Hi everybody,

here are some pictures I made a few weeks ago when I repotted my old Chinese Ulmus parvifolia that I have been training and styling for some 27 years now. Most of that time was spent on first building a solid and old-looking basic branch structure and that meant letting grow a lot to thicken and then cut. That took at least a full decade to accomplish and then it was more work combined with creating the secondary branch and later even tertiary branch structure! Letting grow and cutting back and sometimes cutting back hard or complete or partly defoliation everything was done during all those years to create a natural and old-looking branch structure that was best seen during the dormancy winter time! And of course, during all those years I worked on the roots and base of the tree! It started with not many roots at all and what was there was too fat or tiny and grew from the back side of the tree! So after a few years of growing as soon as there were new but tinny roots showing I started to wire them carefully into the desired position and from there kept on guiding and coaching them for all those years until I was left with great old-looking roots and a firm root base! Years of cutting back every root that grew downwards made it possible to stay in the same shallow pot that it grew in for the better part of its Bonsai life in my garden and that is great because I really think that this pot suits this Bonsai in colour, shape and size! This species is really a bit looked down upon because they are still associated with indoor and Mall Bonsai (mallsai) and that is a shame in my opinion because they can be shaped relatively easily into very believable Bonsai! They have amazing flaky bark and grow stunning root bases and branch structures! They are winter and summer hardy up to a point and tolerate hard pruning or defoliation without any problem. They are not easily receptive to insects or fungi and grow in almost anything! This little Bonsai was some 10 years ago even proudly shown in the prestigious “Noelanders Trophy”…so it can be done! So my advice: if you can find a nice promising one..give it a try! And I promise you that you will be surprised just how suited they are to live as a Bonsai and just how pretty they can become over time!!!

Below: close-up of the Ulmus back side Nebari.

Below: Backside.

Below: close-up of the front side Nebari.

Hope you enjoyed this little Ulmus story?!


Hans van Meer.



My (Prunus) air layering tutorial video is posted on YouTube.

Hi everybody,

just to let you all know that my tutorial video: Layering a big old two-trunk Prunus mahaleb Yamadori to get two single-trunk pre-Bonsai. Is posted on YouTube! 

I hope you enjoy it?!


Hans van Meer.



After a long time: finally some work I have don last month!

Hi, again everybody,

it’s has been a while (again), sorry for that…but I had some serious health problems to face and get through over the last couple of months so blogging or Bonsai work was on hold during that time! But things are a lot better now and I have already done a lot of Bonsai work that I would like to share with you all again from now on! I repotted a lot of my trees, even one very big one (the elephant Larch) after being 10 years in his wooden box! But that will be shown in a video story that I am currently working on to be posted on youtube soon! So watch this space if you are interested!!! For the guy’s who were so kind to comment over the last couple of months: I just saw them for the first time and will react as soon as I finished this post!!!

After a very mild winter, I was taking out my trees from the winter shelter in the back of my small garden so that I could check them out, remove weeds and clean their pots. I was very surprised to find out that one of the (expensive) custom-made pots was cracked on its four corners! This is very strange because we had hardly any frost this winter and these pots suppose to be frost prove?! And to be honest: it has never happened with any pots I have in my collection from many other potters?! This is the second one by these potters that I lost because of this….so I won’t be buying another one from them!

Bellow: the frost cracks.



Below: So I had to make an unexpected repotting and the only pot I had that would fit this large Dutch Crataegus Yamadori, was this (too big) Tokoname pot! But it would do for now and the tree has more room to grow quickly this way!

Below; The tree was removed from the broken pot. Now I could start to carefully remove the old soil.

Below: Thick roots that were left during the last repotting, were now shortened to just before where there were small healthy roots growing out from it!

The old soil was removed as much as possible and the smaller roots were shortened sufficiently so that the tree could grow strongly again for some years!

Below: The tree in its temporary new pot. This Dutch Hawthorn Bonsai was well over 2 meters when I collected it and is pretty rare because of its natural deadwood all along its trunk line! It takes forever to create a proper branch structure…but I am not going anywhere and neither is the tree…so who cares?! 🙂

Below: This Acer palmatum “deshojo” is one of my first Bonsai and is in my collection for well over 25 years now! It has grown almost twice in size and the root base is completely created during that time!

In my element! After suffering yet another #*X## sparrow attack on the roots and old flaky bark of many of my defenceless trees, I decided enough is enough!!! So I bought a birdcage net online and covered my whole garden with it! This was hard and somewhat dangerous work and I must have climbed up and down a ladder a hundred times! But after 2 days of work, my garden was finally bird-proof! No more exposed roots, loss of moss or bark destruction!

Repotting my Ilex vertillata. This is 50 years+ Dutch urban Yamadori in the multiple trunk style “Kabudachi”. Right from the start, I realised that this would be a difficult repotting, because, from an earlier repotting into its present plastic container,  I had discovered that the roots consisted mostly of one big massive root clump! But I still wanted to plant it into the beautiful early “Isabelia” Bonsai pot that I bought especially for it, out of the pot collection from my dear old friend Danny Use from the Bonsai centre “Ginkgo” in Belgium.

Below: The beautiful pot.  

Below: Prepare the pot with plastic gauze covering the draining holes and aluminium wire to secure the tree tightly into its new home.

Below: A layer of Bonsai soil containing Akadama, Kiryu and Bims is placed onto the bottom of the pot.

Below: The tree was relieved from its old home.

Below: The old top and bottom soil are removed and all fine roots are shortened. As you can see here: this will never fit into the shallow new pot?!

Below: All thick roots were shortened as far as possible. But the red arrows point at the huge massive root ball that was still sticking out at least 6 to 7 cm too far! I was able to remove some of it with an electric saw and with concave cutters, but this was as far as  I could get with those?! So it was time to get out my trusty Bosch power tool with my largest-size cutter in its mouth!

Below: Car fully carving away the centimetres of excess wood, constantly checking if I had done enough!

Below: Happy me! It was not easy to hold the heavy tree with one hand and to carve with the heavy bouncing power tool! That’s why it took me more than 20 minutes to safely remove enough to fit the tree into its new home!

Below: Carefully pushing in the soil into the roots with the help of a chopstick. Making sure that no air pockets remain! Almost finished! I am so glad that the tree is finally in its new pot! And now it is cleaning time and then of to the shower!

Now a few weeks after this repotting, I am glad to say that this tree is doing just fine and it has new foliage on all its branches! So no harm was done! I am even thinking of showing it in the next Noelanders trophy….but that’s for later! 😉

Hope you enjoyed these little stories? More to come in the next couple of days! So watch this space!


Hans van Meer.



Hi, everybody,

I would like to show you a picture of my Chamaecyparis obtusa “Nana Gracilis” in its new pot. I worked for many years to get this tree to were it is today and I am really happy with the way it looks. Hinoki’s don’t grow enough to become a big tree, so it really is an imaginary tree. I styled it in a way it would resemble the growth of a tall fir tree that has been battered by mother nature for many years. I think the loose way the foliage grows on this plants is a real advantage in this style, it looks unforced and natural. The underside of this foliage has an almost blue-ish colour to it, while the top side is brightly green with almost yellow tips throughout the summer. This gives a wonderful effect to the layers, like the colours and shades on a distant tree! This pot is so much better than the previous one, it gives the tree more height and stature. I hope you like the image and feel of this Bonsai?


                     Hinoki Cypres.  Chamaecyparis obtusa “Nana Gracilis”

                                          Height: 35 inch/89 cm.   Pot: China.


Hans van Meer.