prevent it from accidentally breaking it when I move it around! My garden is covered with galvanized iron gauze (normally used in concrete walls), so a mistake is easily made when lifting up a tree to high!

Below: Left side view of the tree. Again notice how far my Bonsai lean forwards! This, in my mind, creates a lot of depth and creates a feeling as if the tree leans over you. If I learned one thing from looking at hundreds of Japanese Bonsai in books and in real life than it is this principle! Depth creates a sense of reality…even in pictures!

In between writing this, I spent a lot of fun time with the all-important task of the branch and new growth selection and branch shortening or removing on all the Yews! And although it is a sign of good health, a lot of growth of small and larger branches is useless or unwanted. It blocks out sunlight for the new growth and the branches that are important in your design! So it should be removed or shortened! Then there is branch shortening to reduce the overall size and mass of your design! And last but not least, branch shortening to create better branch structure and ramification! By cutting back a larger branch right up to where there is a strong shoot or even bud, you will create shorter and better ramification branches and better taper! This should be one of the main objective of Bonsai and is in modern Bonsai often neglected! You should not be only proud of the outside image of your Bonsai, but also of your branch structure!!! And it is very important for the wellbeing of your Bonsai! For example the first Bonsai from this post was after this (long) branch selection round reduced by some 20% !! After all the here discussed Bonsai have gone through this same procedure, they will all be wired, styled, cleaned and treated with Lime sulphur. After that, I will make new pictures and show them to you! I hope you enjoyed this post and found it useful and interesting?!

Now I will start to work again on my new Bonsai video that is almost finished…it only needs music underneath it! That might sound easy to some…but for a novice like me it all is a big difficult puzzle?! 🙂 It is Part I of the story of “the Elephant” my big Yamadori Larch. So watch this space!


Hans van Meer.



My (Mijn) Workshops.

        Hi, everybody,

here are some fun pictures of my recent workshop that I did in Poortugaal (Holland) this year.  Every workshop is started with a little lecture from me about Bonsai subjects. Ranging from: fertilising, wiring, styling, soil and Pine care. Everything, text, pictures and my drawings are printed out by Marijke for the students to take home! The first 6 workshops I did this year, were just like last year, staged by and for Bonsai Club “Rijnmond” . But after those were finished, the students were so enthusiastic about them that they asked me if I could stage one more my self, focusing on the subject of Pine care?! Covering Pine Candle selection, pinching, needle removing and styling? Well, last Sunday it took place, after the great help of my trusty organiser and helper Marijke, who was able to rent the workshop space again for us to work in! The pictures that Marijke made that fun Sunday give a good impression of the 8 students and the teacher having a wonderful time again! So much so, that jet another one is planed by us for July, and that was booked full to the 8 max in a flash!!! 🙂 And that made them and me very happy again! I love to work with students on their baby’s! It is very fulfilling work to pass on what I know! I hope you enjoy this little impression of the great hobby that Bonsai is for us?!


Hans van Meer.


Hallo allemaal,

hier zijn wat leuke foto’s van de laatste in de rij van 6 workshops die ik afgelopen Zondag gaf in Poortugaal (NL). Net zo als tijdens de 6 die ik daar verleden jaar al deed, wordt elke workshop gestart met een korte lezing over van alles wat met Bonsai te maken heeft. Onderwerpen zoals bijvoorbeeld: bemesting, bedraden, vormgeving en Denen verzorging worden dan behandeld door mij. Alles: tekst, foto’s en tekeningen van mij worden altijd afgedrukt door Marijke, zo dat de studenten het thuis nog eens kunnen na lezen! De eerste 6 workshops van dit jaar, waren zoals de 6 van afgelopen jaar georginaseerd door Bonsai vereniging “Rijnmond” . Maar na dat de laaste afgelopen was waren de studenten zo enthousiast dat ze mij vroegen of het mogenlijk was er nog een te organiseren, met als ondewerp het verzorgen van de verschillende dennen als Bonsai?! Met de focus op het nijpen en verwijderen van de kaarsen, naald plukken en form geving! Wel afgelopen Zondag is hij succes vol gehouden, na dat mij trouwe helper en regelaar Marijke het voor elkaar had gekregen om de ruimte nogmaals te huren! De foto’s die Marijke gemaakt heeft van deze middag zijn een mooi voorbeeld van het plezier dat de leraar en zijn studenten hadden deze fijne Bonsai dag! Zo fijn, dat ik er nog een heb georganiseerd voor Juli, die gelijk weer vol zat met de maximaal 8 studenten voor zo’n dag! En dat maakte de leraar en de studenten heel blij!Ook hierbij was Marijke onmisbaar als bemiddelaar! Ik geniet enorm van het werken aan Bonsai met mijn studenten en het geeft me veel voldoening! Ik hoop dat jullie deze kleine impressie van het plezier dat de Bonsai hobby ons schenkt leuk vinden?!


Hans van Meer.

Info and questions about workshops, demo’s and Bonsai material:

Info en vragen over workshops, demo’s en Bonsai materiaal:



Hi, everybody,

Here is the “TURKEY CATS” group picture that Kevin Baily made at “BURRS”. 

