After work.

After the bonsai work we like........




Last weekend's workshop_2.


This very healthy sabina Juniper was more than long enough in the pot and came in for the first steps to be done.


Very elegant movement with nice, elegant deadwood.


More or less the angle we will work with. I did some branch selection.


Looking for more deadwood underneath the bark will accentuate even more the movement in the trunk. After the branch selection the tree was ready for wiring. A good advice to our students; take your time fo a correct wiring, this is something you can do easily at home from the moment you are sure that there is a good branch selection done. Give shape to a tree of that level we need also time and concentration. There will be a big difference between a tree created in a hurry or a tree were we can spend a couple of hours to shape. This kind of material is better on a "Two to One" workshop to shape the tree properly.


Last weekend's workshop_1.


This Juniper is shaped and styled. We will put it in this angle. The target is that the tree will be the main tree on a rock planting.


This is another side, we are choosing now the best position of the tree to be put on the rock.


We selected this lava rock. This is now not a good time to do a rock planting. This we better do during the month of March or April. When you want to do a rock planting take your time to select all your material; in this case we need different varieties of deciduous trees for the lower part of the rock, some azalea and some accent plants. This stone looks very heavy now for a tree of that size, but when the whole creation will be finished it will be a complete mountain view.


Visualising the position of the main tree. With that view I already have all the other trees that we need in my mind and will select them all together. Before we start  the final creation we do another try out with all the trees and plants. A good advice to our students; never surprise me in the morning with a stone and a tree for a planting on rock that same day. This example shows the way how to do it,  give me the time to select the right material.






The first announcement of the new season is visible in our nursery. These are the flowers of a Chaenomeles (Japanse dwarf Quince).


They are mostly used as accent plants on winter or early spring exhibitions. Also used on rock plantings and "mame" (small sho hin).


Sometimes with the help of a little wiring they also can be used as season decoration.


This time of the year is also for Hamamelis mollis the normal flowering time. See also in the archives post of 26.12.2012.


My big Prunus mume is ready to start flowering after flowering he is on scedule for a new wiring.


Prunus mume raw material in full blossom.


This is the japanese dwarf Quince that we planted before winter on rock. See in archives post of 4.12.2012.


Saturday's workshop.




 This year we have cotoneaster with very thick trunks. Some people buy them as a bonsai and some people buy them as raw material. Our students are well informed about the possibilities what there can be done with this potential in a short time project. This cotoneaster was on the workshop for the 1st step.


After pruning out 50% of the branches we accentuated some cutting wounds with shari. 


Very nice trunk movement. Now we are improving the taper.


So far our 1st initial styling. This is the start of a 3 to 4 year project. Our target is to make a real good sho hin. That means we needed branches below; some young shoots and buds are already there. The crown and branches that we have now are going to disappear from the moment we have inside and lower growth. With a variety like this it can go fast. In spring we do a decent repotting in a good soil mix and an oversized training pot. A good advice: never build further on your 1st styling but improve step by step until you get what you really want.


Another cotoneaster ready to be started up in the chu hin size. Chu hin is just a little bit bigger than sho hin.


Pruned out and ready for wiring.


The difference between one size bigger is that we can work with other powertools also more easily to style and bring in proportion. Everybody knows in bonsai the bigger the size the more easy it is to style. It is for chu hin also like for sho hin more difficult to create the right proportion immediately.


Result after 1st styling. here we have our branches already and the right height but also an oversized flat pot will be used. From next summer on our target is thickness of the lower branches. Mainly we do that with a correct fertilisation.


This is a small Olive tree cultivated for sho hin. This is the 1st branch selection.


If you are also interested in material for sho hin & chu hin size we have them in different varieties and they can be followed up on workshops until the result is there. Also during the "Kei Bonsai Kai" meetings for the students, sho hin will be an important subject.


Pruned out completely; the home work for the owner is wiring the branches and improve the taper.


Our main target with this tree for next summer is to work on the root base. We will start from early spring with a repotting and a drastic root pruning to start with a whole new rootsystem.


