The Bonsai Blog of Hans Van Meer ::

The Bonsai Blog of Hans Van Meer

First impressions from the “KEI BONSAI KAI” exhibition in Belgium.

Posted on May 29th, 2016 by Hans Van Meer
Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Hi every body,

today it is the Sunday after my visit to the long awaited “KEI BONSAI KAI” exhibition that my dear old friends Danny Use his wife Ingrid and their amazing club members staged last Saturday in their famous Bonsai Centre “GINKGO” in Laarne Belgium! Danny staged this unique Bonsai show to commemorate the first friendships that were made when he, almost 20 years ago, staged his now legendary first “Ginkgo award back in 1997! In February this year, some 10 years after the last “GINKGO” Award was staged, friends from these early hours and from all around Europe were called by Danny and were to their surprise invited to exhibit their by now matured work at this “KEI BONSAI KAI” exhibition and one of them was little old me! So I prepared 4 of my show worthy Bonsai for this one off show, from witch 2 Hawthorns had to be cancelled, because they were attacked by insects that caused bums on most of the foliage! But XL my big Yamadori Larch and Wolfie my Mugo Pine were show worthy! On the Friday before the show both trees, tables and other accessories were carried into my car to arrive some 2 hours later at the “Ginkgo Bonsai centre”! I had not seen Danny and Ingrid for almost 10 years, but was greeted by them as if we had seen each other only yesterday…..that was very hearth warming!!! We have a long and intense history together and it was good to see and feel that nothing has changed since then!!! From all sides Danny’s helpers jumped out to help me lift the big Larch and heavy table chest on to trolleys and they drove them for me past the hundreds stunning Bonsai that were all ready on display…..I was immediately amazed by all their quality!!

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Danny had saved a beautiful Tokonoma for my big Larch and it was the first time for me to be able to do that!!! Creating my composition in this special space was a first for me and there for very exciting and a real honour! As you can see here, I am happy with the way it all looks! And I am especially proud that this is a Bonsai from a tree that I collected my self all those years ago and that almost all branches and the top section were created from nothing! Later that evening my friend Mario Komstra, for who I have the highest regards, discussed with me this tree and he gave me a honour that surpasses for me every award there is to win! He called this old larch a Bonsai and a important European tree! Coming from him, I think this tree and me did all right up to now! But he also pointed out that there are still things that could and should be improved! Like thickness of some off the branches and the top trunk section and may be a shallower pot in the future! Points taken Mario and thanks for the discussion and talk we had…you are a inspiration in many ways my friend and I do hope to visit you some time, when things are better!!! 😉

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This is a picture of the second Bonsai that I brought along with me! This is “Wolfie” the Mugo pine that I swapped so many years ago with a other old friend Wolfgang Putz when my dear friend Tony Tickle (UK) and I visit him in his beautiful place in Austria! The beautiful accent stone is yet a other gift from a other old Bonsai friend from the UK, Terry Foster!

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It was very intense and hot work building up my compositions under neath all that glass of the greenhouses that make up a large section of the “GINKGO”Bonsai centre! So I was glad to be able to sit down with old friend Danny and new friend, the very talented Frederic Chenal from France! This picture is taken in front of Danny’s unique “Route 66” road house music bar that is build right in the middle of his Bonsai centre! Above the entrance you can see one off Danny’s many hot rods bikes that he collects along with all kinds off paraphernalia that has to do with it! You got to love this guy!!! 🙂

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Across of the road house, above the entrance and  the pay desk, there is loads more off Danny’s collected stuff! Ranging from petrol pumps to children’s miniature cars and bikes!

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More to the left even more collected stuff! Just under neath this you can see the entrance to a space were Danny’s students made a very inspiring exposition of Bonsai in the dark!

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Imagine this composition in complete darkness, witch was impossible to capture with my camera, because it kept on using it’s flash light! But I hope you get the idea. It was all so inventive and uniquely made, really breath tacking and inspiring!

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And here a other picture I made in that dark room! just look at that amazing old wood they used to create that Tokonoma and the contrast it makes with that modern lighted base were the Bonsai stands on…great stuff!!!

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Lunch among friends during the show on the Saturday. Danny is here telling the great story, how he, me, Ludo and Carlos drove all trough the UK to convince and invite artist like Colin Lewis, Harry Tomlinson, Dan Barton, Salvatore, John Henby and Marco Invernizzi to come to the first “GINKGO AWARDS”in 1997! We drove about twice the distance than was realy necessary and the way that happened is a classic story that still makes every body who hears it laugh! It was good to hear the adventures Danny and I had all those years ago! I am so glad we got reacquainted again and that nothing has changed, besides the colour off our hair and the shape off our bellies!! 🙂 He and Ingrid are indeed great friends and I am very grateful that I had the change to spent this wonderful weekend with them again!!! Thanks Danny, Ingrid and all who made this wonderful show possible…..and I will see you soon!!!

The next couple off day’s I will work on a video that I shot off this great event and off all the wonderful trees on display! This is a first for me so it might take me a while….but watch this space for the link!

I was smiling when writing this! Bonsai, Bonsai friends and everything thats got to do with it is so special and up lifting! I wish the whole world could do it! Keep them small!!


Hans van Meer.























