Fifteen years later.

Jun rig groot_voor.jpg

This needle Juniper was started up from a yamadori clomp with nearly no branches, this photo was taken about 4 years after the 1st styling.  The secret to build a tree up with young branches to a tree with branches who can stand on their own, without wire, is powerfull growth. In the meantime maintenance can continue on the more developped branches, powerfull growth can only on a couple of branches a year. When you let everything grow than it is neglected and become “top heavy”. Also this was a long time project.


Once your goal is achieved the real work can start. Maintaining and keeping the tree healthy, knowing different kinds of techniques and knowing when to use which on the same tree brings the tree to international exhibition level.

Hamamelis mollis.

Hamamelis plant.jpg

The plant I started with to create my Hamamelis mollis bonsai was quite similar to this garden plant mine was just older. The variety is not so common in the bonsai world but for me it was important to work with a big variation in my collection. Especially flowering bonsai and nice autumn colours are always welcome and than you have the year around attractive trees in the collection.

Hamamelis in blad_1.jpg

There are not so many options to style trees with thin trunks. The first thing I had to do was to make my trunk interesting by giving it a heavy wiring with 2 times 5mm over the whole trunk so I could create a nice bunjin movement. But notice that the trunk and branches are breaking  very easily. This photo is taken in the middle 90’s, after the 1st wiring and repotting, one year after the main styling of the trunk.

Hamamelis in bloei_1.jpg

This is one of the reasons I work with this variety. The tree flowers, depending on the season, in januari or februari. It is a slow growing variety, so you do not have to do a lot of winter pruning. One important thing with flowering trees, if you want flowers every year, do not prune your branches in the flowerbudding season, which is for this variety august.

Hamamelis bloesem_detail.jpg

Detail of the flowers, in normal weather conditions they flower more than a month, even in temperatures far below zero.

Hamamelis in blad_2.jpg

In the summer the tree produces a lot of big leaves. I have to do some leaf pruning of 50% every summer.

Hamamelis in bloei_2.jpg

A couple of years later more branches and another wiring. The volume is now too big for a good proportion between trunk and foliage. The more I let this grow the thicker my branches become and I want to keep only the inside part. It is not an easy variety for back budding by pruning, sometimes your inside buds come more easy by strong growing.

Hamamelis herfst.jpg

Another attraction point is the autumn colour, depending on the weather, october – november.

Hamamelis winter_zijde1.jpg

Recent restyling; I used complete new inside young growth to make the tree more compact. Some varieties that are not easy backbudding needed sometimes younger growth to be used inside to make a new crown. This is something that can happen every 10 years.

Hamamelis winter.jpg

With the more compact crown there are more possible front sides.


Is now on the sales benches.


Taxus cuspidata Hokkaido.


About ten years ago I found in Hokkaido-Japan many Taxus yamadori. They all came in at the same time and we organised a project workshop with them.


It were all plants of more than 100 years old and originally they came from the mountains were they were growing wild with many trunks like this variety natural grows. The yamadori people in Hokkaido dug this material up four years before and brought them to their nursery were I found them. On this photo you can see that they made new roots and the thick roots were cut off. Here we removed the soil completely and without rootball we still have a weight of about 40kg – 50kg.


The target was to make smaller and more elegant trees with  a lot of deadwood. That is why we used big pots and with this tree we potted the tree up in a certain angle so that half of the roots were not in the pot. They could die off slowly and also a part of the trunk at that side could die off. This was the first step of the project, every participant could take his tree home to put in their garden. Next appointment was after 1 growing season.


One year later we started the deadwood creation. Here we marked with lines the first step to remove the bark and make the tree more elegant.


After removing the bark there are still a lot of living life veins, we have to do this step by step to give the tree the chance to recover so that the roots can find a new way to the branches. That means that we have to do every year ons step more.


You can see the new growth two growing seasons later. We let the wood drying out. This is necessary to create natural deadwood.


On a next workshop we continue and now we are looking for the connection between roots and branches and also create an elegant life vein. From now on we have more or less a possible front side.


Now it is time to work on the reduced saw marks and create an older image, it has to look like stumps in nature that with the erosion in the mountains life their own lifes on a tree. It is important to find the good proportions between deadwood and main tree.


The finished work on the deadwood and another recovery of a couple of months was adviced.


After a 1st wiring and a 1st step to change the angle another recovery time of 1 growing season in the garden.


Now it is time to check if the tree wants to follow our line. On both sides of the life vein we opened the whole line with a knife and power tool, put some cut paste over the whole length of the line and from now on living part can grow and heal over the deadwood. The same time we did some more detailed work on the deadwood.


We protect our deadwood with lime sulfer. We decided on our exact front and inclination.


Now it is time for our second repotting. We have enough new roots and the tree is strong enough.


We still did not choose a final pot after changing the position. I want that the tree grows again the pot full with roots in his new position, after that we will go for a round pot as flat as possible.  After this repotting we put some sphagnum moss on top of the soil because the most important roots are above ground level. It is always important to know were your good roots are, than you can follow a correct system of watering and fertilizing without damaging the roots.


The tree is recovering well and we did another wiring of the main branches to help for a better fixation. There is one outside pruning done, now we are waiting for inside budding. No further maintenance this time.


From now on we are going to focus on the branch ramifications, we have to add some growth on all over the tree. We check once a year to bring the weaker and stronger branches in balance. This project continues as long as necessary to achieve our goal. The deadwood starts to shows his caracter.


We follow the tree up and our first step of the project is finished. Our next step is now going for a mature image, which is going to take us about another 4 to 5 years. This project shows again that step by step is the safest way to keep the tree healthy growing all over the period of drastic interventions. Doing all at once and making “instant” bonsai is never without risk. For the moment there are about 20 Taxus projects among my students. We still have a few of these Taxus in the nursery that we started up ourselves and a few still raw material. Nobody of all my students had from the beginning any idea how the trees eventually would look like, so I thank all of them for there trust over the years and it shows also that following one line is the only way to understand every step.

This was Micky’s Taxus and he is now improving his skills on many other high level projects. I know the feeling to create something from raw to a special bonsai image and this is what you feel and see every day you walk amongst your trees.