You can find more pictures here:

  And a picture of some typical “BURRS” humour! 🙂


Hans van Meer.






 Hi, everybody

here at “SHADY SIDE BONSAI” in Glen Roch Pennsylvania starts the third stop of my demo and workshop tour around the USA. 



Saturday, May 10.

Day 1:

Below: Early in the morning and the first students for the demo and workshop arrive. Tom’s “SHADY SIDE BONSAI” is so big that he (on the left) and Rich (on the right) had to load Rich his BIG Yew onto the back of a small tractor to bring it up the hill, to his outdoor working area.

Below: Here I am checking out the possibilities for this lovely but difficult two trunk Yew Tom provided me with for my morning demo. 

                                   Below: Looking how and where to start.

Below: Although the weather was letting us down a bid, people were still waiting with anticipation.

                     Below: Discussing all the possibilities with the students.

Below: First the tree was cleaned of all unwanted branches to get a better view of the frame of the tree. Then because the base of the left trunk was too thick in comparison with the right trunk, the too large pies of deadwood on the left trunk was reduced, to open up the empty space between the two trunks.

Below: After most of that excess wood was reduced and the trunks looked better in balance with its other I was able to make my design for this mother and child Yew. This is the drawing of the design I came up with. I almost always make these sketches of my designs. It helps me to remember my first thought, like a blueprint, before I start to think too much about thinks!   Because of the lake of time and the health of the tree that should be protected at all times, most first styling during these demo’s are a bit rough and unfinished and don’t always show clearly what the end result of the future bonsai will be in a few years. These drawings are also pretty handy to show people what your future plans are with your tree! It makes explaining why I am using certain techniques to get to a certain point a lot easier if those people have a clear view of where I am working towards!


Below: After lunch, we had a great afternoon workshop and lovely weather!

                                                  Below: Before and after.

                                                          Sunday, May 11.

                                                                 Day 2.



THE STORY OF THE “H.O.G” (or, how Richy saw the light! Used the force and fell asleep)!!!

You might ask: why is this story in a section of its own? Well because this is a story about courage, stubbornness, hesitation, and overcoming to be rewarded! In short: creating a very promising pre-bonsai!

Everybody else walked past this enormous Yew when they were collecting, simply because it was too big! But no, not Richy! Even when everybody said, don’t Rich! It is too big, too heavy and too hard to collect, leave it! This only fired him up to do it anyway. I came to find out that Rich is a bit stubborn sometimes and what he lakes in height, he easily makes up with courage! So he went for it! All alone and for many hours! If you look at the next picture and compare the height of the tree to that of the shovel,  you can fully understand the enormous task he had to perform to get this monster Yew out!



 The above picture is titled:   Yew in front of its new home. Or: How Richy scared the neighbours!

Richy, (with the help of a water jet stream) managed to clean off all of the hardened old soil of the massive roots! But, by doing this, he created a  bit of a mud stream, that because of the sloping street, quickly grew into an all-engulfing mudslide! Twiggels, the cat from Misses Brown, from down the street, is still missing! And even further downtown, many a toilet got clocked up for weeks!

 Saturday, day one. THE PRELUDE.

After discussing with him about how and what to do with the massive amount of deadwood on this Mother of a tree, he bravely started to freestyle with a courage you would not expect from someone who never had handled such a large power tool or created much deadwood before! Every now and then he asked for help or advice and then bravely went on with this huge task!

                                   Below: All geared up for the task ahead! 

        Below: Richy concentrated at work on the massive deadwood section                                             Below: With markers, lines were drawn on as a guideline for what Richy should remove and what not! Creating the rough shapes that later on (much later) would be refined into stunning Jin and Shari sections! 


Below: Every now and then I would jump in to refine certain arias and to give Richy a well-deserved break!

After a long day of hard work we allowed our selfs a short break for a nice dinner and then it was back to our waiting Bonsai work and fun! It was raining, storming and freezing that whole evening and the early night…but nothing could stop us…we were in the zone!!!

                                         Below: Richy wiring the branches.

Below: Me carving away and refining while Richy takes a break and looks on and learns.

   Below: Cold but concentrated at work, I love freestyle deadwood styling!!!

              Below: Then back to wiring again while I help the other students.

Below: Despite all the cold and tiredness everybody was still hard at work and enjoying the moment!

                   Below: After many hours, slowly but steadily getting there!

Below: The end result after a long day of hard work! I believe that this monster pre-Bonsai has a great future ahead of it and that Richy should be very proud of his work and his eagerness to learn and work hard! And for those who wondered about the name H.O.G for this tree? Look at the right top Jin, Richy said after I had finished it: it looks like the Hand Of God..H.O.G!!!

Below: One of mine proudest moments! Me happy, Richy happy and a whopper of a tree to boost!!! Later indoors while looking at the pictures we made with a whisky in our hand, poor Richy fell asleep…with a big smile on his face! 🙂

Below: Next morning after a short night sleep, the H.O.G. looks even better in the daylight and we are still happy! Two new friends that shared an amazing experience together! I love Bonsai!!!!

