Root improvement repotting_Part 3.


The pot is prepared with mesh above the drain holes and with wire to fix the tree. We sieved two grain thicknesses  of Akadama. We start at the bottom with a layer of the thickest size.


Then a small mountain of the medium Akadama.


The rootball is always made hollow under the area of the trunk.  We position the tree on the mountain of Akadama and we check if the tree is planted high enough.



We add some more Akadama. A tree that stands too deep in the pot looses of his quality.


One keeps the pot steady so it doesn't move while the other slowly rotates the tree in the soil so that there is a good contact between the fine roots and the Akadama


This is the height of the root base, all the fine roots point slightly downwards. The fixation with wire is done; note that to the wire is attached on the outside of the rootball.


Correcting carefully the position of the all the smaller inside roots and fill it up with Akadama.


Then water the tree till the water that comes out of the drain holes is not brown anymore. When the water is clear means that all the dust, left between the Akadama, is gone.


In between the roots we put a mixture of Keto/Akadama to get a more fine root production in the near future, we can finish this with moss so the Keto stays on during watering.




Root improvement repotting_Part 2.



Roots are prepared for the final pot. Pot selection can start. This pot is a little bit to small.


This is an antique Japanese pot, beautiful patina, the tree stands comfortable in it, but the pot seems a little too heavy for the tree.


This pot goes well with the shape of the tree, beautiful  color and shape. But the front and back roots are not comfortable enough, there is only 1cm of space left for new soil. We are at the beginning of a next new program for the tree; to get the tree full with fine ramification. Therefore we need 5 years in a row of good strong growth. The work will be intensive and we need a little more space for the roots to grow.



Also this pot is a good option but the above outside rim takes too much attention.


This pot looks neutral and does not take too much attention away from the tree. It is a handmade, well detailed pot by Petra Engelke.


Here is the tree comfortable in and there is enough space around.





Root improvement repotting_Part 1.


This is the Acer buergerianum of which I have described the history in my Post of 16 dec 2012. It's time for a root improvement and selection of a final pot.


A lot of work needs to be done at the root base, which is no longer in balance. On the left, right and front side are some of the roots too strongly developed, we must restrain them so weaker roots can take over.


We start removing the akadama on the outside and give the tree a root pruning as a normal repotting.


Underneath we remove almost everything until we get close to the big roots that need to be improved.


The first defect is a large root that is growing over another root, this "crossing" root must be removed completely.


We shorten all thick roots that were too long, but no further than the last fine roots that have to  take over from the big roots.



I work around the rootball to be sure that I shorten every thicker root, even the ones that are not too long and I remove all double layers of roots.


This is one of the thickest roots. With this root I probably will have to repeat the same again by next repotting.



Shorten a big root.


All the thick roots are shortened drastically. All the defects are completely removed.


All the pruning wounds are covered with wound paste (cut paste).




Yesterdays workshop, an impression.


At yesterday's workshop there were a few big trees that needed artistic repottings, botanical was no problem.


 Also grafting with a better variety and the start for a small tree.


Preparing a Sabina Juniper by splitting a thick branch before wrapping with raffia and wiring.


The branch is straight and the wood is too hard to give it a nice movement. By splitting and removing half of the wood it will be possible, after the raffia and wiring,  to bend the branch.


This is a very flat pot for a Juniper. We put the rootball above the pot level to create the idea of a landscape around the tree.


It is not very visible on photo but there is a lot of movement to see on the surface of the rootball. This kind of repottings are often used for Bunjin styled trees or high mountain creations. It is a handmade, round, flat pot with our normal soilmix akadama/bims, keto and moss on top to create an environment for the tree to grow healthy and to keep everything tight together so no problem when watering or by heavy rain.The foliage of the tree is not refined yet.


This metasequoia came in for a repotting.


We improve the root base and choose already a flatter pot where the tree can remain for another 3-5 years before to be planted in his final pot.


This Taxus came on the workshop for a repotting and we also will change the angle.


A few of the repotted trees  after watering outside.


This big Taxus came in for a repotting in its final pot.


Discussing the exact position.


Making the rootball more compact is now the next step in the programme of repotting this tree, which means that every three years we will repot this tree to get a strong compact rootball. This rootball is very young and we do now just the first step in a 10 to 12 year process. Also this is a totally different repotting and a totally different way of root pruning.