Posted on May 22nd, 2016 by Hans Van Meer
Posted in BONSAI FUN., Bonsai Shows | No Comments »

Hi every body,

while planning my 2 Bonsai displays for the  “KEI BONSAI KAI” exhibition next weekend in Belgium, I was surging trough my old pictures of earlier displays to look at the accents, scrolls, tanzaku’s and shikishi’s that I have used in the past to accompany my Bonsai in shows were that was allowed. Doing this I rediscovered a early “van Meer” that I would like to re share with you all….because it made me smile and I hope it will make you smile too?! 🙂


Only 6 more night to sleep before I have to carry my two (one heavy) Bonsai, tables and other accessories into my car and drive to the “Kei Bonsai Kai” exhibition in Laarne (Belgium)! More than 125 top class Bonsai will be on display there and I am really proud to be a small part of all that!!! If you want to see lots of pictures of how Danny and a amazing group of volunteers are building and preparing everything for this amazing show go HERE!!!!

When I get back from the show I will post lots of pictures of it all and later on a short film about all the Bonsai and the reunion of old Bonsai friends!!! I hope to see you all there on Saturday the 28th of May from 10h to 18h !!! And remember: FREE ENTRANCE !!!!! 🙂


Hans van Meer.


Air Layering (marcotting) A Prunus Mahaleb Yamadori.

Posted on May 19th, 2016 by Hans Van Meer
Posted in MY WORK, Uncategorized | No Comments »

Hi every body,

today I would like to share with you the Air Layering or Marcot that I preformed yesterday on one of mine Prunes mahaleb yamadori’s.

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Remember this picture? This is the Prunus mahaleb that is about to be air layered. The left (yellow) section needs to be separated from the right (red) section! This beautiful left section, full off age old death wood, goes to my dear friend Tony Tickle (UK) and the right trunk/tree section stays with me in Holland…if all goes well that is?!

bark hans van meer 500Before I start a little explanation about the different layers that make up a trunk and branch.

Just look at the quick drawing I made to explain. The bark on the outside of the tree protects the living cambium layer that lies under need it. This cambium layer produces the growth rings adding each season new layers of phloem and xylem to the tree. The cambium layer is a very thin living layer that produces phloem to wards the outside were it eventually becomes bark and xylem to wards the inside were it becomes sapwood. This all important cambium layer is responsible for the growth of stems and, important for the technique that I am going to use, the roots! The phloem transports all the food and hormones that is produced by the leaves down wards to the roots. The xylem is basically vascular tissue that carries the water and other dissolved nutrients all the way up to the leaves. 

So now we know this, how those air layering work?! Were new roots are wanted a strip of bark is removed with the help of a sharp knife or in my case a small iron saw! After the strip of bark with the phloem is removed with the help of a sharp chisel (this was very easy on this Prunus) the thin layer of cambium is scrapped off with a sharp and clean knife! This is very important to do because if the cambium layer is left intact the tree or branch will not be fooled because the flow is not disrupted and most likely will not produce new roots if only the bark and phloem is removed! A sticky paste is made by adding rooting hormone to water and that is then applied generously around the edge of the wound (on the side closest to the top of the branch or trunk). Than a thick layer of moist (but not soaking wet) sphagnum moss is applied all around the wound. This all is packed inn with a piece of transparent plastic that works as a water barrier and allows the sun light to come trough. Holes can easily be made in the top of this plastic if watering of the sphagnum moss is later necessary! When enough roots have grown from the wound, this depends on the species and the vigour of the parent tree, the trunk or stem is removed carefully with a saw from the mother tree and is then planted in a training pot. So now we know how, lets see what I did with this old Prunus yamadori?!

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The red arrow shows the point were the air layering needs to be made. This is a thick and old side branch that grows from the lower left side of this massive trunk. This long branch or almost trunk is full of old deadwood and although it those not fit into the design that I have planed for this tree, it would be a shame and almost criminal not to try to save it to become a future Bonsai of it’s own!! 

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This is more or less were the marcot will be made! This is the widest part of this trunk and there for will be the best future root base of the new tree when it is separated! This side consist mostly of deadwood and the 2,5 Inch live fain grows mostly on the other side!

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A look at the future marcot from the other side of the trunk. The red arrow points at two branches that need to be removed because they are in the way and because the don’t have a future growing near the future new root base!

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With a concave cutter they are cut flush with the trunk line and sealed with cut paste. I don’t want any change of infections that close to the new roots!

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The wound properly treated and sealed with cut paste! The red arrow points at a Jin that is also in the way of the future marcot and there for also needs to be removed! Here you can clearly see that this section of the trunk is the widest and there for the logical choice!

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Red arrow points at the Jin that is just removed. The old Jin just above of it proved to be almost completely rotten and broke off easily when I checked it with my hand! A little stump that still was hard is left for Tony to decide if he wants to use it in the future when this trunk is separated and starts its new life in his garden in the UK…if all goos well that is?!

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Here that rotted old Jin is removed up to were the hard wood started! The branch growing to the right side of it is left as a engine for the new roots that hopefully will grow below of it! It is again up to Tony what to do with this branch in the future?!

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A closer look from the other side. That jin stump could be interesting in the future and that branch that is left can be left and used in a design or be transformed into a Jin as well in the future?!

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With the use of a wire the angle of the marcot is checked from both sides until I was satisfied! Red arrow: Than with the help of a thick black marker two lines were drawn, one next to the wire and the other one about 2 Inch further down the trunk.

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With the help of a small iron saw I carefully sawed trough the bark! using this saw was a experiment, because in the past I had struggled to make a clean cut when I used a sharp knife and I was right…it worked like a charm! Straight lines and a clean cut with out the chance of cutting off a finger or damaging the bark! Red arrow points at the bottom cut!

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With a just sharpened chisel the bark was piece by piece carefully removed. At the top of the fresh marcot  you can see were the life section stops and the (brown) deadwood part starts!

