Larix Yamadori.



Before a yamadori comes on a workshoptable there are always a couple of years waiting and observing time. They are always coming in in big pots or wooden boxes. We take always 3 years before doing the 1st repotting. After that we let the tree stabilize and look how strong the growth is. This tree was ready for the 1st styling.


There were many branches in the top starting from the same point. I decide to select the strongest branch to become the most important one. It has to fall down and become the oldest branch, therefore we have to protect the whole branch with double raffia, straight wires and elastic tape.


After that we created all our deadwood (jins). After making them we protect the whole cambium area with cut paste.


Bringing the most important branch in position helped us to find the right balance between the angle of the trunk and the main branch.


After positioning the main branch we removed all the unnecessary branches and started wiring.


Result after the 1st styling. This is never our goal, mostly the branches are bended too hard down for fixation because every time we unwire it never stays in the same position, that's why we bend down always more than necessary.


About 8 years later; with using the correct techniques, a couple of rewirings and repositioning the tree in the pot there is a mature tree.


Last spring Eric made a presentation with his tree in our Tokonoma during a discussion day about presentations. In a previous post I talked about presentations in the gardens. This is a presentation for exhibitions with the correct table, scroll in the back that tells you something about the season or the place were the tree can stand in nature and than lower an accent plant (in this case a smaller tree).



Small Mugo Pine.


In a past workshop  one of the participants selected this small Mugo Pine. It was a yamadori that was already for a long time in a pot.


In the top of the tree there were 2 strong branches, we needed only one. The rest of the tree is wired as usual.


After half a day workshop the proud owner with his new tree.


The tree recently, in a handmade pot and completely dense. Maintenance techniques are from now on as for a bonsai Black Pine.


Quercus raw material.


Today we prepared and potted up our raw material of Quercus and they are now for sale. They are 12 years old, different sizes between 60cm and 90cm.

Quercus robur.


Every year I start up with my students different long time projects. We always do that with a group of about 10 people. We started up with the same variety of the same age with the whole group. This example shows the Oak of one of the students which was started up in december 2003.  This is a 14 year old Oak cultivated in our nursery, we potted him up in a very big pot in pure akadama.


By every step we do I made a scedule with what they have to do at home and when the tree has to come back on a workshop. This photo is from 1st check up in july 2004. I just told them to let everything grow, fertilising and watering.


One year later, december 2004, we did the first winterpruning and removed all the strong growth.


Two years later, november 2005, another check up. From now on we remove every year the strong buds on the end of the branches. We made already a decission not to wire the trees, just by pruning and wire that pulls the branches down has to give us a more natural looking Oak tree.


Again I told them to let everything grow, except on the end of the summer removing the strong buds again. Photo taken in august 2006.


November 2007, the previous summer we had worked intensively on the leaves to let more light in and we worked only on the outside part. Result a lot of small ramifications on the inside.


Februari 2009, the tree starts to get his volume. We did some drastic winterprunings to open the whole tree. The root base is already improved and the bark of the trunk looks older.


August 2009, previous techniques repeated and some new wires pulling the most important branches down.


Juni 2010, end of our cultivation process. This was his last season in the oversized pot. We achieved everything that we needed over a period of 7 years.


March 2011, we selected a first bonsaipot that fits with the autumn colour. We did some winterpruning and from now on we can talk about a bonsai, that means that all techniques to be done are changing from now on. This prooves again that long time projects are worth to be done. Many thanks to Johan for trusting me by this project.




Starters material.


In this time of the year we prepare nearly every day hundreds of starting plants. These are Larix of 12 year old. They always have been pruned back, they have a thick trunk and the branches are close to the trunk. They are all in the size of around 30cm to 40cm.





This is Juniper squamata raw material of 16 years old, movement in the trunks, good sized trees of 60cm to 80cm with thick trunks and compact foliage. They are ready to style.


An example after the first styling.

There is also a team that is doing the pré stylings every day. We have a very busy season to do all this preparation work for next year. If you visit our nursery and want to buy out of this raw material ask what you are looking for because they are in a separate closed greenhouse.


Mugo Raw Material.


Our crew prepared about 50 pcs of Pinus mugo. They are 17 years old and ready for styling. This is very good workshop material because we can do a lot of different techniques in one step to create prébonsai. This is cheap material to start with for beginners and always with good results.


The first example after styling had dammage on the trunk which we turned into an advantage. The branches are easy to bend and it turned out in a compact tree.


Another example; the raw material had many branches of which we kept only two and the rest we shaped in jin. The material has a good rootball and it is possible to pot them  up directly in an oversized pot. After this styling these trees are going to be maintained from next summer on and in about 3 to 5 years we can talk about a bonsai.



Saturdays workshop an impression.