Selecting a handmade Tokoname pot. If you do not immediately see the difference between a good quality pot and a lower quality pot, you will definitely see it after they have been used for a few years. The good quality pot will have a nice patina and the other pot will look worn out.


A part of the work done yesterday.



Closed on saturday 30th of March 2013.


Gesloten op zaterdag 30 maart 2013.


Nous serons fermé le samedi 30 mars 2013.




Open on Monday 1st of April 2013.

9hrs – 12hrs & 13hrs – 17hrs.


Open op maandag 1 april 2013.

9u – 12u & 13u – 17u.


Nous serons ouvert lundi 1er Avril 2013.

9h – 12h & 13h -17h.






For Sale: Taxodium distichum, approx 35 years, 5 year in pot, repotted & rewired last week. Special price: 750€.


Detail of the trunk base.


Prunus autumnalis.



Prunus autumnalis pré-bonsai in weeping style, 125€






For Sale: Prunus "Kiku Shidare Sakura" from Japan, han-kengai.


Nice trunk movement. Price now: 800€.

Acer p. Kashima.


Acer p. Kashima.


Acer p. Kashima from Japan, in our sales area for 250€.


All with good root base.



buxus sempervirens005_KL.jpg

This Buxus came from an old garden and is probably over 100 years old. This picture was taken a few weeks after he had been dug out and potted in a wooden box.

buxus sempervirens006_kl.jpg

Two years later, the Buxus out of the wooden crate. The tree has a lot of new growth and the longest branches were shortened. The tree was ready for transport to our place for a workshop.

buxus sempervirens007_Kl.jpg

Two years after the first workshop. The tree is ready for a first branch selection and wiring.

buxus sempervirens008_kl.jpg

After the branch selection and wiring we did half a repotting. We let the outside untouched and renewed  soil inside around the trunk. This is the last step before choosing the final pot.


Another three years later, the tree in its first stage of maturity and ready to be exhibited. Here he presented at one of the "Ginkgo Bonsai Awards".


Another ten years later. There is lots of work to be done. In the beginning pruning of Buxus is easy, as long as you prune it makes new shoots at the back and it remains compact. But to create a beautiful Buxus and achieve a natural looking tree by pruning, there is a lot more to be done.


At the same time thinning and selecting the best branches. Looking for a certain height of the branch ramification and keep this height standard for the entire branch. Show the age of the underside of the branches and show the age of the tree while cleaning out all the branches. Easier said than done, because this is not an easy job.


We are half way our pruning and we achieve an older image. This technique, we need to repeat 3 to 4 years, depending on the circumstances. Then we can talk about a finished tree with a mature image at higher level.


Workshop impression.


Repottings are now a daily job. More and more people are choosing for "Two to One" workshops which is better for the tree because then we have time to look at all the aspects and see what can be improved during repotting. Sometimes it takes 20 minutes before we achieve the correct position fixed in the pot. A slight movement of the tree if not fixed yet and we have a different front and different total image.



My main goal is to get the best out of each tree and if therefore I get the time it works perfect.


Now we have time after the repotting to reposition the branches if necessary.


In some cases, such as this Acer palmatum it is just looking for the best possible front side of the tree, with seven possibilities for a good front.



Finding the best possible front side that makes the tree a little more special.



We come to the end of the workshop season. Thanks to the weather our repotting season seems to be longer than normal. Because the amount of work in our business  there is during the day no time to plan more additional workshops; only on evenings if needed.



Improvement by repotting.


The Juniperus Itoigawa on the right is the tree where we are going to talk about. This tree has to be improved while repotting. The movement of the trunk is too close to the ground surface and the angle will be changed a little. We will pot the tree higher in his pot and change the angle a little. These small differences during the building up of a tree must be done step by step and so make progress every time.


We have a big difference in the roots compared with the last repotting of this tree. There are more compact, fine roots close to the base. That was why we had potted the tree deeper by previous repotting. We achieved a good result and we can now plant the tree higher as it should.


Small work, took just one year extra time,  but as result a big detail improvement for this chu-hin Itoigawa. This is why paying attention during repottings each time is necessary. Sometimes you can make improvements in one time and sometimes it needs to be done in two steps. Everything depends on the quality of the roots and the health of the tree.




This is the Metaseqoia that I have started 8 years ago. All main branches are fixated in a good angle. I needed last year growth in order to obtain thicker main branches. I will repeat this year after year until I've reached my result.



After the first pruning in proportion.