The Mugo pine on the left side of the trolley came in for 1st preparation.


The tree had a very good sho hin potential, most of the branches were already there. The tree needs now a correct soil mix in spring. We are following it up over the summer, next step will be in September.


Without a good program it will be also possible to create a small tree but by following a correct program the result will be there sooner and the priorities of every step in the right order. The biggest mistake  in building up trees is by doing techniques too soon while the tree has other important defects to repair. Negative points has to be turned into positive points, but you can never do all the techniques together in one season. The right tecnique on the right time and in the right order brings you faster to the end result.



From big to small_Picea.


In 2005 I did my last demonstration at the Noelanders trophee with this Picea. I decided to spend more time in my studio with my students, were I could follow up the trees on a more regular base and spend more time in my nursery. Being on the road as a demonstrator and doing workshops abroad with participants I saw only once, was completely against my philosophy about building up a tree in a long time project.


After the second movement the trunk was too straight and boring. Doing a work like that on a demonstration in public surprised some people in the bonsaiscene, in particular beginners because they have no feeling yet with proportions and have no vision on the look of the future. But my decision was made from the moment I bought the tree.


After the first branch was wired and positioned, I cut down the rest of the tree. Some of the spectators were thinking that I did this for the show at the demonstration, but I would have done the same in my studio. This was my first tree in my new collection of small trees.


Back side before new wiring.

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Two years later after another wiring and repotted in a round pot. This is the exact front side.This midsize class I want to work with now. This size of trees, I will still be able to carry when I am getting older.






Improving Juniperus.


Every day I pick some material out of our production to improve and to do the next steps. The good thing of our nursery is that we have lots of material prepared all over the years. This Juniper had his 1st styling 3 years ago, was potted up 2 years ago and now I created the deadwood to bring more movement in the trunk.


A big part of the work was done by the tree itself. By following the lines of the deadwood I could make a beautiful harmony between "jin & shari".


This is the second wiring and it is clear that it will be a nice midsize tree.


For the moment we have many different pre styled parsonnii Junipers. They have all the potential to become good trees with the same kind of work. We styled them over 4 years and have them in different stages. Sometimes you do not have to look into impossible material. We have it well prepared and no risk at all. With a little bit of creativity we can create a unique tree.




Larix yamadori.

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We prepared some Larix yamadori. We created the jins and selected the branches. They all are more than 4 years in the pot. They are ready for immediate wiring  and repotting  in a bonsaipot this spring. They are standing a couple of days un-wired for sale. After wiring, styling & repotting they will be for sale in another price range.

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This one comes in another angle and needs a shari all over to make the movement better.

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This is a "double trunk" with beautiful natural deadwood and a very old bark, with a little bit work during the repotting it is going to look special and natural.

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After styling of this one, the trunks will come closer to each other in another angle, both trunks are going to have more movement. It will be a round pot with a windswept bunjin styled tree.



1_Juniperus Itoigawa_ruw_bis.jpg

In 1995 I found this Juniper in Japan in the garden of Terukichi Kato. He was the youngest of the 3 brothers of the famous Kato family. He was also supplying his two brothers with raw material. After his death I still had a good relationship with his son Akio Kato who was the judge on the first "Ginkgo Bonsai Award".  Thanks to the Kato family and Kaneko, who was also a student of the Kato's, I learned everything the "Old Skool" way, which I still follow.

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Same tree five years later, being styled and in another pot. I reduced the deadwood a little bit. The big jin and the apex is too heavy and is leaning over backwards.


Five years later I reduced the big jin till he was in balance with the mouvement and let it disappear in the foliage, like that the tree looks smaller and more powerfull.


The root base and lifeline became thicker and stronger and had connection with the only branch with which the tree was created.


Side view of the tree, less dominating jin apex.


The tree recently well developped and is now ready for a next wiring which I am not going to do anymore, the tree is now for sale for a reasonable price for that quality.


Yesterday's workshop.