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With a sharp and clean knife the cambium layer is carefully scraped away everywhere along the top incision! Making sure that nothing is left so that there will be no cambium flow possible between the top and bottom incision! This now will trigger the tree to make new roots along that top insision….if all goes well that is?! 😉

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Then a paste of rooting hormone and water was applied to the top cut and below it. This was left to dry so that it would stick to the surface even when the wed sphagnum moss is applied! This rooting hormone powder (from Bayer) will stimulate and help the production of new roots!

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First a layer of in water and rooting hormone soaked sphagnum moss is applied and hold in place by a strain of 1 mm aluminium wire. Than a second layer of in water soaked sphagnum is applied on top off the first layer and is also hold in place with wire.

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Then the sphagnum is completely covered by a double layer of strong transparent plastic that is tightly hold in place with aluminium 1mm wire. Both the ends of the plastic is tightly taped shut to make sure that nothing will move. In the future when the sphagnum gets to dry, small holes can and will be made in the top of the plastic ball to be able to insert water to wet the sphagnum!

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The whole air layering seen from the front side of this old Prunus. From now on it is fingers crossed and anxious waiting and watching until  the first roots appear trough the plastic! I forgot to tell you that all the foliage above the air layering is cut back to 2 leaves to minimise the need for water! I will try to keep this heavy monster and it’s air layering out off to much direct summer sun heat and hope for the best!! 🙂

I will keep you all informed if there is any progress and I hope you enjoyed this little story this fare?!


Hans van Meer.






My Dutch Hawthorn Yamadori In Full Bloom.

Posted on May 14th, 2016 by Hans Van Meer
Posted in Bonsai Shows, MY WORK | No Comments »

Note from Me: this is a reply to the reader of my blog who so kindly posted a comment to point out to me that he or she and I quote: “did not know that there was a Dutch Hawthorn species”. Well there isn’t! The title of this post “My Dutch Hawthorn In Full Bloom” points to the fact that the Bonsai in this post is a Dutch Yamadori of the Hawthorn kind and not that it is a Dutch Hawthorn species! Now I understand that I maybe could have better titled this post: “My Dutch Yamadori Hawthorn In full Bloom” to prevent all the confusion of this comment poster?! But in my defence, I would like to point out that like I did in Bonsai, I thought my self how to speak and write in the English language for the purpose of being able to wright about my Bonsai adventures on bonsai forums, my website and blog! And I do realise that these posts are still full of poor spelling and grammar, believe me I know! But hé…I try as best as I can and 120000+ hits today when you goggle my name+bonsai must shows that most people don’t mind me making all these honnest mistakes and enjoy reading about what I am doing! And for all THOSE people I will keep on posting and apologise in advance for all my mistakes that I know I will make in the future! 😉

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Hi every body, this picture was made a few day’s ago when the weather was just beautiful  sunny and it was 25 degrees! As I write this today, it is only 11 degrees,  raining and storming?!

I was in the middle of preparing this Dutch Hawthorn Yamadori (Crataegus monogyna) that I collected many years ago close to were I live, for the exciting “KEI BONSAI KAI” exhibition that is held on Saturday the 28th of May 2016 from 10h-18h in Danny Use famous Bonsai Centre “Ginkgo” in Laarne Belgium (free entrance)! Those unsightly wooden sate sticks around the rim of the pot are there to keep the rock pigeons that visit my garden regularly for free seed and water from sleeping under need the foliage! Otherwise they would have destroyed the tender new moss and trow out my top soil! This those not harm them at all and now they sleep and rest on a large rock thats hold down a cascading Mugo pine…you got to love these little creatures! The larger wooden sticks in there are to hold the top and top branch in place, this way I don’t have to use wire every time and it is just as efficient! The Hawthorn has a amazing amount of flowers this year and I was really looking forward to show it for the very first time to the public ….. but disaster struck once again! About 35% off all the foliage was infected by some sort of insect and left the leaves covered with bums, like they have chicken pocks or measles! I had this before on some of my Hawthorns and it is quit harmles…but it looks like shit! I removed most off the infected leaves, but I soon came to realise that it would leave the tree almost bare in some places and that would be unsightly and is not don in such a high class exhibition! So I sadly had to decide to not show this one and a other infected beautiful small Hawthorn that I was planning to show and has the same problem! It is a sad back and very disapointing….but these things can happen when dealing with living things and are a part of Bonsai, if we like it or not! But the picture is beautiful enough to show you all this rare Dutch Yamadori in the “Mother and child” style with all her flowers!! She tried hard enough to be beautiful for this big show, but a small insect destroyed her change to shine….maybe in the future she will get a other change?! I will now bring in only 2 off my Bonsai! They will be showed with scrolls and accents and I will post picture off the whole event (and maybe film?!) as soon as I get home from these exiting reunion of some off the old Ginkgo gang! After all those years it is great to get home to the place were it more or less all started! I hope that you are all coming to watch this great opportunity to see beautiful bonsai and to shop arround in Danny’s amazing Bonsai Valhalla!! CU all there!!


Hans van Meer.


Finally ready to give my old Yamadori Taxus it’s first styling (part II).

Posted on May 5th, 2016 by Hans Van Meer
Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Hi everybody,

here is part II of this Taxus styling story!

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Fist thing I wanted to do, before I started to style the tree, is improving the major large Jin on the right of the tree! It needs a whoosh flow to the right with out to much visual distraction in to a different direction! Especially strait angular movement away from the flow are a no no and need to be changed or completely removed! The straight up wards going Jin in the middle of this picture creates a almost perfect angle with the movement of the long Jin to the right side and is clearly obstructing and shouting for attention when we follow the visual direction of the long Jin! So it needs to be shortened considerably, but is needs to look like a force of nature had broken it off!