Every unnecessary branch, including the apex, is pruned. An explosion of buds and new growth will come soon. From then I will make another selection for an apex and also of small branches.



I opened the hollow trunk below more. Two strong roots on both sides will "pull" to the trunk and giving it more taper. More carving needs to be done in the near future. These are small steps that we do every day in our nursery to improve the trees ste by step.




Photo taken by Frans Jacobs. 

The quotation on judgment of a tree is always the quality of the potential and how it looks for the moment. That means that a very good tree that is not proper trimmed or maintained can have a very low quotation on a judgment. Whatever the material is, seedling, garden plant, yamadori etc it is finally the technique that is correctly done over the years that gives a tree the image that it deserves. On last "Kei Bonsai Kai" meeting there was a Juniperus squamata, it was not an eye catcher at first side, but between all the high potential and spectacular trees was this the best quality bonsai. Branches, ramifications, leaf and bud quality was perfect. The tree was not even 5 years in training, including first styling, and he was presented at the meeting with the best image you can imagine of any  other Juniper. Dirk, the owner, did exactly what he was told to do during the whole process. To reach that level it is as difficult as any difficult variety like Juniperus rigida, Juniperus procumbens etc. This is proof that it is possible to reach a high class result with the most ordinary material on the market. It tells a lot about the owner and his understanding what he is doing. Congratulations to Dirk, if you can do this, you can do any tree you want.



Pinus sylvestris yamadori for sale.




Today I prepared 4 Pinus sylvestris yamadori, ready for styling. I create the jins and pruned all the unnecessary branches. They are all 4 to 5 years in the pot. They are ready for the first raffia and wiring. They all 4 have a different style caracter. They are priced up between 600€ and 1600€. This weeks offer -40% discount. If not sold I style them next week.


Grafted Juniperus - Part 4.


Now it is time for the repotting. In his pot of the last two years the Juniper made a complete new root ball. Now I can remove the last pieces of the old root ball.


This is the new round pot for the tree and this will be the angle we will pot it.


Potted in the correct angle. An upper layer with keto and moss. This is to protect the young roots which are above the pot level.


The tree seen from another angle.


The Juniper in the glasshouse. This is another story of a long time project with no heavy and no drastic bendings. The preparartion of the material and timing is important.



Kei Bonsai Kai - Displays.


Freddy's Juniperus chinensis started from scratch 10 years ago. Picture taken by Frans Jacobs.


Luc's Acer p. Kotohime raft in antique Tokoname pot. Picture taken by Frans Jacobs.



Eric's Juniper Itoigawa. Picture taken by Frans Jacobs.

Grafted Juniperus - Part 3.



The Juniper eight years later. All branches are stabilized and need no more wire. On this photo the tree is just thinned out and ready for the final step in his shaping. Two years ago I put the tree in another pot to achieve a better root ball.


Now I want to do with the dead wood as I did eight years ago with the first piece, without good result then because the wood was still wet (see my post from yesterday 1703.13). The jin is now totally dry, I put towels which I heated in boiled water around the wood. This I do for about 20 minutes and then I can start bending.


Bending of the dry wood without breaking.


Doing with two hands what normally should be done with four hands; bending and fixing the wire at the same time.


This was the movement I wanted to achieve the first time. This is again proof that the time to let the dead wood dry first naturally is important and then bend with a simple old skool technique. Now we have a very ellegant beautiful movement of a branch that gives the impression of being dead for a very long time and a tree that is growing around the branch.





Kei Bonsai Kai - an impression.


In the morning, the preparation of the Tokonoma. Nothing has changed over the years, the same people ten years older.


Lunch time.


Talk about Tokonoma display.


It gives a good feeling that people who started with bonsai 10 years ago, with no knowledge at all at the time, can make a correct display with a tree they made themselve. The tree has mature foliage, no wire to keep the branches or foliage in place. Presenting the tree in a Tokonoma with a correct pot, matching table and accent.


After discussing all the displays we talked about the quality of the trees and the next steps to do.


The explanation of the past and the future and the first important steps to do now. The average quality level of the trees has improved.

Our intention is that every bonsai enthusiast can practice his hobby at a high level within his abilities and financial possibilities.

I thank all the participants for coming, I hope you enjoyed it. Take advantage of the information I gave you.


Prunus autumnalis.


For Sale: Prunus autumnalis. This is beautiful spring display material in the small bonsai category. Price: 75€.

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