REPOTTING MY ULMUS PARVIFOLIA WITH GREAT 27 YEARS IN THE MAKING NEBARI.

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 working combined with creating the secondary branch and later even tertiary branch structure! Letting grow and cutting back and sometimes cutting back hard or compleat or partly defoliation everything was don 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 to fat or tiny and grew from the back side of the tree! So after a few years 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 live 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 to are still associated with indoor and Mall Bonsai (mallsai) and that is a shame in my opinion because the can be shaped relatively easy into very believable Bonsai! They have amazing flaky bark and grow stunning root base and branch structure! 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 advise: 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 a life as a Bonsai and just how pretty the can become over time!!!

Below: close up of the Ulmus back side Nebari.

Below: back side.

Below: close up of the front side Nebari.

Below: And the front side of my Ulmus. Height 56 cm.

Hope you enjoyed this little Ulmus story?!

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

Info: karamottobonsai@hotmail.com

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DEADWOOD AND WIRING WORK ON MY OLD YAMADORI PRUNUS MAHALEB FROM SLOVENIA.

Hi, everybody,

two weeks ago we had some record-breakingly 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 on. 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 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 natural 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 to thick and the section below it is somewhat bulging and forms a reverse taper!

Below: Taking my time and enjoying it while I am tacking away excess wood and shaping at the same time. I love this faster creating and result part of doing Bonsai!

Below: The result is that the Jin is less bulky now and looks like the remainings 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.

Hope you enjoyed this little story?!

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

Info: karamottobonsai@hotmail.com

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LINK TO: Decandling black pine bonsai – an in-depth guide by JONAS DUPUICH.

Hi everybody,

I just finished reading a great article on the BONSAI TONIGHT FORUM by Jonas Dupuich about “DECANDLING BLACK PINE BONSAI” and it is so well written, easy to understand and all you need to know that I would like to share it with you all! HERE is the link and thanks to Jonas Dupuich for writing this very helpful article!!!

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

Info: karamottobonsai@hotmail.com

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REPOTTING ONE SABINA INTO TWO PRE-BONSAI!

Hi everybody,

this is the story about the repotting of one Yamadori Sabina that will end up with two?! I bought this nice mid-sized Yamadori a year ago and let it untouched all this time to make sure that it was enough settled and strong enough to repot safely. I acquired it because of its stunning movement with a lot of deadwood and because there was (maybe) the possibility to separate it into two beautiful small trees! Buth early this year I started to see a decline in this little tree health and I decided that I would take it out of its plastic container because I wanted to see what caused this?! And now looking back, I am glad that I did because it was planted after collecting in some sort of very compact sticky muddy soil with not much-draining capability?! So with a lot of frightened anticipation, I took it out of its container to find what I was afraid of…poor soil! So even though it was not in a good condition I had to act before the tree would suffer even more, so I decided to free it from all this bad soil and plant it in a proper Bonsai soil mixture in which it could recuperate to become healthy and happy again!

Below: the two trunks Sabina Yamadori.

Below: close up of two separate trunks. One all twisted and turned with a long twisted Jin and the other one slanting more straight and gently twisting with a foliage crown at the end.

Below: viewed from another angle.

Below: released from its plastic container.

Below: Carefully and anxiously combing out the roots hoping for plenty healthy roots and for roots on both trunks so that they could be separated from each other without any danger or problems?!

Below: looks promising with plenty roots!

Below: look at all those roots on the left and the right trunk…but is it enough so that the two trunks can be separated?!

Below: red arrow points to roots growing from the curly trunk. Green arrow points at a thick root that grows to the right from the curly trunk. Blue arrow points to roots that grow from this thick root…so there are more than enough roots to keep the curly trunk alive and healthy when it could be separated from the second straight trunk! The white arrows point at the root mass that grows from that second straight trunk! The yellow line in the middle of the picture shows the spot where the two trunks could be separated from each other!

Below: seen from the other side. Red arrow point at the roots that grow from the end of that thick root that grows from the curly trunk. The yellow line shows the spot where the two trunks will be separated.

Below: the cut will be made from this side right across that yellow line.

Below: carefully cutting with the help of a power saw.

Below: mission accomplished! The two trunks are separated successfully! The straight trunk on the left has more than enough roots. And the right side curly trunks roots are spread out on the plastic green surface and look more than enough…so I am relieved and very happy! Now I have to keep the exposed roots moist of one of them while I plant the other into its new home away from his brother or sister?!

