Hi everybody,

this is Part II of the story of this Mugo Pine named “Little Chapel”.   In 2007 I won the first Online AoB professional styling competition with Part I of this story.  That  first part covers the complete progress from me collecting it, trough its first styling!


You can find Part I: HERE.


   Below: Collecting “Little Chapel” in Austria, back in May 2004.



  Now 3 years after its first styling, I felt it was safe to do a second styling!

Below: Close up of the base with all its natural deadwood.

 First all the needles from last years were removed by plucking them off one at a time. In this way most of the needles sheets will stay behind on the branch. From these needle sheets new buds will grow much easier! This way there is also more room to wire the tree right up to the tips, as long as you are careful not to damage all the small new buds!

Below: This is how the tree looked before styling.

Below: This remaining stump that I had left on after shortening the former main cascading branch in the original design (red arrow), is now dry and needs to be reduced and formed in the style of the all ready exciting long Jin behind it.

                              Below: So I shortened it with a large cutter.

Below: I like to work with these kind of cutters to remove the bark and to give a straight stump its new movement.

Below: By carefully removing wood from all angels, more movement is created from all sides.

Below: Already the Jin behind the one I am working on is more visible from the front. Creating enormous dept to the whole composition.

Below: Good enough for now! In the near future, when the new image is more fixed in my mind, I will work on this Jin to refine it some more.

       Below: Ready to start wiring!

Below: What could be more pleasant than wiring a small tree in the morning?

Below: Wiring is don, now for the fun part! Going completely blank and bringing all the foliage in to  place! Huuuuummmmmm!!!!

Below: The end result from this styling session.

I am really pleased with the progression that this little Pine has made in such a short time! For now this tree will stay a few more years longer in this over sized training pot. In the future it will be planted slightly more  tilted to the left, in a more or less same shape pot, but without the rim and with some more texture to it than this one. This new angle will bring even more movement into the lower section of this massive trunk! The large empty space on the left side of the tree, counterbalances the foliage mass of the cascading branches on the right side very well. Bringing balance to the whole composition. The empty space on the right  side of the trunk, under need the jin and first branch, now gives you a peek at the long deadwood branches in the back. Showing us all the struggle that this old survivor had to endure over the decades it is standing on his hilltop! This open space makes me feel like I could walk under need those cascading branches and sit down in their shade, with some bread, cheese and a nice red wine! Doing nothing, but looking down over the valley. HHHMMMMMMM!!!


About the styling of this tree and how I like to work on branch refinement.


I have to say that I always keep a open mind when I style a tree. It can more or less go in any direction, from free style to traditional! But I do like to use the more traditional Japanese way of arranging my foliage layers, and that is not because I have to rigid follow the classical Japanese style or anything! But because I feel that their way of building up their layered foliage pads is the most logical and brings out the best result in Pines and Junipers a like! In Bonsai this size it is all about the smallest details and the Japanese more strict way of  creating foliage layers,  allows a lot of room for open spaces and brings believable debts to the entire branch structure. Their way of branch building is well planed and when you look up close you will see that every little branch is placed deliberately and planed! This kind of branch building is a art form at it self and takes years to archive on a pine! It is way more difficult and time consuming than the more simple silhouette building you see so often in the more modern styles. Whether you like it or not, a lot of these modern styled trees only look good in a picture, from close up you can often see how little work and though went into creating their branch structure.

But on the other hand, no matter how much I like to build up my branches and foliage layers in this way, it is only to bring out the best of the rest of the tree. The non foliage part of my trees are mostly free style and can go in all directions. In the rest of the tree I don’t mind strange and wild things at all! Just like in this tree, were the more traditional artist would work on refining the base of the tree and the deadwood protruding out to the left, I embraced this ugliness and build my whole design around it! The wild movement of the trunk and  strange deadwood created by Mother nature is nicely compensated by the strait lines of the foliage. They weight each other out, but also emphasize its other qualities! So I think that my work on this tree  is a mixture of the best of both worlds. Not looking overly styled, bud just enough to show the true spirit of the whole tree and my design!

I hope you like were this little tree is going?!



Hans van Meer.