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With a little controlled force the branch is broken off in just the right place leaving a natural looking small stump that needs little or no more work to look completely naturally!

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Green arrow point at the stump of the Jin that just is broken off. The red arrow points at a almost strait Jin that distracts the flow and movement of the Jin just above and in front of it! So again: it needs to go!

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Again this Jin is controlled broken off by hand and again the Jin breaks right off at the desired place! In the background you can already see just how the movement of that long Jin is now more clear and visible with out any straight lines distracting it like before! 

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Much better all ready! But the red arrow points at a Jin that also grows upward in a angular fashion and obstructs at the tip off this long branch the eye movement, flow and natural tapering of that long Jin !

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So again it is carefully broken off by hand! Leaving a stump that afterwards needs some more work with hand tools to go along even better with that last part of the long Jin! That will be don when the major styling is finished!

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By now that long Jin looks much better and the eye movement to the right is with out any obstructions! it is starting to look like a bolt of lightning! Just like I wanted it to look! It brings visual speed to the tree and that is in my eye very exciting for the future off this tree! the red arrow points at a section on that thicker Jin section that needs improving! It is to long in some parts and there are to many small Jins sticking out from it…like tin fingers!This Jin section is not a part off that long Jin and stands on it’s one! It  goes off in a different and those not obstruct the movement of that long Jin!

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Like before the Jin that protruded straight into the air is removed by breaking it carefully off with my hand! Making that whole Jin less crowded and more open!

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As you can see in this shot that Jin is now much more open and less busy! In the future when the branches are brought in to their desired position and when that large, now still not worked on Shari aria is created, they might be worked on more and or shortened! But those important decisions can only be made when the can be compared with a more finished tree! 

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OK! Now it is time to make the final branch selections and then wire them and bring them into there desired position! First the left hanging branch! The green arrow points at the branch that will form the left front branch. The red arrow will become the more left orientated branch. The blue arrow points at the branch that will become the left back wards orientated branch!

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Top view of that left side hanging branch. The left thicker one and the one to the right off that grow from it are wired in a way that offers the best protection against breaking. Applying the wire like this with room between them covers more of the branch surface than when you apply the wire needle against each other! Although it looks messy, it was a precise work to avoid damaging all the buds and young growth! The tinner branches that grow from it on the right lower side are fanned out!  know it don’t look like much yet, but remember all branches in this first styling are still way to long (some more than 40 cm) and they will be shortened considerably when the now juvenile growth and buds on them have grown sufficiently! This fist styling is not to win any beauty contest, but to bring the basic shape and direction into all the branches so that the skeleton to later work from in more detail is solid!

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The red arrow points at a branch that is nicely placed but were I am still not sure of if it will be used?! that really all depends on how far the higher placed left side branch will come down?! So I leave it for now! Just above it you can see a stump from a branch that was the same as the one below it so that could be removed earlier! The two smaller branches below the red arrow are up to now not necessary, but are left just in case! Just see how much new growth is all over them!

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The red arrow points at that same branch, It is a nicely placed one, but it is a bit to low on the trunk and to close to the bottom left branch! Imagine it bend down to the left…it would cover that first left branch….but still I keep it just in case! Better safe than sorry!

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Close up of the top branches that were left after removing two other once earlier. The wounds are covered with cut paste to prevent die back that could harm the 3 branches that are left! The right one of the 3 is the one that might come down far enough to take the place of the one below it in the picture, the one we have just discussed in the picture before this one! The left one in the picture will become the back branch and the one in the middle will become the top.

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A layer of in water soaked raffia is tightly applied and hold in place with little pieces aluminium wire, this is handy when you are working alone! When this raffia dries it will shrink and protect the branches even more from breaking or cracking!

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One the left the branch below the future top is also covered with a layer of raffia. It is always handy to have enough in water soaked raffia prepared and ready so that you can work on with out having to stop in the middle because you have run out!

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Than two wirer’s are placed on top of the raffia that are also held in place with pieces of wire. This wirer’s need to be placed tightly onto the raffia with out any space under need them! These two branches will be bend down so the wire on top will offer protection from breaking were the most stress is occurring! You might have knottiest that the wirer’s are to long and will stick out from under the raffia?! Well this is on purpose…they are used to wire the rest off the branch with!  Clever or what!? 🙂

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The tree top branches have a second layer off raffia applied to them, to hold the wirer’s under need it as tight as possible! The red arrow points at the future top branch that will be severely bend up-wards so it needs protection from a wirer under need of it to protect it! Thats why a U shaped wire is placed (green arrows) under need that branch, to protect it and the branch below it, that will be bend down wards! That branch that goes down wards is here still waiting for it second layer of raffia to hold that U shaped piece off wire tightly in to place!

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After that last layer of raffia is applied, just one single MM aluminium wire is used to cover it! I figured that this is enough to safely bend the branches, because strong copper wirer’s will be used to hold them firmly into place! A (to long) iron pipe is inserted into the ground and secured firmly (with pieces off rubber between it) against the trunk with strong copper wire. This iron pipe will be used to bring the future top (on the left) up wards.

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Here the future top is already on it’s way up wards to wards the iron pipe! This is carefully done in stages…there is no rush when doing these major bends! Especially when working alone, you are short off 2 hands! It takes some force and technique to bend and turn and tighten the wire with a nipper!

