A short “Crataegus” story.

 

Hi, everybody,

in November 2006, my dear friend Tony Tickle invited me to come to England to do the (now famous) all weekend “BURRS” workshop. I arrived a few days before all that fun would start because Tony would take me and Morten into the beautiful “Wells” mountains for a walk and to try to find some collectable “Crataegus” yamadori. Well, I got very lucky when I discovered a small one with a lot of potential! I have no pictures of the actual collecting of the tree, but this is the view from that same place where the “Hawthorn” of this story was found and without much trouble collected by me.

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She grew on a steep mountainside in soil, consisting of almost nothing else than small rocks and gravel, from which I could almost entirely collect her with nothing more than my bare hands (that looked and felt like they had been looking for a pin in a pin stack)! Never the less, she had managed to grow surprisingly good roots, with a lot of small feeder roots growing close the base of the trunk. So I could cut the to larch roots back without causing to much harm to the health of the tree. From experience, I know that next Spring the tree will react to this hard root and branch cut back, with much growth of small feeder roots, that will secure the health of the tree, during this time it is recovering from the stress caused by collecting it and potting it. As soon as the tree was lifted from the ground the bare roots were wrapped in wet sphagnum moss and then put into a plastic bin bag that was tightly wrapped with plastic tape. Early next day at the venue in “BURRS” my good friend Terry Foster helped me to plant the tree in a plastic training pot, making sure that the tree was firmly secured to the bottom with aluminium wires. The Hawthorn stayed in Tony’s care during that winter. He placed the tree in his greenhouse on a heating bed. In February the following year, Tony came, just like me and many others, to the “Noelanders trophy” in Belgium to show his Bonsai and to meet up with all our bonsai friends from all over Europe that come there every year as well. He kindly brought along my Hawthorns I collected and so after the show they finally came home with me to my little garden in Holland. The Hawthorns ( I collected two) were placed in my greenhouse for protection during the rest of that Winter. In Spring I was delighted to see that the trees literally burst out with new buds all over. I removed all the buds that were unnecessary for my design from the trunk, simply by rubbing them off with my fingers. Leaving unwanted buds to grow will take the strength away from other more important buds and will leave unwanted scares in your trunk. The tree was allowed to grow freely the next growing season, in a semi-shaded place in my garden. In the next picture from August that year, you can see that she was doing really well and I knew then that I could safely give it here first styling at the end of the winter before the buds start swelling.

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    And this is how the tree looked in February 2008 before the work started.

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OK, before I start to work: have a look at the next two pictures of the front and back of the tree and try to discover the future  design I discovered in this little “Hawthorn”

                                Have you found it? This is what I have in mind:

To reach this ideal profile or frame, I had to do some major branch cutting! Always trying to leave as little wounds as possible, where there was no room for some deadwood/Shari on the trunk.  

As you can see in the pictures below, the yellow cuts were not much of a problem to do, but the red cut was a bit harder to reach with cutters or normal saw!  

 

First, all the excess branches were cut off, so I could get a  good firm hold on the tree, while I was sawing away, without pricking myself a thousand times! Then, with the help of a very sharp small bladed woodcutters knife, that is used by foresters, I was able to remove the thick branch in one go.

 Then one by one and bit by bit all the other useless branches were cut back.

A  large branch cutter, like  I use here, is a priceless tool for this kind of work! It makes a clean cut in one go, without placing to much sideways force on the tree and roots, like a saw or power tool does. No matter how good you think you hold the tree in place!

Slowly, with every cut, the new shape of this tree is revealed! All wounds are worked over with concave cutters to promote better wound healing. So that in a few years,  the tree is left with large, but natural looking scares, that can be seen on every Hawthorn here on the coastline.

After all the wounds were cut back sufficiently, they were sealed with cut paste. The large wound on the left of the tree (middle picture) is cut back to about 2,5 cm/1 inch of the truck. In the future, this stump will be worked into a small Jin + Shari or maybe only a   Shari? But this work is left for the future! Because doing it now and then leaving such a large open scare, right on the trunk line, could cause die back in the trunk! Every large wound that is left exposed to the elements; will dry/die back,    interrupting the sap flow between roots and branches! Which could kill your branches and roots or even your whole tree! Because I left the bark on this little stump, it will stay alive for a long time, preventing the possibility of trunk die/dry back!  The tree will probably even throw out a bunch of strong shouts along the rim of the wound, the tree’s own bandage! A sign the tree’s sap stream is pumping along the wound. Only after the tree has shown these signs of full recovery, will I start to take that stump away, bit by bit.

Below: Now only the top needs to be shortened right above the second right                              small branch leaving some room for the die/dry back! 

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For now, I’m really pleased with the outcome of this little Hawthorn, I love it’s movement and bark texture. I am really looking forward, to next season to see where all the buds will appear! If I’m lucky they will grow just about where I need them.  And if not….who cares? Together, we will think of something.