Below: this repotting and separation even reviled an more than welcome unexpected wide rootbase on the curly tree!!! Making it even better than it already was!!! And this provided a better anchor point to secure it to the pot with wires!

Below: with the help of a chopstick the soil mixture containing Akadama, Kiryu and Bims is pushed in between all the roots, making sure that now are pockets are left!

Below: then the tree is watered thoroughly until the water that runs out of the pot is clear of any dust!

Below: next the straight trunk is prepared to go in its new home. Here a long thick death root is cut off so that it will fit easier in its pot.

Below: the tree placed on the bottom layer of large particles soil for extra drainage. Just look at all those roots that fill almost the whole pot!

Below: two wooden blocks are placed under the right side to support the tree into its new desired position and then it is firmly anchored to the pot with thick wires.

Below: carefully bringing in the soil.

Below: then watering it like before. In the next couple of weeks, the trees will be kept in a warm spot with filtered sunlight and their foliage will be misted a couple of times a day to help them safely through this period

Below: separated but still together they stand here at their start as two future Bonsai.

I hope you enjoyed this little story of one Sabina Yamadori that became two pre-Bonsai with hopefully a bright future ahead of them?!

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

Info: karamottobonsai@hotmail.com.

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REPOTTING SESSION AFTER THE FROST HAS FINALLY GONE!

Hi everybody,

last week I had finally two repotting sessions after the long abnormal frost period we had for a few weeks and that was about time for most trees that I had to do because the buds on some of them were already opening! First up was my easy to repot old Hawthorn Yamadori ( Crataegus monogyna) in his beautiful Dan Barton pot.

Below: Everything that I could possibly need for this repotting is in place and my old Hawthorn is patiently waiting for his haircut and fresh soil.

Below: Out of his pot and ready to remove as much of the old soil from in between the roots as possible and safe! My objective is to remove all downwards growing roots so that I can replant him even lower in its pot!

Below: A layer of my soil mix containing Akadama, Kiryu and Bims is spread out over the bottom of the pot. 

Below: Then a small pile of the same soil mix is made more or less in the middle of the pot on which the tree is pushed down with a turning motion. This way all the cavities in the bottom of the rootball are automatically filled with the soil! Stop with the downwards turning motion when the tree has reached the acquired hight in the pot and stands in the right direction and angle etc. 

Below: Then the wires are tightened loosely so that were necessary soil can still be brought in under need the roots with chopsticks. 

Below: When that is successfully done the wires are tightened some more to secure the tree firmly in the pot!

Below: Next is this rare Dutch Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) that I collected many many years ago in a wet dune forest close to the beach and not far from where we live. It was chopped and all branches and the top that you see in this picture are all later grown completely new. It stands now about 75cm high and it is time to release it from the plastic training pot where it grew happily for the last 6 years! The top will be shortened by some 10cm after the repotting!

Below: The wholes of the new pot are covered by mesh and I am just applying the first layer with large sized soil mix to the pot when I notice yet another scratch on my hands from one of those ####ing sharp Hawthorn needles that will turn in another inflammation…gggrrr!!!! 😉

Below: First large particles mix applied.

Below: Second finer soil layer applied.

Below: The Hawthorn freed off its old training pot.

Below: The roots freed from most of the old soil and the long roots are shortened right up to where finer roots grow from them! Red arrow points at a thick root that was preventing the tree from being potted lower in its new pot so it was removed!

Below: Downwards growing thick roots were also removed.

Below: Even larger ones were cut back to create a flatter root system (Nebari)!

Below: The tree can now already stands on its own with his new flat roots base and that is just what I was aiming for the last 10 years or so!

Below: With the help of a chopstick soil is brought carefully into the roots making sure no air pockets are left behind! Roots that pop up to high are pushed/held down with little upside down U shaped pieces of wire to hold them in place.

Below: The final top layer is carefully brought in and is then taped even more in with the palm of my hand so that the last cavities are filled with soil!

Below: Close up of the root base. The tree is just thoroughly watered until the water that runs out is transparent and free of dust! 

Below: The tree in his new home and I happy how it looks in it! The top will be shortened soon and then I will make some more pictures to share here on my blog.

I will post tomorrow the massive repotting of “XL” my big Yamadori Larch so watch this space! I hoped you liked this little post about a long-awaited repotting session?!

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

Info: karamottobonsai@hotmail.com

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MY VIDEO OF KUNIO KOBAYASHI HIS DEMO AT TEUNIS JAN KLEIN “DESHIMA” BONSAI STUDIO IS ONLINE!!!