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Top red arrow point at the future back branch that is brought down and to the left (in this picture) and is hold down by a 3 MM copper wire that is attached to two screws that are brought into the Shari (bottom red arrow)! Just look how far it has already come down!

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Close up of the wirer’s that are connected to the screws that hold everything into place.

That are, with intervals, more and more tightened with the help of a short piece of thick wire (like you can see on the right off the top)!

In this way the branch is slowly and as safe as possible brought into the desired position and at the end hold  in it’s place!

In this shot you can also see just why in the future that large Jin on the left, were the shrews are inserted into, needs to be largely removed and then naturally formed! It gives the tree a reverse taper (smaller at the base and wider at the top)! It also hides the view on the large Jin at the back!

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The red arrow points at the top that is finally in to place, just look how fare it is bend upwards…amazing! the green arrow point at the top left branch that is about to be carefully bend down into it’s desired position! Things are so far coming along nicely! I am completely in my element again…I missed that feeling so long! 🙂

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The green arrow points at the new top. The red arrow points at the back branch. The yellow arrow point at the new right hanging branch after it is in stages brought down into it’s new position! The green arrow points at the top that is even brought more toward the iron pipe!






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The yellow arrow point at the top that is by now in it’s desired position, but is here still straight and there for needs bending to create more natural movement. The red arrow points at the back branch. the blue arrow points at the new first right side branch that also needs additional bending to create curves and the green arrow points at the left first branch that needs some more down wards bending !

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The red arrow points at the first left side branch that still needs to be brought down a considerable bit ! This is don by carefully pushing it down with my left hand, while the right hand tightens the heavy copper wire! You have to be very handy when you work alone! 🙂

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The red arrow points at that same left hand first branch. Just look how fare it has come down, when you compare it with the picture above! It still amazes me how far you can safely bend stiff branches when you protect them with raffia and wire!

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Red arrow points at the branch that is just brought down and hold in it’s new position with the help of 2 strong copper wires! Pieces of aquarium tubs and pieces off pot screens are used to prevent the wires from cutting in to the bark of the branches! This is very important and must always be don!!!

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Red arrow points at the branch that was kept on with a question mark?! It could be a left branch, but it would hide the branch below it! And now the branch above it, that has just been brought down, has taken over the place of that branch in a better way…so it can be removed as well !!

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And this is for now the final resold after a day of work! Remember that all the branches are left way to long on purpose to protect the inner buds and small growth! This extra length with all it’s lush growth, will work as sucking engines to maintain the sap flow and growing power and will only be shortened as soon as I am completely sure that there is enough growth on them closer to the trunk to maintain the branches! The long top will also be shortened in the future and one of its lower placed small branches will become the new leader and top! But again: only when there is more growth lower to maintain it’s health! I don’t want to loose any branch, they are all needed and health and growth is much more important now than the wild image of this very old tree!

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I made this picture at 5-5-2016 just to show and proof to you what I mend by tons of buds and new growth all over the in sides of all the selected branches!  This is a close up of the first hanging branch on the left of the tree! I placed yellow dots next to each bud and new growth to make it more clear for you all to see ! When this new growth has grown sufficiently on all the now still way to long branches, they will be all shortened considerably! Some by more than 35 cm!

I hope you enjoyed this story as much as I did making it?! I will keep you all updated on the progress of this future Bonsai and hope you come back for my other Bonsai stories and adventures?!


Hans van Meer










Finally ready to give my old Yamadori Taxus it’s first styling! (part I)

Posted on April 29th, 2016 by Hans Van Meer
Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »


Hi everybody,

I would like to share the story in pictures and words of the first styling of my old Taxus Yamadori! It was ready for it’s first styling at least 2 years ago….but because of my poor state of mind during that time, I did not dare it somehow!? I just could not make up my mind those day’s and my natural ability to see a Bonsai in even a piece of strait wood seemed to be completely gone! So the tree grew and grew and with out really realising it, it got better and better! Mind you, this was never a easy tree to design! There was so much going on in this ancient tree and so many thing and possibility’s to consider and the longer I waited, the harder it seamed to get to find the tree among all those branches, foliage and amazing but difficult deadwood?! But about a month ago my shutters were finally opened and more off the old me came back…and one of the first things I did was creating a work space in the open air and pick up this Taxus and with out any plans I started to work like I use to do in the old day’s! And this is the story of that amazing afternoon in my garden and the birth of a future Bonsai! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did?!

31-3-2012 verpoten Taxus 005 Hans van Meer 500

Here are some old pictures from 31-3-2012 when the Taxus was repotted into it’s present pot. It had grown a amazingly amount healthy fine roots and I had no problems repotting it!

31-3-2012 verpoten Taxus 043 Hans van Meer 500

Here it is already planted in it’s new home. I used a mixture with Akadama, kiryu and Bims. This is what I use with success for all my Taxus and other evergreens! When I was sure that all possible air pockets were filed with soil, I watered until the water that came out off the holes in the pot was clear! 

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Here it is in it’s new home just before watering it. Just look at that amazing and unique deadwood that was created when the poor tree was almost cut in half by a large bolder that still covered most of the tree when I found it all those years ago! That covered section amazingly stayed alive for many decades, before it finally died back to leave all this natural deadwood! No matter what, I wanted this art work from mother nature some how in my future design…but it would not be easy! In this picture the branches on the left were not bigger than my pinky and one of them was brought into place to the right to later form the trunk and top out of! And one branch on the bottom left was bend behind the trunk to, in years, end up as a branch just above the long jin on the right side! My plane then was to some how create a windswept tree! In the following pictures from a few weeks ago you will see just how fast a healthy yew can grow!!!

