Restyling a small saved Pinus sylvestris Yamadori.

Hi everybody,

today after weeks of cold weather and biblical rain, we finally had a sunny day! So I graphed my chance to finally do some restyling. The small Pinus sylvestris of this post was during my 2005 vacation in Austria saved from a bulldozer! They were demolishing a large pine forest on the long road to the village where we stayed for the second year running to build a petrol station and trailer parking lots 😦  Underneed this tall and very dense pine forest in the lush vegetation grew tiny but old Pines. They stayed this small because of the lack of sunlight and were perfect material for Bonsai! We knew this because we made long walks true this part of the forest the year before! So I asked the driver of the bulldozer in my best German if I could collect some of these poor little trees before the lumberjacks would chop down the tall Pines and the bulldozer flattened the small ones! He understood my prayer and said that it was alright as long as we stayed well away from where they were working! So we parked the car some hundred meters in front of that war zone and grabbed our collecting stuff from underneath the holiday luggage en started to surge for worthwhile trees that could be dug up with a reasonable chance to survive. We managed to save 6 or 7 before the machines came to close to be safe! The problem was then that we were there for a week plus an extra day for the travel back home and all this time these poor trees had to survive in plastic bags filled with wed sphagnum moss….this meant that after all only 4 survived that ordeal! This one was one of the lucky ones because I could simply scoup it off from a large boulder, so it had very flat and compact roots and survived without any problems! And now 12 years later one it is the star of this little story.

Below: before removing the thirth-year-old needles. 36cm/14.4Inch. The now top section grew straight to the right and was bend back years ago with the help of in water sooked raffia and thick copper wire! Now after several growing seasons, the top section has filled out enough to form a nice top out off!

Below: After the old needles were removed. Now it is time to wire all the branches.

Below: The left branch wired and more or less bent in position with all needle bundles facing upwards.

Below: the right cascading branch placed more or less in position.

Below: Left part of the top more or less in position. The new top is raised upward considerably with two 3mm wires!

Below: slowly getting there…I love to solve these natural puzzles into a nice design!

Below: Finished for now! I am happy with this result for now. In a few years time when the cascading branch has filled out some more it will most likely be shortened and made less heavy…but that will be up to its new owner because it is up for sale and probably will go to a good home off one of my students?!

Below: close-up of the nice root base, lovely old bark and natural (still brown coloured) Shari.

Below: close-up of the nice old and cracked bark.

I hope you enjoyed this little story about the life of a saved little big Bonsai?!


Hans van Meer.



Part II of the story of the “Elephant” my big Yamadori Larch Bonsai is online !


Hi, everybody!

Finally, after trying it in vain for more than a week, I managed to post the last of only two saved copies of the originally produced video! I was finally able to do it with NCH VideoPad…this was the sixth one I had downloaded to solve this problem! The first program Cyberlink power director 12 that came with my computer had all kinds of for me unsolvable problems and crashed several times! And one of the 2 copies of the original finished video that I could save from them capt on showing up flipped after posting it on youtube?! Even after flipping it over with a downloaded program it still showed up wrong?! No help could be found on or from youtube…so I was glad that I was finally able to post this second copy with the help of VideoPad!!! Although the sound on this only left good version is not too good, I still hope that it is enjoyable for the Bonsai lovers out there?! It brought me a lot of headache and frustrations …bud it thought me to only work with good devices and programs and most of all: SAFE MORE THAN ONE COPY !!!

More videos will be uploaded soon (if all goes well that is)! 😉


Hans van Meer.

Part I of the story of “the Elephant” my big Yamadori Larch is online.

Hi, everybody,

I am happy and relieved to tell you all that last night I finally posted Part I of the story of “the Elephant” onto YouTube! It took me 6 days and late night to do it right….but I finally was happy enough with the result to post it!!! It took me this long because I had to go through many hundreds of pictures on 2 computers and 3 external hard drives to find the best ones! Then I had to improve most of them to finally be able to load them from my old computer onto my new computer, where I had to make a film of them with a for me totally new and unknown program named: CyberLink powerdirector…..and that was not that easy…to say the least!!! It has been some years since I cursed that much!!! 😉 But I have to say that the final result is very satisfying…so I hope you like it too?! Tonight I will start to work on Part II which is all video and covers the massive repotting I did this spring, when after living for 10 years in a wooden box, “the Elephant” was finally planted in its first real Bonsai pot! I hope to upload that in a week or so?! For now, I hope you enjoy this first part?!


Hans van Meer.

Oooops! I forgot my baby Yew in my earlier post!

Hi, everybody,

I just discovered that I forgot to show and discuss my baby Yamadori in my earlier Yew maintenance post! This Taxus baccata Yamadori was some 10 years ago given to me by my dear old Bonsai friend Terry Foster when I was a guest in his welcome home in the North of England. Terry and his lovely wife Charlotte took me in as one of their own every time I was one of the instructors at Tony Tickle’s “BURRS” weekend extravaganzas! And as if that was not enough….I always left with some sort of wonderful gift! Such a shame that we live so far apart! They both feel like family to us!

Below: November 2008. “Little Terry” as we named it, just after cleaning the wood and the deadwood (Jin and Shari) and treating it with Lime sulphur and wiring and styling it! Height: This 21 cm/ 8.5 Inch high. Such a little gem! 🙂

Below: Just before I pruned it. Last year it was allowed to grow freely for a whole season to recover from a bad winter! Pot: Brian Allbright. (UK)

Below: After cutting the new shoots and pinching the old needles. The too long branches will be cut back as soon as new buds or shoot have appeared!