I hope you liked what I did so far? And I will keep you all posted on this little tree’s progress.

Regards,

Hans van Meer.

Info: karamottobonsai@hotmail.com

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MY DEMO AT THE B.A.B CLUB MEATING.

Hi, everybody,

On Wednesday 6 February    I was invited to do a (short) demo at the monthly evening club meeting of the B.A.B (Bonsai Association Belgium). This great club, that was founded by Bonsai master Mark Noelanders is responsible for staging the now famous yearly “Noelanders trophy”  in Zolder Belgium. That’s why I know most of their members for many years now and I enjoyed my self immensely in this home away from home for me (and I like their beer).

I demonstrated on a Juniperus “media Phitzeriana Aurea” that I have been preparing for this first major styling for many years now! I found this tree in a cemetery I visit every week.  The small tree was duck up from the ground with an excavator, when some of the older graves were relocated. It laid there above ground, almost completely bare rooted and frozen solidly for weeks on end. So I went to the caretaker and asked him what was going to happen to this old tree? He told me that it would be destroyed with all the other scrubs that were pulled from the ground, as soon as the ice was gone from the ground, so they could use their trucks again. So I asked him if I could save the trees live to make a Bonsai out of it? Luckily he gave me permission! Then I happily even managed to lift it  on to my shoulders as well! But getting it into my car was something else! Man the place was like a ice rink and it looked more like skating than walking, but I made it to my car safely! I planted the tree in the pot it still is in now and from then on I gave it a lot of love and care. All the 8 or 9 years up to this demo were  used to get the foliage  to grow closer to the trunk and to get the same type of mature soft foliage on the whole of the trees foliage. Because the tree was so severely cut back when it was removed from the ground it had made a lot of inmature and prickly foliage on the lower branches, it took me a lot of time to correct that stress  response. This more than 60 years old tree is of a strange variety that reacts very poorly to the normal techniques I have used on other juniperus Phitzeriana  trees. Even the bark is of a strange grayish/light brown color that even after cleaning won’t turn the usual red color. So this tree was well prepared for this demo and was doable in the 3 hours I was supposed to have for my demo, but after Mark was through with the introductions and stuff, I was left with just 2 and a half hours! So I explained to the audience that this would be the first real styling of a  prepared tree and than started to wire the tree like a mad man.  During my work I explained how the tree was prepared to  reach  this point. I even managed to get some important deadwood work don to enhance the movement of the trunk and than quickly brought the main shape into the branches. I ended just in time and was happy that I was able to show this first stage in this future bonsai in this short time. Because there was no time to do fine wiring, the final image looks  still rough, but you can see clearly where this tree is going in the future. I did a demo 5 years earlier here at this club on a yamadory Pine (last small picture). I made a drawing then to show how I was going to try to style this tree and how it would look in the future. I brought this same demo Pine tree I made then to this demo, together with the original design drawing. It was  good to see and hear the positive reactions from the people when they saw that it is possible to make a future bonsai  at a demonstration! I promised to show this Juniper at there club in about 5 years. But I hope to be back sooner here in this friendly club,   

 


 

                           Above: The tree before the 2,5-hour demo started.

Above: Waiting anxiously for Mark (on the right) to stop talking so that I could begin my introduction talk and stylings work!

Above: Yes finally and now it is wiring like a madman to get finished in time!

             Above: close inspection from the knowledgeable club members! 😉

                     Above: Only the main branches were wired to safe time!

Above: Than Jin and Shari were reworked or created, especially the straight right Jin needed work to give it movement!

Above: Then wiring the last few branches so that I could start the actual styling of the whole image!

Above: Bringing all the branches and foliage into the desired position.

                     Above: And then a well deserved very cold Belgium beer!

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Above: The end result for now. Note that no fine wiring was don so I was actually very pleased with how the tree looked despite that! And note the optical trick I did to give that completely straight Jin some visual movement! Not bad for only 2,5-hour!

Above: On the right the drawing that I made 5 years ago for the first styling of this Mugo Pine Yamadori that I did here at this club and on the left how this Bonsai (named Z)look to date. Looks pretty close to the original design…he said a bit proud! 🙂 I enjoyed my self immensely again at Mark’s very friendly club and I hope to be invited again in the future?!                 

Cheers,                 

Hans van Meer.                 

Info: karamottobonsai@hotmail.com

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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 to 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 plain 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 were Enrico and Ivo were already waiting. Along the way to the 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-off 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 there 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: Than 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. Is 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 off 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:

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BBC News London.

Northern England:

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

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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 there 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 how 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, than 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 there bedtime!

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

I hoped you enjoyed this “Burrs” story?

Cheers,

Hans van Meer.

Info: karamottobonsai@hotmail.com

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