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Present frond side of the tree. How amazing is that?! It has grown into a bush! Some of those branches were almost a meter long and the former pinky thick trunk/top branch is now almost as thick as my wrist! That new trunk needed over the past years a lot of force and heavy copper wire to be brought and held into it’s desired position!

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Right side of the tree with a view over the long jin. Just how amazing is all that beautiful deadwood and all those healthy branches to choose from! I cant wait to go in there to find out!!!

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Back side view of the tree. The red arrow points at the back branch that I had let grow from the (here right) front side to end up as a branch over that long jin (here on the left of the red arrow)! That branch had grown at least 50 cm in the last 4 years!

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Close up from behind the tree of that same long branch (red arrow). The right red arrow points at were this branch originates from at the front left side! By now I already hat my doubts about this branch?! It those not look naturally and it those not fulfil the purpose I had in mind when I came up with that idea! By now I realist that it would always look man made and strange…so!!!

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Front view. Red arrow: this is the point on the left front side were that same branch grows from, you can just see it disappearing behind the trunk. It just those not look right…right?! The small branches that grow toward us from just below that red arrow look just fine to create the first hanging branch out off!

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Red arrow:

here that branch is all ready cut off, leaving a stump to allow die/dry back so that those promising small branches wont die! Better safe than sorry!

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Frond side view. Red arrow points at the point were the cut off branch used to be, just above that long Jin. Now there is a more natural open space and a clear view of that unique long Jin!

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Red arrow: these branches that grow on the left middle side of the trunk just above the branch that I just cut off, are to strait and grow directly up wards and therefor impossible to bend in a believable way! And they were not needed, there were other branches to fill that gap! So off with their heads!!!

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Back side view:

The branch I am holding is a useful left or front branch. The left red arrow point at a stump left from the midle right  side branch that was already cut off because the right side branch were the right side red arrow is pointing at was better placed on the trunk to fulfil that same purpose! The middle red arrow points at a Jin that is in the way off just that branch and feels very weak …so!!!

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Red arrow:

Here that Jin is already broken off by hand. As you can see it was just hanging on by a small piece and would probably have been broken in the future any way!

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Front side view again.

White arrow points at the future top left branch. Green arrow points at the future top branch. Yellow arrow is pointing at the first right hand branch. Red arrow points at a in the way front branch stump that was removed. Blue arrow points at a better placed front branch. And the purple arrows point at the long Jin section that is beautiful but in the way of the branches that need to full that space!

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Purple arrow points at the place were the Jin will be cut off with a saw! Leaving enough off it to bring in some strong screws to support the thick copper wirer’s that will be needed to hold down the branches in there place when they are bent down with great force! I know that this is a great looking Jin, but removing it is necessary so that the branches can be brought into their desired position! It will also open up the view to the rest off the dead wood in the back and the branches that other wise will be hidden! And open space is very important in my Bonsai designs so .. some time you have to break the egg to make a omelet!

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So the thick Jin is sawed off with a handy saw. That took some force because Taxus wood is very strong and this piece was very old. Big decisions, but necessary for my design!

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Cut off after hard work. Amazing that just a few weeks ago I could not make any decisions or had any ideas or even interest in this work…now I  am very happy that this period is behind me…I missed this so much and it was so far out off reach at one point! I’m a happy man!

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The cut off Jin. It was necessary to be removed, but now I find it hard to trow it away!!! Yews make such beautiful deadwood and this piece is so stunning! I will keep it at least for a while to hold it every now and then and use it as a model for my deadwood work or students!

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++I must be getting a bit sentimental at my old age !!! But seriously it those not become any easier to decide to remove some thing old that mother nature has created so wonderfully!

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Back side view again. Red arrow points at the just cut off stump. The green arrow points at a nice branch with a large Shari running over the full lenght off it. Blue arrow point to the spars little tin branges that grow only on the tip of this old branch! Although it is a great unique branch, it can not be used in any way in the design and would even look silly seen from the frond! It would always be a long bare branch with some foliage on the tip off it! And bending it is also not a option…believe me, I thought long and hard if there was a way to use it, but there wasn’t! So than you have to make a dissision and I did!

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Left red arrow: Here you can see from the front how awkward this branch is placed and how strange it looks, it dwarfs the trunk!  The top arrow point at the only small branches that grow on the tip of it!

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Here the branch is sawed off. I leave a long piece that might be shaped into a Jin, I can always remove it more or completely in the future if necessary!

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The sawed off section. As you can see: it only had a few tin branches growing on the thick tip…but still it wasn’t a easy made decision! Creating a Bonsai often means that you have to make big decisions! If you don’t do that it will bit you in a few years time and live is to short to do that!

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Red arrow points at a branch that grows directly opposite to a other one! The other on is important to the design, so this one looses and needs to be cut off!

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This Jin is half rotted and loose! It is broken off by hand, this leaves a natural look as if it was always so! this tree has beautifully

deadwood everywere…I am so lucky with this material!!!

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Front side of the tree. Most branch selection is now don and I shift my focus for a while to the deadwood sections! There are a lot off distractions in the flow of that long jin that need to be dealt with!

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Right side of the tree, looking over that long Jin. Here you can clearly see just how much branches and foliage is removed from the tree! But still there are one or two branches that might have to go when I am bringing it all into the desired positions!?

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Back side of the tree. Now that all obscuring stuff and branches are more or less removed, all becomes much more clearer! It now is so much more obvious were I am going to with my plans!