DSCF2582.jpgOn We always start our workshops with a discussion about all the trees. This is interesting for every participant. During the discussion I show an example of every technique that has to be done.

DSCF2600.jpgDoing some grafting work; give a trident maple new branches.

DSCF2604.jpgAnother Trident maple that was missing one important branch, I did a branch grafting on the side. This is another technique without drilling through the trunc.

DSCF2628.jpgDiscussing the styling of a Mugo Yamadori.

DSCF2677.jpgSome pré styling on Junipers.

DSCF2682.jpgCreating more deadwood on a Juniper yamadori.

All together on that day there was worked on about 25 trees of 8 different students. This is how it works, some people start trees up, others come back for the next step on their tree, some trees come in for check up, some restylings etc. We always try to follow up all the trees that has been start up over the years.


Carpinus Forest.

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These Carpinus betulus were cultivated in our nursery especially for making group plantings & forests. Like our other material they were also cultivated a couple of years in pot and in the field.

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Selecting a good variation is important; we need different sizes in thickness of the trunks, different heights and especially differences in age. Like every natural looking forest we need to see the diffence between the oldest, middle aged and youngest trees. The root balls were also very compact and good enough to do the first step.

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The first composition with this group of trees, planting them the closest together as possible, happens in a wooden box. We let them grow together for a couple of years.

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One year later we were able to bring the trees more compact and make a new and better composition. The root balls were now so good that we could prune the rootsystem near to the trunks without taking any risk. With such good prepared material we can plant the trees very close to one another. This was the botanical part. Estetically we created a good harmony in the movement of the trunks, different distances between all the trees, a good depth in the whole forest and the goal was to create a forest that you see from a certain distance; that means a group of trees that make a small forest in an open landscape.


The whole composition has to grow to one piece, in the meantime we do the maintance work, branch selection, wiring, pruning for ramifications. It is important that every individual tree has his own caracter and still create a harmony together with the other trees. All this takes a couple of years.


The step to a flat bonsaipot was possible. On the rootball you can see that it is now one piece, all the roots are growing connected with each other and the root pruning was possible to make it flat and go in a landscape pot. We selected a hand made pot for the final destination of the group.


The forest as it looks now recently. In reality it is much more impressive than on the photo. The forest is about 90cm high and over 1m wide. The ramifications of the trees has developped already very good. Thanks to Micky, one of my students, with whome I did the project over the years to create a unique piece of bonsai. This is a good example of making a programm for your creation. The making of is not done in one step "before and after", but preparing and improving step by step. Time and timing will always lead you to a succesfull result.


Red Pine Yamadori.


This Pinus densiflora is a Korean Yamadori. I started this up with one of my students about 7 years ago.


We decided to keep this yamadori as natural as possible by doing only the necessary work like create some jins on removed branches, cleaning out the needles and select some branches.


Only the needles around the budding parts were kept on the tree. By doing this we were stimulating backbudding.


The tree is only wired once without a big change in the original natural shape. This was our goal to follow the natural way of growing without putting the tree under stress. On yesterdays workshop the tree came back on the table to check the next step.


The owner did every year just the necessary work of cleaning the needles and I did every year a selection in ramification. This material can be kept like this and is easy to maintain than we can talk about a natural grown bonsai. It also can be used now as extremely good starting material to reshape the tree in a completely different style. I gave the owner the choice and he wants to go further on the natural way because this is something special in his collection. With this example I show you another vision on bonsai and respect nature as much as possible without interfering. The tree did most of the work and we helped just a little.


Juniperus procumbens.


Juniperus procumbens in my Bonsai Garden.

Pinus parviflora.

PICT0884.JPGPinus parviflora in my bonsai Garden.

Taxus cuspidata.


My best Taxus ever was selected as a 1st price winner by Masahiko Kimura a few years ago. See also on the cover of the Ginkgo Bonsai Award book "The Best of Bonsai in Europe nr5"


Restyling Larix.

DSCF2384.jpgThis was my first yamadori Larix that I styled in 1991. Untill now I kept the tree in the same style I shaped him in. The whole maintaining process over the years gives me a tree with a lot of new growth that I could prune every year. The longer a tree is in a pot, less hard he will grow. Also pruning twice a summer makes the tree grow slower. That during 21 years made that the tree stopped growing .

DSCF2388.jpgBefore I start wiring there is one important selection to make. All the buds on the tree are not "growing buds" anymore but just needles. You can see this on the shape of the buds; they are very thick, so when they start growing it just opens give a bunch of new needles but no young shoots. All over the tree there was nearly no growth anymore.