This Metasequoia came in for a next step. A lot of work to do on the deadwood.


We gave the deadwood a new taper that was more in proportion with the size of the tree.


Than we gave more depth in the deadwood.


I pruned the branches back, ready for wiring. This is the backside of the tree.


Side view. The tree will come back on a workshop late spring to reduce the root system and to go in a flat pot.


This Juniper was ready for his final styling. It was started up with very young material about 4 or 5 years ago. Before we did all the deadwood, this is ready now and we choose the final position. I started to remove some branches.


After the branch selection I started to thin out the secondary branches.


Than cleaning out the needles and the tree is than prepared for wiring. During the workshops it is possible to come with several trees. This Juniper is of the same owner as the Metaseqoia. Also this Juniper will come back on a workshop after being wired and the foliage positioned. From there on we will improve the tree were necessary.


The finishing work on this Juniper's deadwood.


I added a lot of details were necessary.


I found more deadwood under the bark and gave it the same character. Also this tree I pruned out and selected the branches. The  owner will wire the tree and come back on a work shop for positioning of the foliage.


From big to small_Crataegus

Crataegus voor.jpg

At the time that big trees were still popular I've styled this Hawtorn into a smaller size. It is now more than 10 years that I talk about making big trees smaller and so bring them more in proportion. It nearly has become an obsession. With this tree I focussed not on the 1st small developped branch above the jin but on the one at the left side with just a few young shoots on.




This is the tree now. I could easily reduce the big root, cut the trunk away and make a more refined jin. The few young shouts of 12 years ago became now older branches. It is a very powerfull tree now. 


Kei Bonsai Kai.



Kei Bonsai Kai meeting – Evaluation of the trees in a mature stage.


Zaterdag 16 maart van 13u15 tot 17u15.


13u15-14u15:  Bespreking “Tokonoma Display’s”.

14u30 – 16u30:  Bespreking van cursusbomen in een afgewerkte fase.

16u45 – 17u15: Bespreking van recente creaties van het afgelopen jaar en hun toekomstbeeld.


Kandidaten met een totale display voor een Tokonoma opstelling kunnen vooraf aanmelden per mail.


Voor de nieuwkomers:  Wat is Kei Bonsai Kai.

Dit is een bonsaistudiegroep van en voor onze cursisten, er worden jaarlijks 2 bijeenkomsten georganiseerd.

Het doel van “Kei Bonsai Kai”


1-      Iedere cursist kan enkele van zijn bomen meebrengen in een goed gevorderd stadium. Deze worden besproken voor gans de groep, zowel wat er in het verleden is gebeurt als wat nog gebeuren kan in de toekomst. De gezondheid en de groeikracht van de bomen primeert en wordt individueel bij iedere boom goed uitgelegd.


2-      Het bestuderen van de “Bunijn” stijl was altijd een belangrijk onderdeel en krijgt bij iedere bijeenkomst de nodige aandacht maar alle andere stijlen worden eveneens besproken op stijlzuiverheid.


3-      Iedere meegebrachte boom wordt individueel besproken in de opbouwfase waarin hij zich bevindt; onderhouds- en opbouwtechnieken worden daarop aangepast. Dit heeft  in het verleden zijn vruchten afgeworpen omdat zo tussen de workshops de bomen thuis goed behandelt worden en ze op de volgende workshop aangeboden worden zoals gewenst.


Air Layering of yesterday's Juniper.


This big garden plant was good for 3 solitary Juniper plants.


I could air layering the three trunks.


Yesterday's story starts with the trunk at the right.


Air Layering in april.


Cut off and potted up in October of the same year.


The Juniper about 3 years later on a workshop, see yesterday's project.


Air Layered Juniper.

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I removed this juniper from a multiple trunk garden plant by air layering. On this photo the tree  was 3 years in the pot when he came on a workshop in april 2001.

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It was the apex of a garden plant so we had a good taper and we also had a natural movement. The trunk was not so thick and the lowest branches had only foliage too far away from the trunk, except for one branch that started below on the trunk, all the rest was removed and it was an easy decision to go for the Bunjin style.