I hope you enjoyed this late entry to the Yew maintenance post?! Little Terry became a bit jealous! 🙂


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 trough over the last couple of months so blogging or Bonsai work was at a hold during that time! But things are a lot better now and I have already don 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 onto 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 (to big) Tokoname pot! But it would do for now and the tree has more room to grow quickly this way!

Below; The tree 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 were there where 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. These 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 work my garden was finally bird proof! No more exposed roots, loss of moss or bark destroying!

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 it’s present plastic container,  I had discovered that the roots consisted mostly out 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: Preparing 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 relieved from its old home.

Below: The old top and bottom soil is 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 his 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 this little stories? More to come in the next couple of days! So watch this space!


Hans van Meer.


Still here!

Hi, everybody,

again….it’s been a while since I could get my self to sit down and write on my blog! I feel my blog should tell story’s of joy…because of most of the times, Bonsai brings nothing but joy! But I have been poor for a long time now, with a lot of ups and downs, so the short periods of being able to work were mostly used to maintain my Bonsai as good as was possible at that time! Mind you though, my head and hearth were always filed with Bonsai….but the actually doing it was the hard part! Strange how those things can go in life?! It is like being Hugh Hefner… at his age… in the PlayBoy mansion… without any blue pills! Me love it….but me don’t work good anymore! 😉 But I did do things (see picture above) and when I did, it was like discovering Bonsai all over again!! Simply because I still love it and creating and seeing those small trees grow into my vision is still priceless!!! I miss the travelling and my Bonsai friends though..! And I am planning and working hard towards catching up on all those things next year!!! 

One of the trees that is coming along nicely is the one below!  It is a Winter image picture I made last week of my (Still a bit too young looking)  Ilex verticillata (winterberry.) This is an Urban Yamadori from Holland and some 60 years old by now. It is saved from the blender when a 55-year-old train station was demolished and all old trees and shrubs were destroyed! It’s a Kabudachi (multiple 5 trunks) and the height is 57cm. It is here photoshopped into its future (next year?) beautiful Isabella pot, that I so luckily bought last month at my long-awaited first visit to my dear friends Danny and Ingrid from Bonsai centre “GINKGO” (B) in 10 years! And it is in training since 2009. It needs a few more years of fine ramification to fill it more out and than it will be ready to show! The slab is found years ago at a car boot sale and needs to be made thinner and more presentable by me in the future! I hope you like this little forest as much as I do?!

I am still working on improving this new blog design, so bear with me, please!! I will be posting more soon! And I am working as best as I can on my new website as well…so lots of stuff happening ….and that is just fine!!!


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.




Hi, everybody,

today I removed some wire from this small “Hawthorn” (below) before it would dig into these delicate new branches. I shortened and removed branches were necessary. If you wait too long, the branches will have grown, too long and thick, to use in a small tree design like this. I am really happy with the fast progress this little tree made in just 3 years after I collected it in Wales. Hope you like it so far!?


Hans van Meer.






Hi, everybody,

Today I shot some pictures of one of my “Larch” trees. This is one of my first yamadori trees I ever designed and I am really fond of it. About 3 seasons ago, I almost lost this fragile tree. Some of its major branches were lost during a very hot Summer in a small pot! I kept those dead branches on, because, for now, they are a part of this Bonsai history! After that season, I planted the weakened Bonsai into these beautiful, but too big, Brian Allbright pot, so it could recover from its ordeal. With a lot of love and care, I managed to nurture it into the bright green health, it shows in this next picture. Even though it is only a small tree, this Bonsai shows great character and age after all these years of training it in a pot. I love the sense of almost disbalance in this tree and the feeling of depth the back branches evoke. I hope to plant it in a better pot next year. I’m so happy that this little Bonsai is healthy again! I hope you enjoy it’s colour as much as I do?! Pot by Brian Albright (UK).


Hans van Meer.





Hi, everybody,

today I finally dared to repot one of my favourite trees. It is a Juniperus communis I collected in the Austrian Alps in. This tree has such great potential, but I decided to wait to work on it until I was fully convinced there would be enough new roots to support the tree safely through the stress of repotting it! This species is hard to keep alive after collecting and I was so glad that it had recovered so well after I brought it down from its mountain to my garden. In 1995, after I was convinced the tree was doing fine, I brought it along to the U.K to give it it’s first styling session during my demo’s at the “JOY OF BONSAI” show in “Bath”. After that, I allowed the tree again to recover from it all!

Picture 1: So today, finally it is time to have a look at the condition of the roots! Because I still can’t lift anything by my self, I had to work on the floor where the tree was standing.

Picture2: First I carefully removed the soil around the outside of the plastic container, slowly working my way inwards and downward, until I uncovered some healthy roots. Just like how I prefer to collect a yamadori in nature. In this way, the root ball would stay more or less intact and I would be able to lift the much lighter tree from the ground into it, for now,  new container.

Picture3: The long roots that I left on when I collected it, were rotted away at the ends, so I could remove them now, without harming the health of the tree. There were new roots growing closer to the base of the tree now, so I would be able to plant the tree into a smaller pot!


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Picture 4 and 5: Here you can see the tree in his new home. It is a too large pot, but for now, it will just be fine, I need the tree to recover first!

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Picture 6: Because the tree was doing fine in its previous soil mixture, the new pot is filed up with the same soil it was growing in before!


Picture 7 and 8: The tree in its new home. This is the first tree I have, that really has 2 good fronts! 🙂



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More to come!

Hans van Meer.