Hi everybody,

just to let you all know that I just posted the video that I made at Teunis Jan Klein “DESHIMA” Bonsai Studio (NL) of the amazing demo from Bonsai Master Kunio Kobayashi-san !!! He transforms a big field grown Pinus thunbergii from China into a wonderful Bonsai! You just got to see it too believe it, just how fast this almost 70 years old Master works with most of the time 3 scissors in one hand?! And still finds time to explain everything and to constantly cracking jokes! The quality of the sound and film is sometimes a little bit of…but I still hope you will enjoy this amazing master and the amazing transformation?!

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.


PHOTOS OF THE DEMO WITH KUNIO KABAYASHI AT DESHIMA BONSAI STUDIO.

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?!

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

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SOME INDOOR WINTER PRUNNING AND WIRING.

Hi everybody,

all my Bonsai luckily made it safely through yesterday’s uniquely heavy Western storm that took several lives and caused 90+ million in damages to houses and buildings and tipping over more than 70 trucks causing huge day-long traffic jams and paralysing almost all plain and train traffic for most of the day! These tragic things seem to happen more and more worldwide and more frequently… it almost looks like somebody is trying to tell us something ?!  Anyhow… even though today (the day after) was a sunny day, I still decided to do the work that I planned indoors where there is EDM on the radio and a coffee machine close by! The first one I worked on was my old Prunus spinosa Yamadori Shohin from Wales. Too long branches were shortened or removed and some branches that were alright but misplaced were wired and repositioned. A long time ago this little tree was painstakingly styled by me as a Moyo-gi and was enjoyed in that style for several years… but I always felt that there was a better option hidden inside that style, but that meant that I had to completely restyle the tree and remove some of its major beautiful old branches! So I made a drawing (that I cant find somehow) and came to the conclusion that it was well worth the risk to restyle it completely… so I did it!  Now many years later it is growing better and better into that design that I envisioned all those years ago and I have not regretted that decision for a minute. The pot was given to me as a present when I was touring the US and was made by an obviously talented local potter…but I sadly can’t remember who it was and I can’t find it anywhere in my older posts?! Sorry for that!

Next, my little Hawthorn that I collected in November 2006 in Wales with Tony Tickle was brought inside for some correctional pruning and wiring!

Below: this is how it looked in February 2008 after I had removed all but a few branches from it, revealing it’s beautiful and uniquely tapered movement! In February 2016 it was proudly shown at the prestigious Noelanders trophy in Belgium.

februari-2008-352-hans-van-meer.jpg

Below: this is how she looks after the pruning and wiring session. All the badly placed and too thick branch tips were cut back to be replaced by a tinner one creating tapering in almost all the branches! And some branches were wired to reposition them in the desired position. It has grown so hard last two seasons that it has pushed itself out of this beautiful custom made pot by John Pitt (UK) so it needs to be repotted in a few months time. This also means that there are now more than enough small roots to safely give me the change to finally be able to remove a large stone from in between its old tick roots, creating more room to grow for the finner roots! And to pot the tree much deeper in its pot! On May the 26, it will be shown at the second edition of the “KEI BONSAI KAI” ten and the ten “DANNY USE & FRIENDS in the famous “GINKGO” Bonsai centre in Laarne Belgium! It is the first time that it will be shown with its foliage so it has to look at its very best!

                                           I hope you enjoyed this little story?!

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

Info: karamottobonsai@hotmail.com

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LINK TO THE AMAZING VIDEO BY RYAN NEAL “HOW TO MAKE A BONSAI” .

Hi, everybody,

I would like to share with you all this LINK to Ryan Neal super video “HOW TO MAKE A BONSAI”!!!  It is by far the best tutorial Bonsai video that I have come across on the internet and a must-see for all beginners and intermediate Bonsai enthusiast alike! Ryan takes us along to a nursery to find with us a potted Chrismas tree that he can use to create an amazing Bonsai! He then shows us what to look for in nursery material, how to find the front, the inclination of the trunk, what branches to choose, how and why to prune, how to wire and how to bring all branches into place etc. etc. !!! He is by far the best online Bonsai teacher I know of and he truly inspired me to go that extra mile with my own student group! Bravo and thank you, Ryan, and everybody else from “MIRAI” for all your good work for the worldwide Bonsai community! And a happy New Year from me to you all!

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

Info: karamottobonsai@hotmail.com

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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?!

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

Info: karamottobonsai@hotmail.com

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