                                                 Above:  THE “H.O.G.” SQUAT.

                       Below: Two amazing people my host Tom and Richy.



I had a great time at “SHADY SIDE BONSAI” And would like to thank Tom and his lovely wife for there hospitality and for giving me the opportunity to work in the USA.


Hans van Meer.




More pictures can be found on this next link to “SHADY SIDE BONSAI”.





Hi, everybody,

the second workshop I gave was in  San Antonio Texas in the amazing atelier of brilliant artist Donna Dobberfuhl. I remember that I was overwhelmed by her artwork and the immense heat that day! Even with the largest ventilator that I had ever seen at full speed, it was almost unbearable for me! The students smiled a little and sad: and it is not even summer?! I must have drunk 5 litres of water during that day!

Above: This magnificent statue stood in the entrance of Donna’s studio to greet us.

Above: The original moult of the famous John Naka bust she made. One of the two copies that were ever made was standing right next to the bed I was sleeping in at my hosts Irene (MOM) house. It was nice that the old master was watching out over me!

Above: And a large poster of a stunning Murial, also from here talented hands.

Above: One of the several live size bronze cattle, Donna made for the “Red Bird” range.

Above: Discussing the possibility of this large yamadori Boxwood that Trent brought along.

Above picture: Working on the deadwood of Donna’s Kidneywood. Look at the colour of my face!

Above left picture: Donna and Terry listening to me babbling!  The great thing about these workshops is, that all people can join in, to hear an explanation!

Above picture: Irene’s “Hubby” Terry brought a Juniperus Chinensis along to work on.

           Above: Explaining how to safely bend a thick Yew branch. First an in water soaked raffia. Than two lengthwise placed wires. 

                                    Above; Then a second layer of wet raffia. 

                                              Above: Then apply normal wire.

                                 Above: Then carefully bent the branch.

                                    Above: Until it is in its desired position.   

             Above: Still not convinced about the big branch that needs to go?!

Above: We had a great lunch in the famous “PIG STAND” restaurant. This place serves good food since 1921. Their onion rings were as big as tiaras! MMMMM!!!! 🙂

                                                 Above: Trend’s “Boxwood”.

                                         Above: Discussing every possibility.

                   Above: Everybody concentrated at work in their own zone!

                             Above: Laughing about the size of his Bud! :0

We all had a lovely Bonsai day at Donna’s studio and I was shattered when we finally arrived back at Irene’s place!

Above picture: I took this picture, right after I collapsed, tired and warm, on the steps leading into  Irene’s house. The only place around with some shadow! I was so glad to take a load off and get a breather and some cold water into me!  But  immediately after the first  small refreshing drink I took I looked down,  alarmed as I was,  by  that  small warning bell in my head, that got stuck forever  in the back of  our minds,  since ones long ago some  guy with thick eyebrows, saw his confused grandfather trying to path an innocent looking “Sabretooth on the head”!  Suddenly, there in front of me,  out of nowhere, sat  “BRUN” (short for “BRUNO”),  the oversized alpha male of the “Irene’s cats clan”  who is well known to tackle deer and wrestling moose! Which, he then often leaves on Irene’s and Terry’s front porch as a token of his affection for them!  “BRUN”  is contemplating here, without blinking, if he would eat me, or just play with me a bit…before eating me anyway!  

But to be honest, after I told “BRUN”  in a soft voice while avoiding any sudden movements, that  I was good people, and too tired to move anyway! He gave me some gentle pussycat head buds on my knees, that rattled the teeth in my mouth!  So I  thought it would be safe to give him a nice scratch behind his battered ears. Not too long though! I found out that disturbing pictures of Sigfried and Roy, do seem to pop up into once mind, during these pressure moments! Than “BRUN” curled up beside me on the footboard and started to wash. I thanked him for the use of his afternoon shadow spot and took another drink. “BRUN” was right,  this was a cool spot to hang out! And there was more than enough room for the both of use! Thank God!!!


Hans van Meer.



Donna L. Dobberfuhl, MFA, NSS

Sculptural Designs Atelier

1514 Broadway

San Antonio TX 78215

(210) 224-0220

(210) 326-0862


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 for 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 plane 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 where Enrico and Ivo were already waiting. Along the way to my 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 of 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 their 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: Then 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. It 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 of 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:


BBC News London.

Northern England:

Today, late in the afternoon, high on the south side of the 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


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 their 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 what 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, then 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 their bedtime!

 On Saturday evening, after a hard day’s work, followed by a  great meal, it was time for the boys and girls to sit back and relax while enjoying a wide ranch of alcoholic drinks, and 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 done 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 the 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, 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 myself immensely and found it a great privilege to work with such enthusiastic Bonsai fanatics, who trusted us enough, to work with them on their loved and valuable trees, without any hesitations! Well, Enrico, Ivo, Terry and me are invited to do it all over again in November 2008, and I have heard it is already fully booked again! I can’t wait!

I hoped you enjoyed this “Burrs” story?


Hans van Meer.