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Left side of the tree. In this shot the branch structure is very clear and even the open spaces are nicely visible from this angle! The branches are way to long now, but they will be shortened in the future when there is enough foliage to work with closer to the trunk on those branches. For now there is more than enough foliage removed to keep it safe…the trees health is important now!

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Wow just look how much branches and foliage is removed…must be more than 75 %! Now light and air can reach the hundreds of tiny buds and small branches that are on the branches that remain on the tree! I am sure she will do just fine and will recover quickly! Next is the styling of this great tree…but that is for part-II! I hope you enjoyed it so far and join me in the next edition?!

CU soon!

Hans van Meer.









Pictures of Wolfie the Mugo pine and a giant Prunus mahaleb in full bloom.

Posted on April 29th, 2016 by Hans Van Meer
Posted in MY WORK | No Comments »

Hi every body,

I would like to show you some pictures of Wolfie the Mugo pine as it looks today and of a other one of my Prunus mahaleb Yamadori.

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I just made this picture of Wolfie, it was the first real dry day with some weak sun every now and then! The last week was colder than it was last Christmas! We even had snow! Wolfie’s buds are swelling non the less and he looks like he suffered no ill effects from the repotting that I did earlier! I planted some moss around him and that look immediately a lot better! I am glad that I found a solution for the rotted root, it would be such a shame if Wolfie could not be shown after all the work it was to get it this fare! I hope you like how it looks?!

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This giant Prunus mahaleb is a other one that my dear fare away friends and I collected in 2012. It is doing amazing like the other 3 and it has a lot of sweat smelling flowers! This massive tree has a enormous root base and is top to bottom covered with beautiful old death wood! All of the branches that I need for my design are new and are coming along nicely! They have been rewired last Fall.

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I made this virtual to show you the twist that I have planed for later next month! The red part will be the (mine) future tree! It has a killer base, natural jin, beautiful movement and stunning deadwood from top to bottom! And here comes the surprice…the yellow part will be separated by air layering it, only leaving the red stomp that will be turned in to a jin that will match all the deadwood! This yellow section that is also covered with amazing deadwood and movement is all ready promised to my dear friend Tony Tickle, who cant wait to get this beautiful future mahaleb Bonsai! I hope the air layering will work so that one tree can become two trees?! I will keep you posted when I have don the air layering and the separation…fingerscrosed that it will work?! I hope you like this post and see you hopefully at the next one?!


Hans van Meer.

Repotting some of my Shohin bonsai!

Posted on April 28th, 2016 by Hans Van Meer
Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

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Hi everybody, here are some pictures I made from my Shohin repotting session.


First picture (little Tony) is from my Shohin Prunus spinasa Yamadori from the UK. This was many years ago a gift from my dear friend Tony Tickle (UK).

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Above: The second one (little Terry) is a Taxus Yamadori from the UK and was also many years ago a gift from my good friend Terry Foster (UK).



My old Bonsai friends have always been very good to me and lots of the trees that are still in my collection today are aether a gift or are collected with them in the wild!

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The third one shows little Tony (left)next to a other old UK Yamadori Prunus spinosa that also was a long time ago a present from Terry Foster.

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The fourth one shows (little Tony) in full bloom. This was first trained for many years as a informal upright Bonsai but was a few years ago radically changed into this more dramatic style!


And the last one shows them along some of my other Shohin, a Punica granatum and my old Dutch yamadori Potentilla fruticosa that won 1 price at the Dutch Bonsai association some 20 years ago.

Shohin are a real joy in my garden, especially the once that bloom in Spring time!

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I hope you enjoyd this little impression of my Shohin!? Sorry for the poor lay out, this is the best I can do for now!


Hans van Meer.


Wirring my two Prunus mahaleb yamadori.

Posted on April 28th, 2016 by Hans Van Meer
Posted in MY WORK, Uncategorized | No Comments »

Hi everybody,

here are some pictures of the rewiring and styling sessions I did on my two Prunus mahaleb yamadori that were collected in 2012.

Below: Both old Prunus mahaleb had grown amazingly during the past season and the wire had to be taken off  before it would dig in to the bark! But the branches did have enough time to grow more or less into their desired position and stay there!  Now it was time to loosely rewire all branches again and to reposition them were necessary!

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Just look at all the former suckers that last season were bent down into the ground to create new roots! This is a very easy but important technique to use on these species that create tons of these suckers during the whole growing season! The once that form every were along the trunk need to be removed immediately when they are not useful in your design, otherwise they will leave ugly scars!

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Remember that I told you earlier in the repotting story of Wolfie about the lucky stone that I had found by change in the soil of one of my Prunus mahaleb? Well it was in this tree wen I was removing unwanted mosses and weeds from the soil surface to expose the roots to the light and air so they would thicken more quickly!

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The red arrow shows a branch that grows strait and ugly directly up wards and although I wired it before, it still needs to be removed completely because bending it wont make it look any better! This branch is much to prominent in your face and it is impossible to make sharp bends in a branch like this and I don’t want it to look like a arch!

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Here the branch is completely removed and now the lines and the flow of the branch is much more natural and pleasant! The eye of the observer can now follow  the flow of the branch unobstructed right to the tip of it! Lines and even more open spaces are very important in Bonsai! Even in the more natural designed Bonsai like these two! I believe that branch structure is of the utmost importance in Bonsai design even in the more natural looking onces! Creating a bushy tree to save time and then call it a Bonsai is wrong! Proper branch building is a intricate part of Bonsai art and should not be neglected to get a quick result or to fool the public! At least that is my opinion!

