The Bonsai Blog of Hans Van Meer ::

The Bonsai Blog of Hans Van Meer


September 3rd, 2007

So lets look at a other design option for Irene’s Yew. Again I start with the same drawing of the frame of the tree, with out the branches. 

So now I want to try and see if I can get any movement in this straight tree. I plane to use the right branch, it grows in a nice angle from the trunk and has a nice secondary branch growing on a interesting place. So now I will virtual tilt the tree to the left to create some movement and angles to the tree trunk.

It’s a start, but still not enough movement for my liking!

Now we are talking! I like to create angles in my designs, and I like to have branches, foliage or Jin’s emphasising the movement these angles create. Let me try to explain: the arrow on the left points at the future corner in my trunk design. This is a point were your eye, when you follow the line of the trunk upwards, turns from going left, to going right. If you emphasize this important point with a branch, foliage or Jin, you will create a place for the eye to stop at, before it’s travels further upwards. (second arrow)

Those two thick trunks on the left are to straight and with out any interest (in this design!). So they must be confurted into deadwood, so they are used to benefit the design.

Here you can see how I might shape the Shari and Jins to emphasize that part were the tree changes direction. I also converted the back branches into Jins. Now I’m going to place the foliage in such a way that bring balance into the overall design. But also in a way that again enhances the movements of the tree!

It is not easy to draw a picture with my mouse, but something like this is what I mean. Now the same tree is transformed in a typical bonsai style. That evokes a completely different feeling than the early-er formal broom style I made.

First the movement of the tree goes to the left and then were it changes to the right, I created  a eye catcher in the form of that Jin. A place for the eyes to stop on there way up the tree and to enhance the change in trunk direction. It also divides the ,otherwise to big,  empty space on the left side of the tree, preventing that the tree is being pushed to much to the right and looking unbalanced.

The first branch on the right, leans nicely on the empty space that is trapted under-need it (dotted line). Supporting the tree imaginary, holding it up, and there for keeping the tree in balance. Empty spaces are one of the most important features for a successful design, but are often neglected or misunderstood.

So there you have it, a other vision and possibility for “Mom’s Yew”. I will have a other idea ready in a few days. We have a lot to think about and a lot of decisions to make! But that is the fun in designing a bonsai.



September 2nd, 2007

Irene removed the branch I recommended and mailed the Pictures from the angle I asked for.                  (see pictures below)



OK, for now lets use this side as the front.

From this side the to large root is on the backside and will be (after some reduction), not so much in your face “any more. The placement of the main branches show possibility’s from this side and there is a nice see trough between them, to see the back branches. Creating dept to this broom like tree.

I think that Irene likes here bonsai to look natural, so I will discuss that option first.

If you look at pictures of old Yews in the wild in Europe, you will see that the most often grow in a almost deciduous tree looking broom style.


And often with stunning deadwood on there massive trunks.


This next perfect drawing of a English yew, by a unknown artist, next to the perfect example of a old and free growing broom-style Yew. Shoot by my wife nearby the town of Santander, North Spain.

Look at the amazing small life lines on this bettered old survivor.


Looking at this fine drawing and picture; I believe that this natural broom style is a logical and possible option for Irene’s Yew!

Here Tree has the typical straight trunk, that splits up at a curtain height into several trunks that grow almost straight up, just like in the drawing.

In the drawing U can also clearly see the long and thin branches that grow from these multiple trunks. In there search for light, they bend down under there own weight and length, creating the broom like appearance. To create this on Irene’s Yew, we must first stimulate the the tree into new growth lower on the trunks. But that’s for later. First lets look at one of the possibilities I see to create Irene’s tree into a believable broom style bonsai. Using Irene’s last picture (see below),I made a drawing. I only just the outlines of the bare trunk to show you what could be don to create this style.


In the first drawing (dotted line), you can see were the two thick branches were cut and made into a Jin and Shari. This point depends of course on were the new growth will appear, but this is only a example of  how I think when looking at a tree and what I might do to style it. I drawn the tree with more or less (not to good I must admit) bonsai like foliage layers, so you might get a idea of how it could look as a bonsai. In the real live bonsai, the foliage layers would be closser together and heavier than in my drawing. But it is just to show you that this tree in this style, could be nice and believable as bonsai. And even more important, doable.

I’l Be back with more soon!


August 30th, 2007


No matter how good your bonsai is, it will look terrible in the wrong pot! But this applies also to the Scrolls, accents plants or stands U use!

I spend months looking around for items to use in combination with the Bonsai I’m showing at this “Ginkgo Award”. I really injoy these hunt for extra’s enormously, it is just like a treasure hunt.

I would like to show the two small bonsai stands I had custom made by Christoph Roggeman (CHR Furniture) from Belgium. This guy is amazing, I showed him two stand I discovered in a Japanese Shohin Bonsai book that I really liked and asked him can you make these two tables for me in this and that dimensions? And he said, Yes no problem! He took the book along as a example to work from and now  a few months later I got them. Just look at the pictures, than you will understand why I like his work so much. Artist like Christoph  and Jeroen Huivenaar my mate from Holland, who makes my larger Bonsai stands are often forgotten to be mentioned in any Bonsai book, but the are very important in the success off our presentation and make our work so much easier.

