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 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 a 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 wend 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 safe the trees live and make a bonsai out of it? Luckily he gave me permission! Than 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,
Hans van Meer.