My target is to go for a better ramification, that is way I had to thin out the buds drasticly. The result will be that in spring the selected buds going to change for 50% in growing buds, because thining out makes the tree feel younger. It is for every bonsai in every variety the same; after a long time in training trees need to be thinned out and started up again. "A finished tree is a death tree". If you are in time to see this than your botanical knowledge is OK.


Part one was the botanical side and now it is the creative side. There are some things to improve with a complete wiring I want to reposition some of the main branches and part of the main trunc. Especially the trunc misses some movement to the apex. Without wrapping it in with raffia, because I want to see what happens when I bent the trunc over. It is not easy anymore with branches or truncs that have been styled once and already fixed in that direction. After many years it can break easily. On the photo you can see my assistant that fixes the wire while I am bending the apex down to its limit.

DSCF2437.jpgBefore I start positioning all the other branches I want to improve the whole line of the tree. The lower branch was growing to the inside of the tree. I want to change this completely to the outside that it follows the same line of the trunc.


A result after the restyling, a more elegant movement from rootbase to apex and a smooth line of the lowest branch, more distance between the branches ans a clear style of a half cascade. You can see this hanging high in the mountains on cliffs. This is bonsai, bring your tree back to nature in your mind. In bonsai are botanical knowledge, harmony & creativity the key to succes.


Displaying bonsai.


Creating bonsai is one thing; this is all about creativity & logical thinking in combination with knowledge, technique and understanding the seasons. Displaying bonsai is another thing. Mostly the trees are displayed in a special created garden. The most important thing is to give all the trees a good environment that they can grow healthy. Most of the time the gardens are surrounded by a wall, fence or living plants this to protect them from heavy wind. Inside the garden there are benches were trees can stand on a good distance from one another but so that they can give shade over the pots of the other ones. Also water bassins, grasses, ferns....give a good microclimate  to the environment. Depending on the variety some trees need full sun, others more shade. Conifers and Pines like a lot of sun, therefore I create individual stands. On the photo you can see a corner in my private bonsaigarden.


I prefer to use wooden benches, they are not damaging the pots when we turn them arround every other week so that the backside also has the same light as the front and also to help with the humidity in the summer. In summertime when you water early in the morning and late in the evening your bonsaigarden, the humidity has to stay in the garden for as long as possible. More mature and finished trees I try to display on the right height to be able to look inside the tree. This photo is taken in early spring with a view on the benches mixed with projects and finished trees. The benches are not too high so we can do small maintenance work in the garden.




Today our crew prepared the raw material for flowering bonsai "Weigelia nana". These are plants from about 12 years old and during cultivation time we changed every 3 years from field to pot and back to field...Now we have a very good compact root system to put it directly in a small pot. This prématerial is now for sale in plastic container and can be used in workshops. They all have very thick trunks.


An example of the same material created in the past here on a workshop with one of my students. The tree is pruned out, some wiring is done, a complete root pruning and potted up in an oversized bonsai pot. For soil we  used 100% Akadama.


After growing 1 year in the oversized pot we have chosen a finished hand made pot that fits very well with the colour and structure of the bark. The tree starts every year flowering from april to mai. This is a very easy way to create a not so common variety in bonsai. Best time to do this is now in wintertime.


Pinus sylvestris yamadori.

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This is a picture of one of the earlier stylings in our workshops. This yamadori was more than 4 years in pot before the 1st styling. We decided to make the tree very compact which we did with a heavy bending without breaking the old trunk.

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This is the result after styling & repotting. With the correct technique it is possible to bring this prébonsai in 3 years time to exhibition level.



Larix in Autumn colour.


This Larix is cultivated in our nursery from a garden plant. The tree in total is about 35 years old and the 1st styling was in 2003. Now it is a mature tree with good ramifications. We have more or less 300 Larix from raw material, prébonsai & more mature trees available. 



It is the best time of the year to do grafting with the tree's own branches. This is for me the most succesful way to add some new branches on trees. There is no risk and the only thing that we need to do is making a scedule one year in advance.


It can only be done with trees that grow for a whole year without pruning. All the new growth and all the new branches, wherever growing, can be usefull. The technique is easy, we drill a hole through the trunc about the size of the young branch, we try to make contact with part of the branch that is already hard enough. We fix it with ent tape and let it grow another year.


This is an example of a branch grafted 2 years ago. This is the best way to be sure that it doesn't die off, because after 2 years the branch has become thicker and takes everything it needs from the trunc. The best way to see when it is ready to remove is when the outside part is thicker than the inside, so left is now thinner than right and the left can be removed. Result is that there is a branch coming out of the trunc in a natural way. With this technique we can add branches, apex etc....on any place of the tree.




Cultivation for sho hin


Plants cultivated for sho hin at our nursery.


Ginkgo biloba autumn colour


At our nursery a Ginkgo biloba in autumn colour.

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