Last picture is a accent planting I’m using in the show. It is “Sempervivum”from the mountains in Austria in a really beautiful small pot from Gordon Duffett (UK).



I hope you like them? Be back soon!



August 27th, 2007


Last weekend I did some more refinement work on one of my Yews in preparation for the Ginkgo Award. Picture 1: Shows the small Shohin Yew before I worked on the ground coverage.

Picture 2: Shows the tree after different fresh mosses were added.

Picture 3: Shows that the second branches on both side are growing from the same height on the trunk. The branch on the left side was always mend to be removed, but was left on the tree to fill the big empty space between the bottom left branch and the top until the branch right above it would have grown enough in length to replace it. Especially on a bonsai this size these obvious folds are a eyesore and should be avoided or solved before you enter the bonsai in any show.

Picture 4: Here the branch is already removed and a small jin is left as a reminder. The branch above the one that is removed is brought down to more or less replace it.




August 22nd, 2007

OK,  Irene it is time to start some work!

Irene told me that here Yew is growing real fine and there is a lot of new growth! That is a good sign, your tree is feeling happy so you are doing just fine! We are going to need a lot off new small branches to work with. This Yew is most certainly not the easiest tree to start this long distance styling project with. And although the present shape of this Yew only Lents itself to be styled in a formal upright, almost broom like tree. Reaching that obvious objective successfully is by now means as easy as its sound.  My main concern, when looking at the pictures Irene gave me, is picking a frond side for this tree. on off the most interested side off this tree has a disproportional large root that needs attention and a loot off work, if we were to choose that side. But first I want Irene to remove that straight and unnecessary branch I marked with a red arrow on the picture. She may choose to leave a small stump, that might be used to make some sort off Jin from. And I want here to make a picture off the side I marked on the other picture( doted lines in the middle off the trunk), so that the root marked with the red arrow is on the left of the trunk. Because I believe that that side might be interesting to investigate for a possible front ( the branch structure looks promising).

Back to You Irene,



August 19th, 2007

Online Workshop.

My “Chat Mom” Irene B. from Bonsai Talk asked me to guide and help her with the styling of her Yew in a progressive online workshop here on my bonsai blog. Because I’m a good Son: I can not say no to my Mom! So I gladly accepted this nice idea.

As Irene lives in Castroville,Texas, a long….long way from Holland were I live, we wile work only with the help of photographs and keyboard to keyboard information! This will be a first for me and her and it is quit a challenge I must admit! I hope I can live up to her expectations and that we can make this Yew into a beautiful bonsai together!

Here are the photographs Irene provided for me to work from, I will study them and work out a plane and come back with it later this week. In the mean wile (if you like?) you can work out what you would do with this material, so you can compare your ideas with mine and Irene’s!






  Have fun with it! I’l be back in a few days!  Hans.

August 7th, 2007

These next 3 pictures are made by “ZEN” from Bonsai Talk Forum.


                                  “THE DEVINE DEMO”  BY  “ZEN”.

                               COMBINED BONSAI ART PAINTING BY  “ZEN”


August 6th, 2007

This is the only picture I could find of the first workshop I ever did.

The picture was made by a old friend of mine, R van Rijn.

August 5th, 2007

 The road to the “Ginkgo Award”.

Sunday 06-08-2007.

To day I did some dead wood work on “BIG RON”!

Most of this old Mugo pine dead wood was treated some 2 months ago with Jin Seal “Lime sulfur” and today with the help of all kinds of metal brushes, I will remove very carefully some patches off the white top layers so that the colors of the original wood can shine trough, revealing all kinds of lovely grey colors mixed with golden brown. 

The Jin in the first picture is very old and was worked on just slightly. To style it I carefully brook off little pieces off  the very brittle old wood until I was satisfied with the shape. Than the wood was treated with Jin seal, that was applied with a cheap small brush. Today I scratched and brushed off some of that bleached top layer. Now the end result looks very natural in my opinion and this is very important because it is one of the main focus points on the front of this bonsai. 

In picture 2 you can see a piece off wood that was custom made to be wedged between a large Jin and a heavy branch. Helping to bend this stubborn heavily wired branch into the acquired position.

In picture 3 and 4 you have a special backstage view of this bonsai. Revealing a very old and secret bonsai technique that is past on trough the ages, from father to son, namely the (screw and wire technique).



In picture 5 and 6 you have a nice view of the large shari part of this bonsai, seen from the back site. All these mixture of colors you see are created by removing parts off the bleached outer surface. Revealing this beautiful patina. I hope you like this update? Until the next time,


August 5th, 2007

                                 AN OTHER EARLY  “VAN MEER”.


                                   AN EARLY  “AMARICAN”  MASTER.

                                  BY BONSAIAL FROM BONSAI TALK.

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