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Here most of the branches are wired and bend and fixated into their desired position. On the right side two main branches still look a bit stiff in this picture and most likely will be bend some more next season with the help of raffia! The red arrow point at a to strait looking branch that grows from the old hanging branch that over the decades had rooted into the ground! This gnarly looking branch full of stunning deadwood plays a important part in my overall design and a strait line that the new branch that grows from it is very unwanted and looks unnatural and ugly…so it needs bending with the help of raffia to protect it from breaking!

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Here the branch is wrapped with one  layer in water soaked raffia, this will protect it from breaking or cracking! Soaking raffia for a while in water is important to do, when the water evaporates the raffia will shrink a little and embrace the branch even tighter, therefor work better!

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Just one on a old removed branch stump  secured layer of 3,5 mm wire is aplied and the branch is carfully bend into its new more natural looking position! Some light movement up and down was also created to make the branch look less stiff!

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Top view from that same branch. To hold the branch into its new place a  strong copper wire is secured to one of the many ground Jin that stick out off the ground in frot off the tree. The branch looks more pleasant now and because it is now automatically  brought closer to the tree, it has become more a part of the overall appearance! So a win win situation!

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All work don! I know it is not a very good picture and things are a bit hard to see…but this tree is very heavy and I cant lift much these days! But I hope you can still make out the overall impression of this very promising tree?! The stumps sticking out off the ground in frond of the tree are mostly natural Jins, left from old branches! They will stay to play a big part in this old tree natural design!

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Here the old tree is in full bloom! The very late hail storms we had the last couple of days have sadly removed most of them! I am very happy with the progress of this tree…only finding a pot will be a crime! I think I will have to let one be specially made for me in the future! I am afraid a normal shaped pot will not fit it?! But thats for later!

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Here you see the second Prunus mahaleb that is already wired here and the branches are brought back into there desired position. These old tree was like the other one burned by forest firers and the amazing old deadwood is all scorched, this created beautiful black and grey tones all over the incredible deadwood that man cant copy! The top and top branches are hugging the amazing deadwood section from behind to emphasise it!

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Here you can see the, for now, finished tree.  The thick jin in the bottom middle still needs some work in the future to make it more elegant and a lot of the by now dead bark below it needs to be removed as well. I am not yet sure what to do with the ground Jins that stick out off the ground in front of the tree..but they can always be removed later when I am sure! On this Prunus there were also created new roots from suckers, but not as much as on the other one.

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The old Prunus in bloom! It needs to be more tilted to the left like in the picture above, but this picture is all I have! I like this twin trunk design, it looks natural and honours how this old fighter looked when we found it! With some more years to create finner ramification it will look amazing and unique and I cant wait to find a fitting pot for it and  show it to the world! I am so immensely grateful to my dear friends who allowed and helped me to collect these stunning works of nature! They brought joy in my live and I have these beauties in my garden to remind me every day of how wonderful live, nature, friends and doing Bonsai can be….thanks guy’s!!!

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I hope you enjoyed this story of my two Prunus mahaleb’s, it took for ever to write, but I found a very long way to at least get it right for you all to read! I am glad that I am able to do my hobby again with joy and a head full of ideas and I am glad that I can again share it with you all! There is more to come, so watch this space!!!


Hans van Meer.






Repotting and saving Wolfie the Mugo pine.

Posted on April 27th, 2016 by Hans Van Meer
Posted in MY WORK | No Comments »


Hi everybody,

here are the pictures from the repotting of Wolfie the Mugo pine.

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About a year ago I noticed that Wolfie was slowly falling over to the left! On closer inspection what was causing this, I discovered that the thick root on the right side off the trunk (red arrow) was completely rotten and could not hold the pulling weight of the tree any longer. Wolfie was supported with a piece of wood to prevent it from falling over and to safe the roots that were still trying to hold it in place!

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Close up from the right side of the rotted root and trunk from witch the dead bark was removed. No wonder that Wolfie was slowly tipping over to the left! There was not much left to hold him upright at all!

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Close up of the rotted aria from further to the right side. Notice the natural rock on the right side of the dead root that is embedded in the trunk and in the soil.

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With a concave cutter the rotted root was cut off. If you look at the space above the embedded rock you can see just how much Wolfie has fallen over! That rock use to fit tightly in the truck above it!

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Here you can see that the dead root is cut off. Now all the rotted wood needs to be carefully removed and treated to prevent further rotting in the future, making sure that the stone I found still fits the wound!

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The red arrows shows a stone that I by luck found in the soil of my Prunus mahaleb yamadori from Slovenia when I was wiring it this spring. I immediately knew it would fit in the wound that would be created when I removed the rotted root from Wolfie!

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Man I could not believe my luck, it fits like a clove! It looks like Wolfie has grown against this rock his whole live! And it makes the base of the truck look so much wider! Big problem solved! What are the chances of finding this rock in a pot of a other yamadori that I found years later in a other part off the world…AMAZING!

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Here is Wolfie in it’s new pot after a difficult repotting! securing it to the pot needed some thinking and trickery! A screw was placed out of side between the new rock and the old original small rock on the right off it from witch a thick wire was secured trough the hole of the pot! This wire was tightened until Wolfie was in the right position and prevents Wolfie from falling over to the left again!

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I hope you forgive me that this post is a bit messy but I have a lot of trouble posting these days…but I still wanted to share my work with you all after all this time! I will post a picture of wolfie after it’s been in his new pot for a while!

More post will follow soon…if everything keeps on working?! I think I need a new computer?!


Hans van Meer.

P.S. Please scroll down a bit furter after reading the stories to read other post!!! SORRY!!!













































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