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Creating the jins, accentuating them with shari makes everything more elegant. We are going for the female look - mother & child.


Bunjin after 1st styling.


One year later in a first bonsaipot.


September 2005, the bunjin caracter is slowly dissapearing. We are losing the proportion between foliage and thickness of the trunk and the caracter of the young tree is not working with the whole image.

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March 2007. Before and after a restyling of the tree to achieve an older caracter.


August 2008. We reduced the big jin (small tree) into a small jin.  Give the tree some strong growth before the step to our final image.


Start to refine the old image.


March 2012, the tree dense again and ready for a next refinement of his final image until now. The old caracter of the falling branches is now fitting in the composition. The image of age in a bunjin is there.




Fred came in today together with Alexander. We had a small meeting about the organisaton of his exhibition in Saulieu in October this year.



After the "Bonsai" subject some time to talk about our other passion.

Yesterday's work.


We nearly finished the work on our quantity assortment of pré-bonsai and yesterday we started to create some individual trees in all different sizes. Every day in our nursery we style about 15 individual trees from raw material.


An example: Mugo Pine yamadori, before 3 years in a wooden box than 3  years in this pot and now ready for styling.


Positioning of the main branches.


On the salesbenches.


Chu-hin Larix, chu-hin Wisteria and some small size white Pines etc...


Small Needle Juniper.



Juniperus squamata Meierii.

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This is 14 year old starters material from our nursery. This is also good material for beginners and a good wiring experience.

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Reasonable thick trunks that can be shaped in smaller, midsize and bigger trees.

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They all have a compact rootball, this is an example of branch selection and cleaning up the trunk.

Jun Squamata M_2.jpg

This material has the possibility to add some deadwood on the trunk; in this case it is not so much. There are more possibilities to give more movement with the deadwood. They are for sale in a plastic container for 125€.

Jun Squamata M_3.jpg

An example like they look after a first workshop with no detailed wiring done. This variety is a good training, because the technique in maintenance is similar as japanese procumbens and many other needle Juniper varieties.




Trees under the snow look beautiful. Snow is a good protection especially around and over the pot. The snow keeps the humidity better around the froozen rootball. Snow can do a lot of dammage though on wired trees, they can distroy the shape of the younger wired branches. It is better that your trees are in a glasshouse for the moment and I mean with a "glasshouse" glass all around and a glass roof. The most important thing is a very high humidity. Try to avoid heating systems or if you have a heating system try to keep your temperature between -3°C & +5°C. In this kind of weather you better do not touch your trees at all. If you want to work on a tree prepare the tree for the big shock, you can lift the tree out of his froozen situation, bring him for 24hrs at 0°C, a day later bring him over on a positive temperature, wait another 24hrs to start working on the tree. A froozen tree for the moment means that not only the rootball is froozen but also the sap inside the tree. With conifers also the needles are  froozen, if you remove the snow from it you can have dammage in spring. If you bring f.ex. a Pine inside do not remove the snow, give the snow the time to disappear on a natural way. Those are the most imortant things you have to consider during frost periodes.





Tokonoma Display in our nursery_1.


Japanese Maple - Acer palmatum in late spring. On the scroll a young bird sitting on a branch. Accent are small leaf Iris on a jita plate. Table, accent, jita & scroll are in the perfect position and the perfect size for this spring display.






This kind of Larix material is one of the varieties that we advice for beginners who take their first work-shop.


This is the tree were Frans started with about 12 years ago here on a work-shop.


The first result after selecting and wiring the useful branches. We advice Larix for beginners because the branches are flexibel and it is easy in wintertime, without the needles, to wire.


More developped and a new apex.


Starting to give age on the branches and achieve balance.


After 1st repotting in a handmade pot and more caracter in the branches.


Late spring.





We always have different types of Larix, from raw material to pré-bonsai to more finished trees,  available from cultivated material between 6 & 15 years old.

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